Track Premiere: “Forget the 80’s” by Hotel Nights

Singer-songwriter Chase Kerby returns with a renewed spirit and a fresh slate of material as Hotel Nights

Chase Kerby is a truth seeker. Across multiple projects and over a dozen years in the limelight, he has led a career that prioritizes artistic integrity and authenticity over fame and financial gain. He has had many opportunities to sell out in a big way, but he always sticks with his heart. It’s this uncompromising dedication to his values that keeps the spark alive in his music, a hallowed truth that resonates from both the stage and the studio.

photo by Ryan Magnani

Kerby’s latest incarnation is Hotel Nights, a new artistic framework for a new wave of music. Starting with a string of singles and a forthcoming album expected to release over the next year, Hotel Nights is a project that offers the full band sound that Kerby relishes while being more of a solo outing than usual, at least for now. It’s an approach for which the groundwork has been slowly laid over the last few years as his prior band gradually dissolved.

“I had hit a stalemate. No band, my motivation seemed to be depleted, and my writing had taken a sorrowful turn that I didn’t want to be defined by,” Chase Kerby said.

A quiet trip to the Oregon coast, however, helped him find his way again.

“It was my first time there and I was pretty awestruck by the rugged beauty and overall physical environment of the place,” said Kerby. “One day I took the car and drove up the coast for a few hours alone with my camera. I stopped at every place that caught my attention on the drive back. It was then that I decided to shelve the last 3 years of songs I had been writing and performing and start anew. Like I was leaving my old self and past in a physical place that wasn’t home.”

The first post-Oregon recording to see the light is Hotel Nights’ debut single, “Forget the 80’s”, which officially releases on all music platforms tomorrow, but you can stream it early today via the YouTube video below in this Make Oklahoma Weirder premiere.

With uptempo drums and a classic chord structure, “Forget the 80’s” carries Hotel Nights into the present with firm footing. Like the single’s artwork (design by Billy Muschinske, photo by Chase Kerby) and title suggest, sometimes it takes burning the past to get there. The key is to keep moving.

Like many of Kerby’s thematic leanings, the song hinges on bittersweet necessity.

The new single “was inspired by the inward struggles of most working musicians who are aging and don’t completely feel like they have a real place in their home or anywhere else,” Kerby said. “Especially the ones who seemingly gave it their all.”

It can be a rough spot, especially in a place like Oklahoma, where nuance is often a lost art. However, there’s a reason that artists who move away to chase their big budget dreams often find that the grass is not always greener and return home. The industry is a beast, and there’s something beautiful about the persistence of art outside of its grip.

“Forget the 80’s” is indeed an ode to persistence, as revealed in its opening seconds with a foreshadowing guitar riff. It plays alone at first but is soon joined by organ, bass, and drums on an unexpected downbeat. This reveals a syncopated vitality that pushes against the beat throughout the song, echoing the way inspiration pushes against the grind of working musicianship. As the song continues, it finds heartfelt saxophones that carry it to the finish line, a gesture of hope, grace, and validation that most every artist wishes for in their journey.

The latter is performed by OKC sax guru Adam Ray who appears here alongside John McCall on organ and Michael Trepagnier on bass and percussion/programming. Trepagnier also co-produced and mixed at his new studio, Cardinal Song.

photo by Ryan Magnani

Everything else, though, is Chase Kerby, who has typically not played the role of arranger and multi-instrumentalist to quite this extent. He doesn’t let this interfere with the direct nature of his artistry, however.

Where some would adopt a new moniker like Hotel Nights and use the blank page of creative control to do something completely different, Kerby is not one to reinvent himself. Rather, all of the phases in his career are more like wood carvings, refining raw material to its innermost being over stretches of time, refusing to cover it in decoration. He is an artisan whose medium happens to be music, and this latest project is another step in line with its evolving truth.

Hotel Nights will be hosting an intimate Facebook livestream tonight at 7pm Central time from Chase Kerby’s personal page to commemorate the new single.

Be sure to also follow Hotel Nights on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on upcoming singles, performances, and news updates. If you’ve ever wanted to stream some of Chase Kerby’s deep cuts but been unable, word has it that he’ll be re-releasing his prior EPs Tidal Friction and LINES on major streaming services with additional, previously unavailable tracks. It’s happening soon, so don’t miss it.

aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.

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