Nathan Coker had been playing guitar and singing in Nate & Function, a funk band, for a few years before the band was invited to open for St. Paul & The Broken Bones at their sold-out show at the Bottling Plant Event Center in Opelika, Alabama, in February 2016.
“It was our only major opportunity that just fell in our laps, and St. Paul was a big deal,” Coker said. “(St. Paul & The Broken Bones) had just opened for The Rolling Stones at New Year’s, so it was a really big deal for me.”
Unfortunately, none of the other band members could make it to the show, and Coker had to scramble to find musicians to replace them for the concert. In Coker’s mind, that show represented the end of the funk music he used to play with Nate & Function and the beginning of playing rock music with Bobby Rocknroll, a band he began a few months later with other local musicians.
Coker said he was inspired to pursue the genre while he lived at the Shady Glenn apartments in the summer of 2016, surrounded by Auburn-based bands like Cherry Motel and Lady Legs who, at the time, were beginning to take shape.
“I was witnessing all of this rock ‘n’ roll music happening and I was really wanting to play more like that with the guitar,” Coker said. “There were a lot of fast-paced things happening with me at the time, and I felt like the music had to be fast.”
After listening to a lot of White Denim and writing more upbeat and uptempo songs, he began playing them with musicians like Seth Brown and Jon Sims from Lady Legs and Abby Anderson from Captain Kuzu, all of them connected to the growing indie-music scene in Shady Glenn in one way or another.
Eventually, Bobby Rocknroll formed around Coker, Brown
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“Summertime Bikeride came as this amalgam of punk feelings with like a Rolling Stones kind of crux to it,” Coker said.
Though the band has changed members in the year since its start, with Alex Horn now playing the bass and Cole Bryant now playing the drums, their sound remains the same at its core, with Coker having described it as “
“I came up with this recently, and it might be too clever or corny, but I thought that it was a mixture of dad rock, like Lynyrd Skynard, and glam rock, like David Bowie,” Coker said. “And I’ve coined the term ‘glad rock.’ So it’s very upbeat, fun rock ‘n’ roll.”
On top of being a musician since the age of 19, Coker has also worked as a barista for the past four years, getting his first job at Coffee Cat and having recently moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to work at Cafe Bon Ami.
Coker said that even though he’s moved away from Alabama, he’s still committed to continuing to play with Bobby Rocknroll, even if that means driving the five or so hours back and from New Orleans frequently.
“(Bobby Rocknroll) is my entire life,” Coker said. “I go to work for half of my days, but in my spare time and all of my free time I’m writing and talking with the band members and planning the next move, like what’s the next thing we’re going to do together, where’s the next gig that we’re going to play together.”
Bobby Rocknroll has been recording with Jacob Lovejoy of Sonic Sons Records, an Auburn-based record label, and they’ve recently released a single, “Radio Goodbye,” on their band camp and on Spotify. Coker said that the full album, “Mojo Recharge,” is expected to be released this summer.
Coker is also scheduled to play with Beegles, a band formed with Cherry Motel’s Austin Walley, on Friday at Red Clay Brewery’s third anniversary along with other local bands.
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