Cheap Hotels on growing up and staying local

'Being malleable with what you allow yourself to do in a project is the key to doing it for a while'

Like any other college-aged band, Cheap Hotels got its start playing small, local shows and empty bars. In one case, even the bartender walked out. 

Building up a following took a lot of time, but on Sept. 22, the band played its biggest show to date opening up for The Regrettes in a packed Crescent Ballroom. It wasn’t the first time the Tempe band played a crowded show, but the response the band received was unexpected. 

“... Seeing a crowd that was happy to see us. That was weird. They were stacked up to the front and you come up and they’re like, ‘Yeah!’” Isaac Kolding, a graduate student studying English literature and the band's singer and guitarist said.

One of its songs made The Regrettes lead singer, Lydia Night’s, Instagram story that night. 

Cheap Hotels has also played alongside popular indie bands Hockey Dad, Vundabar and Radkey

The group is still considered a local band, but it no longer considers itself to be within the DIY scene for a number of reasons. 

While Cheap Hotels does “do it themselves,” getting older has prevented the members from taking on as many shows as they once did, and distanced them from the often younger local community. However, their minimal involvement in the scene does attribute to their success. 

Guitarist and vocalist Ian Wilson said not playing a show every week makes them appreciate gigs more. Seeing what other bands are doing and going outside of old restraints has also kept Cheap Hotels up and running for as long as it has. 

“We definitely started out with some pretty strict confines on what we wanted to be, but I think those have loosened a lot. Being malleable with what you allow yourself to do in a project is the key to doing it for a while,” Ian Wilson said. 

Being broke and unable to move away has also been a key element for them, Ian Wilson joked. 

Talking with Cheap Hotels feels like you are a part of the band. The warm atmosphere the group gives off is probably due to how close they are to each other. 

Ian Wilson and Kolding have known each other since high school and met their drummer Jordane Raub through a mutual friend years ago. In 2016, when they started out, they all studied at ASU, bonding over their mutual love for the nostalgic sound of early Strokes’ albums like “Is This It? and “Room on Fire.” 

After compiling enough songs, they started performing at local venues like Trunk Space, Fiftyone West and Yucca Tap Room. From there, they scored shows at Rebel Lounge, The Nile and Valley Bar along with a spot in the McDowell Mountain Music Festival

For a while Cheap Hotels has been known as a three-piece, however, they just added a permanent bassist. This addition feels natural, though, since it is Ian’s twin brother, Alex Wilson.

“Everybody gets a little disappointed when you tell them you’re a fraternal twin,” Ian Wilson joked.

Because Alex Wilson currently attends NAU, making it out to every show isn’t always easy. Distance, full-time jobs, rent, master's degrees and everything in between make it difficult to maintain a band. Because of this, Cheap Hotels’ main focus at the moment is the internet. 

Noting the internet as the way they see bands getting discovered, Cheap Hotels wants a similar outcome that they don’t see happening much in local communities.

Currently, they are re-recording their song “I Need Some Sleep” from their 2016 EP “Long Summer" and plan to release it online soon. 

While they are focusing on the virtual world, the Arizona local scene will always feel like home to them. 

"It’s cool to see how (the scene) is always in a constant flow of new bands starting and others slowing down. It doesn’t allow you to get arrogant, which is nice," Ian Wilson said. "Hearing new things and trying to further what you’re doing yourself, you don’t get lazy."


Reach the reporter at swindom@asu.edu and follow @SaraWindom on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter. 


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.