Photo Credit- Dani Mac
This is another FRESHY, FRESHY post on one of the first Badass Bands for y’all to help promote a HUGE show they have coming up ONE WEEK FROM TONIGHT, FEBRUARY 18TH AT THE FOX THEATRE IN HANFORD. This is a show you won’t want to miss! They actually have more than a few shows coming up ALL over California, so be sure to check out moteldrive.com to see when they will be near you! Recently the guys were on a mini tour through So Cal and Arizona and while they were on the road they were awesome enough to take the time to answer some questions for BBB! Read on music lovers!
Original Post Material- Badass band #4 is Motel Drive. The simplest words describe these guys best, they ROCK. Motel Drive is made up of three members- JD Goodwin, Chris ‘Rhinestone’ Estep and Jake Finney. They all hail from the Devil’s bellybutton, AKA Fresno, CA. The name of their band is a salute to a certain street in Fresno that is well-known for various types suspicious activity. However, these guys are the opposite of suspicious, they are talented, fun and can get ANY crowd going, and I do mean ANY. If you had to put a label on the type of music they play it would be a mash up of Punk inspired Rockabilly/Bluesy Country. Their second self-titled release dropped in early 2011 and has given fans much more of what they wanted from these guys, killer tunes. The track list is as follows: Trailer Park Queen, Baby I’m Through with You, Asshole of the Year, When the Lights Go Down, The Lucky One, Pictures, Long Tall Woman, Tell Me Why, Bedroom Eyes, Borrowed Time, Ain’t Got Nothin’, Drifter Blues (Live), Plastic Dashboard Jesus (Live). The CD is a fantastic mix of fast and slow-paced songs that are insightful, heart-felt, funny, and are highly relatable.
Motel Drive first caught my attention at a Battle of the Bands at CSU Fresno in April of 2010. I believe there were something like 6-8 acts and all of them were stereotypical and bland, that is until Motel Drive came on. If my mind serves me correctly they were the second to the last band that night and they blew the competition out of the water. After they played, it was crystal clear what band was going to win. The crowd, up until these guys played, was polite but not many were really into any of the bands, myself included. However, once MD came out and JD fired the crowd up, Jake busted out his upright bass and Chris got behind the drum kit all of that changed instantly. I think just about everyone in the room became fans of them that night.
Since then I have seen Motel Drive many times, pretty much any chance I get to make a show I am there. I have never once been disappointed. These guys are just impressive at working a crowd. They can easily read what pace of song the crowd is yearning for, offer jokes in between songs, and wow a crowd with their raw musical power. JD’s vocals are smooth and deep, Jake plays an upright bass faster and clearer than anyone I have ever seen and Chris pounds out the rhythm on the drum set so expertly you can’t help but move along to it. They also hold another key to winning over fans, they actually ARE having fun playing on stage. Too often bands can play well but they just stand there and make it look more like a chore than fun. These guys are defintely not like that! They are probably one of Fresno’s most well-known bands, packing a favorite venue, Audie’s Olympic, every time they play there. They also played at SXSW this past March and were very well recieved. Here’s to hoping for more exposure to these guys, they deserve it! Take a listen, I know you will dig what you hear.
When and why did each of you start playing?
Jake: I was in the 7th grade. I thought it would be cool and a lot of fun. And it is.
JD: Shortly after Jake got his bass, so somewhere around 7th or 8th grade. I saw guys playing rock and roll on TV and my dad listened to rock and roll. I thought it would be cool. It was probably Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future that really made me do it.
Chris: I got started as a youngin, like 6 or something, when my mother made me take piano lessons. I wanted to play drums, though, and finally got to when I was old enough, 11, to take band at school.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
Jake: Lots of stuff. CCR, Nirvana, punk rock. I heard way too much Madonna. My mom listened to it all the time. Now I have a choice, you know as a kid, you have to listen to what was on the radio. Lately I’ve rediscovered the Rolling Stones. And I go back to the Byrds and Gram Parsons. Buck Owens’ Tiger by the Tail and the Old 97’s are what I’ve been listening to lately.
JD: I listened to a lot of classic rock with my dad—50’s and 60’s music—that’s what he listened to. Doesn’t differ much now, I still go back to the classics—Stray Cats and such. One thing that is different is how I listen now. I listen for what each instrument is playing to see how the song is made. So, same stuff, but it is more about why it sounds so good.
Chris: The three of us all have some tastes in common, bands we grew up listening to, like The Clash. We all love punk rock, and we all love rock and roll in its many forms. That’s where we come from. Not much different now. I like it all, pretty much, these days. Country, electronica, some hip hop, jazz (the real stuff, not that smooth jazz—greatest album ever recorded is Coletrane’s A Love Supreme). And, I like Madonna. I’m willing to admit that. I own the Immaculate Collection (thanks to Tracy Wilkes!).
How did you all meet?
Chris: I met JD at Fresno City College in a jazz improv class. And I met Jake through a gig with another band. My story is fairly boring. Theirs is better.
Jake: We met at Pinedale Elementary in the third grade.
JD: I moved and started going to school there. Well, to Lincoln, but they bussed the whole third grade out to Pinedale. I didn’t know anybody at all. Jake just seemed like one of the cool kids. You know, kids find other kids like them somehow. Kinda weird, but, the Lincoln kids got picked on because we weren’t from the neighborhood. We had to stick together.
Why the name ‘Motel Drive’, especially when that is a notoriously shady area of Fresno?
Chris: Because, it is a notoriously shady area of Fresno! And JD wrote a song about it a long time ago.
JD: There’s something romantic about the old places, the old hotels, and and the idea of playing music for a living, staying in old hotels with dark seedy bars. Plus, I didn’t want some band name that was more of an inside joke, like the last band I was in. It didn’t mean anything. Motel Drive has some meaning. It’s what we admire about the old days of music.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Chris: A lot of them, and for a lot of reasons. I’ll pick a drummer, though. Stewart Copeland is probably at the top for me. He didn’t just play rock drums. He threw in all the influences he had come across in his travels growing up, Arabic and reggae rhythms. It’s a more musical sound rather than just bashing a snare on two and four. The old joke is that a band is some musicians and a drummer. In many cases, that’s probably true. But not in Copeland’s. He was as much of the sound of The Police as was Sting and Andy. I like to think that I bring more than a back beat to the table as well.
Jake: I like Lee Rocker. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be playing upright bass. And that Police video for Every Breath You Take, seeing sting play that upright made me want to do that. And I love the Stray Cats, of course. I’m a huge Lee Rocker fan. He’s not the most complicated bass player, but his bass lines are solid and they do the job that’s necessary.
JD: Brian Setzer and the Reverend Horton Heat. I think when I heard rockabilly the first time, the Stray Cats, from Jake, and then seeing the videos of him with the big orange Gretsch just seemed really cool to me. That guitar makes a certain sound that I really dig. It’s what I play now and the style that comes with it. I like the Reverend’s psychobilly because it was a crazier sound, bridging the energy from punk rock to rock and roll. Setzer has a traditional sound while the Reverend would play punk and surf, a greater variety of styles.
Any rituals before a show?
Chris: Try to show up on time.
JD: I drink beer.
Jake: Drink beer with JD and Chris.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
Chris: I don’t get to see the band. But I have seen some videos. I am amazed by some of the stuff these two guys do. Jake climbs on his bass, JD climbs on Jake’s bass, Jake gets down on his knees, he plays behind his back, JD shreds. Really, we just have a good time. We love playing and we feed off each other.
JD: Three great looking guys playing hollow-bodied instruments. We joke with each other, we interact with the audience as much as we can.
Jake: It’s mystical, a touch of sadness, and a bunch of energy!
Chris: Musically, if you come see a short set, you are gonna get our high energy pieces. We like to start hot and finish burning up. We just played a show in Phoenix where we showed up with 10 minutes to get setup and play a shorter set. We came in blazing, burned the place down, and left for Flagstaff for a good long show. When we do longer shows, we will mix it up more, show you our softer sides—a more dynamic show. That’s what Flagstaff got. We bring the slow jams, too.
What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
Chris: You mean other than opening for Hanson?
JD: There hasn’t been any big break yet. And we’re not sitting around waiting for one. So, we look at every show as our greatest opportunity.
Chris: And that’s true. We need to bring our A game to every show. You make new fans and they tell their friends. Pre-internet style social networking: word of mouth. It’s a slow and steady pace that we keep. We’ve had a couple people come to us and want to do some stuff together, but nothing has panned out yet.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
JD: It’s difficult to find a balance between work, family, and the band. My daughter likes to eat and have clothes to wear. We can’t drop everything and tour non-stop without getting paid for it.
Jake: We play a style that isn’t heard much in mainstream anymore, so our style can sound odd to people who aren’t used to hearing it. When you see us, you get it. But maybe not when you hear it if you are used to just what’s on the radio.
Chris: Our schedules can be a big challenge as well. We’ve gone a month or so at times without practicing just because we couldn’t find the time when we were all able to get together. There are lots of challenges when you are trying to build something big, especially when there is no guaranteed set of steps to take to success. You second guess yourself a lot. But you learn as you go.
How does your creative process typically work?
JD: I start with melodies or riffs on the guitar. Things that sound cool to me and then I build from there.
Chris: JD brings a lot of stuff to us that is as complete as can be. Because of our schedule he works as much out as he can on his own, then we get together and try it out. We try different processes as well. Jake brought the bass riff to “Baby I’m Through with You” to JD and JD worked a song around that. I wrote the lyrics to “Something in the Way” and gave them to JD and he brought the music back pretty soon after.
JD: We’re not tied down to any particular way. We just try to make the most of each practice and be willing to scrap ideas and try new ideas even to older songs.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
Chris: We have 5 or 6 songs that we are working on right now with a couple new ones in their infant stages. We will start recording these soon. We will have a new album out in 2012 for sure.
JD: Booking bigger shows. We’re working on getting into some festivals and things so we can play to a larger audience. We are booked in Hollywood at the Hard Rock and are shoring up details on a House of Blues show too. 2012 is gonna be a great year for Motel Drive.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique?
JD: We don’t sound like any other band. We pull from all the different styles that we have grown up listening to and it comes out as a new sound. People who dig any style can find something in our music to relate to. Plus, we have a great time on stage. You can see it and hear it. We love doing it and it makes others want to love it as well. People from all walks of life have come up to me after the show and said they loved it.
If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
Jake: Good times, good buddies, good beers, good tunes, good vibe.
JD: Sounds good.
How do you define “success” for your band?
Chris: There are layers of success. Right now, we are successful. We get to play music, we sell CDs, t-shirts, and beer coozies. We have a van to tour in. All of this is paid for with gig pay and merch sales. And we still get to take some fun money home each month. This is success. It takes a lot of hard work, and that work pays off in the end. Another success would be to be able quit our day jobs and play music full-time.
Jake: We get to see each other, hang out, have some beers, and play some music. That’s success right there.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Jake: It’s a complacent system. Too many people allow the industry to tell them what they like. It’s not a system of choice. It used to be that you could go to a record store and buy a record. You could read the lyrics or see who played and where they recorded and such. Now it’s an instant generation. You download a hit and never have anything tangible in your hands. This is a complex question and I think I’d rather that we changed the people and then the industry would have to follow.
JD: If DJs could play whatever they wanted, like if I could take our CD into a radio station and let them hear it and decide on their own if they want to play it, I think that would be cool. Less of the labels cramming what they want to sell down our throats.
Chris: The industry itself has been changed by the way music recordings are created. We’ve recorded a couple tracks in home studios already. We’ll be doing some tracking for the new album on the same Mac I’m typing out our answers on. Anyone can do it now. And you can release a CD yourself (or for many, releasing on line is all that is necessary). In many ways, these things are fantastic. It is easier for a good band to get its music into the hands of the people. In other ways, it forces a system where labels are mostly distributers now and the recording has to be done before they’ll even take a listen, if you can get it into the right hands to get someone to listen. The game is different and it takes a lot of energy to keep moving forward in the new game as there are thousands of other bands doing the same thing. I’m rambling. So what would I change? I’d see to it that the industry got into a bidding war over Motel Drive.
One song you never get tired of.
Jake: Hard to pick one. “Sin City” by The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Chris: Yeah, there are a few I can think of. Here’s one: “New Year’s Day” by U2
JD: We could go on all day with this. How about “There are places I Remember” by The Beatles
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
Jake: Mavis Staples. I’m thinking some old gal is gonna belt out some loud numbers. But I was totally blind-sided. Man, the whole performance was awesome. So good!
Chris: U2 puts on the best live shows. I’ve seen them 7 times and it is always better each time. Something to note about the last time I saw them, Lenny Kravitz opened. He and his band blew us all away. Killer live show!
JD: Chris Isaak. The way he interacts with the crowd and his band. And the band is always so tight. Can’t beat that.
Jake: The Outsiders
Chris: Just one again? Lost in Translation is high on the list.
JD: Pulp Fiction
Jake: Juiced by Jose Canseco.
Chris: So many from which to choose. How about No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai.
JD: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Jake: I like to study the Bible and read books about the Bible. And I watch a lot of vintage TV like the Rockford Files and the A-Team. I like to spend time with my girlfriend.
Chris: Graphic design, vintage scooters (I have a 67 Vespa Sprint and a 64 Lambretta Li), and I love my pit bull, Chiquita, and I do what I can to change society’s prejudices about pit bulls and other bully breeds. Spay and neuter your pets, people! And of course, spend as much time with my wife as possible!
JD: Skateboarding and spending time with my family.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Jake: Jim Rockford
Chris: The Man With No Name (from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
JD: Walker, Texas Ranger
What is something no one knows about you but you wish more people did know?
Chris: I love Jesus!
Jake: I also love Jesus.
JD: I love being a dad.
Best prank you have ever pulled?
Jake: The last something I did like that, I was sitting in the living room with my brother a couple weeks ago. I farted over his glass of milk while he was out of the room. He still doesn’t know.
Chris: It’s been a while, but on a high school jazz band trip, Adam Lee and I hid our piano player’s bed. We just left the sheets made up on the floor like a bed. He almost cried. That was awesome.
JD: One time, in high school, my sister’s friend left her car unlocked and I moved it. Then I told her that someone stole it. She cried and was calling the cops when I finally told her. She hates me for it to this day.
What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?
Chris: You mean, what jobs do we have now?
Jake: I’m a hair stylist. Call me.
Chris: I’m a Senior Assessment Editor for CTB/McGraw-Hill. Don’t call me.
JD: I’m a firefighter. Call 911.