hotel chelsea, new york
this hotel has ghosts
Long before I stayed at the Chelsea, the place loomed large in my creative life. Having studied Warhol, his film "The Chelsea Girls" gave insight to the building's dark but colourful inhabitants, (many of whom also featured in the psychedelic party scene of "Midnight Cowboy").
Warhol's film, the Velvet Underground and the image of Edie Sedgewick were my pick of 1960's - edgy, boundary breaking, dangerous but creative.
As my interest in the arts developed, time and again the Chelsea was prominent in the lives of so many artists and musicians I admired.
I recall meeting Brian from Placebo and asking if he and the band had stayed there - and if not, then absolutely do (when we next meet I must ask if he ever did). Why I never asked Rufus Wainwright about it's influence on his album 'Poses" haunts me to this day. Oh well, when we next meet I know what I'll speak of.."the yellow walls are lined with portraits..."
An early 1980's BBC Arena documentary dedicated to the Chelsea showed another side - a warm beating heart, rich in creative force, but without the dark danger that pulsed from those earlier icons of mine.
The hotel (and it's gorgeous staircase) featured as the setting for Kim Bassinger's final humiliation in the film "9 1/2 weeks" (daft now, but as a teen, a film I liked).
I stayed as a guest at the Chelsea just once, but subsequently visited many many times - just as I had/ do famous Parisian cemetaries; somehow it has that same morbid draw for me as they have. What I love most about the Chelsea, and why it has loomed so large as my muse, is that it challenged me; my stay there cut short because nights spent alone in my room(s) - I had several - terrified me and it beat me. You can think you're cool or different as hell, but the Chelsea will expose that as truth or falsehood.
"This hotel has ghosts" the song (the title of our debut LP) is a love letter to the Chelsea and an imagined life there; in the midst of a beautiful, dangerous and ultimately doomed love affair. , "To Know Those Greats" celebrates the legends that graced it's rooms with creativity and lives well lived. It name checks Andy (Warhol) but he is merely the figurehead of so many others.
If we are your introduction to the Chelsea, we are humbled. There are far better tour guides than we, but it's the duty of each generation to impart something to the next and just as my icons introduced me to the Chelsea, if we become icons for others and a portal to it's hallowed yellow walls, that staircase and it's people of the past (and those to come - the hotel reportedly reopens in 2017), then we'd have achieved a great artistic thing - an ornament on a shelf somewhere in one of it's rooms.
FANS AT THE CHELSEA
Our interest in the hotel and it's influence over the debut LP has made the Hotel something of a pilgrimage for our fans. Here are some shots of fans who've made the trip, mechanica T in tow!
September 2015: Teen fan Rosie, outside the entrance to The Chelsea
January 2016: In The Moog's Chris Watts inside the Lobby of the Chelsea wearing his 'mechanica T-shirt.
During his visit, Chris met Ed Hamilton (below) writer of our favourite book about the Chelsea, "The Legends of the Chelsea Hotel". This brought 'mechanica to Ed's attention and we subsequently got a copy to him at the Chelsea in which he still lives. This was his tweet to us (below). He further messaged us to say
"I really loved the album".
To think that our songs about the Chelsea have been played there by Ed truly blows our mind & humbles us. Hands across the ocean...
Next door to the Chelsea is the legendary Chelsea Guitars. Chris Watts popped in, met the owners, spoke of mechanica and our thing for the Hotel and received a personal message for our very own Mr Van Naarden (below)
BBC Arena documentary:
A clip of the Warhol/Paul Morrissey film "The Chelsea Girls"
Legends of the Chelsea Hotel by Ed Hamilton
Inside the Dream Palace by Sherill Tippins
Chelsea Hotel, Manhattan by Joe Ambrose
This Aint no Holiday Inn by James Lough
At the Chelsea - A personal memoir by Florence Turner