Rock singer-guitarist Martha Davis and The Motels, enduring legends of Hollywood’s off-the-hook rock scene in the late 1970s-early ’80s, will unpack classics and brand-new songs when they check into the Canyon Santa Clarita Friday night, Dec. 21.
Davis landed in L.A. from Berkeley in 1975 as a four-year member of the Warfield Foxes, which shuffled personnel until settling on the lineup of Davis, Marty Jourard, his brother Jeff Jourard, Michael Goodroe and Brian Glascock.
The quintet changed their name to The Motels, signed with Capitol Records (on Mother’s Day 1979) and released five albums for the label between 1979-1985.
Two – “All Four One” (1982) and “Little Robbers” (1983) – earned gold and spawned the Top 10 hits “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer” (also a No. 1 Billboard Rock Track). Videos for those and other Motels singles helped define early MTV.
After Davis disbanded The Motels in 1987, she recorded a solo album, “Policy,” then took a long break.
“I didn’t write a song – the first time in my life I ever just stopped everything,” Davis said. “When I started up again, I basically started over, with a very young bunch of kids from Ventura. This band started in 2003, and it’s incredible – the personalities, the musicality, everything. This is the best Motels ever. Even old Motels say this.”
The Mach II Motels lineup features Davis, Marty Jourard (sax; he rejoined in 2011), Clint Walsh (guitars), Eric Gardner (drums) and Nic Johns (bass).
“Me and Marty are like Mom and Pop, and then there’s the boys – it’s hilarious,” Davis said. “Clint describes us as a ‘post-industrial family on a field trip.’ We love the hell out of each other. And I love all their girlfriends. How often does that happen?”
“The Last Few Beautiful Days,” produced by Johns and out in spring 2018, is the current lineup’s first album, only the seventh official Motels studio album, and the first collection of new material since 1985’s “Shock.”
“It’s a really beautiful, heartfelt record,” Davis said. “People say, ‘Wow, it sounds just like The Motels, only modern.’ Without trying to, we’ve just done that.”
This Friday night, she said, “Longtime Motels fans will not be missing out on their old beloveds. But there are always songs people ask for, and I’m like, ‘That one is not in the set.’ We hit just about every album, though.
“We’re starting to amass quite a bit of music, because now we have the new album, which is absolutely beautiful,” Davis said. “It’s a tremendous band and a great night of music. We have a very good time, and I’m sure you guys will, too.”
Keep up with Davis and The Motels at themotels.com.
Find the Canyon Santa Clarita on the ground floor of the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Get tickets at the box office 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, by phone at 888-645-5006, or via TicketMaster.com. For more info, visit WheremusicmeetstheSoul.com. Santa Clarita journalist and Grammy nominee Stephen K. Peeples has covered the SCV music scene since 2004. Contact him via stephenkpeeples.com.