This is my interview with Greg Erwin (far left, drums/vocals), Dak (second from left, bass/vocals), A/J Jackson (middl, guitar/keys/vocals), and A Sharp (far right, guitar/vocals) of Saint Motel at their show in Pittsburgh, PA on March 7th, 2012. They are incredibly nice, smart, and funny guys and I highly suggest that you see them if they are anywhere near your town! Here are links to the bands videos for “Puzzle Pieces”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7bQGM14mJI and “Honest Feedback”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akCigogPNUI&feature=channel.
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First off, how are you?
All (A Sharp, A/J Jackson, and Dak): Doing good.
Are you enjoying this tour?
A/J Jackson: Yeah, we are liking the warmer weather down here. This is nice.
When you are on tour, what do you do to stay busy?
AJ: When we’re not playing shows, there are a lot of word games and puzzles. We do a lot of reading, and quizzing each other to keep our minds strong…and we watch a lot of porno.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
A Sharp: You gotta go out there and give it 130%. If you’re a good kid you’ll make it (laughs). Just persevere.
AJ: No, I guess…just be a DJ.
AS: Keep it simple, do it in the computer. You can do more gigs just flying with a laptop rather than a full set up with eight dudes and multiple hotel rooms.
If you could give yourself advice 5 years ago, what would you say?
AS: Watch out for Dak.
Dak: Same thing, watch out for Dak. (Laughs)
AJ: Probably, since the next greatest song is always around the corner. I would give ourselves our current cong library and have us ditch our old stuff.
You guys have created some very interesting videos, have you been creating them on your own?
AJ: Most of them. I think we’ve made eight so far and I’ve directed five of them, our friend Carlos did two of them, and our friend Evan did one of them…and the band directed one all together. Yeah, we do a lot of it in house and with friends.
You’ve been directing, so did you go to school for that?
AJ: Yeah, all of us met in film school.
Are you film buffs then?
AJ: I mean we’re buff… I mean we’ve watched a lot but we all have different mindsets like I don’t hold onto details for very long in my mind. Seen a lot of movies, studied a lot of movies.
If you could pick five films to watch for the rest of your life, what would they be?
AJ: Wow, I don’t know if any movie could hold up for the rest of your life, you might go crazy, it probably wouldn’t compare time after time. If you are too familiar with the movie, it could become torturous. Anything in life, for the rest of life in a limited amount, would be torture like five meals for the rest of your life. The only one that could be debated is the five women for the rest of your life. That might be the exception to the rule, but other than that you’d need some variety.
AS: Spice of life.
What bands or artists have influenced you most?
AJ: We’re constantly being influenced by a variety of bands but when we were first starting out, I know Sharp and I we’re talking about Imperial Teen. That was one that we thought neither one had heard about or had been particularly into. We were all into a lot of 50s pop and 60s rock and a lot of the obvious stuff that is just unquestionable. We also talked about Beethoven’s 7th symphony and I don’t know about you Sharp but that was the first work to bring me to tears.
AS: Yeah, that’s a piece I could just listen to over and over and over again. It definitely inspired me to continue to play music. I think that just in how the idea builds on top of itself and becomes very cathartic at the end, I think that’s something we all enjoyed musically.
If you could co-write an album with anyone, who would it be and why?
AJ: Either Bowie or the surviving Beatles probably. Lou Reed, Neil Diamond
AS: Brian Eno. Probably Bowie.
AJ: Burt Bacharach. The list goes on and on.
Do you enjoy the remix Sam Sparro made for you?
AJ: Yeah, it was very fun to hear.
AS: He was in the video too.
Do you have a favorite song to play live?
AS: Right now, I really enjoy playing “Honest Feedback,” our most recent release. Right now, it just feels really fun to play live. I think you could have a favorite in each batch of shows but that is my favorite right now.
Have you been getting good feedback from “Honest Feedback?”
AS: (Laughs) Yeah. It’s doing pretty well.
AJ: It’d be really ironic if we got negative feedback. That would be suck.
AS: That WOULD BE suck.
AJ: Dammit. That would suck. There’s critique built into the last part of the song in the verse. I think it reaches so far into that concept that I don’t think you could use honest feedback in your feedback. It goes so deep into that subject that it is almost kind of ridiculous. It’s like if you didn’t see the movie My Left Foot and made some critique like ‘I’d give my left foot to see My Left Foot,’ then it’s like ‘did you actually see the movie ‘cause that’s not appropriate.’ Similar kind of vibe.
Favorite place to play?
AJ: That’s tough. We haven’t played Pittsburgh so we can’t say here for sure. It very well could be. I know I’m excited to play Minneapolis. That is always a great place. We just played New York which was great. Being from LA, that’s always amazing. We always like playing new places for the first time. We’ve never played Philly, Rochester, Pittsburgh. But there’s a lot of great cities.
AS: I think every city, every night, is pretty great.
AS: I like the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. That’s always a fun place. They have a hotel upstairs. You can leave your equipment set up and you don’t have to load out all quick. They’ll usually give us bottle of whatever we want. We get to relax instead of having to worry about all of our equipment. If every place was like that, we’d be in heaven.
AJ: They should start a chain. It’s the best concept for a venue.
AS: There’s also other bars close where you can have some fun.
Dak: I love every place as well. Every place has it’s own vibe so I love playing the new places as well. This could be my new favorite.
Favorite band or artist that you’ve toured with?
AJ: Oh we can’t play that game. We’ve been lucky enough to tour with some pretty awesome bands over the years and even play with some really awesome bands. You learn something from every one of them. There’s no favorite.
Is there a song you wished you covered live?
AJ: l bust out covers now and then. We’ll usually play whatever we’re feeling at the moment. Tonight we’re a cover, pretty I love.
AS: Pretty I love. That would be suck.
AJ: (Laughs) Our last cover was pretty fun, we did three minutes of “A Quick One While He’s Away” by The Who. Tonight is Del Shannon but we like surprising people with different songs. Always like to change it up.
Are you planning on releasing a full-length soon?
AJ: Yes we are.
What can fans expect?
AJ: Oh God.
AS: You’re asking the hard ones (laughs).
AJ: We will have an album out. We don’t have a release date now but I can expect it to be fun. We’re still working on it. We’re still writing new music for it. We just recorded a song in New York and just finished vocals for one in L.A. It’s very much still in progress.
You guys have played some shows with some pretty crazy themes, do you have a favorite and where do those ideas come from?
AJ: I don’t know if we have favorite. We’re always trying to do new things and keep it interesting. The ideas basically come from wanting to push the idea of what a concert can be. Along with our general restless nature and wanting to do things that takes it out of the typical concert experience to make it unique. It’s always changing and evolving. That’s something to expect from Saint Motel, you never know what will happen, it just keeps changing.
What’s your greatest memory as a band so far?
(Greg Erwin joins)
AJ: When we had our bar mitzvahs together, that was great.
Greg Erwin: The day Dak said ‘I love you’ to me and no one else.
Dak: From the bottom of my heart.
AJ: This right now.
AS: I love this weather.
What are your plans for future?
AJ: The new album which means new music from us, new videos, new artwork, new ideas.
GE: More touring.
AJ: So it all kind of goes hand in hand, until it comes out, we’ll have new music coming together pretty steadily that will merge together in an explosion of entertainment.