Sometimes when you’re a new band, having a sunny, poppy first album is just the tip of the iceberg. It can give the false impression to fans and critics alike that you’re all fuzzy and happy inside without showing what’s truly who you really are. For Chicago’s Gold Motel, the described situation is their story.
Though she lived in California for nary a year, Greta Morgan’s songwriting was affected by the beautiful weather. The singer channeled the sounds of summer into her debut Gold Motel EP, where she collaborated with her friend Dan Duzsynzski (This Is Me Smiling). Working with Duzsynski, Morgan realized that her pre-conceived solo project could grow into a full band effort, thus began the full-fledged band. Though Morgan is still a fan of Southern California, the timing was right in 2009 for her to return home.
“I really didn’t want to spend another winter in Chicago,” the singer explains. “And I had a close friend who had an extra bedroom and it seemed like a really good opportunity. But I never thought I’d live there forever. The specific reason I came back related to my musical career was that I reconnected with Dan and to start recording with him.”
Adding Chicago music veterans Matt Schuessler, Adam Kaltenhauser (both of This is Me Smiling), and Eric Hehr (The Yearbooks) to the mix, the group embarked on a journey that led the release of their debut LP, Summer House. Even with Morgan having the ideas for the songs ready before the band was a fully functioning unit, their album was a success, even if the plans for it were executed before the band was a complete unit.
“When I joined, half of the material from Summer House was already written,” Hehr says. “There was already a pre-established vibe and sound that was wanted.”
The album was lauded by publications including Spin and Nylon. As the hype behind the release continued, the band hit the road for both national and international tours through 2011, playing alongside acts such as fun., Kate Nash, Hellogoodbye, OK Go, Butch Walker, Cold War Kids, They Might Be Giants and more. That same year saw the band make their festival debuts at the hometown Lollapalooza and SXSW. Not too shabby.
While they were enjoying the fruits of their labor, yet not quite ready to rest on the merits of their first album, Morgan and company were busy working on their follow up. Using Duzsynzski’s studio again, their latest album a much different feel to it, which Morgan attributes to the cold Chicago weather and the band’s growth as a unit.
“Everyone brings different interests to the table,” she says. “There’s this unspoken agreement of what works with certain sounds and such that we lean towards. On this album, it’s not all one character and I think we’ve had the sunny pop stuff, but also more melancholy/bittersweet stuff. It’s not entirely dark or entirely happier, but we really put our foot in the door of these songs and we know how to express ourselves better. It’s not so much that it’s darker album, but a fuller spectrum.”
“This album is the counterpart to Summer House,” Hehr adds. “If the first one is an album you listen to when you’re in your car, then is what you listen to when you’re coming back home. It’s more reflective and introspective.”
Regardless of the differences between the two albums, one thing remains the same: it’s still retains that Gold Motel pop sensibility. If you don’t believe it, then you’ll have to wait until July 3 to find when the album is released via the band’s own Good As Gold Records in conjunction with Thirty Tigers.