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Saint Motel Writes to Excite

Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2012 14:08

Saint Motel’s first full-length album didn’t come easily. After going separate ways with their record label, the Los Angeles band picked up the leftovers and turned them into the outstanding pop album that is Voyeur.

Known for their crazy live shows that involve plenty of visual components, Saint Motel is highly aware of how sunny their surf-pop sound is. It’s so fun it even cheers up the band members themselves.

This is their second time in Phoenix this year, so make sure to catch them this time around if you missed them before. College Timescaught up with the band while they were en route to Madison, Wisconsin.

College Times: Tell me a bit about your new album, Voyeur. It took a while to complete, didn’t it?

A/JJackson:It did, yeah. It did. We finished our EP ForPlay in 2009 and we kind of started working on Voyeur probably in late 2010 and then for about a year we were kind of involved with a label. We recorded with them and at the end of that process we were a little unsatisfied so we decided to try and re-record it ourselves. It was kind of a daunting task but it was fun. In the end it was the best stuff we’ve ever done.

Did you learn a lot recording it yourselves?

Definitely. It was a trial and error process but we’ve got a system worked out at this point. Making music and challenging ourselves to make us sound better. A lot of it was recorded lo-fi but it’s a big sound with the arrangement. I think it balances out pretty well.

You’re known for being big on visuals. How do you balance the musical and visual side of Saint Motel?

Music videos are never much of an issue; they’re completely separate to the music. But the live show is something [for which] we need to figure out the balance constantly between too much visuals, because we don’t want to distract from the [audio] aspect of the show. We’ve been trying different things for as long as we’ve been a band. I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied with our live show. We’re always trying different things. I think the show we’re doing on the road now is really fun. I’m excited for this one.

What can people expect from this tour?

Well, we left our fire-breathing midgets back in LA. We’re not gonna swallow any swords or anything this time around. It’s mostly just stuff to enhance the music. Unfortunately we’re only doing the horn section in certain cities, mostly due to budget restraints and stuff like that. Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be able to bring some more players on the road with us.

Where do you find it in yourselves to put on such a crazy energetic show night after night?

Our music gets us excited, honestly. I write music like that because it’s what we want to perform. Sometimes it’s escapist music because ... we might be listening to sad, slow depressing music all day in the van but then we get out and play it’s an opportunity for us to go on a mental vacation onstage. Even though we write our songs in a dark stingy warehouse in downtown LA, our minds were somewhere much more endearing. It’s just different.

The album does feel intentionally positive. You didn’t want to have any sad songs?

Well, the last song on the album (“Balsa Wood”) is like that. A lot of lyrics on the album are a little less positive per se, but the last song is a pretty serious song and it’s acoustic. That’s the other end of Saint Motel. We were almost thinking of not putting it on the album. As an album it felt like a nice U-turn at the end of it. Rather than have an album with the same songs we thought it was kind of nice to pull out a bit of variety.

Saint Motel w/Races, Sun Ghost, The Rhythm Room, August 7, 8 p.m., $10

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