The New New Orleans Influence
New Orleans is well-known for its jazz and blues clubs. However, today it is the home of a variety of different musical genres. There’s a new New Orleans music scene. The Crescent City is now drawing in and fostering other genres of artists. A good example is Motel Radio, an indie rock band just starting to break ground. Their first EP ”Days & Nights” was released at the end of 2015. This milestone triggered their break out beyond New Orleans as they went from playing the college circuit in Louisiana to touring the country and rocking festivals SXSW and Firefly. Motel Radio are soon to release their second EP which features new single “Phasing Out,” showing off their digression from folk acoustic to indie pop/rock and electric guitars.
The LSU Birth
Motel Radio formed at Louisiana State University where members Winston Triolo and Ian Wellman were freshmen roommates. They started playing music together, not taking it too seriously. During this time they met Andrew Pancamo and Eric Lloyd, who were working on different musical projects and playing in different bands. When senior year came, Andrew moved to New Orleans and the rest of the band moved in together in Baton Rouge and started writing music. Their first EP was conceived almost entirely out of the songs they wrote while living together. As Ian tells it, “None of us wanted to go and get a full-time job. So, we decided to move to New Orleans and pick up little jobs here and there and try to make this thing work.”
The New Orleans Sound Evolution
Once in New Orleans, they started playing gigs around the area and met keyboardist Dave Hart, who was playing with Kid Carsons. With this addition and the high-energy live music environment of New Orleans, their sound evolved, becoming heavier and less folk-like. Ian remarks, “It’s like we picked up electric guitars and started playing with effects pedals and it kind of took itself to a different realm. It took a lot of playing together and tightening and jamming together.” As an afterthought, Winston adds, “And we got a keyboard player, so we can add funny little sounds.”
The New Orleans Writing Evolution
Their writing process also evolved with their sound. From the start, their songs often came from Ian and Winston who were living together and helping write each other’s songs. But more and more, as their sound has changed, they started to bring the idea to the full band or even come up with an idea while practicing. Ian remarks, “We are all just jamming and warming up and something comes out of thin air, somebody starts playing something and everybody starts catching on.”
Fueled by Each Other and the Crowd
It seems they all feed off of each other’s energy and creativity, and even more so, feed off the energy of a crowd. When asked what kind of shows they enjoyed the most, Motel Radio didn’t have a particular type, city, or venue. However, all the group talked about the crowd’s liveliness. They came to the consensus that their favorite show had a lot of crowd interaction – it didn’t matter if the venue was small or large, just that it was full of people.
This is how Winston described his hopes for the band’s future: “I don’t really care about getting super famous but it’d be awesome to be able to play every show to a packed room.” The rest of band agreed wholeheartedly. Ian added that he hoped they would be “staying on the road, making enough money to live comfortably and not have to work other jobs.” Motel Radio has been going only uphill since they started and with their new sound, it is likely to continue. It looks like it won’t be too long before they are living their envisioned future.
A few bands that Motel Radio admires are on that same path they are soon to be on. The band mentioned Rayland Baxter, Susto, and Real Estate as some up-and-coming bands that they look up to. They also spoke of Tido Stone as an incredible musical influence, a band that they became very good friends with while touring with them.
Influence of New Orleans Music Scene
And of course, the city of New Orleans has been an influence. Young musicians and artists must be on top of their game all the time. Countless incredible musicians surround them all the time. Motel Radio is certainly no exception. Not only do they have the pressure of impeccable musicianship, but they also have the pressure of keeping up with an enthusiastic New Orleans’ crowd. “It’s a big party atmosphere in all the venues that we’ve been able to play at. You have to excite people so we definitely made our set as upbeat as possible.” says Winston as he discussed New Orleans’ effect on their sound. The band also joked that it made them “perpetually drunk” – a common effect of New Orleans’ renowned bar scene.
Great Group Chemistry
When talking to Motel Radio, it is easy to see what a good time they have playing and touring together. They have a punch line and a laugh at the end of every answer they give. The dynamic is energizing and most evident in their latest music video, “Phasing Out.” The video features a man falling in love with a mannequin. The lyrics pour out, “I don’t mind if I can’t hide a feeling that I get with you.” The video is witty and original and supposedly a true story. Winston mentioned that their friend Henry just got back together with Amanda… the mannequin.
New EP to Drop
Motel Radio will be releasing their new EP “Desert Surf Films” later this month. “We are excited about the way our sound is changing,” Andrew tells 1AM. ”We’re excited how our new EP will show the evolution of the band and how we’ve changed writing songs and playing big shows together.” In the meantime, check out their latest single “Palmilla,” which shows off their new indie rock sound.