From an Empty Bar in Marfa: An Interview with Motel Radio on their Debut Album

Today marks the one month anniversary of Motel Radio’s debut album, Siesta Del Sol. The album, whose title comes from a song the band heard together at a bar in Marfa, TX, is the band’s debut album.

Motel Radio, consisting of Ian Wellman, Winston Triolo, Eric Lloyd, and Andrew Pancamo, are an indie/alternative band from New Orleans.

IN their short existence, the band has already had large tours including some opening up for artists such as Kurt Vile. Now, they are touring in support of their debut album and are visiting new audiences across the U.S.

Their music is the calming and relaxing sounds you would want to hear during a walk on Venice Beach, or while you take a nap in a hammock. The band discussed their sound and the making of their album over an interview via email:

Question: The band has been together for five years now— what’s it like to have this debut album out? 

Answer: It’s definitely a sigh of relief. We’ve already got a whole new crop of songs that we can focus on working out now. The songs on Siesta Del Sol range anywhere from 3 years old to less than a year old, so it’s nice to have them all recorded and out in the world.

Q: Can you talk about the process behind making the album? (How long, influence, working together)

A: The album was recorded over about a year span. We chipped away at it little by little. We didn’t want the process to be rushed, and honestly it ended up being quite the opposite. But it let us take our time on it and really figure out what was best for each track. We worked with our friend Eric Heigle on the production of all of the songs. His studio is a block or two away from our house, so we’d just walk over there and work for a few hours at a time. 

Q: Your music has a very warm and calm vibe to it. Is this the reason behind the album title Siesta del Sol

A. No that’s not really the reason, but I suppose it does fit the imagery. We named the record after a song we all bonded over on our first trip to the west coast. We heard it at this empty bar in Marfa and we all had this funny psychic connection for a minute. it became the anthem for the trip. 

Q: Despite being together for a relatively short time, you’ve all played big festivals and have opened for musicians like Kurt Vile. What’s that experience been like? 

A: All of those experiences have been wonderful. Any time you can get in front of a crowd who is open to sharing an experience with you, that’s a great thing. Typically those support slots and festival plays are where you find those crowds. Plus it’s cool to the bands we look up to do their thing. 

Q: You’re in the midst in the tour for this album; is it your first large tour? Any cities that are new to you? What’s the reception been? 

A: This isn’t our first big tour, but it’s definitely double the size of anything else we’ve ever done. We’ve played a bunch of new cities and the crowds have been incredible. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen crowds that are this involved and ready to go on a ride with you. It’s been so much fun! Mad love to the Summer Salt boys for bringing us out. 

Q: As a relatively new band, what do you want the world to know about you all? 

A: We’re just out here doing our thing. I hope people get a hold of our music and want to come listen to it live. We all met in school. None of us are classically trained. Andrew is a CPA and is a super flexible human being. Winston does all of our graphic design and branding and can do long hand stands. Eric could be a country star if he wanted to, he has a crazy good voice and sick fingerpicking chops. He’s also the TM (Tour Mom).  I (Ian) did all the music videos for the record and have been sort of the quasi photographer for this tour. I also care a lot about planet earth and how we treat it. We try to keep everything in-house, which I guess is pretty unique. 

Q: New Orleans is known for its jazz. How much did the town play into the album and in general for you all as a band?

A: I don’t really know. It’s never a conscious thing when that happens, it’s more of a byproduct of your environment. Andrew and Eric grew up around New Orleans so they’ve had that groove instilled in them from a young age. I think “Interesting Girl” could have easily had more of a country groove to it, but Andrew and Eric made the rhythm section feel very “New Orleans second line”, so yeah the influence is definitely there. 

Q: Any other comments or just anything you want to say in general?

A: Pay attention to your carbon footprint! Go listen to the new record! Come see us live, it’ll be fun!


By Antonio Villasenor-Baca

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