PLAYLIST: With Help From Steely Dan, Parliament, and John Cale, Savoy Motel Take ’er Easy
The Nashville post-punks share the influences behind their self-titled debut.
On October 21, the venerable What’s Your Rupture? will release the self-titled debut by Nashville band Savoy Motel. While the WYR? pedigree is apparent from the opening shock of “Souvenir Shop Rock”—dig how chintzy those guitars sound!—these dudes work a little polish into the old parquet boards (so to speak) and turn your club into a roller disco, a juke joint, a black-box theater. Across Savoy Motel, the group—Jeffrey Novak, Jessica McFarland, Mimi Galbierz, and Dillon Watson—spin around the rink with such effortless grace that it makes you just assume such disparate parts were always a natural fit, that Wire and Can and Prince and Omar Souleyman have always been playing the same genre with the same goal in mind.
Ahead of the album’s release in a couple of weeks, we asked the group about the songs that influenced its creation. Check out what Novak has to say below and listen along at Spotify (and dig that bonus track via YouTube, too). You can also check out the video for album single “Sorry People”—and a clutch of tour dates—below.
Royal Trux — “Don’t Try Too Hard”
The best American rock band of the 1990s. It’s truly a tragedy that Drag City hasn’t bothered to re-release this as a double LP yet, when the major label CD’s been out of print since 1997.
Steely Dan — “Show Biz Kids”
The first song that really sold me on Steely Dan, who I had always lumped in with soft-rock crap like the Eagles as a teenager. The drum-loop beat is hypnotic, and the female back-up vocals are playfully confusing.
Parliament — “The Goose (That Laid the Golden Egg)”
Perfect use of a drum machine under the whole track, perfect guitar work from Eddie Hazel, and a perfect remake of a ’60s Parliaments 45.
Roxy Music — “Sentimental Fool”
The Mamas and the Papas — “I Wanna Be A Star”
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite track off their last official studio album, but this song stands out because it’s the only one written by Michelle Phillips. Next to Jerry Garcia, this has to be the #1 most played album in the Savoy Motel van.
Jerry Garcia — “Bird Song”
A true Savoy van staple. We all love the Dead, and very little time passes without Mimi or Jessica bringing up Jerry in one context or another. On vibe alone, he’s as good a role model as any musician could ask for.
John Cale — “Days Of Steam”
This is the theme song to Andy Warhol’s Heat, the weakest chapter in the Little Joe trilogy. The album it’s from, The Academy in Peril, is like Cale’s Trout Mask Replica: it’s overly ambitious, and not all of it really works exactly, but I’m continually drawn back to it because it’s so cool and it has a great LP sleeve.
Van Dyke Parks — “Sailin’ Shoes”
Park’s Little Feat cover that might have Little Feat or at least writer/guitarist Lowell George as the backing band. The credits on the LP are purposely confusing. This album is sort of a calypso-fused Trout Mask Replica in its own way.
Little Feat — “Spanish Moon”
I was trying to get Dillon into Little Feat the whole time we were recording our new album, but they finally just clicked with him recently. Van Dyke Parks co-produced it, and it’s a perfect introductory track for the unconverted.
Led Zeppelin — “In the Light”
If Little Feat were Led Zeppelin’s favorite band, Led Zeppelin is probably Savoy Motel’s favorite band. An unsung epic in the Zep canon, this song has always given me heavy Royal Trux vibes, too.
Blue Öyster Cult — “Before The Kiss, A Redcap”
The guitarist in my first band told me I’d love BÖC, because that’s what he claimed Royal Trux were going for on their album Pound for Pound, but I think he was referring more to Agents of Fortune. This song is probably the greatest Side One album closer of all time.
Hot Chocolate — “Every 1’s A Winner”
Jessica turned me on to Hot Chocolate while we were touring together in Cheap Time, and I bought a copy of this LP for Dillon while we were recording our album. The guitar toned is synthesized to perfection.