by Zach Fraley
When A/J Jackson and Aaron Sharp formed Saint Motel in 2009 through their mutual love of both independent film and various music genres, any expectation beyond playing fairs, circuses, and derbies was almost nonexistent. Adding bassist Jak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin into the mix, Saint Motel gained fans across the nation with their 2009 EP, ForPlay, and 2012 debut album Voyeur. Yearning to attain a wider fan base, the group traveled to England in 2013 and released their latest EP, My Type, to the world.
“Every time we put out a new EP, we try to reach as many people as possible,” Jackson explains. “It’s not like we wanted to do a certain amount of things with it, like going platinum in certain countries. We kind of just put it out. We were an unsigned band without management in the beginning, and no one could have expected the type of place it put us.”
Saint Motel exploded internationally when the BBC declared via Twitter that “My Type” was a hit in the making. The band made further waves when they performed the song on The Today Show on July 20th. This announcement, their Today appearance, and the continued success of the band, led to a headline slot on the soundtrack for the movie adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns.
Jackson considers “My Type” a strong fit for the themes present in Paper Towns. “They definitely have many types in the movie, and attraction between the characters. There’s also someone in the movie who doesn’t like the person [Margo] is.”
Incorporating film into his music became a personal goal for Jackson. The band released a video for each of the songs present on ForPlay, and Jackson personally directed the music video for “My Type”. But it isn’t just one film or genre in particular that inspires Jackson. “A lot of films have influenced me in different ways. When I was in college I think the films that influenced me most were quirky films like those by Wes Anderson. In high school, I was more into big, action-packed, sci-fi movies like Fight Club or The Matrix. When I was younger than that, my mom and grandmother showed me Children of Paradise. Iconic movies like that influenced my love for cinema. Everything I see influences me, sometimes in ways that I don’t even know.”
Fans have also noticed the band’s love of cinema, and have used their creativity to catch the eye of Jackson and his bandmates. “A couple fans once sent us a video where they recreated one of our videos shot for shot, which was really difficult to recreate because it was a montage we had shot over the years in random locations. That was definitely something that struck me.”
The creativity of the band also extends to social media. On Facebook, photos have regularly gone up featuring a famous sports team with the name of the squad replaced with Saint Motel. While only one member of the band is a sports fanatic, the rest of the band enjoys the hectic atmosphere of sports every now and then. “Jak is our football enthusiast. The rest of us are a bit more general. We had a great time on our European tour following the World cCup. It’s fun to get immersed in the craze.”
In early August, Saint Motel attended the Radio 104.5 Block Party, where they shared the stage with Matt & Kim and Atlas Genius. This gave Jackson and the band an opportunity to catch some of Philadelphia’s highlights and selling points. “It was fun! It was cool to hang out with Matt & Kim and all those bands. After the show, we stayed right down by a trail, and out my window I could see the Liberty Bell. We had a couple hours to walk around the city and got to see lots of sights.”
Saint Motel is currently working on their second full-length album, one listeners can expect to be filled with traces of jazz, electronica, and soul. Following this performance, the band take to the road for the next few months with headlining gigs as well as shows supporting Nate Ruess and a few more supporting Walk the Moon.
Are they excited at the prospect of playing with Walk the Moon? “Absolutely! We played with them a couple months ago, and they’re really cool guys. Super down to earth and fun, and they’ll be super fun to play some more shows with.”
Philadelphia fans can catch Saint Motel at the Made in America Festival on September 6th with a plethora of major acts, including Beyoncé, Modest Mouse, and Bassnectar. Tickets are still available.