Residing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The American Hotel System is a rock band that fuses Hard Rock, Americana and Folk. The melding of these genres boasts The American Hotel System’s diverse musical range. Previously titled, 'socio-political rock', they strive to create music that provokes feelings from this listener. Their discography ranges from songs about love to war and everything in between.
Fresh and ground-breaking sound arrangements in The American Hotel System’s track, “21st” have me blown away. The band members have inspiring and special ideas when it comes to creating music. The whole band’s chemistry is evident through the speakers. The timing and tempo of everything is flawless and finely-calibrated while the vocals remain rich and transcendent. I love the detailed lyricism and effortless delivery of every word. The alluring acoustics at the beginning of the track are the perfect intro to a hard hitting rock hit. Dedication to craft in the detail is admirable while the infectious and vivid music fused together is awakening. The American Hotel System brings raw energy and an indefinitely loud testimony to the magic of the underground scene. Layered guitars, ground breaking vocals and emotive lyricism give “21st” a transporting feeling. Painting a soundscape in your mind, The American Hotel System allows the listener to escape into an alternate reality and live in the music. The heavy breaks during the chorus when the vocalist belts, “I’m letting go” is the true highlight of this track. I highly recommend you give “21st” a listen.
Check out “21st” here and read more below in our exclusive interview with The American Hotel System!
Hi guys! Can you start by introducing yourselves to our readers?
I’m Jacob. I sing, play guitar, and take things too seriously
I’m Hailey and I’m the drummer.
Im Jocko, I play the bass and am often the reason people complain that "its too loud in here."
I’m C. T. I play guitar and offer comic relief.
How did you come up with the band name The American Hotel System?
Jacob: Jocko, Hailey, and I all went to college together studying music. Along with being a music major comes road trips with ensembles to play at various places to promote the program, and with long road trips come weird conversations. On one particularly long road trip, we were coming up with overly complicated band names just for fun and I said “The Hotel System” to which my friend replied “Dude! “The AmericanHotel System!”.
Despite starting as a joke, the name has been allegorized through the music we play. I was working on writing an album called ‘Reflections’ that would ultimately become our debut EP (A Search For Sunken Truth Vol. 1), so I decided to use the name! Western culture is so broken, and I hope these songs can be a refuge from the societal storm— The American Hotel System can serve as a shelter and pose an answer to the cultural divide.
Who are your musical influences?
Jacob: Jon Foreman, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Jack White, Drew Holcomb, and Kings Kaleidoscope.
Hailey: Steve Jordan, Andy Hurley, Ben Howard, Chad Butler (Switchfoot), Tyson Motsenbocker, Mumford & Sons.
Jocko: Miki Santamaria, Victor Wooten, Jason Werkema, John Mark McMillian, Jimmy Rainsford, Buddy Rich.
C.T.: Emarosa, afi, the 80’s as a whole, B. B. King, James Bay.
What’s the meaning behind your track “21st”? How do you want the listener to feel when they hear it?
Jacob: I know that my greatest struggle in life is pride. I wrote this song the day before I turned twenty one; when I was at a point of crisis where I had spent the last two years of my life destroying relationships through selfish pride. Twenty one is a significant number to me: I spent twenty-one years of my life on top of a pedestal, it takes twenty one days to form a habit, and we live in the twenty first century. I really believe that the only way we’re ever going to make it as a culture is by stepping down from our thrones and lifting others up in love— This song serves as my constant reminder to do just that. It’s my hope that the listener will hear my heart and feel the push to take a step down and care for their neighbor.
Hailey: When people listen to the song 21st, I want them to feel like they have the freedom to stop going with the tide of controversy and instead get on each other’s levels and see things from the perspectives of one another. This song screams perspective and humility to me. I want the listeners to feel this too.
Jocko: I see 21st as a chance for people to take a self reflection of where they’re at. I see it as an opportunity to see what we are missing in life by being so focused on what, in reality, may not even matter (I.e. social status, wealth, pride, etc) and it gives them that chance to look away for a second to focus on what really is important.
C.T.: I will leave Jacob to explain the meaning. But as far as how I want to listener to feel, I know when i first heard it it struck me. I was in a place in life where I needed a change and that’s what this song is about to me. When I hear it, when I play it, I feel like I can change. I feel like I can be the person I want to be. “In this 21st century”.
What’s your writing process like as a group?
Jacob: The songs almost always start as a lyric or line that I’ve written throughout the day. I have a little notebook that I carry in my pocket at all times and write down ideas throughout the day. Most days I end up with 10-15 lines, verses, or concepts and I spend time in the evening typing all of them into my laptop notes. Copying everything over digitally helps me to really pour over each idea and get a feel for which ones deserve the most attention. While I’m writing the lyrics it’s like I can hear the finished song in my head with all of the parts and production, so that really helps guide the musical side of the writing process once I pull out my guitar. When a song is at a place where I can play it acoustically for the band, I’ll bring it to them and cast the vision for what I hear in my head and we’ll have a go at playing it together. Sometimes you can have a song for years that isn’t fully realized until the entire band has a hand in it.
’21st’ was a song that I had written for over a year before we recorded it and didn’t have plans to make a full arrangement. We had a solid acoustic arrangement that was going to be on the record, but once we stepped into the studio we realized it was a much larger sounding song.
Hailey: For me, the writing process usually starts with Jacob playing the song for us on guitar. From that point I start to hear potential dynamics and grooves. I’m all about blending and emphasizing the instruments and mood surrounding me, so I try to be sensitive to the feel of the song and to the emotions that I want to convey. From there I work on locking in with the bass and try to get a nice tight groove going. From that point on, it’s all about collaboration and workshopping.
Jocko: As far as my input on our writing process, I see myself as more of someone who gives critiques after a lot of the main idea is already established lyrically. By the time I get to what Jacob has put together as far as content, I want to see where we can go to that next level musically, where can we add a sick guitar solo, or maybe do a big stop to make that moment even greater to bring our song to whole new place that will really impact our audience emotionally.
C.T: Usually by the time a song gets to me, Jacob just wants me to lay down guitar solos. Lolz. I would say that I am the salt in the writing process. I kind of bring out the flavor after everyone has put in their part.
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