Comprised of three originals and covers from Mickey & Sylvia, Buck Owens and Susan Raye, and Red Foley, Motel Mirrors is one for your power rotation. I caught up with the duet via email:
Why It Matters: How did you two come together?
Amy Lavere: My drummer Shawn Zorn on occasion would fill in for JP’s drummer when he was unavailable. Shawn divulged the fact to JP that I was about to record a new solo record and JP wanted to pitch me some songs. He got my number and we agreed to meet for a drink and talk about songs, direction etc.
Somehow the conversation turned to discussing how broke we both are and how we both were trying to hustle a living in town when we weren’t on the road and not wanting to wear out or solo projects on weekly residency gigs.
I’m not sure which one of us brought it up first but we both liked the idea of getting a duet side project going to have something fun to do and continue making our living playing music. By the end of the evening I was already booking us some gigs and scheduling rehearsals. I knew it was going to be a good show and a fun project but I didn’t quite expect the thing to be as inspired and magical as I know it is now.
JP’s songwriting is so amazing on this record. Our chemistry musically and stylistically, although sounding classic, I think is pretty special.
John Paul Keith: Actually, I remember us running into each other at Craig Brewer’s Halloween party. I tried to pitch her some songs and also pitch myself to play guitar on her record. I’d wanted to work with her on something for years.
Incidentally, now that I’ve heard some of her next record, I realize she didn’t need my help one bit. But I’m glad I tried, because it quickly turned into Motel Mirrors which has really been a blast and a very rewarding experience, creatively. She’s on her fifth record I think, and I’m about to put out my third, and there were so many stylistic similarities, it all just made too much sense not to do.
Also, it’s very significant that Amy plays the bass. If she’d been a guitar player, we would have had to get a bass player, which would have made us a quartet and the money wouldn’t be as good and the whole dynamic would be thrown off. So it all lined up just right.
WIM: You both have your own things going on. Is Motel Mirrors a one off, or can we expect more?
AL: As long as it continues to be inspired and we both are willing to make time for it we’ll make other records.
JPK: Yeah, I hope to do more, for sure. Sometimes writing for a specific project can sort of jump-start your writing in general. Like, I never would have written “Meet Me On the Corner” for myself, it wouldn’t have occurred to me. But we had decided to record an EP, so we needed some songs, and that’s the first one I came up with. This was while working on my own solo record too, so I think it helped my writing in general.
I would definitely like to do more. Plus the name is too cool to just be a one-off, and Amy and Shawn are too much fun not to work with.
WIM: I hear the echoes of great old duets like George and Tammy, but I hear lots of other stuff, too: The Bakersfield Sound, The Byrds, X, even that early eighties wave of roots bands like The BoDeans and Lone Justice. Are those influences there, or is it time I took my iPod off shuffle and changed medications?
AL: Absolutely yes they are all influences. Hell, this thing started as a duet cover band..
JPK: I like all of that, and although I’m more into the old stuff, the eighties bands were into the same thing, so it’s no wonder we might remind you of them.
WIM: I could kiss you both for making a real country record. Any thoughts on the current state of country music?
JPK: There are a ton of folks making great country music, they just aren’t heard by very many people.
WIM: Tour plans for Motel Mirrors? How about Europe and the UK?
AL: We’re going to tour the record in late summer and early fall, and rumblings of Europe are in the air. We are releasing the EP there so it would be a shame to not get over to play. Again, time and money are always in the way.
WIM: Why does music matter to Motel Mirrors?
JPK: I don’t really know how to answer that. We’re musicians, it’s what we do, it’s our life.