If you live in Los Angeles, you probably have a friend, a guy at the office, or maybe a significant other, who won't stop talking about their "big plans" this weekend. If you don't know what they're talking about... it's probably in reference to The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that's starting today.
People in L.A. seem like they just won't stop talking about it.
Hundreds of musicians from AC/DC to Jack White are set to perform. Also taking the stage are a number of Southern California bands, such as the foursome Saint Motel, who perform Sunday.
A/J Jackson, the singer, and Aaron Sharpe, the guitarist, met in college and started playing together. Later, drummer Greg Erwin came along to stake his claim. He was looking for a band and after hearing them play, he went up to A/J and said "Hey... I'm better than that drummer and I need to be in this band."
Band members A/J and Greg stopped by the studio recently to talk to Alex Cohen.
Below is an edited version of their conversation.
Q: You've got this big gig coming up at the Coachella festival. Greg, have you been to Coachella before? And if you have, did you think at the time, "Hey, that's going to be me some day up on that stage?"
Greg: "I have been. A/J and I and some other friends went when we were in college still. And, you know, it was always this, like, thing that we always wanted to go to. And you're in college and you can't maybe afford a ticket, so we just kind of went out to the desert, like with no plan.
"And then [on] the first day of the festival, we've got to, like, just see if we can get tickets. Couldn't get tickets at the door. So, we're like, "Well, we gotta see if we can get in. Like, maybe we can get in!" And we climbed and averted security and we found our way in.
"We went through an orchard in a night... it was a pretty harrowing experience, but we made it. And where we dropped in over the fence was the back stage area for the artists... It's pretty funny now, like thinking full circle, like, 'Wow, we are playing the main stage at Coachella and we will totally be in that back stage... but legally...'"
Q: When I listen to a Saint Motel song like Midnight Movies, I can picture it. I can picture you at Coachella, you're on that stage, the crowd is up and moving and they're bouncing. A/J, have you talked at all about a strategy for "This is how we play Coachella?" Or do you guys have goals that, like, OK, if this happens, we know we've made it?
A/J: "Well... we have treated it as kind of a unique performance. It is our hometown festival, and we wanted to do something special. So, we put together something, a bit of a surprise, that is purely for that stage at that festival.
Q: Sometimes your shows have themes! Can you maybe talk about some of the themes that you've done in the past? I know you're not going to give away your one for Coachella.
A/J: "We like to view the live show — we try to make it as much of an experience as possible. And we've always tried to take it out of the context of you're just going out to see a show. Like, our first concert as Saint Motel, we arranged the stage with lamps on the amps and plants next to the amps, and a deer head mounted on the wall, and paintings on the wall, and we dimmed the lights, so it felt like a living room... Even if you've been in that club a million times, we wanted it to feel different. But it's just about keeping it a bit unexpected. Keeping it unique and new, to keep ourselves engaged and you know, to make it different every time we go on tour. It's not like every show is going to be like... toga themed or something. That's not how it works."
Q: Alright Greg, if you could, I know you're not going to reveal anything too much, but if you could maybe give a one-word hint at what this spectacle at Coachella might be... what would that one word be?
Greg: "Two words would be so easy..."
Q: Two's fine!
Greg: "Sexually colorful..."
Q: Are you guys nervous at all? Coachella... that's pretty big.
Greg: "I would say, maybe the nerves aren't there yet... I'm more nervous about getting to that point [on Sunday] and everybody being healthy and you know, not catching some crazy desert sand storm in their lungs or something."