Every so often, one song will kill you. Slay you. Drive you to your knees where you can give thanks to the musical gods.
For Motel Radio, performing Thursday at Temblor Brewing Company, “Streetlights” is that song. “Streetlights” is enough to make you want to cry to Mama and thank her at the same time. Music, like friends, complete us. Give us rest or, for four minutes, make us feel immortal.
Motel Radio is a rock band based in New Orleans. Formed in 2014, they are young, young, young which means they believe, believe, believe. No middle-age doubt here.
Texas natives Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo began their songwriting collaboration in college, in Baton Rouge, where they met fellow musicians Eric Lloyd (drums) and Andrew Pancamo (bass). The band left some gristle and sweat in the college bar circuit.
In 2015, the band moved to New Orleans and its teeming music scene. Motel Radio recorded its debut EP, "Days and Nights," at Listen Up! Studios with local musician and producer Mike Seaman.
Motel Radio has opened for national acts like Kristin Diable, Drive–By Truckers and Kurt Vile and has performed at festivals including Firefly, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and SXSW. The band was named “Best Emerging Artist” at the 2016 Big Easy Awards in New Orleans.
Thursday will be the band's first appearance in Bakersfield.
Wellman, one of the songwriting forces in the group, answered questions on a long ride between gigs.
Who are you musical influences?
Ian: “I've been into Mexican style ballads lately, like that 'Narcos' theme song 'Tuyo' by Rodrigo Amarante. Also early country, soul and psychedelic rock.”
What are you goals as a group? Make a million dollars? Write 10 good songs?
Ian: “The goal is to find fulfillment through the creative process, and to share that with as many people as we can. We love making music and playing it for people.”
Are you having fun?
Ian: “This has been the most fun I've had thus far in my life. Great excuse to travel, being off to the races. Meeting new places and faces.”
With CD sales being tough, how do you make money in this business?
Ian: “Mostly through guarantees, merch sales and online sales. We try to keep our team as small as we can, which helps. We've seen a little dough through small publishing deals but not that much. I think that's really where the money's at.”
Herb Benham is a partner in Passing Through Productions, which is sponsoring the concert.