Five Questions With… Hotel Mira's Charlie Kerr
The mastermind of JPNSGRLS discusses the different musical direction of his new project, a memorable birthday in Berlin, the influence of his tastemaker brother, and his advice for Ed Sheeran.
By Jason Schneider
Hotel Mira is the continuation of acclaimed Vancouver alt-rockers JPNSGRLS, fronted just the same by mastermind Charlie Kerr. Kerr and his new bandmates—guitarist Colton Lauro and bassist Mike Noble—have taken their sound out of the garage and into a considerably lusher musical landscape on Hotel Mira’s self-titled debut six-song EP, available now through Light Organ Records.
Working with producer Dave Schiffman (Vampire Weekend, HAIM), Kerr directed his creative energy at writing sharper hooks and more memorable melodies. The results are songs that boast anthemic, soaring choruses while sacrificing none of their sheer rock ’n’ roll energy, as evidenced by the jagged, pulsing first single “3AM Lullaby.”
When announcing the name change earlier this year, Kerr stated that Hotel Mira better reflected “the dirty-slick direction the music is going in,” while the EP is intended as a transition from his past work. Expect to hear a lot more from Hotel Mira shortly, but for now, keep tabs on their activities at hotelmiramusic.com.
How does your approach with Hotel Mira stand apart from JPNSGRLS?
They are two entirely different organisms, and to compare them would be doing a disservice to everybody who was ever involved. With Hotel Mira, I wanted to explore a lot of different sounds and styles we never had before while still embracing the chaotic elements we became known for. Lyrically to me [the EP] ended up feeling more like a folk album in a rock and roll costume, playing with the duality of pure bravado and emotional privacy. The themes range from sex, love, trauma and abandonment to the harsh modern realities of being alive in these bizarre, unsettling times. We are the closest to making the exact kind of music I have always wanted to be making.
Other than reconstructing the band, what's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?
I got in a car crash in March, and it made me re-evaluate a lot of shit. And I have never felt better.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
My brother Sam introducing me to The Smiths and Joy Division and The Cure. He was my ultimate tastemaker and probably the reason I am in the arts at all. When I was 11, I also played in a Beatles cover band, and I was by far the least talented member. But I was the most charismatic on stage, so people cheered. I guess I realized then that technical prowess was not the be-all-and-end-all of being a musician.
What's your best touring story?
JPNSGRLS opened for The Heavy in Berlin, and when the sold-out audience found out it was my birthday, they all sang me “Happy Birthday.” I think I cried a bit.
If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Christ… I would get Ed Sheeran to stop rapping.