LOS ANGELES — "Hotels fascinate me," Moby mused Monday evening after performing songs from his Hotel at a poolside party at the W. "They're such strange places, 'cause they're public places that are also very private."
Regardless, Moby never knew why he titled his latest album Hotel until literally mid-interview Monday.
"I just thought of a good answer for why it's called Hotel," he said, interrupting a question about the many breakup tracks on the record. "The album is very much a breakup album. It's that situation where you're in a relationship and you really love the other person, but maybe you both know it's not going to last. So maybe that's why it's called Hotel, because a hotel is a place that you stay but you don't live.
"Fantastic!" he continued, liking what he was saying. "And that also explains the artwork, 'cause the artwork is just me alone in the hotel. The only problem is this is the end of the promo tour, so for the last four months I've been trying to think of good reasons why it's called Hotel."
Maybe Moby should just redo the promo tour. Judging by the reaction to his acoustic set at the W, his fans would be behind it.
As dressed-to-impressed VIPs sipped free apple martinis outside the swanky hotel, Moby and his "band" (guitarist Daron Murphy and singers Laura Dawn Murphy and Lucy Butler) strummed through a set of Hotel tunes and reworked favorites, beginning with Play's "Honey."
The 45-minute set also included covers of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," a song Moby boasted that he'd taught John Kerry how to play, and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."
Among the new tracks was his current single, "Beautiful," during which he ad-libbed lines about how pretty he looked (see "Moby Takes Aim At Nick And Jessica With 'Beautiful' ").
"Most of the songs on Hotel were actually written with an acoustic guitar, so doing acoustic versions comes pretty naturally," Moby said afterward. "Redoing some of the old songs on acoustic guitar was a little bit of a challenge, but then again, I grew up playing guitar, so it's just something that comes naturally to me."
Moby will return to the electric guitar and synthesizer versions of the songs when he hits the road for a national tour later this month — with left-field Canadian rapper Buck 65 in support — although he hopes to maintain a similar vibe to his acoustic set.
"The last tour we did for the album 18 was just a complete over-the-top huge tour, especially in Europe, where we had three or four tour buses and three big trucks," Moby said. "It was what I thought I always wanted, playing to 15,000 people a night, but it wasn't nearly as creatively satisfying as I thought. So this tour we're scaling things down ... focusing more on the musicians and the performance and maybe a degree of intimacy that might have been missing on the last tour."
Moby has yet to decide on the second U.S. single from Hotel, but since different first singles were released in other countries — "Spiders," "Lift Me Up," "Raining Again" and "Where You End" — he's already got a few finished videos he could use.
"We made a video for 'Lift Me Up' with Evan Bernard, which is great because he and I have been neighbors for the last 10 years, so it was nice to finally make a video together," Moby said of the director behind Green Day's "Minority" and Kelly Osbourne's "Shut Up." "And we just made a nice low-budget video for 'Raining Again' in Germany. We shot in this dilapidated, crazy old building."
Another second-single possibility is Moby's cover of New Order's "Temptation," which has been heralded in a lot of the reviews of Hotel. Moby, who had a Joy Division quote below his high school yearbook picture, decided to remake the tune after hearing it one morning in his New York cafe, Teany (see "Moby Gets His Paul Newman On: Announces Beverage Line, Cookbook").
"It just struck me how vulnerable and romantic the lyrics were," he said. "And it was one of my ex-girlfriend's favorite songs, and even though I didn't write the song, it is sort of strangely descriptive of our relationship."
Regardless of what hits the airwaves, Moby is hoping several of his Hotel songs find homes, as he's using the same licensing plans he did with Play, where every track was used in a movie, TV show or commercial.
"When I make a record, I work very hard on it and I want to do whatever I can to get people to listen to it, but because I'm not a natural fit anywhere, I have to look at licensing," Moby said. "And licensing to movies is great because if I go on a date to the movies, I get to impress my date and say, 'Oh, that song that's playing now, that's my song.' "
Moby tour dates, according to his publicist:
- 4/11 - Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
- 4/12 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
- 4/14 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 4/15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 4/16 - Boston, MA @ Avalon
- 4/17 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
- 4/18 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
- 4/20 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
- 4/22 - Detroit, MI @ State Theatre
- 4/23 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
- 4/24 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
- 4/25 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theatre
- 4/27 - Salt Lake City, UT @ In the Venue
- 4/28 - Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Hotel - The Joint
- 5/1 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
- 5/3 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
- 5/4 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
- 5/6 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
- 5/7 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern LG
- 5/8 - San Diego, CA @ 4th & B