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Young Band Smokey Motel Ready To Trade Small Town Oklahoma For Big City Lights

Talihina. Davidson. Drive too fast and you might not even notice these small Oklahoma towns, but if you stick around, you might hear some music in the air.

For Steven and Isaiah Carter, the brother duo making up band Smokey Motel, growing up in Davidson in far southwestern Oklahoma sharpened their focus on music.

“Because there was nothing to do in such a small town, all we had to do was play music,” said Steven Carter.

Music had always been a family affair. The Carters’ father is also a musician who started them on rock and roll early and bought Isaiah a drum kit when he was about ten years old.

From there the two formed a band under the guidance of their dad.

“We started the band to do some talent show," said Steven Carter. "Which we lost.”

But that did not stop them. Smokey Motel is the latest of their musical projects and the band’s name comes from another band that finds its roots in a small Oklahoma town—Kings of Leon.

“They had this documentary called Talihina Sky,” said Steven Carter. 


Kings of Leon is made up of three brothers and one cousin of the Followill family. And Talihina Sky is centered around the band's history and going to the Followill annual family reunion in Talihina in far eastern Oklahoma.

“There’s one scene in the documentary where they rent out this motel room while they’re out on tour. And they cover up all of the fire detectors and smoke their room out. I sort of fantasized of one day when we’ll start to tour.”

For Steven Carter, he had always wanted to be the frontman of a band, but had trouble finding his voice.

“Once I heard Caleb Followill and how he had a certain style to his way of singing, it sort of influenced me to branch out and explore a funkier type vocal style. Just something that just wasn’t as radio.”

And as a fan, Carter was excited to hear that Kings of Leon were performing at the Scissortail Park grand opening in downtown Oklahoma City.

“I’m definitely going to be there the day before to get in and get a good spot. I’m so stoked for that.”

Their two songs makes great use of the voice Steven has found, and recording each one has been a surprising unexpected discovery for the band.


You go in with one intention and it sort of carries itself to be something completely different - Steven Carter

The band had a sold out show at the Opolis earlier this summer playing alongside Mad Honey and The Ivy. Currently based in Lawton, Smokey Motel has plans to move and, of course, release more music with the aims to pursue that touring lifestyle that they saw in Kings of Leon’s Talihina Sky.

They will be performing songs off their upcoming album at Summer Daze 2.0 at the Opolis this Saturday in Norman.

Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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