"I want people to use this album as the soundtrack to their summer," says Greta Morgan, frontwoman of Chicago-born indie pop unit Gold Motel, of the band's debut LP Summer House (out June 1st independently). One listen to the record makes it clear that Morgan and the band should have no problem getting listeners to do just that. Summer House offers up 10 tracks of charming, breezy, consistently well-written sunshine pop that's about as summery and downright likable as music can get.
Indie pop fans in Chicago and beyond might already be familiar with Morgan's sweet, alluring vocals from her work in The Hush Sound. After that band went on hiatus, Morgan spent time living in L.A., where she took in the local music scene and began writing material for Gold Motel. Back in Chicago she joined forces with friends from other area bands including This Is Me Smiling and The Yearbooks, and the new group released their introductory EP in December 2009.
With a superb debut about to drop as well as extensive touring already under their belts - with many more dates already scheduled - Gold Motel are poised for great things. In advance of Summer House's official arrival and a hometown release show at Lincoln Hall set for Friday, June 11 (more info and tickets here), Morgan took some time out to fill us in on more about the band:
WCR: To launch Gold Motel you’ve joined with members of fellow Chicago bands The Yearbooks and This Is Me Smiling. How and when did you all come together?
GM: I knew the guys in This Is Me Smiling since The Hush Sound took them out to open for us on our first headlining tour in 2006. Dan (Duszynski, guitar) helped engineer some tracks on Like Vines, and when I was working on my project, I remembered how fun it is to work with him in the studio. Dan and I recorded the Gold Motel EP together, calling in Matt Minx for bass duties.
As for The Yearbooks, Eric Hehr (guitar) and I have been friends since early teenage years and I've always wanted to be in a band with him. I love his songwriting, his guitar playing, his style. This just happened to be the right time for everyone to join up and start a fun project together.
For listeners who might be familiar with the work you did in The Hush Sound but haven’t yet heard Gold Motel, how would you say the two compare stylistically? Was there anything specifically that you set out to get across with the new music?
Gold Motel is very simple, summery, fun, straightforward pop-rock. I want people to use this album as the soundtrack to their summer.
The material on the debut Gold Motel LP, Summer House, is definitely very sunny, upbeat, irresistible stuff. In that sense you can definitely hear the influence of living in California while writing the music, but what impact do you think your Chicago roots have on the sound and the band in general?
There will always be a sweetness in my music and that's the Midwesterner in me. I don't try to seem tougher, angrier, or cooler in the songs than I am in real life. There'll always be an honesty and vulnerability in the songwriting. The Gold Motel record is definitely influenced by California, though. Spending a winter there in the sunshine instead of the frigid, blizzard weather of Chicago made a huge difference in easing my state of mind.
Tell us about the recording of the album. Where did you do it and what was the process like?
We recorded the album in the house where I grew up. At the time, no one was living there, so it was just this big, empty suburban house in a quiet town. Dan and I brought his home studio and set it up at my place. The mixing board was in the library, drums were recorded in the high-ceiling living room, and piano, organ and guitars were recorded in the foyer. It was one of the most fun, spontaneous, easiest recording experiences I've ever had.
What about some of the specific songs? Do you have any favorites or any that you are particularly proud of?
"Stealing the Moonlight" was one of the most fun to write. It was the first time Dan and I sat down to write a song from scratch and it was a very quick, fun, carefree experience. I feel very lucky to be working with a group of guys who work so well and so easily together.
You’ve already filmed music videos for two songs – “We’re on the Run” and “Perfect in My Mind.” Tell us about the inspiration behind those clips and the experience making them.
For the "Perfect in My Mind" video, we wanted to capture the type of fun our group of Chicago friends has had in the last few years. We gathered our closest group and asked them all to be extras.
The song "We're on the Run" was inspired by lovers on the lam movies like "Bonnie & Clyde" and "Badlands," so we wanted to make our own "on the run"-type video. Eddie O'Keefe came with us on tour for three weeks and filmed the whole thing, editing hours upon hours of material down to three minutes of shenanigans.
The band recently returned from an East Coast tour with Family of the Year. How did it go? Any standout gigs?
Our show at the MICA in Baltimore was an incredible time. The audience danced the entire time and it made me feel like I was doing exactly what I was put on earth to do.
After your hometown record release show June 11 at Lincoln Hall you’ll set off on another tour with fellow Chicago band Skybox, and you’ve blogged that you’re looking for street teamers to help spread the word. How can people get involved?
Go to www.goldmotel.com/streetteam to sign up!
Working without a label, you’ve done a great job getting the word out about the band. What advice would you give to other indie bands that have to take on promotion by themselves?
Reach out to your core. It's pointless to try to placate people who will never be your fans. Play to your core, reach out to your fans directly, write honestly for you and the listeners, and have fun!
How can people keep up on all the latest with Gold Motel?