You can help local band, with E-W alum on drums, get a shot at Billboard Music Awards

The Hotels promo photo.
Aaron Voros, left, playing a drum machine with Hotels lead singer Blake Madden at the Crocodile Cafe.

Like many musicians, Edmonds  native Aaron Voros grew up in a musical family. With a mom who was a former music teacher and sisters who took piano lessons, “music seemed to me like the thing to do,”  he said. One Christmas, an aunt and uncle  gave the young Voros drumsticks, and he “took a liking to pounding on everything around the house, so my mom decided to find me a drum teacher. The rest is history.”

For Voros, who graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School in 2005, that history is impressive. While at E-W, he played percussion in the Wind Symphony and drums in the Edmonds-Woodway Jazz Band, which was selected to compete in the prestigious Essentially Ellington festival in New York City when Voros was a sophomore. He also performed in Cascade Youth Symphony and Cascade Percussion ensemble, and was named to various All-State and All-Northwest bands and orchestras, winning  State Solo and Ensemble awards in timpani, mallets and snare drum by the time he graduated.

A 2010 UW graduate and the drummer for the band Hotels, Voros’ future is also looking bright. The group is one of 18 promising unsigned bands nationwide chosen to compete — first via online voting, then through a live performance –for a chance to perform at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards May 22.

You can vote for Hotels at the link hereBut do it now, as online voting closes this Friday, April 8. We’re  also including the results of our Q&A session with Voros below, plus a YouTube video of the band playing at West Seattle’s Skylark Cafe and Club in May 2010.

Q:  How did you end up joining the band?

A: At UW, I was both a jazz studies and a communication major, and I started taking a liking to listening to music. I worked at the campus radio station, Rainydawg Radio, where I put together a couple of podcasts featuring local bands. Hotels was one of the bands I reached out to for permission to use their music on one episode. As I was trying to find contact information for the band, I noticed a “help wanted” ad for a drummer, and since I was already a huge fan of their music, I auditioned and ended up getting the gig. I’ve been playing with them for a little less than a year now.

Q: Can you tell us more about Hotels?

A: They were started a few years back in New York by our bassist and singer, Blake Madden. After a while, Blake moved to Seattle, and found a new group to help him out here, and the Hotels legacy continued. We just released an album in late February called “On The Casino Floor” that can be found on iTunes and in local record shops like Easy Street and Sonic Boom — it’s more or less a concept album about a secret agent named Smith’s exploits in a space casino. The best way to describe our sound is new-wave, post-punk surf rock. Blake, who does the majority of the writing, takes a lot of his inspiration from bands from the late ’70s and ’80s that were saturated by drum machines and synthesizers; for example Joy Division, New Order and Kraftwerk.

Q: How did you make it in the Billboard contest?

A: Billboard reached out to us out of the blue and asked if we wanted to participate. Nothing that glamorous there. But the contest features 18 bands from around the country who are getting a lot of buzz in their home towns. The contest is broken up as such: The country is divided up into six regions, each made up of three  bands (making 18 in all). We’re one of three representing the Northwest. People can go online to and vote for their favorite band from our region (or any other region for that matter). The band who receives the most votes from each region will be invited to take a little tour down to Las Vegas in late May, where each of the six  finalists will compete in a live battle of the bands, the winner of the contest getting to play at the Billboard Awards.

Q: What would winning mean to the band?

A: Honestly, I haven’t even thought about the idea of winning the whole contest because it seems absolutely crazy! Being where we’re at hasn’t even sunk in. However, receiving the most votes in the online competition would be absolutely amazing. We would all be ecstatic to be given the opportunity to move on to the next round, and I don’t think we can imagine, at this point, the implications it would have for our band.

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