When it comes to labeling his St. Louis band, Finn’s Motel founder and frontman Joe Thebeau keeps it simple.

“For the most part, it’s just a rock band,” he says. “It’s an amalgamation of everything I’ve heard put through the filter of what I liked.”

Regrouping after more than a decade, Finn’s Motel surprised fans and friends last year by releasing two full albums of new songs within just a few months—the band’s first recordings since its 2006 debut album, Escape Velocity.

The current lineup includes Joe on lead vocals and guitar with original bassist Steve Scariano. Original drummer Patrick Hawley played on the records, but Jack Petracek has since stepped in on drums, along with new guitarist Scott Roever.

The roots of Finn’s Motel go back to Joe’s first band, The Finns, which gained popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s. While they achieved some success, the band ultimately split up, and Joe got busy raising a family.

“By about 2004, I was starting to get interested in doing it again,” Joe says. “I got laid off– from a job and basically got burned out career-wise, which led to inspiration for the first Finn’s Motel record.”

The band released the 2006 album on small indie label Scat Records. Then life, as it does, got in the way—jobs, families, and other obligations took precedence.

“I was still writing songs and recording but never quite getting to the point where we’d finish things,” Joe says. “It was just fits and starts.”

After graduating from the University of Missouri-St Louis in 2013 with a bachelor of liberal studies degree, Joe decided to take all the recordings that had piled up and finish as much as he could.

“By the time I got done mixing and mastering everything that we started, it got done in 2017, so we put two albums out in the same year,” Joe says. “The reason these records got divided the way they did is that there were a handful of themes that seemed like they belonged over on this side and a handful that belonged on that side.”

The first release, Jupiter Rex, was inspired by an unusual set of antique certificates that Joe’s wife, Gina, discovered at an estate sale.

“In the early days of air travel, if you crossed the equator, you were given a certificate that said, ‘You have entered into the realm of Jupiter Rex,’ which is really cool,” Joe says. “It’s the idea of crossing latitudes and longitudes but also crossing lines in relationships and what the boundaries are.”

The second release, Quinta del Sordo, was named for the country house of Spanish painter Francisco de Goya in the later years of his life, where he painted 14 murals, known as the Black Paintings, on the walls.

“The themes are darker—about mortality,” Joe says.

When he first started writing songs, Joe was in his 20s. Now in his 50s, he approaches things a bit di–fferently.

“These days, I’m more inclined to do it for the fun of it and create what I like,” he says. “If someone else likes it, that’s even better because it’s exactly the expression I’d hoped to put out.”