The Motel Pines

They’re rock. They’re indie. They’ve got some punk, a little funk, a touch of alternative.

Inside of a sound-proofed garage in the heart of North Texas, the unique sound of The Motel Pines is honed and perfected. The garage, decked out with intricately designed wall hangings, multi-colored Christmas lights and an explosion of amps, guitars, microphones and drumming equipment, belongs to bassist John Rowland.

He joined lead singer/rhythm guitarist Michael Carrasco and drummer Mark Starling in 2015 when The Motel Pines started coming together as a band. Both John and lead guitarist Ben Gaither, the final member of the band, found the group on Craigslist.

The Motel Pines: (l-r) bassist John Rowland, lead guitarist Ben Gaither, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Michael Carrasco, drummer Mark Starling // photos Erica Wieting

“I was a punk rocker, but I tapped the brakes on that a little bit,” Mark says, in addition to Michael’s personal claim of a punk rock/heavy metal background. “John, he’s really versatile, and he likes that rock style too. And Ben, he solidified the sound. It’s like a 90s alternative indie rock sound — that’s what it ended up being.”

Michael Carrasco held the band’s name as a solo artist for about eight years before Mark, a good friend of his from times when the two played together in a band called Saints and Sinners, approached him to do music together once more.

The band’s songs, written by Michael but which have input from everyone, draw inspiration from everything around them.

“It’s really easy to write a song about a beautiful girl or how in love you are with somebody, but I really want to write about the purpose of life or the definition of God,” Michael says. “Things that are a little more challenging.”

Behind a familiar drum set, drummer Mark Starling jams out with his fellow band members

Rooted in and around Plano, the band has come to play all over the DFW Metroplex and the surrounding area. They have recently begun to branch out, looking for opportunities to play at local festivals (they will appear at Deep Ellum Arts Festival in April) and even in adjoining states.

“As a musician you want to play out as much as possible because that helps perfect your set. We learn something new about our own sound every single time we play,” Michael says. “But the more you play, the less often people are going to come and see you… It’s a really fine balance.”

The Motel Pines are being played on local stations like The Eagle (97.1) and KNON (89.3). They’ve been picked up by over 100 stations across America and even in other countries, such as Australia.

The Motel Pines performing at Dallas’ Crown and Harp in January // photo Laurel Brackenridge

Some of the band’s songs are adaptations of what Michael had already written on classical guitar for his solo acts in coffee shops and the like. Some are newly written for the band. No matter what, The Motel Pines creates music from one collective heart.

“Musically, I like to follow the songs the way [Michael] writes the lyrics,” Ben says. “I want it to be heartfelt and driving and emotional. That’s where my guitar parts come from.”

Running a band is a full-time job — and an expensive undertaking when you take it as seriously as The Motel Pines. So the members use their individual talents to benefit the group.

As a sales director, Michael promotes and sells the band’s shows. John, a graphic artist, holds up the design end. Videos and creative material are all made by Mark, a production artist. Laughing, Ben adds that as an accountant, he’ll keep the books when money really starts rolling in.

Lead guitarist Ben Gaither, lit by multi-colored Christmas lights in the band’s practice garage, concentrates as he plays “Circadianism”

“We’re not trying to be commercially successful. Michael writes what comes out of him, and some of it’s pretty niche-based,” John says. “When you do that, you know you’re not necessarily going to be the next Katy Perry. So you do what you enjoy. We’ve had a lot of fun making all this music, and we’re really happy that so far other people like it too.”


The Motel Pines will be playing in Plano at 10pm on March 3 at The Track Studio. Purchase tickets here

The Motel Pines will be playing in Dallas at 9pm on March 11 at the Double Wide. Purchase tickets here.

The Motel Pines’ new album “A Sad History” will be available on March 14 on iTunes and Spotify. You can also download the album from their website now:

The Motel Pines Website >
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