Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Yellow Jacket Motel: a Venn diagram of rock ‘n’ roll

Members of Yellow Jacket Motel are, from left, Tim Spangler on bass, guitar and vocals; Adam  Estell on vocals and guitar; Chris Reilly on drums and backing vocals; and Scott Katzman on guitar and bass. Courtesy photo

If you’re looking for some hard-rockin’ local music that deviates from the skinny jean, angular haircut, hipster set, check into the Yellow Jacket Motel.

What started as a cover band has morphed into one of the best local rock bands to hit the scene since Middle Class Rut.

Check them out at 9 p.m. Saturday at The Stag, 506 Main St. in Woodland; (530) 668-8373. This 21-and-over show costs $5 at the door. David Rosales, of Silent Treatment, is opening.

Yellow Jacket Motel is made up of two veterinary specialists, a lawyer and a farrier (equine foot care).

“It’s a little different twist than the young band made up of baristas and record store dudes,” said drummer Chris Reilly.

I met up with the band — Adam Estell, vocals, guitar; Tim Spangler, bass, vocals; and Scott Katzman, guitar — at Reilly’s house/rehearsal space, out on the country roads between Davis and Woodland. It’s the perfect setting for a band to play loud, with abandon.

The current incarnation has been together for six months.

“When I joined, the band played 80 percent covers,” Spangler said. “Being in a cover band is similar to guys that play softball on the weekend. Serious musicians want to play their own stuff and put it out to the people.”

After a two-week hiatus, the band ditched the covers to focus on original material.

“Now we know 15 songs as opposed to learning 50,” Estell said.

For a band that doesn’t necessarily like the same music, they have a surprisingly cohesive sound.

“We’re not into the same stuff,” Spangler said. “Scott’s into jam bands, I can’t stand ‘em.”

“In my defense, Led Zeppelin ‘Physical Graffiti’ is my desert island disc,” Katzman said. “The only artist I know that Tim likes is Bob Seger.”

“He knows a disturbing amount of Natalie Merchant,” Estell quipped.

“I’ve been in bands with my wife!” Spangler shot back amid laughter.

“I’m the guy that likes classic rock the least,” Reilly said. Interesting, as many of the bands songs have a classic rock vibe.

But despite their differences, or maybe because of them, the band meets in the middle with a sound that is uniquely its own.

“We’re like a Venn diagram,” Reilly explained. “We overlap in areas. Sometimes one of us will groan. Like when they play ‘Night Moves.’ They play that all the time!”

What’s the song-writing process like?

“We’ve had a couple songs that start with one riff,” Estell said. “Tim and I may bring in a whole song.”

“Yeah, usually the b-side of some album I copped,” Spangler joked.

“We’re putting out a complete self-made EP of six songs,” Reilly said. “Sixteen we play live, six of those are recorded. Our cover history may hurt a little bit. It may take people a minute to realize we’re writing songs. We make it ‘cause we like it.”

They hope you’ll like it, too. Check out Yellow Jacket Motel’s six recorded songs at www.reverbnation.com/yellowjacketmotel. The song “Too Much” is hard-rocking with a catchy hook, “Wordless” is more mellow with a Kings of Leon feel and “The Middle” has a killer classic rock guitar riff and memorable hook:

Burn the candle at both ends
Will I ever learn?
When they meet in the middle
Somebody’s gonna get burned

I watched the band perform in the garage and was thoroughly impressed. At times I heard influences from Queens of the Stone Age, ‘90s alternative rock, classic rock and progressive rock.

Unlike the cover songs, which were getting stale and boring, the new material is fresh and exciting for the band members.

“Listening to one of the new ones, I hear stuff happen that I didn’t hear the first time,” Spangler said. “It’s like in a movie trailer, something cool happens, you let out a laugh, it’s like that. I think, Oh, I didn’t hear that. That’s really cool!”

The band’s passion for music comes through during live performances; that’s all the more reason to see Yellow Jacket Motel tear it up at The Stag. But if you’re on the fence, Reilly has some enticing offers.

“We’ll have CDs for sale to be won in stupid contests,” he said. “Like the first person to buy the drummer a beer gets a CD, etc.”

Not only is this a talented, hard-working group of guys, they’re a bunch of pranksters. As I left, I heard them play “Night Moves” as Reilly re-entered the room.

“No! Not again,” I heard him scream from a distance.

— Reach Landon Christensen at landonissuch@hotmail.com

Landon Christensen

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