It’s no secret among the indie/emo community that Worcester, Massachusetts, quartet the Hotelier is one of the genre’s most talked about up-and-coming acts. Heavily spearheaded by the massive success of their excellent LP Home, Like Noplace Is There, The Hotelier’s success in 2014 carried them through a tremendous album cycle, landing them tours with the likes of La Dispute, Title Fight, Modern Baseball and the World Is A Beautiful Place, just to name a few, gathering fans and hype like wildfire. And if that wasn’t enough, world’s most beloved supervillain, Martin Shkreli, is a fan!
Those looking for the band’s latest offering shouldn’t have to wait too long, however, as the band recently announced their highly anticipated third LP Goodness is closer than you think. Recorded over the course of this year and last, The Hotelier is set to release the new album via Tiny Engines this May. Vocalist/bassist Christian Holden mentioned of the album’s forthcoming in a tour blog via the band’s Tumblr, which you can read below.
So while I have done one of these the past two years, I almost didn’t this year. Not really sure why. I certainly turned more inward this year which I feel like I needed. I was trying to listen more and speak less. This one might be shorter. Let’s see.
Listen more, speak less. Right. 2015 was the first time we actually paid ourselves anything from doing this. My reported income from 2014 was maybe like $600, which was only reported because it’s a third of our total profit for the year. Idk it’s just like how business stuff works. But now I pay my rent (in a cheap as heck collective house in Worcester) and could probably afford more, which is tight. The reality of that sort of eased me into realizing that as much as we are just mocking voice a coupla dudes making music, we are incapable of separating our art, our politics, and like even the way we conduct ourselves on social media from the aspect of that we are always a business selling ourselves to you, as listeners. This is something 2011 me would have been like disgusted with. I’m fine by it now.
I think there is a sort of silliness with guitar rock bands. They sort of straddle this line of performance and “real” that leaves the viewer kind of confused as to what it actually is. To me, it’s a trick and sort of a good one. The result is, in my opinion, a watering down of both fronts. The performance aspect is sort of stagnant. It’s a good model for singing along with peeps, feeling lost in the sound and I don’t bash it. But the realness aspect is an interesting one for me.
When this band was young, or even before, I didn’t really think of it but pop/rock bands are in a way an effort to appear the most real. Who is wearing their heart the most on their sleeve? Who is saying the thing we think but don’t say? And like within that, at least with men, there was no talk about like how that is performed through the music and is accomplishing its goal. It’s just like a “idk it’s just a feeling”. Cute but imo not true. I am wholly under the impression that each of us is always performing in our lives. Within that, it is hard for me to believe that their art is somehow transcending that.
This whole realness thing leaks over into what I’ve been thinking a lot about this year, which is public figuredom. With most of the bands we toured with in 2014, we did not have these conversations. Both because ‘dudes’, but obv strongly in that we were sort of all recently jettisoned into situations where this all of a sudden mattered and we didn’t know how to talk about it.
Our first tour of 2015 was the first time I saw it talked about openly while we were touring with bands that had been doing it for a while and like are huge tbh. It was funny hearing artists described as “cool guy bands” in appreciation. As in like, mysteriously distant and deeply profound. On that tour was also a band with a deep care for their art yet a disconnect from how their fans interact with it. Also an interesting thing to see on such a large scale. Cool tour learned a lot.
Through this all I am experimenting with public figuredom as an intentional piece of being an artist. How, when I “clock in”, do I present myself that reflects the work we do to make it more cohesive and understood? How do I cultivate the attitudes around our art and ways of interacting with our art that I desire to see? How do I interact with people in a way that right off the bat assumes that they are complex and intelligent people? How can what I am doing challenge or disrupt the ways in which people are used to interacting with artists that can establish relationships that disempower the listener? Things I think about.
“I’m very excited to show y’all this record the four of us worked on all last year. It’s called Goodness. It’s a love record. I feel like we are allowed to do that now. We are announcing it tomorrow with a video my friend Xirin made. This is going to be tight.”
We’ve been lucky enough, or like maybe “good” enough, to have been able to build trust with the peeps that listen to our stuff. We have really intelligent peeps that care about our music enough to have honest and difficult dialogues about cool, interesting, challenging stuff regarding our art, presence. I feel pretty grateful for that.
But when you combine that trust with music media and politics though and you have a huge mess. If you thought art and public figuredom is complicated, adding politics is a legit damn mess. I for a long while stopped doing interviews last year because I hated the political aspects of the conversation that would always come up. It always felt like “so, you political?” “Yeah” “rad I agree with you.” Someone reached out about a piece they were writing on depression culture…? Or something…? Basically saying that kids on the internet talking candidly and comically about suicide/depression was insulting to people with “real mental illness”. I answered almost all of his questions with “I disagree with the entire concept you are talking about” but the piece still got published I still got blurbed for talking about eating right or something. This as well as the articles that want to paint us as “band of men vanguarding with feminist politics”. I am learning to reframe questions and reestablish narrative so that these things don’t happen.
It’s not ever really a question about whether other public figures care about that stuff or not as much as, “are they good at talking to 1000+ people?” But it’s a weird line in general. At what point does having a large social media presence tied in with your business and social currency both require you to and to not touch on certain issues? At what point is your voice needed to speak? At what point are you aestheticizing your business in another’s struggle? At what point are we System of A Down? At what point are we Macklemore? I spent 2015 listening while thinking about SOAD and Macklemore.
I’ve been lucky in this year to get to hear from and be surrounded by some wildly brilliant people with whom I’ve been trapped in a van with, traveled around Europe with, come home to share a room with, started projects with, gone on walks with, sat on a porch until late hours of the night with. I seem to have sort of been magnetically attracted to these people because a common theme amongst them is that they are all folks clinging deeply to realness. To honesty and transparency and kindness as a radical act. These people are mostly artists in some regard, each with their own way of expressing their chaos to the world. Which I am grateful for as it is often the only way to get real with what they are about, or more likely get real with that I have no clue what they are really about. Music is honestly great in that way. We are allowed to reconstruct the intangible worlds in our brain through sound and language. I’m not going to get too hippie on y’all but it’s honestly sick. So much love to those people. AK, JD, CM, CH, OWB, CZ, AB, MZ, ST.
And I think this is what bums me out about the wishy-washiness of rock music and performance. Realness is a treasure in life. I don’t want to see uncritical postured realness. I want transparency. I want to know that I’m not trying to be fooled. I want to see each person on stage conducting a performance. I want to see that performance able to be something talked in concretes and abstracts in admiration and disgust. And I’d like to see the same practice in the realm of public figuredom as well. Within that there is realness and performing. I think there needs to be the transparency as to when each of those separate pieces are present. Otherwise, I feel we are confusing the message, making realness a commodity, and thus more difficult to understand and know for not only the audience but individuals in their lives.
For y’all right now, I’m not entirely divorced from performance but am attempting to have my yearly update brought to you by “realness”. I do this because I feel more capable of being playful most of the time but also need space to affirm that I am a real person. I am an otherwise closed off person who makes a clear distinction between my personal life and my public figuredom. It is a division that allows me to clock in and out and not lose my sense of self. I hate taking promos and hate that we have a band Instagram. There are pieces of my life that I will share bluntly whenever, and pieces that I will only share on my own time. I will do my best to be honest with y’all and never treat you like you are unable to understand. I will do my best to tell you when I am trying to sell you something.
Transitioning to trying to sell you something. I’m very excited to show y’all this record the four of us worked on all last year. It’s called Goodness. It’s a love record. I feel like we are allowed to do that now. We are announcing it tomorrow with a video my friend Xirin made. This is going to be tight.