Memory Motel is not a new band, but it is a young one. The trio, ranging in age from 18 to 22, has a bright-eyed optimism that exudes excitement. That mood currently seems to stem from what seems like a turning point—their first interstate tour. Though the band has played out-of-town dates before, the beginning of 2014 will mark their first consecutive run of non-Reno shows, spanning from Boise to Los Angeles.
But this isn’t a ramshackle first tour. Chris Gibson, the frontman and by-default booking agent, has done his research. Sitting on a couch in the band’s upstairs studio at 420 Valley, Gibson explains that he’s watched a lot of young bands book out-of-town dates with little precision and perhaps a desperate hunger for any show away from home.
“It’s not just buckshot,” says Ben Ashlock, the drummer and one of two brothers in the band, calling Gibson’s approach to booking “scouting.”
And that’s exactly what it is. The band seems to know which venues in which cities will fit them, and they seem to know the right people and the right bands to play with.
The three of them—bassist Sam Ashlock was sick on the day of the interview—have been working toward this point for a few years.
“I was thinking we couldn’t tour until we did this or that, or until we got a big van,” says Gibson. “But I realized we were just putting up arbitrary blocks.”
So when they got a show offer in L.A., they took it as a test run, driving down separately in two Subarus—which is how they plan to do this tour.
They considered renting a van, but the band ran the numbers and found that it would be cheaper to take the two cars.
“Plus, Sam and Ben can get really rowdy, and I tend to keep it mellow,” laughs Gibson.
Since they’re brothers, he tends to be the odd one out.
“But he’s family too,” Ben says.
They say that familial bond means that they relate, and fight, like brothers. Ben says their tour manager and merch person Samantha Gates helps balance the dynamic.
The last thing the band had to hurdle was reducing the gear they bring on stage. There’s a drum machine in addition to a drum set. Sam frequently plays bass while also running samples on a laptop, and Gibson has a pedal board that looks like the cockpit of a fighter jet.
“But it’s pretty streamlined,” adds Gibson. He says they have no problem getting everything running because they’ve played with much bigger set-ups.
The excited approach the band brings to tour is not only refreshing—it’s calculated. Their onstage set-up and the way they plan to tour were thought-out decisions.
“We’ve seen other bands that have gotten jaded on the road or burnt themselves out, and I really want to make sure we don’t do that,” adds Gibson.
Though that’s probably a claim all young bands make, it seems like Memory Motel has the determination, and the smarts, to back that up.