I’m keeping the beat

Motel Beds drummer Ian Kaplan discusses new album

By W.C. Ruffnel

The Motel Beds actively and negatively reinforce the opposite of several altruistic truths pertaining to rock n’ roll. The first of these is that rock n’ roll is a young man’s game – all pushing past their mid-thirties, the Motel Beds are comprised of several seasoned veterans of Dayton’s rich indie musical tapestry. Vocalist P.J. Paslosky, guitarists Derl Robbins and Tommy Cooper, bassist Tod Weidner and drummist Ian Kaplan have all done their time slugging it out in area-centric groups with varying degrees of success. In the confines of the Motel Beds – with their powers combined – they have emerged not only as local heroes, but as a group making waves outside of our dumb city. Partnered with North Carolina-based “anti-label” label No More Fake Labels, the Beds have played both the CMJ and South by Southwest festivals, in New York and Austin, respectively, and released two albums (Sunfried Dreams and Tango Boys) that have garnered stateside and international praise, both in the typically lame print media and typically critical/asshole-ish blogosphere. With the release of their newest album, Dumb Gold, they break another seemingly ill-conceived and widely-believed truth for those unfamiliar with our city: That great music doesn’t come from here.

When you encounter the Motel Beds, you’d be shocked to find out that they aren’t assholes. I met drummer and extremely handsome master thespian Ian Kaplan at the delicious Mexican joint Taqueria Mixteca, and he immediately told the waitress that everything is on one check. This is not typical of most musicians I know– they’re usually a group of self-serving assholes demanding free entrance to venues for themselves and their friends and sucking down free drinks faster than a porcupine releases quills while rolling around on a Velcro bed. Not these dudes (although like most people, one could easily assume they won’t turn down a free drink – but they won’t demand it).  They’ve seen it all, and people like them. They look good, which means they should be dicks, but they’re not. Especially considering how good Dumb Gold is.

“We’re definitely nearing the end of our journeys,” Kaplan says, throwing a jab at the combination of the group’s age at over 9,000. “We all saw ‘Top Gun’ when it came out.”

If the Motel Beds are old, they certainly don’t sound old and they don’t look old. They look seasoned, and they sound fucking amazing. They also don’t seem to give a shit. To see them live is to witness a bunch of dudes not only play, but win their game – melodic vocals glazed on top of a delicious twin-guitar cake with a rhythmic rhythm section for frosting. Tracks from the new album translate well live because they’re recorded live, which is apparently relatively quick and easy. Dumb Gold does not deviate much stylistically from previous work, and Kaplan said that writing and recording this time around was the “same if not easier.”

“On a scale of one to … uh, let’s just say it was a five,” said Kaplan, holding a cheese-queso dip, “… and leave it at that. The recording process took roughly one day, then maybe another two, since there were overdubs.”

Dumb Gold is hot on the tails of the recently released Tango Boys, and Kaplan admits that the albums have come out rather quickly (four in two or so years), but thinks that this time around they’ll let it digest with the public a bit more.

“We have extremely short attention spans,” he said, in between bites of deliciously crisp and saucy Mexican food. “And we’re lazy. We’ll be pretty serious about this album – and by that, I mean in terms of supporting it and not releasing another one before anyone has a chance to listen to it.”

… and there is no reason not to digest Dumb Gold. Opening track “Smoke Your Homework” rollicks along with a fiery rock n’ roll intensity, complete with a catchy falsetto “ooh-woo-ooh-ah-oh –ooh-ooh-ah-oooh-woo” part and Paslosky yelling for you to “come on” over and over again. Second track “Valentimes” is the perfect anthem for a surfer-turned-bank-robber – you know, the kind of track that makes you not only want to rob a bank, but do it in a bathing suit while wearing a pork pie hat and holding a boogie board. “Rattle Rattle” has a thick Bonham-esque drum groove that begs you to shut the fuck up and listen – in a nice way. These are just the first three tracks – the rest is pretty good too, and Kaplan beams when speaking of his new, dumb baby.

“I’m as proud or more proud of it than the others,” he said, hot sauce in hand. “If this record does what we’d like it do, we’d like to share the success. Like, discover people on the karaoke scene and help get them signed. The underground DIY karaoke scene is hot right now.”

So is the sauce in his hand, and so is the album he just put out.

The Motel Beds will perform on Thursday, Dec. 13 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are Mr. Gnome [Cleveland] and Dear Fawn. Admission is $5 for 21 & up. Doors at 9 p.m. To listen to a free stream of Dumb Gold, visit motelbeds.bandcamp.com.

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