Discovery: Saint Motel


Saint Motel has a flair for the dramatic. The band’s shows often have themes, complete with costumes—erotica, slasher, sci-fi—just for fun. The glam-rock group consists of lead vocalist and guitarist AJ Jackson, guitarist Aaron Sharp, bassist Dak, and drummer Greg Erwin. Their sound? A mix of The Morning Benders, OK Go, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Neon Trees. Their single, “Puzzle Pieces,” is a loveable, energy-driven pop song that started getting buzz at SXSW.

We caught up with Saint Motel’s AJ Jackson during their stay in New York (as he put, the “aquapalypse”) when Hurricane Irene graced us with her presence.

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA

ON BECOMING SAINT MOTEL: We met in film school. Aaron was a classical music major and then he transferred to the film department and we met. Greg was going to a school in the same area. I went to Chapman University in Orange County, CA. We got together in 2007. I’ve known Aaron a lot longer. We all played together in various incarnations, here and there throughout the past 8 years. Some of us for less. There’s been a lot of different lineups. In 2007, we came together and formed Saint Motel.


WHY MAKING FUN MUSIC IS IMPORTANT: I guess sound-wise, I think we play music that is a nice balance for everyday life for us. We get our rehearsal space. We play loud music that is kind of fun because often times at work or real life, it’s quiet and not as entertaining. We have to entertain ourselves. We rehearse in a small dark dungeon in Los Angeles, so we have to compensate.

THE MANY GENRES THAT FIT SAINT MOTEL: What are some comparisons you’ve gotten? Someone was describing the sounds as, “psych-pop,” which I thought was kind of interesting. We’ve gotten comparisons to Yellow, Blondie, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, The Who, and Heart. We’ve gotten all sorts of random references. Genres have been all over the place: psych-pop, cinematic pop, indie rock, rock-‘n’-roll, indie prog.

ON SURVIVING THE HURRICANE—AND OTHER EMERGENCY PREPARATIONS: Well, we only did bring a few things. Most of our gear is still in Brooklyn. Technically, you should always have a reflective piece of mirror or something to signal a rescue helicopter. We’d need to have that. If it’s a rainstorm, probably iodine pills; something to sanitize water because we could just harvest it and purify it. Then, a good-cutting knife, so we could cut wood and skin animals and attach the knife to a stick so we could spear fish or hunt game.

NEVER QUITE MASTERING THE CRAFT OF MUSIC: I think it varies from member to member. For me, I think I started playing music in second grade, and I’ve continued to do it ever since. I started on piano and started writing music around that time. It’s just something we all feel that we have a pretty decent handle on. We can enjoy doing it together. We’re all pretty proficient at our instruments, so we can jam. It’s also something you can always grow in and learn from. So, you’re never done. It’s always exciting to know that there’s a lot of places you can always go. You can always get better, and you will always get better. You can never master your craft.

THEIR DREAM LINEUP: There was a really good lineup in the early ‘60s, called the Traveling Festival in the UK. They were all really young, because none of them had really broken yet, except The Beatles, barely.  It was The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Van Morrison, The Animals… I can’t even remember who else. That’s a pretty epic lineup. That’s something that only happened because no one knew how big the bands were. Actually, The Kinks were bigger than The Rolling Stones at that point. I think I want to go on that tour. Alive-wise… we toured with some pretty awesome bands, like Band of Skulls. There are just so many bands that would be fun to tour with. I don’t even know where to begin.

PLANS FOR THE FULL-LENGTH DEBUT: That’s what we’re working with right now. I think before our full-length comes out, we’re going to do a vinyl. We’re going to have that lead into an album release, which is probably going to be early spring. We’re recording songs right now. We’re discussing how we’re releasing them with some various parties. We’re just trying to figure out the best way to do that as soon as possible. In the meantime, there’s going to be a music video for “Puzzle Pieces” coming out within the next couple of weeks. There’s some really cool remixes. Then a new song called “At Least I Have Nothing,” will be out within the next couple of weeks, probably.

TEH FUTURE: I would say I hope we are doing this and I hope we’ve made music that’s held relevance to people ten years from now. And people still want to hear it and still support us enough to be able to make it. Ten years from now we’re still making music. And we’re all alive. That’d be cool. And we’re not all cyborg robots.