CATALYST: How did you get interested in music?
NEWMANN: I started getting into music in middle school. I did choir though middle and high school, so about eight years. I kept on singing at Colorado College. There are voice lessons here, which I didn’t have at home. I improved greatly and really fast. Now, I’m one of the main voice students in the program.
How did you get into the student music scene at CC?
As soon as I got into CC, I wanted to be part of a band. I met some of the guys from Funkdozer and they told me that there are plenty of bands here that may be looking for people. So I tried looking around and couldn’t find any. Eventually, I decided to make my own, twice. The first one was Bumble Beast. We broke up, so then I created another one. Here we are with Hotel 1937. *
What is the style you envisioned for Hotel 1937?
I envisioned it to be more hard rockish and more lyrical, more meaningful and expressive. A lot of feeling. Deep thinking, reflective, and sitting down and listening. It has been more successful than I thought. Not too many people know about us since we don’t play at parties. Our best venues are ones like Sacred Grounds, places where someone can sit down and listen to and share music.
What Hotel 1937 song most represents for you that vision?
I can’t just pick one, I have to pick two since we have two songwriters. It’s me and Mark, our main guitarist. For me, the song is “Frankenstein.” It’s talking about systems of oppression that can be found today. We can be oppressed by what we see on TV and what comes at us from the media and those things are always coming at us. It’s always affecting how we are thinking about things, what we want to do, what side we are on. I wanted to make a song about that and the confusion if you don’t know if you are really doing it for yourself, or for someone else trying to lay this [idea] into your mind.
Another one written by Mark is “Everything Decays.” It really talked about different cases of not-real atrocities, but things that can be metaphors for what is going on today. One of the lines is, “Once upon a time they threw the prophets in the streets, beat ‘em ‘till they bleed and all the children laughed.” There is a lot of story telling in that. You can think about it.
How was your Battle of the Bands experience?
We loved it, but it felt too short. Also there were barricades. I think those were for the hyped up bands and the drunk students. Our audience members felt very separated from us. Our songs are more intimate, so Battle of the Bands clashed with our style a bit. That said, we loved it, we love performing. We are thinking about a gig for Block 8. We have plenty of songs prepared, most of them originals, but a couple of covers. The band also doesn’t want to be too serious, so we have a mix.
Where did your band name come from?
The band name has different meanings and the reason for the name was a little arbitrary, but we kept on with the name and have had more time to think about it. Hotel because it was one of the first words Mark and I learned in our Spanish class. Mark and I love history and looking especially at World War II events. One of the things that came in mind was the rape of Nanking in 1937. It was one of the worst atrocities in World War II. So, we settled on Hotel 1937. It has grown on me. When we think about atrocities in the past, and the crazy things that happened and that happen today, it seems like the past isn’t too distant from the present. That [those atrocities are] still continuing, maybe even getting worse. So as a hotel, we are accommodating for those atrocities with this music.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence your interest in music?
I grew up in San Pablo and the Bay Area of California. A lot of bands at my school were all white males, so I felt very out of place and out of the loop. I couldn’t make a band during middle and high school years. As soon as I got to college I knew I wanted to do something different. I was trying to create something different. It didn’t matter what skill you had, you just needed passion and skill to create something. I’m always looking for more representation. I don’t want anyone to feel lost like I did.
What else are you passionate about besides music?
I’m a dance major. I came to CC thinking I was going to study anthropology. Nope. Dance major. I had never danced before, but I had always moved. I started learning more and more about dance. Right now, I’m in Historical Perspectives in Dance, so I’m always a student in dance. I’m always learning about how it affects peoples’ lives. It’s not about just learning a dance style; it’s also about movement history. Everyone can be a dancer and at the same time create. Pretty much I do the same thing with music as with dance: I try to create. I love being in other people’s dance pieces as well.
What do you mean by movement and how did that allow you to overcome never having danced before?
I’ve always moved, whether in sports, martial arts, walking, every day movement, even singing. There is movement in singing. When I sing, I use my whole body and singing and dancing feel like brother and sister to me. One helps the other. Also, moving in that you can move emotions and feelings. That’s what I really like about dancing and singing.
What pieces have you done with CC outside of class?
Over Spring Break I participated in the American College Dance Festival in Wyoming. They have a festival in the Northwest region. CC always sends out two pieces to the festival that get judged by a professional dancer like Virginia Johnson and other amazing, well-known dancers and choreographers. They give us feedback on our pieces, and if they really like it, we go onto the next round to the Gala Concert, where our piece is seen again. What was rare about this year was that both CC pieces got picked out of the whole region to be done again.
* Hotel 1937’s current line-up: Mark Foreman, guitarist; Adam Sodano, guitarist; Garrett Manion, bassist; Solomon Mankin, drummer; Trevon Newmann, vocalist