ANYONE that's ever played in a touring band knows the night inevitably ends in a cheap motel.
It's certainly been the case for Dave Favours & The Roadside Ashes frontman, Dave Forrester, who also doubles as the "head honcho" of Sydney-based alt-country label Stanley Records.
For years Forrester and stablemate Adam Young have been checking into Mayfield's Citigate Motel when in Newcastle for gigs.
After tearing up the stage at the nearby Stag & Hunter Hotel the after party often drifts back to the Citigate.
Those experiences, and others, led Forrester to name The Roadside Ashes' second album Cheap Motels After Midnight.
"We've had this ongoing joke in the band for years, could we find a worse motel?" Forrester says. "Not that the Citigate is a bad motel, it's a great motel, but we pride ourselves on staying in really old-school motels.
"As soon as I wrote that line in the song it poked out at me and I thought that's gotta be the album title and all the guys in the band fell in love with it. It doesn't matter how long you do this rock'n'roll thing you still end up staying in cheap motels afterwards and it's always a party."
Cheap Motels After Midnight is one of three records released last month on Stanley Records, which is quickly becoming one of most respected labels in the Australian alt-country and Americana scene.
The other releases were Sydney's Sam Shinazzi's Days I Won't Forget and the double EP Marrow Gold and Skywatching from Newcastle singer-songwriter Ben Leece.
The three acts - along with Newcastle-raised artist Katie Brianna, who released her third album This Way Or Some Other on Stanley last year - are teaming up for four-pronged tour.
The Stanley Records Travelling Medicine Show kicked off in Sydney last weekend and will visit Mayfield's Stag & Hunter Hotel on Saturday, as well as Dungog's Royal Hotel on May 21 and Maitland's Grand Junction Hotel on May 22.
"Rather than have an individual launch for a band, we decided to combine our resources and do multiple launches at once," Forrester said.
"It seems to be getting a good result, it means we can all combine our different audiences and we're good mates as well, so the thought of going on the road together is great."
Forrester launched Stanley Records back in 2010 as he thought "it would look more serious" if his own music was on an actual label. The stable has since grown to eight acts, which include Adam Young, Peta Caswell & The Lost Cause, Deadwood 76 and Spurs For Jesus.
Stanley Records are also planning to release the debut album from Denman troubadour T.C Jones later this year.
"We're still very small, but it does feel like it's happened organically," he says. "The label was supposed to be a vehicle to put my own releases out and has now become a major part of my life.
"I'm best of friends with all the people who are on the label and it does feel like it's really snowballing in a good way at the moment.
"People seem to be loving the releases and I couldn't be prouder of the records we're putting out."
Forrester was first introduced to Leece following a recommendation from good friend and former Sony A&R man, Chris Dunn.
Leece then released his debut solo album, No Wonder The World Is Exhausted, through Stanley Records in 2018.
"Ben is a phenomenal songwriter," Forrester says. "I'm very lucky I've been able to surround myself with these people. It's all happened organically, but I couldn't be happier with where things are at and where they're headed.
"I've just heard the roughs of Ben's next album which Adam [Young] is producing and hopefully it'll be out this year."
In the case of Brianna, who grew up in Elermore Vale before moving to Sydney, Forrester has long been a fan. When Brianna was searching for a label to release her third album, he jumped at the opportunity.
"I think Katie is one of the strongest songwriters this country has ever seen," he says. "I got very lucky being able to put a record out for her. She has the voice of an angel.
"I've said this to her before; I think her voice overshadows what a great songwriter she is. [You Am I's] Tim Rogers recently said words to the effect that it knocked him on his back when he heard a particular song off the record."
The Travelling Medicine Show is also the first opportunity for The Roadside Ashes to test material from Cheap Motels After Midnight.
Forrester bought a new electric guitar during the 2020 COVID lockdown and it led to a heavier and punchier indie-rock country sound.
Somebody's Gonna Get Hurt merges country slide with scratchy '90s garage rock and Gone, Forgotten revives Robert Forster's vocal phrasing on The Go-Betweens' Love Is A Sign.
"I used to play in some punk bands who you would have never heard of way back when, and it just naturally added more of a rock and raucous element to what we do," Forrester says.
"It still sounds like the same band, it was just the natural progression and now we have more room to move."
Stanley Records Travelling Show hits the Stag & Hunter Hotel on Saturday, before moving to the Royal Hotel in Dungog on May 21 and Maitland's Grand Junction Hotel on May 22.
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