By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer
Vancouver alternative rock band Hotel Mira’s sold-out concert at the Commodore Ballroom was a show-stopper. The band was fuelled with energy that’s only felt from a hometown crowd, and their gratitude was emphasized after each number. I spoke to frontman Charlie Kerr ahead of the band’s headliner at the Commodore on January 19. On a Zoom call from a hotel room in preparation for tour, he spoke highly of his bandmates and the opportunities they’ve been given. It’s evident the band is eager to get on the road in support of their latest album, I Am Not Myself.
Hotel Mira formed in 2010 as JPNSGRLS, and in 2016 they changed their name and shifted to the current lineup of Kerr on lead vocals, Cole George on drums, Mike Noble on bass, and Clark Grieve on guitar and keyboards. When asked how the band has evolved, Kerr explained there’s a vast distinction between the two bands, with Hotel Mira housing more of a synth pop-rock genre as opposed to the previous raw rock sound. Along with the name change, he felt obligated to separate the two lineups, while still honouring the history that was made with the original band members.
As for the current lineup, Kerr stated he enjoys the collaborative process of writing and performing with his bandmates (who he considers his best friends) in a way he’s never experienced.
“The evolution has been one of just continuing to explore music and explore storytelling,” the friendly frontman said, stressing how priorities have changed due to a more career-oriented musicianship with his bandmates. It’s clear none of them take any of it for granted, which was evident as he marveled at the thought of the shows on their headlining tour selling out in advance. “It’s a testament to being persistent.”
When asked how it feels for the band to be playing their hometown headliner, Kerr stated, “it’s surreal.” With a candid laugh he explained he never thought this level of success would happen, as a musician who “busked on an acoustic guitar outside the Commodore.” He thought that would be the closest he’d ever get to playing it, but little did he know, that was just the beginning.
Reminiscing what they’ve learned from supporting acts such as Dear Rouge, Billy Talent, and The Beaches, Kerr said dream scenarios became a reality, especially these artists being fans of Hotel Mira, too. Speaking highly of these artists, he attributed their support to giving the band more confidence to continue on their path. It’s evident what they learned in the early days as an opening act will be passed down in wisdom to the supporting acts of their own headlining tour.
Kerr has been surprised by how much fans have “connected to [the] songs” on the new record, which grapples with identity and vulnerability. He describesd it as an “autobiography and tragi-comic character portraits” which reflect “a profound loss of self.” “Eventually” focuses on breaking free from social constructs. He said the reception they’ve received has surpassed their expectations, as he recalls being the 9th most-played band on alt-rock radio in Canada last year.
On the night of the show, fans were screaming every back-to-back hit long past midnight as the dance floor bounced along with the crowd. Classics like “The Eyes On You” and “Speaking Off the Record” stood the test of time, while the band gave their all to newer hits like the whimsically electrifying “Fever Pitch” and upbeat synth-filled “Dancing With the Moonlight.” Kerr says “Vampire” is a personal favourite of his to play live, which was evident as the raw energy in the Commodore radiated through the walls, leaving fans buzzing and wanting more.
“To be more well-received in the city where I grew up, it’s beautiful” he explained, noting that, he “almost doesn’t trust” it’s finally happening. To go from a place in his career where he felt he was “tanking” and no one cared, to being recognized on-stage for the hard work that’s been done is something he acknowledged with great emotion.
In my conversation with Kerr, it was evident that he and his bandmates are here for the long haul, and they’ve remained level-headed throughout the process. As seasoned musicians, they’re grateful to be where they are, and their careers are about to blow up as they continue their artistic evolution and exploration.