Soaring in from Grand Rapids, Michigan, 5-piece rock band The American Hotel System returns with another thrilling and conceptual single, "STORIES."
We know The American Hotel System for their gripping live performances that showcase the utmost soul, charm, and power. The band features Jacob Betts, Haily Petty, Jake LaMotte, Samuel Overman, and C.T. McCallister, all striving to provoke the listener's mind through heartfelt lyrics and intentional musicality.
Recently releasing their 3-track EP, 'STORIES,' the song's title track is also the EP's midway point and serves as a conceptual and cathartic experience. The EP's other two tracks are slower, one being a nostalgic interlude and the other being a hazy and dreamy alternative-rock ballad. The title track, "STORIES," perfectly picks up the energy and keeps our feet tapping.
Listening to "STORIES," the track kicks off with a wailing lead guitar alongside powerful drum breaks, a plucky bass lick, and a crunchy rhythm guitar. As Betts makes his familiar and warm vocal appearance, he begins to tell the story of stories and how they die overtime only if we note them on a piece of stone, where they'll remain forever.
We can't help but feel lyrical nods to the concept of nostalgia, where Betts continues to sing of the many stories he's known and told while letting them go for memories to hold. We adore the entire American Hotel System's cohesive and thrilling instrumentals, they have such an anthemic performance delivery, and it keeps us hooked from beginning to end.
Let go of those lingering "STORIES" with The American Hotel System's latest single off their 3-track EP, 'STORIES,' now available on all digital streaming platforms.
We love the energy and soul within your latest single, "STORIES." Could you break down the song's lyrical concept and what inspired the tune? A few years ago I was reading a book about online communication called 'Before You Hit Send' by Emerson Eggerichs. Early in the book, Dr. Eggerichs references a children's story taken from a 1920 publication called 'The Children's Story Garden', which adapts Socrates' story of 'The Three Sieves'. In this children's version, a young boy approaches his mother with gossip and his mother quickly stops him and asks if he's put what he's about to say through 'the three sieves' of truth, kindness, and necessity. When he says no, his mother tells him that if it's not true, kind, or necessary, he should "let the story die" -- this struck me and I immediately heard the chorus of the song in my head. Over the last three and a half years, the song has evolved to become a commentary on conspiracy and distractions. The song sat on the back burner until I found myself in lockdown in March of 2020. Every time I opened my phone, it seemed like I was being bombarded by a new conspiracy. Conspiracies seem to offer solutions to vastly complex issues, especially ones that are beyond my scope of understanding. I think that is a large part of the reason why they have grown in prominence -- the pandemic has affected everyone around the globe in some way, and the temptation to fall into conspiratorial thinking is greater than ever. However, as the mother says to her little boy if it's not true, kind, or necessary, I need to "let the story die" and let go of the nonsense that clouds my life. Is there a running theme throughout your 3-track EP, 'STORIES?' How does the title track emphasize what the EP is all about? I want to focus on what is true, good, and beautiful. I believe that we're all searching for meaning and that we all have a deep longing for truth. That's a theme that runs throughout the entirety of our discography, all the way back to our first EP 'A Search For Sunken Truth' volume one. In this pursuit of truth, not only am I tempted by conspiracy and noise but I'm also tempted by material possessions and the "pretty things" that lure me in. I have become a big C.S. Lewis fan in the last year. Lewis wrote of 'sehnsucht'; a German word for the deep longing and yearning that we all have in life. In his address The Weight of Glory, Lewis speaks of 'sehnsucht';
"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers." -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (1941)
For me, the stories that these 'pretty things' try to speak to me are ones of selfish desire. They tempt me with the impossible promise that acquiring riches will bring me fulfillment. I know at the end of the day that this is not true. These "temporary pleasures" aren't the thing I'm actually trying to seek; they're just reflections of the beauty that my heart longs for. The common thread connecting the three tracks is a challenge to me to reject the temptations I'm bombarded with and focus on continuing to pursue what is true, good, and beautiful. How long did it take your group to create the 'STORIES' EP? Were you able to create and record together under the unforeseen circumstances of the ongoing pandemic? I've been demoing the song in various forms for the last three years, but really started recording it seriously last spring. We originally wanted to release the song during the summer but had to delay production a handful of times for various personal reasons. At one point last summer, my mental health had taken a huge dive and I'd never felt a stronger temptation to give it all up. After suffering a breakdown and starting much-needed therapy, we were able to really push hard into recording the release starting in September. Thankfully, we were able to record 'Stories' together over three main sessions, and 'Pretty Things' in just under four hours! How does the EP, 'STORIES,' reflect your band's point of view and perspective on life at the current moment? The world has been filled with such uncertainty over the past two years, and with that uncertainty comes temptations in various forms that we can cling to in order to cope. I'm grateful to say that the band is incredibly close and we've been able to live through the uncertainties of life together, even if we were forced to isolate for several months. After all of the recording delays, I'm glad things worked out the way they did because several of us are in a much healthier spot than we were just six months ago. Part of being in a band is not just the journey the songs take you on, a huge part of being a band is the journey of growth you experience together. Each time we take the stage, our hope is that we can use music as a vessel to communicate hope and facilitate community, and I hope that the 'Stories' project can act as a sounding board to put away with nonsense and distractions and help us all to focus on seeking transcendental truth and love.