Featured Music: Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Though they just formed, The Burning Hotels are made up of music scene veterans.
Four Stars

Even before playing their first show, The Burning Hotels were the hottest rock band in town — for good reason.


When was the last time Fort Worth saw a band that had major buzz before playing even one show? The Burning Hotels did — and after their second show, the buzz got even bigger. It’s no wonder: The foursome, all in their early 20s, play with the heart and talent of bands twice their age. Singer/guitarist Chance Morgan attributes the hype to a combination of luck, hard work, and help from some big names in the Fort Worth music scene, most notably Brandin Lea. Morgan and fellow singer and guitarist Matt Mooty once played in The February Chorus, Lea’s primary side project.

“We all grew up in Fort Worth and know everyone in town,” Morgan said. “I feel we’re lucky we’ve had people we know become successful. We watch and see what they do and how to do it, and we learn things from our elders in this town.”

And the music might be another reason — it’s blistering. Building on furiously downstroked guitar rhythms and circular riffs, the Hotels proudly wear their influences on their collective sleeve. Everyone from Gang of Four to Wire to, yes, the Clash is referenced, slapped on the fanny, and then sent on its way. Of course, no such comparison would be complete without pointing out the stripped-down, monosyllabically named outfits that have emulated that sound in recent years. The difference, at least so far, is that as The Strokes/The Hives/Jet have sold billions of records while The Burning Hotels have played two shows.

Still, the Hotels’ three-song demo, recorded on a whim a couple of months ago, is earning the band a devout following. More than 60 people crowded into the Wreck Room on a recent Monday night to see Morgan, Mooty, and company open for New York City’s Sex Slaves. Playing the three songs from the demo in addition to five tracks from an upcoming yet-unnamed e.p., the Hotels were incredibly tight, especially for a band with only one gig under its belt. The audience responded enthusiastically. Some of the concert-goers even knew the lyrics and sang along.

If Morgan wasn’t too conversational, the music more than filled in the gaps. Opener “Stuck In the Middle” began with a heaving wave of eighth notes that gave way to a half-time bridge before returning to the original jackrabbit-on-speed pace. “Lovely Lovely Lady” started fast and, amazingly, picked up speed measure by measure until Morgan’s and Mooty’s hands disappeared in blurs of strumming. The band closed with “Wrong Idea,” an even faster number sung by Mooty, with a loud, intense coda that stopped on a dime. After the set, drummer Wyatt Adams’ hands shook like a jittery caffeine addict’s, proof of the sweat he put into the Hotels’ rhythm section along with bassist Coby Queen.

The five-song e.p., according to Morgan, will be produced by Will Hunt, also known (somewhat pejoratively) as the man who unleashed teen heartthrob Ryan Cabrera on the world. But The Burning Hotels, whose name comes from a lyric in Ambulance LTD’s “Stay Where You Are,” are — unlike Ryn-O — focused strictly on music.

“It’s easy to say I want a hit record and to be on MTV,” Morgan said. “I just want to go to different cities and be on an indie label and get respect and have people know that we’re a good band.”

The buzz hasn’t gone to their heads: Morgan, a college student, waits tables; Queen is working on obtaining his pilot’s license; Adams is a hair stylist; and Mooty drives a forklift, a labor that he likens to mowing lawns. “It gives you a lot of time to think,” he said.

And, apparently, a lot of time to be inspired: Though the entire band contributes to the shapes of songs, Mooty and Morgan do most of the brainstorming — though both frontmen are quick to point out that their songs are never fully realized until the rhythm section contributes. Bassist Queen said that he and his bandmates have an idea of what they want a particular song to sound like and “sometimes it comes out right and sometimes it doesn’t.” In any case, 99 percent of the Hotels’ songs sound incredibly polished.

“Every band wants to make it, and very few do,” Adams said. “It’s like winning the lottery. To us, success is doing what you do to the best of your abilities.”

For his part, Morgan feels the band has achieved a measure of success already. “We’ve practiced enough where I know we play good music and play it well,” he said. “The only reason for somebody not to like our band is if they don’t like this type of music.”

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