There's No Telling What "Motel Breakfast" Will Serve Up Next!
Photo by Mike Heinz. Courtesy of Motel Breakfast
While the words “Motel Breakfast” might conjure up visions of day-old donuts and freeze-dried coffee, it’s “check out” time for a fresh new band by the same name. And you can bet that THIS Motel Breakfast has registered with “guests” who have attended their electrifying live pre-pandemic shows and viewed a string of entertaining You Tube videos made during the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown.
Motel Breakfast first cut their teeth playing at South Side Irish parade parties, Wren Day doings and other good-time gigs. Although they have moved up in the music world, they remain true to their South Side roots and values. While they were on the Parade Day circuit, they made it a point to pass the hat and donate the proceeds to charity. The altruism continued with the recent Bandcamp release of Irish All the Same with 100% of the proceeds from this going to “Christmas Without Cancer” and “Pat Mac’s Pack.”
So, what IS the MO behind this generous and talented band of South Side lads? Well, truth be told, one member of Motel Breakfast hails from Dublin, Ohio but he has become an honorary South Sider thanks to numerous appearances at Reilly’s Daughter and other local watering holes. That would be bassist and backing vocalist Drue deVente. The rest of the band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist, Jimmy Drenovsky, keyboard player Conor Brennan, Mick O’Donnell on lead guitar/mandolin and drummer Jesse Nasadowski.
In keeping with its South Side roots, Motel Breakfast’s origins can be traced back to St. Rita High School at 77th and Western Avenue. It was there that Mick O’Donnell met Jimmy Drenovsky and a two-man band was born. After matriculating from St. Rita, both headed north for college. Drenovsky attended Marquette University in Milwaukee while O’Donnell became a University of Wisconsin Badger.
With just 78 miles between Milwaukee and Madison, the two visited each other frequently to hang out and make music. Soon, they were joined by Brennan, Nasadowski and deVente And, while this sounded like the name of a high-end law firm, the band still did not have an official moniker.
Drenovsky explained why it took a while for Motel Breakfast to register a name. He noted that they spent almost six months tossing around different options because they did not want to change the band’s name in mid-stream., They finally arrived on “Motel Breakfast” because it “felt right.” Their first foray with artwork for the new name was a crumpled pack of cigarettes filled with old French fries. This brand statement was “just a bit off to make you think about it again.”
At the start of 2020, Motel Breakfast was ready to expand their brand far beyond the southland. They had released their self-titled album Motel Breakfast and had gigs booked at places like Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago as well as popular spots in Milwaukee, Madison, and other Midwestern locales. Of course, this all came to a screeching halt in March.
While this might have been a blow to lesser bands, Motel Breakfast used the Covid-19 downtime to perfect other skills like video production. Before Covid hit, Drenovsky revealed that they "were really bad at finishing videos.” But, with more time on their hands, they vowed that they would be more prolific with their video output.
Their first video, My Head was released in December 2019 in advance of the Motel Breakfast CD release in February of 2020. While Drenovsky copped to the band having some awkwardness with the process, they opted to “learn, grown and have fun” with video production. With that, they set a goal of doing a video for every song they released, and a series of engaging videos followed.
One of the main components of the Motel Breakfast experience is the collaborative nature of this band. Drenovsky noted that, “we do mix it up here and there, as all of us do have the ability to play multiple instruments.” He added that, “it’s probably worth noting here that the job of “songwriter” is shared by all of us as well. The songs on Motel Breakfast were all written by either Jimmy, Conor or Mick.”
Their collaborations on Motel Breakfast yielded enough great material that they released their second offering Left on Deming last October. On this release there was one song by each band member with the sixth song penned by Drenovsky and O’Donnell.
Drenovsky said that the title Left on Deming had a “bit of a double meaning” for the band. Since they traveled from the south side to Treehouse Records, the crew always followed the GPS directions to “turn left on Deming” from Cicero Avenue. He also added that the “left” signified that many of the songs on the CD were holdovers from the Motel Breakfast sessions but were songs that “you’re still very proud of and can stand on their own.”
Another positive that came out of being near home and off the road was the fact that the band was able to get together to record Irish All the Same, which was released on March 12, 2021. With parades and large public gatherings still on hold due to Covid, Motel Breakfast does a bang-up job of keeping the tunes, tastes. and traditions of the South Side alive.
Drenovsky said that, "Irish All the Same" was an effort that was made possible because of the increased free time we had in the absence of live shows this year. It was a project that allowed us to showcase and record Irish tunes we'd been playing informally for years, to learn a bit more about home recording, and to raise money towards a couple charities dear to us.”
You can get more details, downloads and discover other news on these up-and-comers at https://motelbreakfast.bandcamp.com/. It's also recommended that you travel down the YouTube "rabbit hole" to check out some of their video offerings!