After Dark: goodbyemotel
05:00 AM, Jan 29, 2014
If you go
What: A 4-D performance by goodbyemotel.
When: 9 p.m. Friday (doors open at 8:30 p.m.).
Where: Little Theatre, 240 East Ave.
Tickets: $10 at the box office and thelittle.org.
The band is goodbyemotel one word, all lower case, please and its experiments in the fourth dimension have created an odd hybrid. It’s Australian. From New York City. The lead singer is from Sweden. The drummer is from Rochester; in fact, he used to play at the Penny Arcade when he was 14. And goodbyemotel will be performing in Rochester on Friday, not in a music club, but a movie theater. While everyone in the audience wears 3-D glasses.
That’s how rock happens in today’s multimedia world. It’s no longer four lads from Liverpool.
“It’s a really, really incredible machine of a band,” says Paul Amorese. He’s the Rochester connection, the drummer who used to lie about his age so he could get into the Arcade with his band. Meanwhile, goodbyemotel is “Straight-up modern rock, a Muse-meets-Radiohead kinda vibe. It has a very big pop sensibility to it, something along the lines of Imagine Dragons.”
That’s a good-enough description of the sound for me to steal, in my lazy journalist’s way: 21st-century emotion-crescendo arena rock with a dance-club thump. Enhanced by “The 4D Live Music Experience.”
When you pay your $10 and walk into the Little Theatre on Friday, you’ll be handed a pair of 3-D glasses. Which you can keep after the show, just make sure you take them off while driving home. The front of the stage will be covered by a scrim, a see-through curtain. Behind the curtain is goodbyemotel. The band starts playing, and 3-D photos and video images coordinated with the lyrics flash across the screen.
“The band,” Amorese says, “is the fourth dimension of the 4-D.
“The images are pretty tightly crafted. Our keyboard player is a video wiz, a professional film guy. It’s kind of revolutionary, the 3-D image thing happening with our music. It’s really amazing how it falls together.
“It’s kind of fun for us, too. It’s like the 3-D movie age. A retro throwback. It’s kind of cool to see everybody look back at us while wearing the glasses.”
It sounds as if the perfect accompaniment to this show is now legally available in Washington or Colorado. But apparently, the head trip stands on its own. “Last year, we just toured it in Japan,” Amorese says. “We got fantastic feedback, the crowds were going crazy for it.”
Cool as it looks, “It’s not like, ‘Hey, we’re an art-rock band,’ ” Amorese says. After about four songs, the scrim falls to the floor and goodbyemotel and the music must stand on their own. “We’re a very crowd-oriented band after that,” Amorese says.
He didn’t grow up playing in art-rock bands, just ones that learned the routine in clubs where the floors were sticky from spilled beer. While at Bishop Kearney High School, Amorese was already playing drums virtually once a month at the Penny Arcade in his band Boutros Boutros, named for the former Egyptian secretary general of the United Nations, and a minor Seinfeld catchphrase. His mom came to all of the shows. “I used to have to pretend I was older to get in the door,” Amorese says. “There was a lot of the excitement of being 14 years old and playing in bars, thinking I was going to be the next big thing.
“I didn’t even know how to tune my drums. The first time I played, the sound guy got up on the stage to do it for me, and I’m like, ‘Huh … I never did that before… .”
Amorese tried Monroe Community College for a semester, then moved to New York City with his techno-pop band Bacci, trying to make ends meet as a freelance musician and waiter. He was playing a gig with Regina Spektor when one of the guys from goodbyemotel was in the audience.
“The guitar player approached me to audition for them, a total New York moment,” Amorese says. “I didn’t think much of it.” He takes the airy tone of the typical big-talk networker commonly found in the backstage rock environment: ” ‘We’re working with this big producer, we’re gonna be on this major label … ‘
“The next thing you know, I’m recording their full-length album with them, with the heavy-hitter producer.”
The big-name producer turned out to be Kevin Killen, who’s worked with U2, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. The guy who designed the cover for goodbyemotel’s new album, If, also did a handful of covers for Pink Floyd, including the classic Dark Side of the Moon.
“Seeing how smart they were about marketing themselves, and how smart they were about the 4-D show, I knew it was going to be something,” Amorese says.
A part of that smart marketing was performing the 4-D experience in a New York City gallery window and associating with causes such as ending child slavery and addressing climate change. And goodbyemotel secured career-launching coups such as getting a song in a popular TV show, Gossip Girls, and in a car commercial.
“One of the bigger things the band stumbled on in 2013 was Chrysler Australia,” Amorese says. “They put the song at the forefront of the whole advertising campaign. That catapulted the song to major radio in Australia.”
If is ready for a March release, with Amorese not only playing drums but doing backup vocals and writing. “I co-wrote pretty much every song,” he says. Including the first single, “about being a younger kid, maybe post-high school, venturing off into the world for the first time, seeing how life really is,” Amorese says. “It’s a tribute to visiting different countries.”
Although Amorese himself has yet to visit goodbyemotel’s home country, Australia. And other markets, virgin turf for the 4-D experience. “According to our analytics on Facebook and other sources,” he says, “we apparently have this fan base in France that we don’t know about.”