When August Hotel released its most recent singles “Disaster & Delight” and “Train Song,” two high-energy numbers touching on unclear and misunderstood connections, it seemed unlikely the band would be able to climb any higher.
It turns out the path to the “Stations” EP was just a fuse that’s been burning over the last few months.
“Stations,” which presents the two already released singles plus two new songs, explosively showcases the growth Jo Padilla, Ryan Lammers, Dean Sinclair, Cale Singleton and Craig Schwartz Jr. have made together as a band over the last few years.
“We’re very much a band of five individuals,” Sinclair, the band’s drummer, said. “We’re not like just one person calling the shots and we’re all just okay with it.”
Both songs — “Please Leave A Message After the Tone,” written by Lammers, and “S.T.A.R.” by Padilla — touch on topics intensely personal to the writers.
“I think a lot about just how much better it is to be vulnerable and talk more about a song with your bandmates,” Padilla said.
In “Please Leave A Message After the Tone,” the EP’s most deliberately paced song, Lammers tackles how feelings cause difficulties in relationships. Originally written as an assignment for a college class a few years back, Lammers said he revisited it, peppered it with voice messages he had on his phone and created a statement about catharsis in our current world.
“Unfortunately we’re struggling with anxiety and depression and taking those feelings out on the people around you,” he explained. “So it’s basically sort of like a little warped kind of internal monologue of trying to sort out unhealthy ways and recognizing that, ‘Hey, I should fix that.’ But not actually getting to the point of fixing it yet.”
Padilla also explores unresolved feelings in “S.T.A.R.,” but in a different direction, imagining influential relationships. Focusing on both Padilla’s mother who died when they were nine and Stonewall activist Sylvia Rivera — who founded a transgender and queer liberation group called called S.T.A.R. in the ’60s — the song imagines what life would be like with two women Padilla idolized.
“It’s kind of how people need mothering figures in their life and how that guides them sometimes unseen, and seeing these feelings of my mother and what my relationship was like to her,” Padilla said. “She passed away when I was nine, and at that time you don’t really have a complex relationship with your parents. If you’ve always had a good relationship with them, you can’t see them in any other light than positive. … You feel like you don’t have a complete picture of them.”
“When you’re an adult and dealing with more issues in life or even just the times,” they added, “I wonder what would we talk about in 2020 that we didn’t talk about in 2005, whether that’s because of the actual time period or because of how old I was.”
Mirroring that relationship, Padilla said Rivera plays a similar role.
“I’ve always kind of felt a kinship and sort of like a distant motherly feeling in a way. So it’s kind of how they interact in my mind.”
The band will dive deeper into the songs at a livestream chat tonight at 7 p.m. on the August Hotel Facebook page. The new EP is out today on Bandcamp and SoundCloud and will be released on other major streaming services next week.