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Latest ReleaseView All

The Garden

Release date: 9.2.22

Label: Single Lock Records

Press Releases View All

September 2, 2022

Motel Radio Use "Prevailing Optimism" (The Gambit) To "Whisk Us Into Another World" (Atwood) On New Album 'The Garden' Out Today On Single Lock Records

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August 2, 2022

New Orleans' Motel Radio Share A "Warm And Radiant" (Atwood) Ode To Frontline-Worker Loved Ones On "Stress"

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May 10, 2022

Motel Radio Grows Fresh Perspective Through Life's Adversities On New Album The Garden (September 2 / Single Lock Records)

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April 12, 2022

Motel Radio Learn To Bask In Life's Little Moments On Warm And Breezy New Single "Wise"

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Biography View

It’s been a particularly fruitful few years for Motel Radio, with new songs, new homes, and new lives all blossoming into a bountiful harvest. Looking back, the band’s growth and evolution may seem somewhat inevitable now, but it wasn’t that long ago that the acclaimed indie rockers were facing a harsh reckoning with their very survival, and so the sweetness of this moment isn’t lost on them one bit. In fact, if you take a listen to the quartet’s entrancing new album, The Garden, you’ll find that sweetness is very much front and center. 

“The Garden is about perspective, about fighting for optimism even when it’s not the easiest option,” says guitarist/co-lead singer Ian Wellman. “It’s about choosing to look on the bright side, even when the brightness is just a dim flicker that could blow out at any second.”

Written and recorded in the midst of a dizzying stretch in which nearly everything about the way the band lived and worked was turned on its head, The Garden is indeed a work of relentless hope, a testament to the power of love and commitment in the face of doubt and uncertainty. The songs are profoundly vulnerable here, laying their cards down on the table in candid acts of self-reflection, and the performances are warm and breezy, calling to mind everything from Andy Shauf and Cass McCombs to Beck and Tame Impala with an easygoing demeanor that belies the deep emotional work underpinning them. And while much of the collection was captured remotely in what marks Motel Radio’s first foray into self-recording and producing as a bi-coastal band, the results reveal a group whose bonds have never been more unshakeable, whose chemistry has never been more intoxicating, whose roots have never been more firmly planted.

“I look at these songs and see the most important work we’ve ever done,” says drummer Eric Lloyd. “Through all the change, all the challenges, this music was the glue that kept us together.”

Founded by Wellman and fellow guitarist/co-lead singer Winston Triolo while the pair were still just roommates in college, Motel Radio generated early buzz in their adopted hometown of New Orleans on the strength of their 2015 debut EP, Days & Nights, which helped land them dates with the likes of Kurt Vile and Drive-By Truckers in addition to festival slots at Firefly, Jazz Fest, and more. The band followed it up with the similarly well-received Desert Surf Films in 2016 and their first full-length, Siesta Del Sol, in 2019, touring the country on a seemingly endless loop as they built up their devoted following one night at a time. 

“We loved being on the road,” says Triolo, “but at a certain point, there’s only so much of your life you can spend in a van before you start spinning your wheels creatively. It became obvious to all of us that we needed to figure out how to step back and tend to each of our personal lives and development if the band was going to last in any meaningful way.”

And so half the group relocated to the West Coast—Wellman to San Francisco, Triolo to Portland, OR—while half stayed put in New Orleans. Engagement, marriage, pregnancy, and personal and professional resets ensued, but rather than drive the four apart, all the distance and change only seemed to bring them closer together.

“If anything, I think it made us tighter and more appreciative of each other and what we have,” says bassist Andrew Pancamo. “It forced us to be more intentional and figure out what really matters to us, both as individuals and as a collective.”

The distance also enabled the group to tap into deeper levels of creative collaboration fueled by the most distinctive, honest songwriting they’d ever dared to attempt.

“Having the time and the space to really develop our ideas on our own before we shared them with each other opened up a lot of new doors for Winston and me as singers and songwriters,” says Wellman. “And then the excitement we all shared when we did get back together just heightened everything about the performances.”

Ever since completing work on Siesta Del Sol, the band had set a goal of becoming more self-sufficient and learning to record on their own, and when it came time to cut The Garden, they dove in headfirst, cutting half the collection in an old fishing camp south of New Orleans with the help of engineer Ross Farbe (Video Age, Esther Rose) and the other half fully remotely while engineering themselves. 

“There was this real creative freedom that came with working remotely and learning how to run the sessions on our own,” explains Wellman. “Synths, samples, beats, plug-ins; suddenly these whole new worlds of sound were at our fingertips and the possibilities were limitless.”

That creative liberation is easy to hear on The Garden, which opens with the mesmerizing “Wise.” Like much of the album, it’s a gentle meditation on finding joy and fulfillment, on spreading love and positivity. “I’ve gotta open my eyes,” Triolo sings over dreamy guitars and a hypnotic digital drum loop. “I only get one life, well now how can I live it wise?” The airy “Outta Sight celebrates the simple pleasures of letting go and being present, while the washed-out “Sweet Daze” revels in the warmth of human connection, and propulsive “Happiness Pie” looks for ways to share the comfort and contentment that comes with self-acceptance.

“I remember basking in the sunlight writing that song and wishing I could give my brother some of the peace I was feeling in that moment,” recalls Wellman. “He was going through a really difficult time and it just felt so unfair that one person could have all this happiness while another could be struggling so deeply. I started to think about it like a pie, about what life would be like if we could just share a slice or two of happiness and illuminate the world for the people who need it most. If only it were that easy.”

Hopeful as it is, The Garden doesn’t shy away from facing down depression and anxiety head on. The cathartic “Me & My Sunshine” claws its way out of the darkness by learning to communicate rather than bottling up its emotions; the ’80s-tinged “Always” works to find meaning and inspiration in the chaos and frustration that so often drags us down; and the trippy “Heat Wave” finds solace and relief in accepting outside help. “Go easy on me, go easy on me now,” Triolo sings as much to himself as anyone else. “Better days are coming.”

“A lot of these songs deal with just how hard it can be to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and just how important it is to remember that it’s always there,” Wellman explains. “Winston and I didn’t set out to write an album around a theme, but I think everyone in this band is so close, and we were all going through such similar things, that everything just naturally came out on the same wavelength.”

“We were encouraging each other, and ourselves, to stay positive,” adds Triolo, “and at the end of the day, I think that’s a pretty great legacy to leave behind.”

After all, there’s no sweeter garden than the one you grow yourself.



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