The Music Beat: Lead Singer of Saint Motel Talks College Years and New Music

Courtesy of JabariMusic group Saint Motel got its start when A/J Jackson and Aaron Sharp were in college.

The Music Beat is a column from Jesus Socorro about concerts and his music interests.

Eleven years ago, two film students at Chapman University in Orange, California came together to form what started as a duo. A/J Jackson served as the band’s pianist and vocalist, while Aaron Sharp rocked the guitar. Later, Jackson and Sharp acquired bassist Dak Lerdamornpong and drummer Greg Erwin to form the indie pop band known today as Saint Motel.

They began writing music and producing catchy beats together, and the band released its first extended play (EP), “ForPlay,” in September 2009. The EP includes six tracks, along with a video for each track, and received praise from The Wall Street Journal and Broadcast Music, Inc., which is one of five United States performing rights organizations.

I first discovered Saint Motel in 2016 with the release of their latest album, “Saintmotelevision.” I heard their songs “Getaway” and “You Can Be You” and instantly fell in love with their unique retro sound. I later realized I always used to listen to a remix of their song, “My Type,” years back in my early years of high school.

I recently had the opportunity to interview lead singer A/J Jackson and got to learn more about him and the other band members. Jackson displayed a lot of humor in his responses but successfully conveys he’s a go-getter who cares deeply for his fans.

How did you guys meet each other in college and how did you decide to form a band?

I [Jackson] met Aaron Sharp first mostly by just asking around campus who was the best guitar player. Then, I proceeded to woo him into being in a band with me. Dak was a sushi chef nearby and he actually found us, and Greg went to school down the road and approached us at one of our concerts.

Of all your albums and EPs, which was your favorite to record and how was it better than others?

Oh no, no, no, we don’t play favorites.

I recently learned that you guys went on tour with Panic! At The Disco. Do you prefer playing smaller venues or arenas?

[Playing smaller venues versus arenas] is like hamburgers or hot dogs, both are great. Neither is really better, just a different experience. But both are always delicious.

I’m really interested in graphic design and video editing, and I noticed that you studied film and directed and edited some commercials, as well as some of your own videos, for a bit after graduating. How did you get into filmmaking?

[I] got into filmmaking much like I got into music, just dove in. It took a long time to make any money doing it and it took a long time before I was any good. Since my time at university had all been centered around film, most of my friends were [and] are in that world. That led to my first gigs out of school.

I know you guys just put out two songs in celebration of two years since your last album release. When can we expect a new album or new single for an album?

Hopefully early spring.

What artists currently inspire you, or inspired you, to pursue music?

Just watched the Quincy Jones documentary and the new Queen biopic and man did they make me feel like I’m slacking. Those kinds of people push me to be more ambitious and take more creative risks.

What is your favorite city to perform in and why?

Where are you based? Chicago … well, then Chicago of course! I kid, I kid. In truth, there are so many amazing cities around this planet that it’s impossible to play favorites. It’s the people, really. If you have a crowd of people that are as excited to hear the music as you are to play it, then, my God, it can be a transcendent experience for all. Doesn’t matter if it’s Paris or Pittsburgh.

What have you learned about yourself since releasing your first EP, “ForPlay,” in 2009?

That I can time travel.

What is once piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

I tell my younger self all the time to wear more mustaches since I time travel, but he never listens.

Where and what do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

Apparently, I live on a boat. But we all do, so …


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