Monday, September 14, 2009

Hotel Le Motel, Radio Courtesy, ESX

Posted By on September 14, 2009, 2:28 AM

Haven't had the chance to go cover an all-locals show in a while, especially after the scheduling snafu of the last one. So when the opportunity came to hit one up over at Burt's Tiki Lounge I had to take it, and was not disappointed one bit!

--- A decent crowd for this past Thursday night, Burt's looks so much different without the smoke. Performing live this past week were Ogden rockers Hotel Le Motel, Riverton's own Radio Courtesy and all-woman lineup of ESX. I interviewed all three bands and took plenty of pictures of the show (extra blurry for some of you out there) for you to check out here.

Hotel Le Motel (Greg Daniels, Ryan Bassettt and Jason Sawyer)

http://www.myspace.com/hotellemotel

Gavin: Hey Jason, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Jason: Well, it’s quite simple, we are just three guys living in Ogden who happen to stumble upon each one another and started playing rock-n-roll music. I have been playing the Utah local scene for over ten years and the other two guys for about the same. Jason Sawyer And Ryan Bassett grew up in Utah and Greg Daniels grew up in Wales, England.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Jason: Music is something that I’ve been interested in since I was eight years old. My older brother purchased a drum kit and was interested in heavy metal music and, naturally being his younger brother I was intrigued. I wanted to play the guitar ever since, and I still remember buying Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads Tribute CD and being completely fascinated with the Randy Rhoads. A few years later I learned he was dead and I was crushed like, as if a family member had just died. Of course, we all like The Beatles and the standard stuff too but Randy Rhoads changed my life and continues to do so still. I’ve been around many different genre’s of music growing up and even played in bands I wasn’t too proud of but as the full circle goes I’m happy to be back playing rock-n-roll music. Hotel Le Motel is trying hard to get rock back to where it belongs.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form Hotel Le Motel?

Jason: Hotel Le Motel formed last summer. I was going through some interesting personal woes and had been crafting my songs at an open mic I’ve been hosting for years. I tried to get a few different line-ups together but nothing was working. I was jamming at a friends party when I met Greg Daniels. We jammed and, at the time, I didn’t think much of it. Then I was brainstorming about who I could call and his name popped into my head. I found his number called left a message about jamming. He called me back that day and said he knew of a bass player and that afternoon we jammed. We wrote our first song together that day and also played a handful of my songs. We decided to keep it going and played our first show on July 4th, 2008. I suppose that’s how it happens; bands that work just find themselves rather than the wretched searching process that happens when someone has to be replaced!

Gavin: How is it for you creating what sounds like a more bluesy-rock tone and bringing that to shows that are mostly louder and harder rock?

Jason: I suppose we are currently influenced by acts that bring what people are calling “stoner-rock” to our sound. Band like, “Dead Meadow” was what I was almost exclusively listening to at the time. I do play a lot of blues style solos. But I think our music is really just rock-n-roll. Rock-n-roll came from blues so, therefore, we are just stretching more into that part of it. I think we mix well with hard music acts because we play with much intensity. Our music has progressive changes and we play the shit out of our instruments. So, Bluesy or not, we are a hard rock band in our eyes.

Gavin: Is it harder performing as a trio with longer and more complex songs or do you welcome the challenge?

Jason: We love the Trio deal. We’ve talked about adding a fourth member but it only has been an idea. Ryan Bassett and I have been able to make a full sound with our techniques. We are aware of how easy it is to make a trio sound empty. I’ve been playing lead guitar for a while and I spend a lot of my practice time learning how to make scales runs using harmony rather than single notes. I’ll make it sound like there are two guitars whenever possible. We’ve had guest players jamming with us and when it happens I find the music sounding muddy and non-interesting. I don’t think that means we’d never get another player, it just means that it would have to be just right. It is challenging but, I guess were happy to take it on.

Gavin: You have some songs out via MySpace that are getting radio play but no albums officially recorded. Do you prefer the old-style single release way of putting music out?

Jason: Wow, we have songs on the radio? We didn’t know that. We have an album all but finished. Our only problems have been financially getting it out. One of us definitely needs to win some money fast. As far as the single question, we’re not too into that. We want to bring back the way albums were in the 70’s. “You put the album on and listen to its entirety.” It’s like when you collect records, once you put that record on the turn-table the artist intended you to listen to the whole thing. I don’t try to write singles. We’re not too happy with the way the popular music scene has been functioning for years. I like The Brian Jonestown Massacre idea of giving it away for free. Let people come to the shows and let the album be just another part of it. Our album will be our as soon as we can afford it. We are already ready to record our follow-up and the first hasn’t even been released yet!

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Jason: I think Utah has great music; however, we’re a bit partial to what’s coming out of Ogden. Ogden is a city that everywhere you go in Utah; people don’t have much good things to say about it. I think that’s why Ogden musicians are so full of artistic integrity. When I’m in SLC and I’m seeing bands, I often can see who their influences are before their first song is over. It’s more of a scene, rather than a place where music is the concern. I’m often annoyed by papers like, The City Weekly. They say certain bands are the bands leading the scene and I think most of the time, those bands are the bands that sound like the bands that have been popular in other states for years. It makes you remember just how far behind Utah is from other states. I think there are so many good bands in this state that I only know of because I accidentally stumbled onto one of their shows.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Jason: I think less interest on what’s been popular and more interest on what could be great. Also, crowds need to be more interested in the show rather than the act. I’ve played many show where certain bands will have a crowd they bring and when their band is over the crowd dissipates. Those people aren’t music fans, their friends of a band.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Jason: First and foremost, Labcoat, I think their music is so amazing. Their also not interested in defining themselves, you’ll never see them looking a certain way. Their guitar player is by far one of my favorites and the best thing about him is, that if you were stranded on an island with him, it might be months before you even knew he was a guitar player. Then there’s The Naked Eyes. Those guys are just great and it makes us smile to see what their doing.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Jason: I guess none of us listen to too much radio. I’ve hated popular music radio stations for as long as I can remember. If I’m not listening to my CD’s then I’m searching for bands through other media that has nothing to do with radio. KRCL, however, I do like. Ever since they changed their formant and Bad Brad Wheeler has had such an influence there, I listen to it more than ever.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Jason: Um, I’m not to bothered by the idea. I suppose if I were selling albums then maybe I would but. What I’ve liked about file sharing is the idea that maybe the old way of the music business is over. I f you want to be a great band and make people interested in what you’re doing then make them want to come see you and then they’ll buy an album. Record executives don’t have a clue as to what it means to make people fall in love with a band. I think we’d be happy at this time knowing people were trying to obtain our song, regardless of how.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Jason: More songs and more show. As soon as our album is finally released, maybe touring. We want to get more exposure and just keep doing it.


Radio Courtesy (skrapS, Cherri, Montey and Hex)

http://www.myspace.com/radiocourtesy

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Hex: We are four people who met and all love music so we started a band.

skrapS: Laid back, love to play, hate to work, that's me.

Cherri: Radio Courtesy as a whole is an amazing project to be in, because we all click very well together. The way we write is pretty minimalistic; Hex or Montey will write a riff and bring it to practice, then skrapS will throw down a beat, usually perfect right away, he has a good feel for what the song is even at the beginning. We'll run through it a few times and then take a smoke break while I scribble down some lyrics. We'll usually tweak a few things like adding backups or maybe a bridge or something, but its pretty amazing to have that kind of connection throughout the process.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Montey: I was raised with music all around me, no one in my family had played an instrument, but my mom used to play a lot of different kinds of music from Motown to Country, and a lot of rock-n-roll in between. I always had all kinds of favorite bands like The Four Seasons, The Beatles, Motley Crue, Faith No More, Cyndi Lauper, The Descendents, Mr. Bungle and so on.

skrapS: I remember my mom played guitar when I was young so that really got me interested. As I grew up the big hair metal bands was where it was at. Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N' Roses, you know.

Hex: I’ve always been interested in music; I grew up in a home that always had music around. Growing up I listened to anything from the Beach Boys to AC/DC. I have always been influenced by powerful music, whether it’s metal or new age.

Cherri: I've always loved music. My family, especially my dad, were instrumental in cultivating my interest. As a child, we would sing on road trips and at family get togethers, my dad would pull out his acoustic guitar. I remember singing for aunts, uncles, and grandparents as young as three or four years old. I was in plays and school programs starting in preschool and kindergarten, and continued in choir, dance, band, and theater all through high school and college. My influences started with stuff I heard driving around with my dad when I was little; the Beatles, Elvis, the Beach Boys, and as I got older, Pat Benetar, Cyndi Lauper, Tiffani, Heart, all those 80's female singers, and hair bands like Poison, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form Radio Courtesy?

Hex: Myself and Montey met at Kennecott and got talking about music, we got together and jammed one day and had a good time, later we found out our good friend skrapS, who also works at Kennecott, played drums. So we jammed. Cherri sang in Montey’s last band, The Butlers Of Chateau Grayskull, and came to a practice of ours and sang a couple songs, we were all hooked so we asked her to join the band.

Cherri: Montey, Hex, and skrapS all worked together and had been jamming together for a couple of months before I came in. Montey and I were in an acoustic band called The Butlers Of Chateau Greyskull together for about six months and one night practice got canceled so he invited me to jam with his other band. I wrote some lyrics and sang a couple of songs and after I left he called me and said that the band talked and they wanted me to join permanently. It was serendipitous!

Gavin: What's the general reaction you get from people when they hear the hard rock blended with Cherri's vocals?

Montey: I think they like the cut of our jib.

Cherri: A lot of people tell me they can hear that Tsunami Bomb has influence my singing style, but in reality I haven't really drawn from them in any particular way. A lot of people say they didn't know that I could scream when they first saw me, and that hearing "big" vocals coming from such a small person was a big surprise. Its a huge compliment! I think people like the way my voice sort of dances on top of the music. It certainly is fun for me! Its cool to hear smooth vocals on top of the gritty music, and it something not a lot of people are doing, so I think people respond to it both because it sounds good and because its unique.

skraps: It's like putting a top coat of kick-ass high sheen paint on top of a solid layer of primer.

Hex: I think most people are surprised at the sound we get with our blend, Cherri’s vocals are powerful and uplifting, it works good on top of our music.

Gavin: The song “Mr. Tin Man” has been getting airplay recently. Was that the main song you wanted out or was it just random that it got picked to go on-air?

skrapS: As long as we have something out there I'm happy as hell!

Hex: We pretty much decided that Mr. Tin Man would be the song to push for us. It is catchy as hell!

Montey: I think it was our most catchy and “na na na, na na na na na” would stick in peoples heads.

Cherri: Tin Man was definitely our pick. It was accessible, fun, and catchy with the "na na na's". When I first wrote the song and brought it to the band for practice, I think we played it through maybe 3 times before we all looked at each other and said "This is going to be our first single."

Gavin: I've read you were entering the studio in April to record your first album. How has recording it been going and what are the plans for it so far?

Cherri: Unfortunately, we ran into scheduling problems, in lieu of doing a professional recording at that time, we decided to make a demo using Garage Band and do a bit more writing before taking that step. Montey recorded and mixed our demo, which we have started distributing at shows. He's very talented and I'm really happy with the results.

Montey: We are planning to head into the studio very soon, though.

Gavin: When you release will you be looking for a label or doing everything yourselves, and why?

Montey: If a record label wants to pick us up that would be great, do you know of any who want to?

skrapS: Whatever presents itself best!

Hex: Yeah. Whatever works best, we’re easy.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Montey: I think there are a lot of great local bands out here, so I think its pretty good.

Cherri: I think that Utah has a pretty amazing and overlooked music scene. There is so much variety and so much talent, and its bred out of oppression and conservatism and the end result is pretty staggering.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Hex: Promoting of local bands in Utah is good, but it could be better. We need a bigger scene.

Cherri: I only wish that the local scene were more about uniting bands together and giving each other a hand, instead of promoting things like Battle of the Bands, which I feel promote an unhealthy sense of the wrong kind of competition.

Montey: I think there should be more all age venues.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Montey: Radio Courtesy!

Hex: Sorry For Yelling, The Average, Victims Willing, ESX, Tragic Black.

Cherri: I really like Cavedoll, Tragic Black, Victims Willing, and This Is Anfield. I've liked almost every local band we've shared a stage with. There are a lot of talented musicians in Salt Lake.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Montey: Kill your Radio! its all junk!

Hex: It’s all shit.

Cherri: I think that there is some talent, but realistically it really has become too much about who you know, and not how good you are.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Montey: I have mixed feelings about file sharing, on one hand I think its taking a little away from the artist, on the other hand its taking away from the evil music corporations.

Cherri: Certainly I feel that a musician should be paid for their hard work. However, the "pirate" sites do seem to offer more in the way of rare and underground titles. For instance, I wish iTunes had the Gypsy 83 soundtrack.

Montey: What did iTunes ever do to you, Cherri? I am going to throw an apple at you if you don't take that back!

Cherri: Hey, I found it on Limewire. I'm just saying...

Montey: Who the hell wants a lime when they can have an apple! You are lame sauce!

Cherri: Mmmm... apple sauce.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys the rest of the year?

skrapS: If we told ya, we'd have to kill ya! Just keep your eyes open for up-coming shows!

Hex: More shows and more songs. And hopefully we’ll be recording soon.

Montey: Gaining more fans, and finally getting to that pesky recording.

Cherri: We have plans to play Club Vegas's Comcast show at some point, where they record your performance and run it on Comcast's “Music On Demand.” We also have an upcoming show at 5 Monkeys on October 9th. Anyone that wants to follow us can friend us at MySpace as well as join our group on Facebook.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Hex: All our shows!!!!!

skrapS: As usual... Lover Beans, you know who you are.

Cherri: Check us out! We'll love you forever and you'll thank yourself for making such a wise musical decision! P.S. Hi dad!

Montey: XOXO!


ESX (Maralee, Tori, Crystal, Kendra and Heidi)

http://www.myspace.com/esxband

Gavin: Hey gals! First off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Crystal: I started singing Karaoke when I was eighteen, when I worked at club Omni. I was so shy, I thought it would help with stage fright…it has quite a bit.

Kendra: I moved to SLC about five years ago. I’m short, play bass, and I like the sound of thunder.

Maralee: I play drums, I like zombie movies and drink a lot of coffee.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Kendra: I’ve always loved music, it’s been the biggest thing in my life since I can remember. Musical influences for me... Tori Amos, Rancid, Shpongle, Imogen Heap, Fallout Boy, Aus Rotten, Social Distortion... punk, ska, reggae, techno, trance/goa, minimal techno house, riot grrl, indie rock, etc...

Maralee: I come from a very musical family; we all play instruments and are obsessed with music. My first true musical love was 80s new wave. Stuff like Psychedelic Furs, Echo & The Bunnymen and Gang Of Four. I love electro.

Crystal: I always loved Smashing Pumpkins, a lot of chick music, like Sneaker Pimps and PJ Harvey…even Courtney love. Growing up, The Breeders, Now it’s a lot more electro, indie rock stuff, like Metric, The Knife and Tracy The Plastics – I will always love the rugged chick bands though…

Gavin: How did you all get together to form ESX?

Crystal: Kendra and I have known each other for 500 years. We met our sophomore year in high school and have always “talked” about starting a band. We decided to get on Craigslist and actually do it. We found Maralee, a god send. Maralee knew Heidi, and I met Tori through a childhood friend, which was pretty dope.

Gavin: You've all been playing in our music scene for a while, but this group is fairly new to everyone. How has it been for you developing your sound and finding an audience?

Maralee: I’ve been playing percussion for 15 years and I’ve been in various bands around SLC, but ESX feels like the perfect fit finally. As far as an audience, we always just invite anyone who wants to come check us out. ESX wants to always be unique and always always fun.

Crystal: Yeah, I think I speak for everyone when I say that we as ESX don’t want a specific sound. We just kind of do whatever feels right at the time. We really kind of write together... a lot of our songs, we start jamming and we birth a song; I feel a certain emotional reaction to the drums, bass, etc and the vocals just go from there… I hope that in having a wider variety of genre, that we are able to reach a larger audience. Just to make them feel something, ya know?

Kendra: I haven’t actually played in the SLC music scene other than DJ-ing. So this band is really what has developed my sound as a bassist.

Gavin: You recently went through a lineup change already. Can you tell us a bit about what happened?

Crystal: I think initially, Knar, our previous guitarist, really brought a lot to the “ESX” table. However, musical preference was a big factor and Heidi (formerly of Rope Or Bullets) has been playing the same type of rock we all love, so it just kind of fell into place. Also, our violinist, with that, we really wanted to fill in a sound to add to the emotion… violin does that. We love the new element on the “tranny” song.

Gavin: Are there plans in the works to record an album or mainly playing gigs for now?

Kendra: I’m not sure about the other girls, but I’d like to keep playing gigs for a bit. Refine our sound, write more songs, gain a bigger audience, etc. But I’d definitely love to record in the future!

Maralee: As soon as possible in my mind.

Crystal: If we win the lottery we will record an album sooner than later… cross your fingers!

Gavin: When you do his the studio will you be looking for a producer and a label or going more the DIY route, and why?

Crystal: Again, with the lottery... I mean really! DIY would be amazing humbling experience, however. You never know. I think we have a lot of growing to do before we look for labels.

Kendra: I used to be very pro-DIY about everything. And I would still love to do that. But with the sound ESX has, I think we could pull off looking for a producer/label. I’d be happy either way as long as we are putting out our own stuff.

Maralee: ESX will do whatever we have to to get our sound out. But I’ve done DIY and it sucks.

Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Crystal: Locally, I think we really need to expand as far as genres go. Really, traveling last summer with a friend's band, I really noticed how many amazing bands were out there – I was also lucky enough to experience D-Fest thanks to Cavedoll and really it is so amazing what bands are doing out there. I mean, Recorder for example in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They dress as robots, they sound like robots and their stuff is so hooky! I like local bands, but I wouldn’t really go out of my way to see a lot of them.

Kendra: I’d say both good and bad for sure. SLC, and Utah in general (in my opinion) have a weird music scene. It’s amazing and full of bullshit at the same time. But I wouldn’t want to start a band anywhere else, so maybe it’s the same everywhere. There is a strange mixture of camaraderie and elitism here, but I’ve never played anywhere else so. Also, I’ve mostly only participated in the punk scene, a little in the electronic scene, and the ska scene in Provo. So the girl band thing and playing bars is all new to me. So far every show, and the bands we’ve played with have all been rad.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Kendra: ESX. The way I view our band is that we’re not about a specific scene, or excluding anybody. Just good music and having fun, but being sincere and real at the same time.

Crystal: Yeah, stop being so technical and start really caring about what you’re putting out there for people to hear. And think about why you’re doing it more often.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Kendra: Today? Loom. Tomorrow? Who knows…

Maralee: Sex On The Run.

Crystal: Big Gun Baby is probably one of my favorite bands in SLC right now. Also, Subrosa and Lindsay Heath – I really love the artsy stuff they put into it – like they put their souls into it…you can really tell when a musician is doing it for the fame, for the money or because they are passionate and I think that’s what makes people want to come back and see them play again.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Crystal: Oh god…I haven’t listened to the radio in... forever. I think it almost limits you, you know? You end up mimicking some crappy Emo band – and neglecting your own mushy ball of musical juices.

Maralee: I love popular music currently. It’s all about fashion and hook. Viva la pop!

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Maralee: It’s a great vehicle. It evens the playing field and enables accessibility. I’m hearing music from independent artists in Iceland now that I would never have otherwise had access to.

Kendra: Part of me loves it; it’s the classic tradition of making mix tapes for friends. But it also sucks, cause it means that the ways to make a living as a musician have to be redefined a lot. It always drives me crazy when friends of mine tell me where to go to get free music online when I bitch about not being able to afford music, all I can say to them is “why would I go get something for free when I know that someone has put so much effort into creating this? Why would I not want to support them?” And now that I’m part of a band that’s trying and hoping to get to the point of making a living doing music, I feel even more inclined to be against free file sharing.

Crystal: I think it’s great. I used to hate having to call in and request songs off the radio and wait hours and hours to hear one song! Or having to buy a cassette because it has one song on it I liked. Talk about a rip off.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Crystal: Fireworks… fireworks baby… We are only going to get better. We are already coming up with some fierce ideas and, like again the “tranny” song – which was written about a M-F tranny I fell in love with. We added a violin to this, check it out at Kilby Court on September 20th, it transitions this intense emotional current that is inexplainable and I think it really helps people to relate to the emotion I was feeling when I met “Annie.”

Kendra: Yeah. Shows! Shows! And hopefully no more broken ankles.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Crystal: My bum-bum!

Maralee: Yeah, Crystal’s bum.

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