Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Motels

Only the Lonely

Suddenly Last Summer

Take The L Out Of Lover

The Motels were a New Wave music band from Los Angeles best known for the above videos "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly, Last Summer", both of which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 and 1983, respectively. "Total Control" (The Motels' signature song) reached number 7 on the Australian charts in 1979.

Martha Davis, the lead singer, reformed a version of the band called The Motels featuring Martha Davis, in 1998; as of 2007 she continues to appear under that name with various line-ups.

1971 in Berkeley, California, we find the first roots of The Motels. Lisa Brenneis (bass) coxed Dean Chamberlain (lead guitar), Chuck Wada (rhythm guitar) and Martha Davis (vocals, guitar) into forming a band (then called The Warfield Foxes). Hoping for better exposure and seeking a recording contract they made a move to Los Angeles in 1973. While in L.A., Lisa Brennis left and the band changed its name first to "Angels of Mercy" and then to "The Motels", with both Davis and Wada contributing original songs to the repertoire. Also at this time two new members fill vital slots; Richard D'Andrea on bass and Robert Numan on drums.

The Motels and two other local bands, "The Pop" and "The Dogs", kicked off the local band scene with a hallmark concert at a self-produced show, 'Radio Free Hollywood' held at the venerable old theatre, Troupers Hall. (Prior to this show, few if any unsigned bands played local high profile clubs like the Whisky and The Roxy.) The band guested on Rodney Bingenheimer's popular radio show and, after recording a demo for Warner Brothers, which was turned down, they were offered a contract with Capitol Records. However, citing musical differences amongst themselves, the band declined Capitols's offer and disbanded in 1977.

Chamberlain was soon heard again in his band Code Blue and signed to Warner Brothers Records. Richard d'Andrea joined The Pits and later enjoyed almost three years with The Know. Robert Newman is a successful art director and designer. Chuck Wada still writes and performs and is a financial advisor.

In March 1978, Davis was approached by lead guitarist Jeff Jourard (formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) to form a new Motels. Extensive auditions resulted in a new line-up consisting of Jourard's brother Marty who played both saxophone and keyboards, Michael Goodroe on bass, and Brian Glascock on drums. Short on funds, they shared rehearsal space with The Go-Go's at L.A.'s notorious punk basement, The Masque. Playing in Chinatown at Madame Wong's restaurant/nightclub so many times they were nearly the house band, they began to draw a faithful crowd around the L.A. music scene. By Mother's Day 1979, The Motels had signed with Capitol and released their debut album in September that same year. Their first single, "Closets and Bullets," made no impact on the charts, but their second single, "Total Control," found its way to the Top 20 in France and the Top 10 in Australia.

In 1980 Jourard was replaced with Davis' boyfriend Tim McGovern as lead guitarist. The band went back into the recording studio to record their second album, entitled Careful. Released in June 1980, the album made it to the #45 spot on the U.S. album charts. In Europe and the UK, the songs "Days Are OK" and "Whose Problem?" were Top 50 hits, and the latter was also a top hit in Australia. "Danger" was a Top 20 hit in France.

The band hired record producer Val Garay for their next album. The album, Apocalypso was scheduled to be released in November 1981, but after hearing the final product Capitol Records rejected it. Frustrated, the band attempted to go back and re-record the entire album. In the process, Davis and McGovern's relationship had gone sour, and by December 1981 McGovern was no longer in the band. The rest of the members forged on and finished recorded the new album. Using studio musicians to fill in for the vacant guitar spot, the band was able to finish the album by March 1982. Having auditioned several guitarists to take McGovern's place, Guy Perry finally was given the job. The album, now titled All Four One, was released in March of 1982.

Before any singles were released, the song "Mission of Mercy" had made enough airplay to land the #33 on the Billboard Rock Album Cuts chart. Their first single from the album, "Only the Lonely," found its way into the Top 10 in the U.S. by June. Other hits included "Take the L" and "Forever Mine." Their first successful U.S. album coincided with the emergence of MTV, which led to music videos for both "Only the Lonely" and "Take the L." Davis won a "Best Performance in a Music Video" award in 1982 for her performance in the "Only the Lonely" video. In October 1982 the band added a sixth member, keyboardist/guitarist Scott Thurston. The Motels videos were a reflection of 80’s fashion and are a window into how state of the art videos were made back in the 80’s.

The Motels returned in 1983 with the album Little Robbers. Garay by now not only was producing their albums, but their videos as well; and, he became the band's manager. The first single from the album, "Suddenly Last Summer," made its way to the Top 10 in the U.S. The album went gold in the U.S., Canada, and several other countries. Despite their success, the band cancelled their tour and fired Garay as manager for personal reasons.

With new management, the band forged on in 1984. They appeared on Saturday Night Live in January. They recorded songs for two film soundtracks: "Long Day" was recorded for Moscow on the Hudson and "In the Jungle" was recorded for the movie Teachers.

In 1985 the band released their sixth album Shock. The first single "Shame" became a Top 30 hit on the pop charts and a Top 20 on the dance charts. Two other singles were released, "Shock," and "Icy Red."

On February 13, 1987, Davis decided to dissolve the band and go solo.

Three members of the 1978 version of the band reunited with Davis in 2004 for an appearance on Bands Reunited; rejoining Davis were Michael Goodroe, Marty Jourard, and Brian Glasscock. Also appearing in that group was Adrian Peritore (aka "Guy Perry.")

In 1997 Davis began appearing under the headline of The Motels featuring Martha Davis, backed by a series of band members beginning with: Mic Taras on lead guitar, Angelo Barbera on bass, Kevin Bowen on keyboards, Michael Barbera on keyboards and sax, and Jason Loree on drums. 2001 saw the band change to a compact 4 piece ensemble with Martha, Mic Taras, Fritz Lewak (drums), and David Sutton (bass). By 2004 and 70+ concerts later, with tours in the USA and Australia, the band members had changed yet again. As of 2006 the band had Martha Davis on vocal and guitar, Nick Johns (bass/keyboard), Eric Gardner (drums), Clint Walsh (guitar), and Jon Siebels (guitar).

In 2005 Davis and the new Motels released an independent CD entitled "So the Story Goes." All copies sold out. Sony Records has also recently released a new live album, recorded in 2006, entitled "Standing Room Only." Martha Davis and the Motels are still touring and recording, with plans for another CD to be released by mid 2007.

"The Motels featuring Martha Davis" appeared on the U.S. version of Hit Me Baby One More Time.

Motels (1979) #175 US
Careful (1980) #45 US
Apocalypso (1981) never released
All Four One (1982) #16 US
Little Robbers (1983) #22 US
Shock (1985) #36 US
Policy (1987) #127 US
No Reservations - The Best of The Motels (1988)
No Vacancy (1991)
All Four One - Expanded (1999)
Anthologyland (2001)
Classic Masters (2002)
The Best Of The Motels (2003)
So the Story Goes (2004)
The Motels Essential Collection (2005)
Standing Room Only (2007)

"Closets and Bullets" (1979)
"Total Control" (1979) #7 AU / #109 US
"Anticipating" (1980) JP
"Danger" (1980) #15 FR
"Whose Problem?" (1980) #42 UK
"Days Are OK" (1981) #43 UK
"Mission of Mercy" (1982) #33 US Album Track
"Only The Lonely" (1982) #9 US
"Take The L" (1982) #21 AU / #52 US
"Forever Mine" (1982) #60 US
"Art Fails" (1983) FR
"Suddenly Last Summer" (1983) #9 US
"Remember The Nights" (1983) #36 US
"Little Robbers" (1983) #18 US Album Track
"Footsteps" (1984) Europe only
"In the Jungle" (1984)
"Shame" (1985) #21 US
"Shock" (1985) #84 US
"Icy Red" (1986) AU
"Love and Affection" (1986) (Martha Davis and Sly Stone)
"Shame on You" (1986)

External links
Official website

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