The origin of Hotel St. George dates back to a night at the Casbah in November of 2007. “Erik [bass] and I met and had ourselves a bit of a pity party about the demise of our former bands — Vinyl Radio and a Week’s Worth, respectively,” says lead singer and occasional guitarist Matt Binder. “Erik knew Simon [drummer], and I was immediately intrigued because his last serious band had been a project in London with Ray Davies’s daughter. Brian [guitar] simply descended from the heavens as a gift from God to us.”
The band is a straight-ahead guitar-rock band that mixes alternative energy with some old-school FM radio songwriting prowess. They self-released an EP this past spring, Yippee!!!, and recently finished a full-length album.
“We’ve been advised to space out our releases further than three months, but we’re not going to do that,” says Matt. “Our goal is to make up what we lack in quality with sheer quantity. Actually, that’s not true either. It’s just that we write a lot of songs and I think that we’re progressing pretty quickly as a band, and we want to document our work.”
Even though Hotel St. George is a relatively new band on the scene, the group has managed to land one plum gig so far — the Karl Strauss Beer Festival.
“They provided us with a couple of ladies whose job was simply to make sure that we were well-fed and drunk,” Binder explained. “We kept them running around all day long fetching us beer and pizza. It was fantastic!”
WHAT’S WITH THE BAND NAME?
“The origins of our name shall remain a mystery,” says Matt. “However, I’ll give you a hint. It involves a St. Bernard puppy, a Schwinn bicycle, and a lot of heartache. If we weren’t called Hotel St. George, we were going to be called Dream Manfully. Our shtick would have been performing as repressed homosexuals playing death metal.”
Brian: Rubber Soul, the Beatles. “George, John, and Paul were at the peak of their pop careers — maybe not their rock careers — but they were writing their best pop songs at the time. My favorite track there is ‘Nowhere Man.’ ”
Simon: Nevermind, Nirvana. “This is the CD that got me to take up the drums.”
Matt: Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan. “My girlfriend dumped me a while back, and I listened to Blood on the Tracks every day. Then we got back together, and I didn’t need it anymore, but I’d like to pay my respects to it by saying Blood on the Tracks.”
Erik: Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol. “There is so much variety in the songs, and all the members contribute to this record. Some tracks are intense while others are a nice calm.”
Brian: Twilight Zone. “It’s timeless, classy, and clever, and I’ve learned a lot about my own morality from the lessons taught on the show. Or not.”
Simon: Quadrophenia. “It’s the best British film ever made. It’s ace.”
Matt: Straw Dogs. “I saw it a long time ago with some friends. At the end of the movie when it was time to discuss it I figured everyone must have loved it just like me. Turned out everyone else hated it.”
Erik: Sealab 2021, season 1. “That show cracks me up.”
Erik: “Our CD-release show at the Whistle Stop. It was a packed house.”
Brian: “We played a ‘secret show’ at the Triple Crown Pub dressed as cowboys and Indians. The opening band was some middle-aged, Christian folk-music act. After their set we set up our gear and then disappeared to the bathroom. We came out in full costume. We played entirely too loud for the bar, managed to offend the hippies with our Native American garb, and couldn’t see the people there to watch the show because there were pool tables set up in front of where we were playing.”
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION?
Simon: “My green card or a cup of tea. My green card is important, because without it I wouldn’t be able to be here or play in the band. But a cup of tea is probably the thing I prize the most. However, a cup of tea isn’t really a possession, is it? You can make tea just about anywhere, though, which I like. I drink it with dinner.”
VINYL, CD, OR MP3?
Brian: “Vinyl for pleasure; MP3 for convenience.”
FAVORITE HOTEL IN SAN DIEGO?
Matt: “When I first moved to San Diego I took a job working the front desk at the Best Western in Pacific Beach. On the Fourth of July the beaches are completely mad. There is a public restroom in front of the hotel, and there was a line literally a few hundred people deep to use it. Eventually, all the would-be bathroom users attacked the lobby of the hotel to use the facilities. My boss put me in charge of keeping them out and then split so that he could go party with friends. At first I tried to fend off the masses but eventually decided that it was an impossible task. So I took the low road and started charging the people to use the lobby restroom. Five dollars, no exceptions. I made $600 that day. I was fired the next day. Oh well, at least I had my own built-in severance package.”
Brian: “Saint Onuphrius. Onuphrius lived alone in the desert and wore only his hair and a loincloth of leaves — this led to his becoming patron saint of weavers. I like to think that he looked like Captain Caveman. San Onofre surf spot was named after him. I may have made that up.”
Erik: “George Foreman grill. That thing saved my life in college.”
BEER OR VODKA?
Erik: “Beer because it has more variety and a wider range of flavors. Although great vodka is amazing, nothing beats a nice cold beer in hand when relaxing.”
Matt: “What’s great vodka? Doesn’t it all taste the same?”
HBO OR CINEMAX?
Erik: “HBO without a doubt has some of the best TV series. Currently, I’m addicted to The Wire, and Entourage is one of my favorite shows.”
Simon: “What do you call him…Bob Saget? Someone said I look like Bob Saget. Is that a compliment? He’s a comedian, right?”