The Band Babe Radar has detected a dynamic and melodic hard rock group out of Southern California, known as Motor Gun Hotel. To our surprise, this band has had a lot going for them that really sets them apart from LA’s local music scene. Motor Gun Hotel is one of those bands whose grooves seem to just stick long after you are done listening to their grungy raw music. The members include Singer-songwriter/ Guitarist Jimmy Craig, along with Travis Dunn (Bass) and Wendy Rose (Drums) who all have played a big role in the band’s success. Motor Gun Hotel recorded their 2008 EP with JR McNeeley, American Sound Engineer/bassist/guitarist (Underoath, Mxpx) at the Sound Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee with the songs “Lift Off” and “How’s It going” receiving airplay on Southern California’s KROQ 106.7 FM airwaves spreading to other syndicated channels and gaining more popularity. The year 2009 seemed to be a big year for Motor gun Hotel as they went on to perform at the 2009 Sunset Strip Music Festival alongside acts such as Korn and Ozzy Osbourne. They Later found out that they were selected as the only unsigned nominated act for the 2009 Orange County Music Awards under the Best Metal Band of The Year category amongst Avenged Sevenfold, Bleeding Through, and Atreyu. Motor Gun Hotel was welcomed back the following year in 2010 nominated for Best Hard Rock Band and Best Rock Drummer. They have Nationally toured with the act “Green Jello” and since then have been currently looking to team up with the right label/management for more touring gigs. The Band Babe Interview uncovers more behind the scenes details of this buzz-worthy band from Lead singer, songwriter, and Guitarist Jimmy Craig. Enjoy!
What’s new with Motor Gun Hotel?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Just Pushing the band, you know, sending stuff out, creating new contacts and building new relationships.
Absolutely, It’s all about networking. Are you gearing up for NAMM 19 in Anaheim, CA? Are you going to be able to go?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Oh yeah, yeah, I’m usually there. I think it’s been like the last six or seven years. So this will be number eight and Motor Gun Hotel will be playing the NAMM Jam for a guitar endorsement with Ttm Guitars and that’ll be at a club in Anaheim near the Convention Center. So definitely gearing up for that.
Where are you based out of?
Jimmy Craig MGH-I’m in Anaheim, actually. Orange County, California.
How is the music scene in California?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Yeah, I mean it’s very fickle, I noticed a lot of bands are staying local were, you know, as far as Motor Gun Hotel goes, we’re just trying to get out of a California as much as possible and build different fan bases on tour and different cities, states, and nationally currently.
So who all is in the band Motor Gun Hotel, Can you please elaborate?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Absolutely. We are a power trio. We have Jimbo Masiello on drums, then we have Brian Beckman on bass and backing vocals, Myself I sing and play guitar, songwriter.
Can you share some insight and background into the formation of Motor Gun Hotel?
Jimmy Craig MGH-There has been a couple of lineup changes since 2005 around when I wrote the song Motor Gun Hotel. I had left my previous project which was more of a psychedelic kind of Hendrix, the doors, all original songs, the band was called electric lemonade. I ended up writing the song Motor Gun Hotel and I thought that’s a great name. I was about to dissolve the project that I had been working on for that period of time and I wanted to start something a little bit heavier and the name just stuck from writing the song. As I said, it was a bit more sixties kind of psychedelic stuff we were previously doing, blues-based, original rock and roll. So I ended up, getting other players just due to a different change in style. I wanted to be more heavy and direct in the sound and message. Motor Gun Hotel is definitely harder hitting and developed a grungy sort of feel to it. When I was 10 years old in 92, I was subjected to a lot of sound garden and Alice and chains on MTV, I was one of those kids that were glued to MTV. I liked to watch the videos mainly performance videos. I was so intrigued with live performance to see the band members play their instruments and I adapted to the whole grunge movement, it really struck a chord in me. As I started playing guitar and songwriting, I was maybe like in between 10 and 12 In the ’90s and I was into the full-blown alternative thing. I reverted back into my mom and dad’s records and cassettes, which were like Pink Floyd, the doors, and Hendrix. I started learning that style of blues-based Psychedelic Rock. When I was 15-18 I started listening to the tool a more, monster magnet, and other metal bands. So by 2005 that was kind of coming out of me naturally. I was leaving the sixties psych-rock and garage rock behind and getting into more of the heavy hitting, more distorted, a gravelly vocal that I’m doing now. It’s kinda weird how this lineup came to form. I was on tour in 2010, 2011 with the band Green Jello and the lead singer Bill Mann Speaker was nice enough to let us share his tour bus with them and their bass player at the time had filled in for Motor Gun Hotel. So we kind of were just on the road getting to know each other as far as me and is our current bass player as fate would have it, and our drum tech at the time, Jimbo Maseo is now currently our drummer as of 2013, 2014. It was a shame, after that Green Jello tour, we came back and performed at the House of Blues in Anaheim and my drummer at the time had a change of heart, some people aren’t built for touring and accepting life on the road, some really just are not cut out for that. So anyway, my drummer parted ways and so my drum tech ended up becoming our drummer, who is a phenomenal drummer. He’s solid. I’m very seasoned and he is definitely a veteran. Brian Beckman, who is Green Jello’s Bass player, played for that tour and then I didn’t see him for about five years then in 2016, 2017, we ran into each other at a battle of the band’s situation and he just so happened to be one of the judges. He was like, I can’t judge this band, I was in this band and he was telling the judges this band is going to win and all the good stuff. So we ended up playing and reconnecting, taking the win for that night. He then said, Hey man, let me know if you ever need a bass player to let me know. Recently in 2017, there was this guy by the name of Rob Bogo. Rob was a really great guy from Nashville, Tennessee, super solid, seasoned, a bass player who performed in many great bands and we got an opportunity to go to East Germany and Quebec Canada, but he couldn’t tour. So anyway, I called Brian Beckman, you know, from the Green Jello tour and the battle of the bands and he ended up In Motor Gun Hotel. I didn’t doubt anything as we had chemistry back on tour in 2011 and getting him back in the band this last year was a real blessing. The band really clicked, Jimbo Masiello, Brian Beckman, and I. Here we are Motor Gun Hotel. The way we write music is, I’ll usually come up with a vocal melody and a chord progression for the verse or Intro verse, Chorus, and I’ll just take it to our studio and then add the drum and bass, my bandmates are always free to throw things out there and whatever sticks, sticks. So that’s kinda how we create the songs. It’s really ironic that Brian would wind up back in our band, especially after zero contact from 2011, on the Green Jello tour through to 2017. It was kind of strange, you know, but uh, definitely a blessing.
What are the main themes or topics of most of your songs that you create?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Mainly it’s redemption, perseverance, and resilience. It’s not about how big and tough you are in this industry or even in life. It’s about how far you can bend without breaking and no matter how deep you dig yourself into a hole, you know you can always reevaluate and figure things out in order to scratch and claw your back out to find what you’re looking for, whether it be in a relationship, whether it be with an addiction, whether it be with a success or whatever it is you think you’ve ruined. You can always make positive changes in your own life and get back what your sights were set on, to begin with. That’s the main message of Motor Gun Hotel. Don’t give up.
Do you think that concept will change over time?
Jimmy Craig MGH-In the last eight to 10 years of writing songs consistently for Motor Gun Hotel. It seems to be a reoccurring theme, although there are other subjects of love loss, sometimes writing from another person’s point of view, but very rarely a lot of what I write about has to do with experience, and I feel like a lot of great poets and artists have experienced life, whether it be in a light manner, a dark manner, and you know there’s art that comes from it. Sometimes I’ll be writing a song and I won’t even know what the hell I’m writing about and then a year later I’ll be going through that situation. Sometimes I’ve already gone through that situation and just as therapy I will write about it and that’ll become a song, you know what I mean? So it goes both ways.
BandBabe- I understand that you’re unsigned independent artists. Are you looking for a record label or have there been any proposals on the table for the band?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Yeah, there has been, but I’m kind of picky and choose. I’ve been independent for a while and I had some offers from Warner Brothers for a development deal and a record label out of Chicago, but I went ahead and declined and just stayed independent.
How do you feel about, um, the Internet and the music industry?
Jimmy Craig MGH-In some ways, it has really helped. It’s great obviously for networking, but as far as songs or albums, I should say selling on the internet is not really a strong point. You know, with youtube anybody can stream anything for free or get Spotify for a few bucks a month and you got access to like everything, you know. But then again there’s an upside to it with the digital download age, Bandcamp has been pretty good for us for releasing our own music. I think there’s like 10 or 12 songs on there for people to listen to Motor Gun Hotel. It’s definitely been a strange time, you since 2005, that’s when it started to really kick in the whole myspace, facebook, and social media thing and you know that’s one of the main reasons why I was never too interested in signing with major labels. I mean, there are some upsides to signing, I’ve seen a few friends of mine signing to major deals, but I’ve kind of shied away from it just because of the fact today it’s a little bit harder to recoup what a label would put x amount into your record or your tour.
Although I think things changing at this point as well, I think there’s going to be another explosion of rock and roll to come maybe in the next year, maybe in the next five, maybe another 10. I have paid attention closely and see a pattern, things work in circles generally and like I said, I am kind of picky with the label thing. So it has to be a fair deal and the label has to respect and support the art or music they put out.
Motor Gun Hotel has come a long way since you formed, when did Motor Gun Hotel begin to see progress and can you share some more insight into your accomplishments?
Jimmy Craig MGH-Yeah, um, I noticed from starting the band from writing the song motor gun hotel and then writing a couple of records of songs from 2004, 2005 to about 2007, 2008 ,I was sending songs to Nashville where my mom’s little brother, my uncle J.R Mcneeley, has lived since like 97, but he’s a really well known, accomplished recording engineer, producer and has a Grammy. I was fortunate enough and persistently sending him my tunes. He’s like, all right, another one, send it to me. I had a pro tools setup and a recording studio so I would constantly write and record, write and record, send him, email him songs or send them, you know, physical discs. He listened to
Leave it all behind, a lift-off, Pay The price and I’ll never forget you remembered. Those four songs, he was like, okay, cool, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and get you guys a flight. Come on out here. So we went to record those songs at sound pitching in Nashville and it is a beautiful studio. It was incredible, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, like tons of artists have made records there. I was fortunate enough to have a great engineer and my uncle mix the songs really well. They’re super slick. He always does an incredible job on records. It’s ridiculous. So I am very fortunate. Motor Gun Hotel has performed a lot in Hollywood last couple of years around the Viper, Whiskey, Key Club, the Roxy, and from doing those shows and playing a lot in Orange County and San Diego and just kind of doing that portion of the west coast. We got offered a slot at the sunset strip music festival, did some interviews there and got some great exposure with the songs. So that was when I started to see the doors open. Thank you, uncle Jr, because he’s the one who brought us out there. It’s was almost like he was our label for the moment, you know. It was incredible. Right after doing sunset strip music festival, we ended up going out on tour nationally with Green Jello and other Green Jelly, however you wanna put it.
But anyway more doors started opening from there there’s been an evolution within the members as far. I mean, I’ve mainly been a trio for this entire time. I’ve had a couple of guitar players, I just wanted to try it having another guitar player. But, we’ve always just kind of remained the trio. Motor Gun Hotel evolved musically as far as me growing as a human being and learning and experiencing life. There’s a lot of content, it’s weird when it comes to me, I got to grab it and other times just the line will come into mind, like a lyric and then I’ll start writing and I’m not even knowing what it’s about. I’m really excited the way things have evolved a musically with the members. I couldn’t be happier with this lineup. In 2017, we went out to Kansas, Iola, Kansas to open up for Mushroom Head. Brian had just rejoined the band and I got this offer to go play this festival called Rocktober fest. It was pretty wild, it was good, thousands of kids out at that. I had a blast with Brian and Jimbo on the road our chemistry just clicks. All three of us have been on the road before, so not only was that cohesive as far as us knowing were road dogs, we’re not going to whine and cry, bitch or go home early or something like that but our chemistry definitely locked in as far as our personalities and living amongst each other for weeks at a time. So that’s a blessing as well.
Tell us what about your nomination? How were you guys nominated in 2009?
Jimmy Craig MGH-See, we had gotten back from Nashville, we were playing a lot and uh, probably four or five nights a week, you know, including week, like a, we usually start on like Wednesday or Thursday play Wednesday through Sunday night, you know, spread out, you know, whiskey, you know, the observatory in Orange County, then down, you know, to San Diego and then bounce back up to Orange County, then bounced back up to play the Roxy and we just Kinda kept bouncing around. And I’m from La to San Diego and then uh, you know, it just, um, the way I had done some press and um, we were featured in the Orange County register and Osi weekly and um, the La weekly and then we wound up at the Grove theater here in Anaheim and um, were nominated along. It was Motor Gun Hotel, Avenged Sevenfold, Death by Stereo and Atreyu. Atreyu took the award for that year, which, you know was well deserved. Those boys had been on the road for a minute and I think with Warner Brothers. Yeah, it was a trip. It was like, what are we doing here? We’re like the only band not on the label.
Yeah. That must have done a lot of field work, a lot of hard work, a good publicist to be where you are today. That’s cool.
Jimmy Craig MGH-Absolutely. Thank you.
So what has been your biggest challenge as a band and what have you been able to overcome?
Jimmy Craig MGH-The main thing I think is just building a cohesive relationship internally with members. I don’t really feel like I’m hard to work with, but maybe the industry is a little tough. Just learning from experience, trial and error, whether it be on the road or off, whether I’m in the studio or out doing press, whatever it is. Like I said certain people are just not cut out.As far as Motor Gun Hotel goes the main source that feeds me creatively is not only the studio but being out on the road meeting people, getting to plant that seed or share the message. The main thing for Motor Gun Hotel is touring and staying out of our comfort zone and writing.
Motor Gun Hotel has a lot of new material, so we’re going to go ahead and jump in the studio, do probably eight songs and another video and hopefully get onto a three-month tour with either a national or an international band that we go and support.
What can people expect from going to a live show?
Jimmy Craig MGH-They can expect a big kind of love intended kick in the teeth, like just brutal honesty and some high energy rock and roll with melody, sprinkled on top. Motor Gun Hotel is that kind of hard-hitting rock’n’roll and we’re extremely pleased to be going out and playing a show for John Gifts. He is a great pusher of the movement that I’m actually a fan of, which I feel Motor Gun Hotel falls into that place.
Motor Gun Hotel will be playing the Viper Room and releasing an anticipated album in April. Follow them through All social media and music platforms to stay updated on all the latest news.
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