JD Goodwin is up front with the type of music he makes.
"I just try to copy the guys I like," says Goodwin, who sings and plays guitar in Motel Drive. "That's what it is. There's no secret."
The Fresno band, big with the tattoo and hot-rod crowd, is known for its retro mix of rockabilly and surf rock, county, punk, blues and garage.
For the past two years, the band has been in the studio working on its third album, which it releases tonight with a party at the Cellar Door in Visalia. Tickets are $10 and include a copy of the CD.
"It started out in 2012 and now now it's 2014. And it's finished," Goodwin says of the recording.
Early in the session, the drummer left. His replacement, Isaac Carrillo, had to learn the band's repertoire so it could keep playing shows to make money and fund the album.
The time was a growing period for the band, and they decided to try a new approach in the studio. While the first two albums were recorded essentially live (with the band just setting up their instruments and having at it), this time around, they tailored each session to the individual song, Goodwin says.
"We changed amps. We changed to different guitars," he says.
They invited guest musicians into the studio, and they found another new member lap steel and rhythm guitar player Vince Ellis. Having an additional player changed the dynamic of the band and the songs, Goodwin says.
"With a power trio, you just rock."
And while that holds a certain visceral potency, Goodwin has learned that less can indeed be more. The band is still as rockin' as ever, but now there is an emphasis on the things that really make a song, such as vocal melody and guitar hooks, Goodwin says.
"The songs can breathe more."
Motel Drive CD release party, 9:30 p.m. today at Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St., Visalia. Tickets are $10. Details: (559) 636-9463, www.snvfoundation.org
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, email@example.com or @joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter.