The pop band Gold Motel is only in its third month of existence. With an EP already out and a new record in the making, it’s no mystery why the band has already developed a loyal fan base. Singer and songwriter Greta Morgan broke away from the Chicago quartet The Hush Sound last year and moved to Los Angeles in search of inspiration for her new solo project. During the production of Gold Motel’s EP, Morgan collaborated with an old-time friend and musical engineer Dan Duzsynzski, who now plays guitar and sings back up vocals for the band. Duzsynzski also fronts This Is Me Smiling, a pop band from Chicago. Morgan and Duzsynzski joined several other Chicago area musicians and went on tour in early 2010 to start promotion for their upcoming record.
Gold Motel’s sound combines the influence of older California rock-n-roll, like the beach boys, with more modern pop that Morgan and her band mates have played in previous musical projects. The Foghorn sat down with Morgan, Duzsynzski, and guitarist Eric Hehr to find out a little more about their music. Duzsynzski describes Gold Motel as, “Happy, fun, California pop music,” and Morgan agreed, mentioning Elvis Costello and George Harrison as two of the band’s biggest influences. Morgan went on to say that current pop music has developed a reputation of being “very calculated and very produced” and that her band’s indie pop sound is part of a “movement towards authenticity.” Morgan isn’t interested in working in an industry where songs are written by outside parties or when artists act as “a puppet for the music.” She reflects that, “when people come to a Gold Motel show they know they will be watching us play and sing things that we have written and things that we felt and because of that I think it is a hundred times easier to connect with.” When the Foghorn mentioned that many artists hesitate to label themselves as pop, Morgan thoughtfully replied, “I guess I’m not afraid of pop!”
Although Gold Motel has established their over all sound, they continue to draw inspiration from both the Los Angeles and Chicago music scene. Morgan, Duzynzski, and Hehr all hail from the Midwest and noted the differences between life in Chicago and Southern California. Morgan explains, “Taking a mid-westerner out of the winter for one year… Was a tremendously exciting and eye opening experience… I spent a lot of time sitting under the trees in my backyard with my guitar hanging out and writing music.” The music scene in Chicago is smaller, according to Morgan, and fewer bands perform during the winter months. In Los Angeles, there are shows every night of the week. Although Los Angeles has treated them well, Chicago is still considered home by most of the band. After their tour on the West Coast, Gold Motel is headed back to Chicago to finish recording their record at their make-shift studio in Morgan’s mom’s house. Morgan explains, “the house where I grew up has been on the market forever… We just have this big empty house in Chicago… And we’ve been recording there which is pretty awesome.” Duzsynzski says the band has a lot of work left to do before the new record is released and estimates it will be out in June.
After the interview, Gold Motel took the stage at Slims in SOMA as the opening band for Barcelona. Much of the crowd was still arriving and purchasing tickets when Gold Motel started their set, but the upbeat guitar and stellar vocals in songs like “Perfect in my mind” drew people to the stage. In addition to performing lead vocals, Morgan played the keyboard in most songs. Hehr and Duzsynzski worked well together, blending rhythm guitar with faster and more intricate solos. A few times throughout the show the band suffered minor fumbles with staying on pitch, but the mistakes were hardly noticeable. The best part about the show was that the members of Gold Motel seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. Morgan’s passion for her music became increasingly evident as she loosened up to the crowd and in between songs her smile lit up the stage. The audience was also captivated by Hehr, who swung his hips, bouncing in time with the music and emulating the feel of 1960’s arena rock. Gold Motel’s set was short, but their high energy made up for any lost time. Considering the band’s livelihood and passion for music, Gold Motel is well on its way to becoming a pop force to be reckoned with.