M is for Musician: Senior writing album for Honors thesis

Louisville senior Joey Coe plays a song he wrote inside the Beardy Poe, a friend’s home where Coe has spent a lot of time over the years. Coe is currently working on an album that’s inspired by his life in Kentucky and his time spent at places like the Beardy Poe.

Amira Ahmetovic

Louisville senior Joey Coe picked up his first set of drumsticks when he was 6 years old.

“My brother got a drum set, and I’d hit it,” Coe said. “When my parents took away the drumsticks, I’d hit it with my hands.”

Coe writes music, plays guitar and piano.

His best friend, Will Atkinson, taught him how to play the guitar five years ago.

“I thought he was the coolest dude around,” Coe said. “And I decided I would grow up and be a mix of my big brother Michael, my dad and Will. So I made Will teach me guitar.”

Atkinson said Coe picked up on the guitar within a year.

“He’s a fantastic musician and hell of a song writer,” he said. “He writes songs that mean something; he’s natural.”

While at WKU, Coe played the guitar and sang with his band, Joe and the Bugmen 5, on campus and at friends’ parties.

“Playing live is my favorite,” he said.

But when all the band members graduated, Coe took time off and started focusing on writing music.

He compared the process of writing a song to living life.

“You can’t make a sound come out when you want it,” Coe said. “Some phrase or thought drifts into your ear, and you just know that it’s going in a song, so you scribble it down.”

Coe carried a black notebook full of lyrics.

To graduate from the Honors College, Coe is writing an album for his thesis. The album is set to release sometime in April.

Coe said he’s researching folk music traditions and writing the album based on that.

He describes his sound as “folk and roll,” taking the traditional style of folk and reinventing it, making it new.

The album, which is yet to be titled, will feature other artists playing instruments and will have about eight to 10 songs, he said.

His lyrics are influenced by artists from the sixties, but he said the subjects featured in his songs are mostly about facing emotions as a young person and how hard that is, and dealing with relationships and girls.

“A good breakup, a good heartache makes a good song,” Coe said.

But he’s trying to make the album as diverse as possible.

Coe said he doesn’t have an all-time favorite song he’s written, but he does have temporary favorites.

Currently, his favorite song is titled “Cobwebs.”

“It’s about when you break up with someone, and that person tried to get back with you, and you don’t want any of it,” Coe said.

He lists The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter as his musical inspirations.

Coe said he likes their style of music and tries to emulate it.

Cromwell senior Emmy Woosley plays the viola on the album and advises Coe on music and finding the right sound.

Woosley said the album is unique, and Coe is very passionate about it.

“It’s a great project, something no one has done before,” she said.

Coe said he tries to do whatever makes him satisfied, and music has always been a part of that.

“Music for me is a way to try and connect with other people in new ways,” he said. “I think that’s what art is, when an artist is trying to connect; that’s what I really like.”