Hotel Books

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Cam Smith (Hotel Books)
Hotel Books picture of Cam Smith.jpg
Cam Smith of Hotel Books in 2014.
Background information
Birth name Cameron Michael Smith
Born February 16, 1993
Origin Porterville, California, US
Genres Spoken word, emo, post-hardcore, indie rock, ambient
Occupation(s) Musician, spoken-word poet
Instruments Vocals, spoken word, sampling
Years active 2011–present
Labels InVogue Records, Dream Atlantic Records, Dead Letters Collective
Associated acts Porterville High School

Hotel Books, is an American emo/spoken-word project from Porterville, CA revolving around the poetry of Cam Smith (born February 16, 1993). Hotel Books is commonly viewed as Faith-based, which Cam Smith has confirmed through numerous interviews. The project is often presented on tour as a full band, but has also been shown as a solo project of Cam Smith. They are known for Smith's unique vocal style, which is often the central focus of their work.

The band's InVogue Records debut, "I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home" was released July 1, 2014 via InVogue Records. The album received mostly positive reviews, as well as earning the band their first Billboard chartings, No. 9 on Alternative New Artists and No. 20 on Heatseekers, for the album's debut week.[1] Their latest effort, "Run Wild, Young Beauty," was released on April 7, 2015, and spent three total weeks on the Billboard charts.

Hotel Books has toured USA, Europe, and Australia, playing with a variety of notable acts, including Defeater, Counterparts, and Title Fight.[2]

History[edit]

Cam Smith as a solo artist (2011–2013)[edit]

Hotel Books began in Porterville, CA when Cam Smith began performing spoken-word poetry accompanied by his friend Matthew Walker on guitar. Their first show was in Paso Robles, CA.[3] Originally, they were called "Sons of Empire" but soon changed the name to Hotel Books to "avoid sounding like a viking metal band" according to Cam Smith.[4] Soon after changing their name, they released the independent EP "Call Me Human" which was recorded at a home in Lodi, CA. Matthew left the band soon after the December 2011 release of the EP to pursue school. Cam Smith continued to write and play music with Kevin Glaudel (formerly of See the Light). Soon after, in May 2012, Hotel Books released a new single called "Ghost Can't Love" via their YouTube page. From May to November 2012, Hotel Books played short regional tours to promote the new single, which led to a brand new demo EP called "Amid the Beautiful Devastation" on Dead Letters Collective, a now defunct collective that Cam helped pioneer.

After the street date of their first official album as Cam and Kevin (the longest running line-up Hotel Books has had), they toured extensively, often with guest guitarists since Kevin was a full-time student. Soon after, their second EP "Found Out I'm Not So Brave" was launched digitally in the form of three unedited "one-take" poems. Upon release, Smith stated in an interview, "This album, along with our last, will be released together as one collection, we're just not done writing the story quite yet." 2013 also brought the releases of two split EPs, one with San Diego melodic hardcore band Brave Coast and the other with Massachusetts melodic metalcore band Endure. The former brought Hotel Books their second official single, "Sometimes I Feel Like Nothing" which was free to download on their BandCamp page.[5] During the initial week of the single being released, Hotel Books had over ten thousand downloads.

Somewhere while recording the Endure split release, Cam Smith removed Kevin Glaudel from Hotel Books leaving Cam as a solo artist once again. At the end of 2013, Smith released "Everything We Could Have Done Differently" with mostly stolen music from Soundcloud, which has since been removed from Kevin's profile, online with a limited run of CDs. The album featured all previously released material as one CD, as Cam had stated was always the plan.

First Attempt at Full Band and "I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel At Home" (2013–2014)[edit]

In 2013, upon the release of the split release with Endure, Hotel Books showed their full band sound for the first time. Due to positive response, Cam decided to recruit Jordan Leal (of Papertowns.) to help compose more full band music. This saw the three song release "I'm Almost Happy Here" released independently via the band's BandCamp account. Without any promotion or previously stated release information, the album made its way on the internet. The band debuted the new music in a live setting that week while playing some Northwestern US dates. After that tour, fill-in drummer Dan Colasanto officially joined Hotel Books.

During early 2014, the band toured with Hearts Like Lions in March as an official album launch for the new EP. Immediately after the tour, Hotel Books went back to producer Hiram Hernandez, who had done their previous EP, to record another two songs for a physical re-issue of "I'm Almost Happy Here." The first single, "Constant Collapse" was released on April 1 via Dream Atlantic Records along with an announcement for a new EP called "But I Never Feel At Home" as a Side B accompaniment to their previous EP. [6] The band then went at work producing "But I Never Feel At Home" in the numerous rooms of Smith's home, as well as the home his deceased grandparents had lived in as he was growing up in Porterville, CA.

On April 30, Hotel Books released the final track for the new "I'm Almost Happy Here" re-issue via InVogue Records, entitled "Dreaming or Sinking." With this release was also the announcement that they had signed to InVogue Records who would be releasing the new double-sided EP worldwide. In May, the band toured extensively across the US with Kurt Travis. Soon after the tour, Jordan and Dan stepped out of the band due to personal conflicts with Cam Smith. During the time back as a solo artist, Cam played some local shows and appeared at dates of the Van's Warped Tour to promote the release of the two part EP. Jordan returned to Papertowns while Dan continued releasing music under the moniker When All We Love is Lost.

On the July 2014 release, the debut week landed Hotel Books their first chartings on Billboard. During August 2014, Dan Colasanto came back into the band, but this time as guitarist. Bass player from the Kurt Travis tour, Kaleb Thibeau, was also now permanently in the band, and also on guitar. Smith continued to play solo shows to promote Hotel Books while Dan and Kaleb began working on new material.

"Run Wild, Young Beauty" (2014-2016)[edit]

In October 2014, Dan, Cam and Kaleb, along with new drummer Andrew Garcia (a childhood friend of Cam's in Porterville), entered Capital House Studios in Galena, Ohio to begin recording their first cohesive full-length album. After thirty days in the studio, the band departed on a twenty-nine date tour with Kurt Travis once again. They debuted a new song on this tour called "Constant Conclusions" which is considered by most to be a follow up to 2014's "Constant Collapse". Hotel Books spent the next few months preparing for the release of the new album. On February 20, 2015, InVogue Records put out a digital press release announcing "Run Wild, Young Beauty," Hotel Book's debut LP to be released on April 7, 2015. On the same day, Hotel Books released the music video for the album's title track. On March 12, a second single was released, "Constant Conclusions" via InVogue's YouTube channel.

April and May 2015, Hotel Books was on the road with Defeater and Counterparts in support of their LP. Through the tour, Andrew Garcia left the band and is now a professional photographer in San Luis Obispo, CA. It is rumored that Hotel Books has recorded new songs that were left over from the "Run Wild, Young Beauty" writing session, but nothing has been confirmed from the band or their label. "Run Wild, Young Beauty" landed the band their second run on Billboard charts for three weeks. InVogue Records also released "Most Nights, I Wish It Was You," a book or short stories and poems written by Cam Smith. All of the poems are from Hotel Books songs and the short stories are from 2011 (according to the book's introduction).

As of April 2015, Hotel Books has once again returned to a solo artist setting. Most promotional materials have switched back to just Cam Smith being pictured. The "Run Wild, Young Beauty" US tour was announced for October and November 2015 along with Bad Luck, Until We Are Ghosts and Motives.

"Run Wild, Stay Alive" and new structure (2016)[edit]

On March 3, 2016, Hotel Books announced the new album Run Wild, Stay Alive following their previous album Run Wild, Young Beauty on Facebook. It was released in summer of 2016.[7]

In February 2016, Smith announced a new chapter in the group's development involving the future release of Cam's second book and a possible feature-length film. It is unclear of Hotel Books' future plans as a band, but Smith is embarking on a full US tour in April-May 2016 performing "poems, storytelling, and some Hotel Books songs." During So What!? Fest 2016, the band performed as a three-piece but called it a "one time experience" on Smith's official Twitter account. Controversy surrounded the band at the festival as they made all of their merchandise free until prompted to at least charge five dollars for shirts. During their set, Cam used half the set to speak about the state of the music scene and the importance of community to combat mental illness and isolation. Though some fans were upset with the lack of songs, the new, focused Hotel Books was well received.

In March 2016, Cam Smith, Kaleb Thibeau and InVogue Records announced a new album, as well as a less structured and more art driven Hotel Books. Smith stated, "No one is in the band, but everyone is in this band. We're not a band. We're an art collective. We don't want to be a band, we want to be a foundation for honest art." Following this statement, Smith announced that three-minute slots would be available on his upcoming solo tour for young poets to perform pieces they had written.

Smith made an appearance at So What!? Music Festival in March 2016, alongside Kaleb Thibeau and longtime friend Cody Benjamin. They played a stripped down performance and made all of their merchandise free for anyone who could not afford a five-dollar donation. It is unclear if Hotel Books is still an active band, or like Smith stated, just a vehicle to create art. After a touring stint with The Ongoing Concept, and with Hearts Like Lions, Hotel Books has removed most presence from social media. Hotel Books announced an appearance at the fall edition of So What!? Fest.

"Van Nuys" and "Equivalency" (2016–present)[edit]

In September 2016, Smith released a new single called "Van Nuys" under the Hotel Books name. The new song was driven solely by Smith's vocals. On Twitter, Smith posted that the new song was written by himself, along with Chase Huglin, Nick Ingram, and the band September Stories. To promote the new released, Hotel Books embarked on a full band tour with I Prevail, Sleepwave, and Bad Seed Rising, as well as a European, United Kingdom, and Japan tour with metalcore band Convictions.

Hotel Books added a new song into their set for most dates of all winter tours. During the I Prevail Holiday tour, Smith announced the song under multiple titles, including "Chula Vista" "Porterville" "Nothing, No One Cares" and simply "Untitled For Now." During the InVogue Records European Tour, the song was announced as "Chula Vista Never Dies" "Love Won't Work" and "I Hope This Band Breaks Up". During all Japan dates, the song was introduced as simply "An Untitled New Song". The song was then performed. on Smith's live stream show, with the title, "Sucks To Be You." For all twelve public recordings of the song, the lyrics are drastically different, and Smith mostly mumbles through the verses. When asked why he does this, he replied, "It's not all about the words anymore. It's about the feeling, and I feel like yelling."

Many videos, photos and social media posts have been made by Cam Smith and Capital House Studio, captioned to announce that new Hotel Books songs are being recorded. Since February 2017, Smith has performed a weekly live stream on Instagram Live, ranging from one hour to three and a half, promoting his new material and working out lyrical ideas for future material.

In March 2017, Smith tweeted, "I've tried to end this band like 5 times and it never works. I give up, I'll keep playing these songs, I'll keep writing. It's what I do."

On August 31, 2017, Hotel Books launched a new single called 'Celebration,' along with the album cover and track listing for their upcoming album, "Equivalency." Apple Music revealed "Van Nuys" would be included on the forth-coming album, slated to be released October 20, 2017.

Members[edit]

  • Cam Smith – vocals (since 2011)
Studio musicians
  • Kaleb Thibeau - guitar (2014-2016)
  • Louie Baltazar - guitar, bass (2015)
  • Dan Colasanto – guitar (2014–2015)
  • Andrew Garcia - drums (2014-2015)
  • Jordan Leal – guitars (2013–2014)
  • Kevin Glaudel – guitars (2012-2013)

Discography[edit]

Hotel Books discography
Studio albums 3
Compilation albums 1
Music videos 9
EPs 3
Singles 3


Year Title Label Chart positions[8]
Billboard Christian US Indie Billboard New Alternative US Heat
2012 Everything We Could Have Done Differently (demo compilation) Independent - - - -
2014 I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home (double EP) InVogue Records 9 - 20 11
2015 Run Wild, Young Beauty - 87 7 29
2016 Run Wild, Stay Alive - 12 - 9
2017 Equivalency 7 9 - 11

Other Appearances

Style and influence[edit]

Hotel Books has been predominantly recognized for Cam Smith's spoken-word vocal style. According to an interview with OurVinyl, Smith cited Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou and Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse as his favorite lyricists.

Musically, Hotel Books has been referred to as emo.[9] [10] [11] Cam Smith has stated that he does not see the band as real emo, but understands the constant connection people make. According to Smith, "music is music. If genres are necessary, we usually like saying we are ambient rock." Smith has listed The Click Five as a main influence in many interviews. The Click Five is also the only artist thanked in all three Hotel Books releases.

The band's live performance drastically changed in December 2016. Most songs were payed much faster, and the songs were met with deadpan stand-up comedy, readings from Smith's two books, as well as Smith simply reading journal entries. As Cam stated in Los Angeles, CA at the White Oak Music Hall, "I don't have time to tour my one man show anymore, so I'm brining elements of it to the Hotel Books show. I hope you enjoy this egotistical journey into my thoughts. I love you."

Cam Smith's writings[edit]

Cam Smith, the lead vocalist and sole founding member of Hotel Books, is most recognized for his writings with Hotel Books. His first published book was released April 7, 2015 via InVogue Records. It is unknown if InVogue has a publishing department or if this title was a one time publication. In the first month of the book, InVogue Records and Hotel Books sold out of the first three pressings of the book, titled "Most Nights, I Wish It Was You." The book features all twelve poems from the album "Run Wild, Young Beauty" as well as twelve older Hotel Books favorites such as Car Crash, Lose One Friend and Ghosts Can't Love. The book also has four previously unreleased short stories that Cam states he wrote in 2011 during a poetic rut in his life while attending Point Loma Nazarene University.

Smith often writes short essays about music and media, to which he publishes on the band's official FaceBooks page. As of April 2015, he has also begun a monthly column in HM Magazine called "Almost There". The column revolves around the lessons he has learned from being in a band that has not hit the mainstream. During a Reddit AMA, Smith also expressed interest in appeasing the requests he has had to begin a podcast. Nothing has been confirmed yet in regards to a podcast, but Smith appeared on the Kill-Rock Podcast in February 2015 to discuss his new book and the latest Hotel Books album.

On September 9, 2016, Smith released his second book "Found Footage" via Almost Happy, a production company owned by Smith and Nicholas Moore.

Music videos[edit]

Track Year Director Album
Dreaming or Sinking 2014 Seanloui Dumas I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home
Cult Leader 2014 Seanloui Dumas I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home
Nicole 2014 Ryan Shoemaker & Cam Smith I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home
Run Wild, Young Beauty 2015 Kevin Cross Run Wild, Young Beauty
Constant Conclusions 2015 Micah Hamilton Run Wild, Young Beauty
July / August 2016 Nick Prainito & Cam Smith Run Wild, Young Beauty
Broke Love 2016 Cam Smith Run Wild, Stay Alive
Can You Do Me a Kindness? 2016 Cam Smith Run Wild, Stay Alive
Van Nuys 2016 Cam Smith Equivalency

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Billboard Heatseekers Chart 7/1/2014". Billboard Charts. 
  2. ^ "IndieVisionMusic Interviews Hotel Books". Indie Vision Music. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ Ryan, Jack. "OurVinyl Interviews Hotel Books". OurVinyl. Retrieved May 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ Settles, Keith. "IndieVision Sits Down With Cam Smith". Indie Vision. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Hotel Books on BandCamp". 
  6. ^ McTighe, Shannah. "Sirens Lounge". 
  7. ^ "Hotel Books - We have teamed up with Alternative Press to bring.." Facebook. Retrieved March 5, 2016. 
  8. ^ http://www.billboard.biz
  9. ^ "Sputnik Profile, Hotel Books". 
  10. ^ Emo Subreddit. "Reddit.com". 
  11. ^ "New Noise Magazine Reviews Hotel Books "Run Wild, Young Beauty"".