About Chico Motel

Paolo Prandoni and Mike Gubser met in Berkeley, CA when they were across-the-hall mates in the International House at the University of California.  At first they didn't like each other, but within a few months Mike's loud trombone playing attracted Paolo's guitarist ambitions and they started writing and performing songs together.  The first product of their songwriting partnership was "The Nose," a song reflecting their mutual admiration for Gogol's short story.  Their first performance took place at an IHouse Sunday Supper in front of 100 fellow Berkeley students.  Over the course of that year, Paolo and Mike played and wrote songs together and hung out in the IHouse.

Musically, they discovered they shared a love for the Beatles and Bach (played by Glenn Gould), Judas Priest and Steely Dan, Thelonius Monk and Broadway musicals, Big Band classics and Norwegian black metal, Arnold Schoenberg and the Beach Boys, King Crimson and Paolo Conte, Elton John and the Bulgarian Women's Choir, Arlo Guthrie and Squeeze, Bela Bartok and Frank Zappa, early punk rock, Chinese opera, and patriotic songs.  These tastes are not original, but Paolo and Mike pursued them with a unique focus and ambition.  All of these influences found their way into Chico Motel's music.

The name?  "Chico Motel" came from a snowy trip that Paolo and Mike took to Crater Lake one fateful winter.  On the way back from Oregon, they spent the night at a cheap motel in Chico, CA - $27/night -the only thing two indigent grad students could afford.  After passing the huge trash heap in front of their room door and discovering the vast dried blood stain on the hotel room mattress, they pulled out their sleeping bags and stared the whole night at the ceiling for fear of catching disease or dying as collateral damage in a drug deal gone bad.  A band was born!

Over time, the band moved out of the IHouse and then the real crossroads came when Paolo moved to Switzerland to study cheesemaking.  Would the band continue or not?  There was never much doubt. Mike later moved to the US East Coast and Paolo settled in Paris.  Chico Motel became truly transatlantic. 

The ocean was obviously a problem at first. The occasional mutual visits led to a smattering of songs reflecting the mood and the activities: Paolo and Mike got together to travel, talk politics, and mostly to fart around together.

Commuting, however, was not the way to true productivity and the final solution was to be found in the marvels of modern digital communications. Thanks to the liberal use of the FTP protocol the band released its first album, "Cheesemaker,", in 2004. The disc gathered some songs dating back to the Berkeley days as well as new originals.

In 2010, the band released its second album, "Transatlantic", made up of entirely new material -- a work of Chico Motel's mature period, in a way. The CD garnered the interest (and airtime) of Virginia's local college radio stations and Mike had to go on record both on air and in print to explain the peculiar setup of a modern, dematerialized pop band.

In 2012 Chico Motel won the best rock/pop song award in the East Coast Music Contest with "Jello," a new original

The band is currently working on a musical about the English war poets of World War I. Stay tuned for more!