First/Last-Hotel Lights

July 1, 2012

Hotel Lights, featuring singer-songwriter and former Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee (vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards), recorded Girl Graffiti with guitarist/engineer Alan Weatherhead (Sparklehorse, A Camp), Jay Brown (bass) and Zeke Hutchins (drums), both of Tift Merritt’s band, at The Sound of Music in Richmond, VA. The new record has the spirit of a live recording, but with a graceful, polished delivery—a testament to the musicianship and sound these four seasoned players have created together over the years. North Carolina native/Brooklyn-resident Jessee made Girl Graffiti with no pressure, only wanting to please his fiercely loyal fan base, his longtime band and himself. Most songs and vocals were tracked live in the summer, some with the band having just learned them moments before, like the gently stunning “My Own Cloud.” Others were finished in the cold of winter, like the album’s Rhodes-driven ballad “Super 8mm,” a true standout track where Jessee paints lyrical pictures that begin with an apropos mention of freshly fallen snow.”

I recently had the pleasure of catching the band at Garfield Artworks. I was able to pick up a couple discs there and I have to say, I haven’t flipped out so hard for a new band as these guys (well, him) in awhile. It’s my pleasure to thank Darren for taking some time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • “The Muppet Movie Soundtrack” in 1979. ‘Rainbow Connection’ is still a great song.
  • Your last album bought?
  • “The Soul of a City Boy” by Jesse Colin Young (on vinyl) released in 1964.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • I really don’t have one favorite, I like too many records, but if you’re making me choose..”Our Mother the Mountain” by Townes Van Zandt.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • I was taught, if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet.
  • First concert attended?
  • Never could remember stuff like that.
  • Last concert?
  • The Shins at Bonnaroo.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • Bob Dylan at Jazzfest in New Orleans.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • See answer to question #4.
  • Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • I love Jerry’s record shop. We stop there every time!

Thanks so much, Darren. Really looking forward to seeing you again in the future.