atj interview :: motel motel

ATJ presents MOTEL MOTEL, Wednesday October 22, 2008, for After the Jump’s CMJ Showcase at the Knitting Factory NYC, performing at 10:30pm inside the Old Office (Best of NYC), along with the Beets, the Lisps, Inlets, Alina Simone, and the Muggabears.

Listen :: Coffee

MIA: Musically, how did the band form, what past experiences do you carry with you?

Musically we formed in Journal Square, NJ, so um, Bruce Springsteen and Thursday? Also the pipes in the house resonated at about the A above middle C, so Born to Run in the key of A I guess. My past brings a lot into it; I came from the cutest punk rock scene you’ve ever seen. It was in Hawaii, and had about 6 bands, and twenty people total, so incest ran rampant like the Mississippi delta. But it was great and loud and fast, and I’ve always wanted to keep that desperate energy of punk rock, stranded on a desert island wherever music takes me.

MIA: Describe the feeling of living and making music in your city, feel free to share a memory or a certain place that makes you feel like home.

Parking tickets. Incorrect license plate placement tickets. Incorrect Inspection card tickets, because the god damned mechanic we paid 100 bucks to forge us one, because lord knows we cannot afford a legal van, didn’t glue it on right and it melted off in the hot Brooklyn sun, moved an inch from where it should be and became a hundred dollar fine. Midnight street cleaning tickets, we’re talking 3 AM cleaning? I have never seen a street cleaner, have you? Oh, and we’ve gotten two flat tires thanks to nails, in the street, guess the midnight cleaner didn’t see them, maybe because it was nighttime, and dark, and hard to clean, in the dark. This all makes me feel like home.

MIA: How does the band like to get ready for a live show? Is there a favorite song that you enjoy to perform live?

We do enjoy playing live! I ration out Jeremy’s drink tickets to him, he gets one per 30 minute, usually give mine out to cute girls, Mickey’s uses his to buy Soda-Pop, and I have no idea what the hell the Eric(k)s do with theirs. That’s pretty much the closest thing we have to an opening ritual we have. Favorite song depends on the night, but usually favors something where we are all singing.

MIA: What has been the most impacting compliment, or criticism, your band has ever received?

Someone told me the music made them feel both happy and sad at the same time. It sounds ridiculously simple, but makes the most sense to me and what I get from great music. That’s what I want. A sadness deep enough to pull some joy out.

MIA: Within your songwriting, is there some type of element that has brought about a certain mood in yr writing, making you feel more/less different than when you started? How long has the recording process taken to complete your album and to finally believe that it’s ready?

I really like this first question. Well certainly the element of pressure, we’re not 3 kids in a basement anymore, and all those feelings of maturing as a band have been placed on the back of our songs, and thus songwriting to the point where we can spend hours debating little, seemingly meaningless chords, transitions, etc. That’s probably the most extreme change, the weight we are putting on our music now. The recording process took forever and then some, thanks to us being full time students. It ended up being almost a year, and we certainly felt it was ready then. Although, maybe only for the fact that we wanted to run far far way and never hear the songs again, haha.

MIA: What qualities do you hope listeners may take from listening to your music?

A sense of place. By that I mean, a setting, landscape, feeling — something that triggers a moment from their life.

MIA: Any recommended records so far of ‘08?

The New Walkmen album is fantastic. I think my favorite of theirs. I’m bad with dates, the new national album, I think that is from 07, but I don’t care because it is fucking amazing. Tom Wait’s Bawlers Brawlers and Bastards, that might be an 06, haha, but again I don’t care because it is amazing.

MIA: Name a visual artist or piece of work that inspires you.

Andrew Wyeth. Not the Christina’s world stuff, I’m talking boat, beach, and sometimes an old guy with a serious beard. I really want to write more about the sea. Furthermore and along those same lines, Casper David Frederick’s Monk by the Sea; same deal, sea, person, more sea.

MIA: Please share a mixtape with a theme of your choice.

Theme: (By the way I love this kind of thing) Railroads, at Night

1. Full on Night by the Rachel’s

2. Arizona by Sharks Keep Moving

3. Swansea by Joanna Newsom

4. Lonesome Whistle by Hank Williams

5. Goodbye Desolate Rail Yard by A Silver Mount Zion

photography by Julie Hagenbuch

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