Editors’ Notes After spending much of 2019 on the road touring their debut EP, No. 1, Montreal quintet Pottery returned home a profoundly changed band. For one, the garage-rock adrenaline of that first record had given way to a cowbell-clanging funk that owed as much to the call-and-response theatrics of James Brown and block-party atmosphere of War as it did to the polyrhythmic complexity of Remain in Light-era Talking Heads. But more importantly, the band had fully embraced the (sur)realities of life on the road: the mind-numbing drives, the dinners of raw supermarket hot dogs, the nights spent crammed into zero-star hotel rooms. Those bonding experiences form the basis for Pottery’s full-length debut, Welcome to Bobby’s Motel—a concept album that doesn’t so much immerse you in a storyline as a state of mind, with the titular character serving less as a traditional protagonist than a personification of the band’s driving philosophy. “We actually conceptualized the record after we'd already made it,” guitarist Jacob Shepansky tells Apple Music. “It just ended up culminating into a pretty good portrait of our lives at that time. We were staying in all these shitty motels with five guys in a room with two queen-size beds and one guy sleeping on the floor. The whole idea came out of just trying to make the best out of these dismal situations and just enjoy the time with your friends.” But more than just successfully bottle up Pottery’s relentless onstage energy—with interlocking tracks that suggest the whole album was recorded in a single continuous live take—Welcome to Bobby’s Motel also charts the band’s spiritual maturation, as frontman Austin Boylan balances his absurdist proclamations with more sobering ruminations on family, labor, and addiction. Here, Shepansky checks us into Bobby’s Motel with this track-by-track guide to the album.

Welcome to Bobby’s Motel
“Back in April 2019, we were touring with Viagra Boys throughout the States, and we actually opened the show with this every night. That was exactly what we wanted to use this song for: a fast show opener that just grabs people's attention right away.”

Hot Heater
“We wrote this song a couple of years ago, and it kind of spearheaded a lot of the funkier, dancier stuff on this record. Something clicked, and it was very easy to understand where we wanted to take it from there. This song was sort of like a precursor to 'Bobby's Forecast' and 'Under the Wires'—it was the start of that trying-to-play-funky type of deal.”

Under the Wires
“This was actually inspired by the same Viagra Boys tour, and the same sort of circumstance that the whole Bobby character is surrounded by. We were staying in Weed, California, and we had a day off, so we had this great idea to rent out a cabin in the woods. We find this cabin on Airbnb, we get there…and it turns out the guy hasn't been there in, like, three months and the road isn't even plowed. So it's like 8 pm, we don't know what we're gonna do. All we've got is a bunch of uncooked hot dogs and hot dog buns, because our plan was to have a fire and cook hot dogs. We ended up going to a Motel 6 and cramming into there, and we had no way to cook these hot dogs. So we just ended up hanging out by the highway behind this barbed-wire fence all night, and it was very special. It was kind of like that tipping point where you no longer care.”

Bobby’s Forecast
“Austin was ad-libbing for most of this. He was very inspired by James Brown at the time, so I think that definitely had an effect on his delivery. We wanted that line [‘Power/It doesn’t take much work’] to sound as ambiguous as possible, and for the listener to create whatever narrative they imagine. At the time we were writing the lyrics [in June 2019], we were thinking about our day jobs, and how there's always that boss that's going to look down on you just because he has the power to, and there's always going to be somebody that's abusing their power in some form, whether it's completely pedestrian or an actual human rights violation. So we wanted to keep it as open as possible for people to create their own narratives and understand it in their own way.”

Down in the Dumps
“We almost ad-libbed the lyrics for 'Down in the Dumps' as well. We were just riffing off of a similar idea [as 'Bobby's Forecast'] and talking about the powers that be. And we were also doing taxes at the time, and everybody was all stressed out about whether they did their returns correctly. There's that line ‘Taxman, come get me,’ which started from a joke. One of us was saying to Austin, 'Oh, you might want to double-check your return and make sure everything's okay,' and his response was all confident and cocky, like, ‘Come get me!’”

“Austin wrote this about his relationship with his mom, and it's very personal. His vocals and lyrics all came after we had actually done the whole song. We had been practicing it for a while and we just never really came up with any melodies. We were kind of getting close to finishing the record, and Austin was like, ‘You know, I just got to do this, I got to finish this.’ So he went home for a night, we came back to our drummer Paul [Jacobs]’s house the next day to work, and Austin had a full page of lyrics and a melody. We asked what it was about; he said, ‘My mom,’ and we were like, ‘Perfect!’ I'm really happy with the way that one turned out. I think it's going to definitely affect future records. I think we're more conscious about writing personal stories now.”

Texas Drums Pt I & II
“We were in Texas last year for South by Southwest, and we were playing, like, four shows in one day, and there's drum kits for everybody to play at each venue. So Paul was kind of like rolling the dice all day. But at one of the gigs, there was this beautiful drum kit that he just fell in love with, and it turns out it was handmade by this guy in Texas. Paul just wouldn't stop thinking about it and became kind of obsessed with it. He had become so engulfed in this kit that when we got home, we were working on music and we had this song, and then, in the spur of the moment, he started shouting out, 'Texas drums!' We all really liked it, and then we just went with it. It's a love letter to this drum kit in Austin that Paul played for 45 minutes.”

NY Inn
“'NY Inn' was actually written shortly after we finished recording our first record, No. 1, so it preceded the whole Bobby's Motel theme by at least three years. But it's kind of funny that it ended up being in such a similar realm. I had an old demo of the guitar line on an old four-track of mine, and then Austin came over and we just hashed it out. And then very quickly we played it with the band and adjusted the lyrics, and we were really happy with it. We've been playing it live for like three years now.”

What’s in Fashion?
“This is definitely the most on-the-nose track on the record. It's a culmination of living in a very gentrified neighborhood in Montreal. It was mostly just a commentary on the people that we see on the street, where you're like, ‘Do you have a job?’ You see the same person walking around the street most days—they're just cruising around and they're always looking good, but you're like, ‘What the fuck do you do?’”

Take Your Time
“When I was living in Vancouver, my mom ran a mission—it was basically a free store for the homeless in the Downtown Eastside. I would go volunteer there on weekends in high school every once in a while, so it's always been something that I've understood, and I've been just really close to it. But then you come to Montreal, and you just see people gorging themselves and it's like this free-for-all. 'Take Your Time' was about going from that point [of witnessing rampant addiction in Vancouver] to being a twentysomething in the bar having a great time, but what does it take to get to that other position? And how far do you have to be disillusioned with reality in order to get there? It's trying to understand what it takes for that sort of an addiction to spiral out of control.”

Hot Like Jungle
“Our first version of this was much more profane. It was me and Austin basically making this Austin Powers-esque cheesy love song. We sent it to Tim [Putnam], the head of Partisan Records, and he laughed…and then he was like, ‘Okay, you're going to change this, right?’ But we got somewhat attached to the song—not for the content, but just for the phrasing. And then when we were recording, 'Hot Like Jungle' was on the back burner the whole time, because I was the only one really pushing to get it going, because I had this idea in my head of where we could take it. But we tried so many different iterations of that song when we were doing demos that everybody was just ready to check out. And then we really slowed it down, and then everybody was really happy about it. And Paul ended up just penning a couple of lines about him coming home from work—when me and him were working construction—and throwing down his keys and giving his girlfriend a hug. I don't know how he got in that headspace when we were recording, but c'est la vie!”

Welcome to Bobby's Motel
Hot Heater
Under the Wires
Bobby's Forecast
Down in the Dumps
Texas Drums Pt I & II
NY Inn
What's in Fashion?
Take Your Time
Hot Like Jungle

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