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Saint Motel’s A/J Jackson and Aaron Sharp talk influences, tour and new music

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Saint Motel will perform at Newport Music Hall April 25th as the second stop on “The Awards Show” tour. Credit: Robb Rosenfeld

Inspired by the old and driven by the new, Saint Motel looks for unique ways to push the boundary while paying homage to the vintage California culture that has defined its style.

Saint Motel is set to play Newport Music Hall Tuesday at 7 p.m. for its second stop on “The Awards Show” tour. It’s also scheduled to perform at Columbus music festival Wonderbus Aug. 27, according to its website.

Consisting of vocalist A/J Jackson, guitarist Aaron Sharp, bassist Dak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin, the band’s roots go back to Orange County in 2002 where Jackson and Sharp met while attending film school. After a few different iterations of the band, Saint Motel officially formed in 2009 and shortly thereafter released its debut EP “ForPlay.” Since then, the band has amassed worldwide acclaim with over 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Their most popular song, “My Type,” has nearly 300 million streams, and the band has since played the likes of Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.

Recognized now for their distinctly upbeat and opulent sound, defined by big vocals, piano and horns, Jackson said that the band’s debut album “Voyeur” served as the turning point for its production of music.

“‘Voyeur’ is pretty much the halfway point when we were self-producing and when we weren’t, so you can kind of hear different songs there,” Jackson said.

Sharp said the change allowed the band to evolve into the sound defining itself with today.

“The way we wrote and performed music was completely different, it was very stripped down,” Sharp said. “It was kind of great while it lasted, but I think once we started going to the second and third album, you can sort of hear an evolution in terms of the production and arrangements.”

Sharp said while the band is always looking for original ways to perform and express themselves, it has certain valued characteristics in its music it always comes back to.

“All the things and the ideas that you’ve heard and synthesized into our music, that’s why we are often sampling old records, referencing old music, talking about old movies and just trying to make new and interesting sounds from things that have already occurred but also in a new light and make them fun and fresh again,” Sharp said.

“The Award Show” tour is meant to be a refreshing spin on its previous live performances, according to Jackson.

“This particular tour, ‘The Award Show,’ is going to be something really exciting that we’ve never done before that’s pretty unique. So very much looking forward to that,” Jackson said.

Each night, instead of having a designated setlist, the audience will vote on the songs it wants to hear, Sharp said. He said this purposely keeps the audience and band engaged in order to reimagine the idea of the live show post-pandemic. The concept of voting for each song also ties directly into the theme of “The Award Show.”

“Everybody had all this time off, so we were really just trying to think of different fun ways to involve the audience,” Sharp said. “We wanted to sort of stick in the filmic theme in some regards because that’s sort of been part of our origin story, and it’s always been part of our narrative.”

Sharp said nothing matches the energy of a live performance.

“The energy of a live show, especially with fans that know the words and are excited, I mean, nothing else gives you that feeling. So, that’s very exciting for us,” Sharp said.

The band plans to play older and newer songs, Sharp said. Fans can start looking out for new music from Saint Motel but with a unique release model.

“We’re gonna be releasing tunes over a period of months as opposed to releasing an EP or LP,” Sharp said. “That’ll be a new fun way for us to do our album cycle, and I think it’ll hopefully give each song its own space to find its place in the ether.”

 

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