by Tate Kamish
Motel Radio is an indie rock band hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana. The band was born out of a songwriting collaboration between college roommates, Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo, that has since grown into a full band consisting of Eric Lloyd (drums), and Andrew Pancamo (bass). The band was named “Best Emerging Artist” at the 2016 Big Easy Awards in their home town of New Orleans.
The following questions were answered by guitarist and vocalist, Ian Wellman.
In just a few years, you have gone from mainly playing the college scene to supporting national acts such as Kurt Vile and Drive–By Truckers, in addition to touring around the country. What has that transition been like?
It’s felt pretty natural, actually. It all started really quickly once we started getting interest from management, booking agents, record labels etc. But since then, we’ve been on the road a ton trying to build markets and reach new people. We’re starting to shift our focus back to writing and recording the new stuff, and that feels really good.
While your 2015 EP, Days & Nights, seems to be rooted in classic, southern rock, your latest release, Desert Surf Films, leans a bit more toward west coast, surf rock. What can be attributed to this shift in sound?
A wider set of influences and a better understanding of our gear. The Days & Nights songs were the first ones we ever wrote together. At that point, we were all in a deep folk phase. We were learning how to craft good songs by classic standards I think. Now it’s like “what can we do to make this more unique?” We just want to push our own limits a bit, and I think that’s driving the sound of our newer stuff.
The lyrics to “Star of the South,” calling out to someone who has perhaps reached glamour and fame while forgetting about their roots, really stand out in contrast to the intimate, house party setting of the video. Could you speak more to the meaning of this track and the process of creating the live video?
The track is about the way that we, as humans, like to hold people on a pedestal. Like it’s in our nature to idolize certain people for some reason. These people can influence us completely and we don’t even really know them. They’re just humans too, though. No actual life experience can compare to the cinematic fantasies we imagine they are living, so it’s good not to compare yourself to them. Just do you! The song is definitely sarcastic at points, but I’m totally guilty of it too. I think all of us are.
Our friend Christian Schultz directed the video. We had just met, he came over to brainstorm video ideas. I turned on the song and he started walking around the house looking through a fake camera, bobbing to the beat and was just like “I have an idea”. We took it and ran with it. Got some friends over and shot it the next day. I love that it’s all one take.
What was the first concert you went to?
Backstreet Boys, baby. Circa 2000 I think.
Do you have any hotel/motel horror stories?
We stayed at a yurt in remote California once. It was amazing. I was outside alone in pitch black just watching the stars when I heard someone walking around in the grass near me. I couldn’t see them through the darkness, but I figured it was one of the guys taking a leak or something. I walked back into the yurt and my whole body got cold when I realized everyone was there. Whatever was out there with me was human sized, I swear.