Seven Questions for Saint Motel

Thursday night, indie rockers Saint Motel and the Silent Comedy will be performing right in front of Urban Light for a concert sponsored by LACMA Muse. We talked to Saint Motel’s A/J Jackson about how the band came together, how it feels to perform in a museum setting, and more.

Saint Motel formed in Los Angeles in 2007; how did the band come to be?
We formed in film school. A bunch of musicians studying film. It seemed the music we wanted to make wasn’t the kind they were teaching in the school’s music department. We started playing together and eventually became Saint Motel.

Saint Motel has been described as everything from “garage glam” to “reanimated power pop” to “poppy seed indie rock and roll with a tenderness towards celery and cucumbers.” How do you describe the band right this moment?
I really like the food reference reviews! I’d say we are delicious. We have been stewing in our own juices in the oven for about a year or so, and are now being taken out to be tasted and hopefully enjoyed.

You started writing lyrics back in middle school. How has your approach to songwriting changed from your schoolyard days to your latest release, Puzzle Pieces?
Back then my lyrics tended to have a lot of profanity and drug references. Not too much insight or storytelling at that point in my adolescence I’m afraid. My mom called it “lazy writing.” Eventually, it felt more fulfilling to have a raison d’etre for every song. Some sort of unique story. I think Puzzle Pieces is a perfect example of that.

It started when I was having coffee with a photographer friend of mine and he told me a story about a model he worked with who had perfect features. A perfect nose, perfect lips, a perfect jaw line, but all the pieces just didn’t work together. Immediately that conjured up some trippy imagery of a face of puzzle pieces in my mind. That train of thought eventually led me to plastic surgery town.

Visuals also seem to be a large aspect of the band’s creative process. In fact, ForPlay was the first six song EP on iTunes to also release six videos. Who spearheads the video-making process and where does the inspiration come from?
Well, it’s definitely a team effort like everything we do, but I guess you could say I am the spearhead. I directed 4/7 music videos for ForPlay and collaborated with the directors of the other three (the uber talented Carlos Estrada and Evan Savitt). From any music video I’ve done, be it for SM or anyone, the inspiration comes from just closing your eyes and seeing what visuals pop into your head. If nothing comes it gets a bit more difficult. I guess in that case just smoke more weed.

We just finished up our latest video for “Puzzle Pieces” and we’re really happy with it. It has everything I felt when I heard the song. Beaches, latin infused dancing, high energy, live band performance, and a lot of cool camera tricks.

LACMA provides Saint Motel a unique setting with Chris Burden’s Urban Light at your back. What have been some of the more memorable shows you’ve played to this point?
Hmmm, just recently we played a fun show called Make Music Pasadena. With Best Coast, Morning Benders, Ra Ra Riot. ’twas real fun. Some of the most memorable shows for me include playing: illegally in the back of a haul truck in an abandoned parking lot, playing in the ballroom of a haunted hotel, playing an underwear party in a sweaty downtown warehouse. There’s been too many to name really.

You are in the midst of a summer trek with The Silent Comedy, including the LACMA date. What led to the partnership? Also, what surprises have you learned about your tour companions so far?
Well so far I learned that they are mixologists. They can make specialty cocktails! How amazing is that trait in a tourmate? We played with them for the first time at SXSW this year and we gotz a talking. Real cool guys. Very talented and very passionate and we’ve never seen a band as sweaty as we get after a show until we saw them live.

Saint Motel is known for putting on some of the more creative shows out there, including an annual Zombie Prom and the recent Judgment Day show at the Roxy. What can we expect from your LACMA performance?
We’ve been talking with LACMA and DeviantArt about doing some unique visuals for this show. But really, there is already so much amazing stuff going on with this show, we didn’t really need to put to much magic into it. The show coincides with the amazing Tim Burton exhibit and people can buy discounted tickets for access to the museum and the concert. Plus you get a free screen print if get those combo tix [see the event page for full ticket info].

Summer outdoor museum concerts = the perfect evening.

Jason Gaulton, Muse Coordinator

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