Matt Aulich - Guitar
BJ Austin - Keyboards, Pedal Steel
Charles Bickford - Various
Andy Hazel - Drums
Esme Macdonald - Bass
Campbell Shaw - Violin
Merida Sussex - Vocals
The Paradise Motel were formed in Hobart, Tasmania in 1994 by Matthew Aulich on electric guitar, Matthew Bailey on bass guitar and Charles Bickford on acoustic guitar. After playing one concert they relocated to Melbourne. Once there members Merida Sussex joined on lead vocals, fellow Hobartian Mark "BJ" Austin on Hammond organ and Tim O'Shannassy on drums. Their first Melbourne concert was on Valentine's Day 1995 at the now-defunct Carlton Moviehouse. The band were soon signed to Bruce Milne's management company, The Shining Path and, in 1996, signed to Mushroom Records. Early that year the group released their debut EP, Left Over Life to Kill as a six-track 10" vinyl on Infectious Records.
On release, Left Over Life to Kill was variously described as "An assured and extremely vivid piece of music", "In 25 minutes they might very well change the way you listen to music, 9.5/10", and "Possibly the finest début EP by a band in Australian music history". The EP reached No. 2 on the Australian Alternative Charts and became the third highest selling alternative release of 1996. Another EP, Some Deaths Take Forever followed, featuring remixes of tracks and out-takes from Left Over Life to Kill, and a cover version of The Triffids' song Raining Pleasure.
In early 1997 the band issued their first full-length album, Still Life with early editions featuring an accompanying bonus disc, Junk Mail. Lead-off single Bad Light was described as "a perfect example of the band's self-described technique: 'The violence and the silence'". Both this, and follow up single Heavy Weather highlighted a new lush styling for the band as Mushroom and Infectious Records prepared them for an overseas market. Calling You was promoted in the United Kingdom as a CD single, to precede the band's relocation the following year. Derwent River Star was released for the Australian market. In January 1998, they supported UK visitors, Stereolab, on their Australian tour. In March they toured the UK supporting United States indie rockers, Grandaddy and then Sparklehorse in July.
By September of that year The Paradise Motel had released their second album, Flight Paths before relocating to the UK. Featuring a denser production and garnering further acclaim from both the British and Australian press, other singles and a UK tour followed. Mushroom and Infectious Records had the group as their first signing to the London-based branch. After touring Europe with Grandaddy and Sparklehorse, they followed with a North American tour supporting Mercury Rev, including at the CMJ and NXNW Festivals. In March 1999 the band released a cover version of The Cars' Drive and October saw them release a compilation of remixes of their material, Reworkings, by various guests including Lee Ranaldo on Lee's Trees, which appeared as a single. The group continued to play shows in the UK with acts such as The Divine Comedy, Smog and Drugstore, though they recorded no new material and disbanded in early 2000.
Following the disbandment, Aulich, Sussex, Austin and O'Shannassy remained in the UK. Aulich joined indie band, Drugstore, then returned to Australia where he formed an alternative country band, Small Sips, with Bailey and Karl Smith of Sodastream. In 2009 Smith and Bailey were in Lee Memorial. Sussex released a solo album before forming Candy with Paul Jones. In 2003 Sussex co-founded the Stolen Recordings label with Jones and Rachael Robb. Austin furthered his studies in architecture and married Gina Morris (ex-NME journalist and ex-Stereolab member) in 2002, they have settled in Melbourne. O'Shannassy completed a PhD in music and literature in London, and then taught at a number of colleges in New York. Bickford lived in Melbourne, before returning to the UK where he married Lauren Zoric in 2004. In 2005 he appeared as the resident expert and co-host on a weekly ITV program, The Golden Lot, co-hosted with Carol Vordeman. Bickford and Zoric returned to Melbourne in 2007.
In January 2008 The Paradise Motel had reformed with Aulich, Austin, Bickford and Sussex joined by new members Damien Hill on drums and Esme MacDonald on bass guitar. They began recording their third studio album, I Still Hear Your Voice At Night, however in December Hill committed suicide and the album was not released until 29 January 2011. Thematically it was considered an extension of their earlier preoccupations; death, disappearances and the Australian wilderness. After the recording Campbell Shaw joined on violin.
Work on a fourth studio record and the first of a thematic trilogy, Australian Ghost Story, began mid-2009, again produced by the band, but with overdubs in London by Jason Breckenridge and mastering by Casey Rice. The album concerned the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain and was issued on the 30th anniversary of her birth; 11 June 2010. The album received positive reviews upon its release.
The band's most recent album OH BOY, described as an analysis of Australian masculity was released on September 1st 2013.