An Interview With Motel Sundown
The latest from Motel Sundown is a full length and lush album that focuses on an Americana and contemporary toned series of songs that have the ability to draw you in and keep you where they want you by telling stories with attention to detail and emotion along with an array of outstanding musicianship and instrumentation that builds an atmosphere you get used to quickly.
The If You Were Listening album has some personal tonality and keeps to such a cinematic undertone that by a few songs in, the record becomes infectious and you're able to start picturing these stories in your head almost like you're reading a book.
Some of the most beautiful parts about this record are the vocal harmonies and how they come through with the soothing approach and have a way of almost melting into each other.
The instruments across this record are robust and used with a subtle Dynamic that always works wonders for the song itself and bears in mind some classic rock influence more than half the time.
You have everything from acoustic guitar, mandolin, pianos, and even pedal steel which all in combination definitely touch on that southern soul aspect often.
There are more than a few gems across the album that stand on their own two legs and make amazing singles like the title track itself, however, listening to the album as a whole is really a whole different story.
It's much more wondrous to soak this thing in full so that you can really feel everything in your bones the way it was meant to be felt.
Almost everything from composition to Arrangement have been extremely well thought out and again, that attention to detail shines through plenty throughout the course of this release.
But really, it's about the heart and soul that went into this, and you can hear that with every single note.
There's a true love for the craft going on and you pick up on that straight away. This aspect never goes away and stays strong throughout the whole thing which is pretty impressive.
A lot went into this release and there are many layers to be peeled back which all in all makes something impactful and genuine.
Those are the things that this album encompasses and it's not often you come by a record this full and satiating so if you're a fan of a beautifully mature Americana soundscape, then this is absolutely for you.
However, if you're a fan of just great music in general this is also for you.
It's great to have a record that makes you think and feel so I would suggest popping some headphones on for this one.
With the release of such a wonderful album, we wanted to have a chat with Motel Sundown to find out where this all came from and what may be next for the group.
Here is what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Let's kick things off with the If You Were Listening album. This record had a very beautiful and cinematic feel to it with Americana undertones! Where did this album come from?
This is our debut album so a few of the songs were written before Motel Sundown
started, and some of them were written by the three of us together. For a majority of the songs, we each contributed ideas and then we finished them off together by adding new sections or layering harmonies. We then recorded the album at Astar studio in Manchester in 2021 with some great session players. We even had some pedal steel from Gerry Hogan who has played for the likes of Emmylou Harris and Albert Lee.
It’s a bit of a composite of things we had prior, and thought would suit the band, and then some later stuff we wrote whilst in the band. So hopefully that makes it a more interesting mix. Also, we were trying to add certain atmospherics to make it less traditional.
Buzz Slayers: When did this all start for you? When did you fall in love with music?
I always remember listening to whatever music my parents were listening to in the car and enjoying it even if I wouldn’t listen to it now! But it was when I was studying A Level Music in school and my teacher introduced me to the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac and the likes, that I started to become more interested. When I moved to Liverpool in 2014 and met Karen and Rob my interest in performing in a band increased even more and I started to enjoy the music Motel Sundown is inspired by today such as, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Band and Sheryl Crow to name but a few!
Similarly, for me, I was listening to music my parents loved in the car. A lot of it was country music and I was about 10 years old when Shania Twain and The Chicks were really big, so I was inspired to pick up a guitar when I was a teenager. My Uncle and Brother being in a band had a lot to do with me pursuing performing live and my Granny and Mum played piano so there was always music in the house. There has always been a love for it from an early age.
I’d always enjoyed listening to music like everyone does but sort of became more
active looking for things as a young teenager about 12, I had an older brother getting into music, so I was imitating him a bit in terms of listening. But it was fun searching for stuff back then before streaming. Then a bit later I bought a cheap guitar on a whim and never looked back, playing certainly got me into listening a lot more.
Buzz Slayers: What inspires you to write a song?
I’m sure it’s a different experience for everyone but for me I usually just write about my own personal experiences. We are lucky in this generation in that we can just quickly make notes on our phone if we have ideas for lyrics and then record it straight away which helps if you have a spontaneous idea. Recently I’ve been trying to take inspiration from people I’ve met or from people who have told me stories about their life which I then might interpret into a song either as a theme or directly related to the person. But I generally feel inspired to write after listening to an album or a specific artist on repeat! This also helps with the musicality aspect, as I find it much easier to write when I’ve been listening to music religiously.
It can come from just a one-line idea sometimes and that can become a full song, or a song can come from messing around on the guitar and I’ll work through it. Usually, I’ll be more inspired to write if I’ve been to live gigs that I’ve really enjoyed or heard something new and different from an Artist. I have found it quite difficult since lockdown to find the motivation to write by myself as I enjoy writing with other people more.
I mainly often noodle around on a guitar when I’m relaxing then if something
interests me, I start to just subconsciously scat and scan things, that’s broadly how I do it, and let it write itself. Occasionally I sit down and write something I feel this way or that about but less and less. Nice to try less…
Buzz Slayers: This record has some great styles! Can you give us some of your top musical influences?
I’ve already mentioned a few of mine but I’ve always enjoyed listening to Emmylou Harris’ voice and I think both her songs and Gram Parsons’ are beautifully written. I love Elton John’s melodies and the way his music fits around his lyrics. I also really enjoy the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan and how their songs are always like short stories.
Too many to mention also but Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Alison Krauss and some
more modern influences would be Brandi Carlile and First Aid Kit.
Things come and go really. I’ve been listening to lots of guitar music again recently like Albert King and Peter Green, but I suppose certain things you have heard so much it’s deeply entrenched there: The Beatles, Neil Young, Nick Drake John Martyn and The Band. But I suppose I like certain things for certain reasons like you know Dylan for the lyrics, Hendrix for the guitar, obvious stuff like that.
Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
N: I think we all like to spend time with our friends and family when we can as our
schedules can be unpredictable. Going to gigs is also fun when you’re not working.
Liverpool usually has live music on every night of the week so we can support our
friends’ bands and other local musicians when we can.
K: Trying to train my mad puppy or catch up with family and friends is a big one too. Also catching up on TV shows I haven’t been able to watch.
R: I like getting out in nature when I get the chance but not enough.
Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
N: I’ve been listening to George Harrison’s album, ‘All Thing’s Must Pass’ but I’m
also enjoying First Aid Kit’s new album, ‘Palomino’.
K: I’ve been listening to Courtney Marie Andrews recent album and a band called
Strand of Oaks which have some lovely tunes. Also ‘Palomino’ too!
R: Albert King Born - Under a Bad Sign, John Martyn - Inside Out, Barefoot Jerry -
Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
We recently played a couple of great acoustic shows. Phase One, in Liverpool and
Forty-Five Vinyl Café in York, both as part of independent venue week, and
Birmingham Symphony Hall as part of the regular Nashville Sounds in the Round
We also recently headlined the Cavern in Liverpool with our full band which was
great as we debuted some new songs. Our next show will be on the 24th of March in Leaf (Liverpool), supporting Mike Blue followed by the Liverpool Country Music Festival on the 9th of April, at Camp Furnace.
Buzz Slayers: This album feels like a big undertaking, is there any advice you'd give to other up and coming bands out there?
I would say practicing the songs together before recording is one of the best things you can do to get the most out of your studio time. We also found that uploading your songs to the right playlists on Spotify etc, in good time before the release helps your music reach more people.
K: I think playing live as much as you can really help you find your sound and the
musicians you should be playing with. We have played a lot over the last year with
our full band and as a trio which has helped us develop our music and fine tune our harmonies.
R: Make demo’s, make multiple demo’s even. Get a chance to hear the songs back
as you imagine them and have a plan before you get in there, how you are going to track it, in what order, what are the essential parts and what sound do you want.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
We have just finished recording two new tracks at Motor Museum recording studio which we aim to release in the next few months. We’re excited to release these singles as they’re a little different to anything we’ve released before, with a blend of genres and influences. We also recorded the tracks with our band that we’ve been playing with for the previous year or so and think the resulting sound is a more polished and honed version of what we imagine our sound to be, but with a bit more chemistry and identity.
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Thank you for listening to our music and for supporting us at our live shows! We
have a lot planned for the year ahead and can’t wait to release our new music and
continue performing across the UK and further afield.
Don’t forget we also have our debut album, If You Were Listening, available on 12”
vinyl which you can purchase from our Bandcamp with all our other merch! (Link
You can also head to our website for news on upcoming gigs and more info: