For a few months this summer, I was a little worried about Empress Hotel. I mostly followed “The 12” through a combination of researching Facebook, Twitter, Google Alerts and videos. There was very little coming from the Empress Hotel camp besides mentions of Micah McKee playing out with his solo effort Little Maker. The band had spent some time in the studio preparing their full-length, but with no touring it was hard to even determine the status of Empress Hotel. I was a little bummed out, as Empress Hotel was one of my favorite discoveries through this year’s SXSW project. The five songs on their debut EP displayed that Empress Hotel already has a sound all its own. Mixing in indie rock, African polyrhythms and R&B melodies, the songs come together perfectly to create something new and exciting. I consider myself a really big fan, but coverage was so slim that I wasn’t sure if their next batch of songs would even see a proper release.
That all changed in early September. Immediately after a duo of shows in Atlanta and Raleigh with a revamped lineup, Empress Hotel announced a month-long cross-country tour in support of Van Hunt. Aided by some news stories from local outlets and band champion Paste Magazine, it seemed like Empress Hotel was completely back in the ring and primed for a bright future. I was able to sit down with the band as they passed through Dallas and I could truly sense the excitement for the road ahead. The band explained how 2011 was meant as a slow build, not trying to be a “flash in the pan” indie rock band that is so prevalent in our Internet-driven music culture. Empress Hotel has a plan for their songs to stand up against the test of time. They want to make music that will be around for years and years. Judging from the new songs that were played in Dallas that night, Empress Hotel has a real chance to fit into those self-imagined shoes.
After six months of coverage, Empress Hotel feels like the band I personally want to keep spreading the word on since they still fly pretty low under the radar. 2012 is set up to be a real opportunity for the band as their LP is set to come out in the early spring and they already have their sights set on a follow-up possibly by the end of the year. Empress Hotel may have been quiet throughout our “12” coverage, but they are full of ambition, creativity and drive. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, do yourself and take a good listen. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love what you hear.