Nashville is a frequent source of inspiration for songwriters Hank Compton and Aksel Coe. Making up Homes at Night and now hitting the road with Saint Motel, they go for a low-key alt-rock vibe that’s more personal and heartfelt and speaks to life’s transitions with catchy melodies and lyrics.
Listeners heard this combination on last year’s If You Were a Stranger, their debut EP and the themes continue on the recently released “Texaco,” a semi-autobiographical song about how addiction and an unhealthy relationship feed into each other.
Blending synths with organic instrumentation, their sound nods to Southern rock while weaving in pop sensibilities. Listeners will have a chance to hear them opening for Saint Motel, a tour that starts on April 24 in Chicago, and performing with Arts Fishing Club.
As songwriters, you’re inspired by Nashville. What about the city continues to inspire or influence your music?
I think more than anything, the community inspires us. Even though Nashville is usually associated with country music, there is an incredible class of upcoming artists throughout all genres.
I think being surrounded and welcomed by artists throughout the scene helps us to feel inspired to create. It also gives us the confidence to put ourselves out there artistically.
How did you two start working together?
We’ve actually known and worked with each other on other projects for about five years now. However, we didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and make music with just the two of us until the pandemic. We were in a session for our friend’s record that I (Hank) was playing guitar on, and Aksel was the drummer.
Aksel and I got to talking about bands that both of us like, that we never knew each other were into, and I eventually asked Aksel to come over to my studio to write some songs, to which he responded, “I don’t really write songs.”
After twisting his arm, I eventually got him to sit down and write with me, and we ended up writing “Bonnaroo,” our first single off of our debut EP. Little did we know the world was about to shut down, which gave us the time and opportunity to create this band, and from that, this band has consumed our lives, and I think we’re both pretty grateful for that.
How would you describe your sound?
We’ve always strived to sound nostalgic in a new anthemic way. We write very autobiographical songs, so I think it’s hard to not produce them to feel emotional.
What was the influence behind “Texaco”?
“Texaco” came from me (Hank) kind of confessing to this string of toxicity in my life. I was so tired of my cycle that I was going through, and I had to write something about it to almost put my rehab to fruition.
The “we’re not kids anymore” was really me admitting to my behavior and how I wanted to start treating myself and everyone around me with more love and respect. It was a hard song to write as far as the content goes, but it has now grown to be this release that I desperately needed.
How does “Texaco” build from your EP If You Were a Stranger released at the end of 2022?
I think the songwriting on this upcoming EP is a lot more introspective and raw. In seeking help and taking care of my (Hank) mental health throughout the writing process of this EP, there was a lot more to come to the surface that I needed to get off of my chest.
As far as production goes, I think we wanted to make what we do a little more sophisticated. These songs are produced around what they are saying, and the intensity of the lyrical content is reflected in the sound of this EP.
You’re also going to be opening for Saint Motel and touring with Arts Fishing Club. What should listeners expect during your shows?
We are so excited to translate what we do in the studio to the stage. I think people should expect the full intensity of what our records sound like but also be prepared for a stripped-down version of us that we don’t get to showcase as much on the record.
The show is being built to have a lot of dynamics. We want our shows to feel more like an experience than just watching us play our songs exactly like the record.
How are you preparing for your upcoming performances?
Taking care of our mental health, rehearsing religiously, and also doing HIIT workouts to make sure our stamina is ready for how draining a show can be physically.
Do you plan to debut any new music on tour?
For sure! We plan on playing a handful of the new songs on these upcoming tour runs!
Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.