INTERVIEW: No Name Hotel
How would you classify No Name Hotel’s sound?
I don’t think I would classify it as anything other than the sound of memories. They could be distant or recent ones. Positive or negative. But like all memories, there are distortions, exaggerations, errors in recollection. When I’m writing, I try to lose myself in a place and time in my life and then I write the soundtrack to that scene. For Tristan, it was the park I’d frequent back home, when I was around 20, 21 years old. Or the streets of my neighborhood, where I’d often go on lonely bike rides every evening. For me, the scenery comes to life and is represented as sound. Trees, the night sky, the humidity on my skin. I like to think these elements write the songs for me, it’s just the memories that I’m tapping into.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
Whatever they find in there. More often than not, my interpretation of an artist’s song is not exactly in-line with their original intent, but that’s the beauty of music. As a listener, you get to mould it into whatever you need it to be. It’s that transformative quality that makes it the most powerful art form there is. There’s no other medium that feels so inherently personal and allows the level of fan ownership that music does. It’s rare to hear someone talk about how a film or a painting saved their life or got them through a difficult time. I’m sure it happens, and there’s obviously great beauty in every kind of art, but music just has that special universal something that sets it apart.
Who are your all-time or current top 5 musical influences?
In terms of people that shaped my appreciation for the art, we’re definitely talking Bowie, Reznor, the entirety of Radiohead, Kanye West, and Kurt Cobain. It’s not that I necessarily channel all of these people into my current music, but they are the most responsible for me being the artist that I am today.
How’s the music scene in Jacksonville? Are you an acquaintance of Radical Face?
It’s great if you want to be the next Coal Chamber or Puddle of Mudd. Just kidding, sort of. I’m sure there’s some cool stuff to come out of my city. I like old Skynyrd, before they became the soundtrack to the Tea Party. I haven’t met Radical Face, but I did see the singer from the band Black Kids in line at Starbucks once. Scene aside- the year or so I spent playing around town in my teenage band was the greatest year of my life up until that point. We really felt like outsiders which made for some thrilling experiences playing live.
What is the best concert you have been to?
I’ve only been to a handful of shows in my entire life, not including ones where I was playing. I don’t know if there’s a best, but each had it’s moments. I saw Kanye a few years ago. He was on the floating stage and did this extended version of Stronger that I loved. Everything he does has such a theatrical flair. It’s really inspiring in an era where artists get paid to jump around on stage to an MP3 of their own song while the crowd shouts all the lyrics for them. Kanye pours his heart out every time he performs, sometimes to his own detriment. There’s intent and thought put into every aspect of the show. Kendrick Lamar is the same way. That kind of honesty and passion is increasingly rare in the mainstream.
Do you play out yourself? If so, what’s the set up?
I’m currently working on my debut album, but once it’s done I imagine the shows will be pretty minimal to start with. Me, a mic stand, a sampler and a laptop. I played in a punk band as a kid, but NONAH is quite different and the dynamic and stage presence will be something I’ll need time to establish. Down the road, I can imagine the stage show turning into something much bigger and more visually engrossing, but for now my goal is to make each performance a bare-bones, public display of catharsis that the audience is just kind of… subjected to.
Is there a song on Tristan that you’re particularly close to?
Yellow Street Lights. In most towns, they’ve started swapping out sodium lamps for LED ones. It’s cool, they’re eco-friendly, etc. But honestly, it looks like shit. I’ve kind of gotten used to it, but it still feels like Close Encounters every time I look out the window at night. The yellow ones just mesh better with the environment. Particularly residential areas. I’ve been bitching about that topic for like two years and no one understands. I was pretty happy that I found a way to vent about it in a song.
What do you think is the best way to experience your sound? Headphones? Video? Live?
I wish I could say live, because it feels like what you’re supposed to say, but I’ve yet to play a single show as No Name Hotel. So probably headphones. Videos are great but the downside is the viewer might have something entirely different envisioned and you just totally shatter it. That being said, we’ve got a cool one for Blood on Sky coming soon so keep a look out.
What’s next for No Name Hotel? Any touring plans?
Continuing to work on the LP. After that, I definitely aim to get out there and start playing in support of it. I am really looking forward to building that human connection with the audience. Live performance adds so much depth and tangibility to a musical act and I’m really excited for that.