Sorry but I’m going to drop a lot of names here because even though San Francisco rockers Strange Hotel have just released their debut record, there’s something timeless about their sound. Sure they admit they take their cues from a blend of indie, alternative, progressive and classic rock, but listening to their self-titled debut record takes me back to times when laying on the bedroom floor pouring over the record jacket with the stereo cranked was the thing to do on a Saturday afternoon.
Strange Hotel have an enormous and varied sound – showcased on rockers like Rat Trap, Delusion of Self (Double Life) (organ solo!!), Dead in My Tracks, and the outstanding All The World is a Strange Hotel. But they also know how to quiet it down with the jazzy Rod Stewart-tinged I’ve Been Making Promises I Can’t Keep, ballads like – Voices, No One Can Find Us in Here and the psychedelic closer Endless Spiral Down. I hear a lot of Queen, and some early Styx (seriously) in the band’s sound mostly with the more piano focused arrangements, but there’s hints of T Rex mixed with Portugal, The Man, Muse, and The Blood Brothers. It’s a strange hotel for sure.
It’s clear these are accomplished musicians, with the twin guitar attack of Frankie Abreau and Sean Reilly backed up expertly by the super tight rhythm section of Miles Delaco on bass and Tim Aristil on drums. The centerpiece to it all for me is the voice of guitarist/vocalist Abreau, who sings with the power of Freddie Mercury or Robert Plant, the glam rock of Marc Bolan and the range of Jeff Buckley (he’s also just released a solo record – you can check it out HERE). Abreau’s voice has a star quality to it and combined with the kind of big league songwriting heard on these eight tracks, we could be hearing a lot from Strange Hotel.
Frankie was kind enough to answer some questions.
Frankie Abreau on guitar and vocals – Sean Reilly on guitar – Tim Aristil on drums – Miles Delaco on bass
People say we sound like…
A blend of classic prog rock with a Brit pop twist
We are originally from….
How did you become Strange Hotel and what’s with the name?
The band started off as a recording project for my acoustic songs. I recruited Tim to play drums and Miles brought in Sean and it all gelled together perfectly. The name Strange Hotel comes from the song All the World is a Strange Hotel.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
Growing up listening to the greats like the Stones, Dylan, the Velvets, Bowie, Queen shaped the music we make today…Also newer artists like Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse and the Mars Volta to name a few.
Tell us about the scene in SF…
The SF music scene is in a stage of rebirth. There was a giant exile of bands a few years ago but since then a lot of great new bands have been working their asses off and momentum is gaining.
Tell us about your live show…
We play loud and from the heart while trying to articulate the songs how they were intended to be played…but sometimes is just a drunken shit show. It’s a delicate science.
How does the city’s musical history, or landscape influence your sound?
This city’s musical history is why I wanted to move here in the first place. From the great psychedelic legends that were here in the 60’s and early 70’s, to Rancid and NOFX. It’s also so architecturally beautiful here that its hard not to find inspiration by just taking a walk.
What influences the band lyrically?
Charlie Baudelaire, Albert Camus, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan… Schizophrenia and manic depression
Our most memorable gig ever was….
We recently played at Great American Music Hall and it was magic.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
I would go back to the sixties for the sole purpose of hearing Hendrix live in person
Growing up, at home we listened to…..
The Beatles, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Cheap Trick. Although my dad played a lot of classic heavy metal too.
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
Blood Orange, Ty Segall, Fidlar, Christopher Owens, Conan Mockasin, Mac Demarco, Chelsea Wolfe to name a few.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Probably Julian Casablancas and the Voidz so I could try weasel my way onto Cult Records.
If you could only bring ONE record (you can all answer if you like) in the tour van what would it be?
Bringing it All Back Home – Bob Dylan
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
the Civic Center Library… Dolores Park, community thrift, the beach maybe
The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to our music….
Let go of all your preconceived notions on what art or music is or should be and just take the music for what it is and how it makes you feel.
What’s up for 2015?
We are finishing recording our second record in May at Sharkbite studios. We then are planning to hit the road in the summer for a west coast tour.