For some people, a love of music runs naturally in their family. The adage rings true for siblings Seth and Clayton Peacock, who were fueled by a mutual desire to start a garage rock band. In this case, the brothers are the founding, and currently only, members of Rat Motel.

 Photo by Grace Lillash.
Photo by Grace Lillash.

The Peacock brothers have been making music since their childhood years; both took piano lessons at a young age, although Seth later quit in favor of bass guitar lessons in 5th grade. They rotated through several bands – including Echolocation and The Comos, a rock band that the boys both still play in – before Seth started Rat Motel in 2016.

Technically Seth’s project, Rat Motel’s discography is recorded and mixed by Seth; he also handles booking and press himself, unlike his participation in other bands, where he allowed his brother to manage the details.

Rat Motel released a full self-titled album that same year, but Seth is currently working on its Old Man Winkle EP, due for release in early March. Two of the five tracks – “Dog” and “Stale” – have already been released online, and a third song is already finished.

“When I was writing the self-titled, I had the mindset of ‘I wanna make an album.’ I didn’t spend a lot of time writing songs,” Seth said.

This time, he’s spent months working on songs in his home studio.

“When I’m working on Rat Motel, I just get full perfectionist,” Seth said.

There wasn’t a set theme to Rat Motel, although it centered around the loose idea of being satisfied with life. A similar theme carries over into the Old Man Winkle EP: both “Dog” and “My Life” contain narratives about people who are looking back on their lives as death looms.

The two singles from Old Man Winkle already show a more danceable facet of Rat Motel. Beachy bell tones and poppy melodies lend a surf-rock quality to both “Dog” and “Stale,” and, according to Seth, “My Life” began as a simple chord progression but is quickly becoming more layered.

Since the brothers are the only two musicians on stage and Clayton is a drummer, Seth plays both the bass guitar and lead guitar parts for live performances. To do so, he connects the guitar to an octave pedal, duplicating the signal from his guitar an octave down. The modified signal is run through a bass amplifier, while the normal signal goes through a guitar amp.

After mastering the morphed bass, Seth’s next obstacle was learning how to play both chords and solo parts at the same time.

“I saw it as a challenge,” Seth said. “You’re accompanying yourself, but you have a lot more freedom there. I can make a quiet part with the guitar, and then I can kick in the bass and make it sound like a whole band is playing.”

While finishing the recording and mixing for Old Man Winkle, Seth is still setting up an EP release show. In the meantime, Rat Motel will perform alongside Dirtkid and Salt Orchard at Ruby Tuesday Live on both Friday, Jan. 12 and Friday, Feb. 9. For the Jan. 12 show, doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is $5 for those 21-and-over and $7 for anyone younger. The prices are the same for both shows.

Originally published on In The Record Store on January 9, 2018.