Media Life: Ex-Auburn drummer's Saint Motel signs with Elektra Records

Placer High grad Greg Erwin puts down backbeat for L.A. band
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or (530) 852-0232. Or follow Thomson’s tweets at AJ_Media_Life. 


The good news just keeps getting better for Greg Erwin and his Los Angeles band Saint Motel.

Perhaps the L. A. music scene’s best-kept secret over the past half dozen years, Saint Motel has been honing its chops, gaining a fan base through touring and putting out smart and catchy songs. Erwin, a Placer High School grad, is the indie quartet’s drummer and it was only a matter of time before the foursome inked a major recording contract.

Earlier this year, British-based Parlophone signed the band and broke Saint Motel in a number of European markets. The success of the group’s single “My Type,” this summer helped smooth the way for a signing announced this week by Elektra Records and the promise of some experienced major label support stateside.

Elektra announced the signing in a news release that lauded the band and “My Type,” which has seen global success with radio airplay in multiple overseas markets, including Germany, Switzerland and Italy. “My Type” was recently certified as a gold record in Italy, where the single was a late summer hit. This week, the band guested on the Italian “X Factor” finale.  Saint Motel has also received positive ink from several media outlets, including features in both Italian Vogue and Rolling Stone.

And the video for “My Type,” which was directed by the band’s frontman A/J Jackson, has nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube.

Parlophone, home label to both the Beatles and Coldplay, was a prestigious coup for Saint Motel. Elektra is also an iconic name in the music industry.

Label president Jeff Castelaz said that he considers it an honor to have Saint Motel join Elektra as the company enters its 65th year in business.

“Not only is Saint Motel an exceptional live band that writes stylish, brash pop songs, but like their Elektra predecessors, The Doors, the MC5, Metallica and others, they are also the ultimate group of self-starters, who have built a substantial audience and a healthy business prior to landing on our doorstep,” Castelaz said.

Saint Motel has been performing in Italy and other European nations extensively this fall but will be back on the boards in the U.S. in January, playing a series of venues in major cities. The tour starts out in Phoenix and continues with performances in El Paso, Austin, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Salt Lake City. Saint Motel ends the tour back in California Feb. 7 with a show at San Francisco’s The Chapel.

Following that trek, Saint Motel will head back overseas for an extensive two-month European tour that will visit several countries, where the success with “My Type” continues to build. The tour will have stops in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy.

Saint Motel’s full-length Elektra debut is already in the works and will see its release in 2015.

Color Auburn Brown

The roster of name acts appearing at Auburn’s “foothills Fillmore” will be bolstered with a return to the Auburn Event Center of Savoy Brown, courtesy of friendly neighborhood promoter, Scott Holbrook and his Keep Smilin’ group.

Savoy Brown, with founder Kim Simmonds, wowed a sold-out house earlier this year with some guitar pyrotechnics. Simmonds and Co. are due to serve another round of gutsy British-style blues moments again on Saturday, Jan. 24. The show is part of the band’s 50th anniversary tour.

New film rolling soon

A new documentary film by Granite Bay’s Nimbus Films on the key role Chinese immigrants played in building California is moving toward completion.

Bill George, producer and Nimbus Films owner, said air dates for “Chinese Builders of the Golden Mountain” will be announced shortly, with the premiere expected in January.

George said the film promises to give viewers an inside look at how Chinese immigrants battled discrimination and helped shape the Golden State for future generations. The new documentary was shot on location in the Gold Country, Sacramento, Marysville, the Delta, the Sierra Nevada and Oroville. It will take viewers back to the 1860s to sites where thousands of Chinese pioneers built tunnels for the Transcontinental Railroad. It was a skill that the immigrants later parlayed into constructing wine caves for Napa Valley wineries, George said. The Nimbus Films lens’ travels include visits to the Oroville Chinese Temple and Bok Kai Temple in Marysville.

The documentary filmmaker has already established itself with the previous film “The Hidden Wonder of the World: The Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit.”

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or (530) 852-0232. Or follow Thomson’s tweets at AJ_Media_Life.