Why Comptalo Is a Phoenix Solo Music Project — With a Lot of Collaborators

From left, Tyler Johnston, Paul Balazs, Jayme Fox, Jarrod Compton, Spencer Ferrarin, Danny Torgersen, and Lucas Robert Roth are making noise as Comptalo.
From left, Tyler Johnston, Paul Balazs, Jayme Fox, Jarrod Compton, Spencer Ferrarin, Danny Torgersen, and Lucas Robert Roth are making noise as Comptalo. Jennifer Goldberg
On a recent Monday night, an east Phoenix practice space is filled with smoke and sound, and a project called Comptalo is figuring out the details on its first show.

"Do you want more people singing with you on the chorus to make it really slap?" Danny Torgersen asks Jarrod Compton about the song "Stop Calling Me."

Compton is the face of Comptalo, which is technically a solo project. But the room is filled with fixtures of the music scene like trumpet player Torgersen (Captain Squeegee), Paul "Danger Paul" Balazs (The Psychedelephants), Spencer Ferrarin (The Psychedelephants and A Casual Divorce), bassist Jayme Fox, Tyler Johnston on the DJ equipment, and Lucas Robert Roth (Optimystical) on guitar.

All seven are getting ready for their first live show together: a farewell concert for KWSS radio personality Dubs White, who's preparing to leave Arizona for Nashville. (The show starts at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 5, at Last Exit Live.)

Almost all of the songs they'll play are off Stop Calling Me, the Comptalo album that came out in late September. It's a bright, trippy, '70s-tinged LP based around an unusual concept.

As Compton tells it, he was working with his Real Fakes bandmate Kevin Michael Prier on a song for the album, and they thought it would be funny to get Ghetto Cowgirl's Marc Norman to leave a voicemail complaining that Compton hadn't asked him to be on the album.

"I have a weird, cynical sense of humor," Compton says. "Self-deprecation is my thing."

Compton loved the result so much that he asked for similar contributions from other local music personalities like Zackary O'Meara (Compton's former Moons, Birds & Monsters bandmate) and Dubs White.

Stop Calling Me is Compton's pandemic album; he produced it himself in his Phoenix apartment, but most of the other artists on the LP recorded their parts separately, then sent it to him for mixing.

"I honestly felt like I got the most progress done in January, when I got Covid," Compton says. "I was sick, but there were periods of time when I felt okay, and I was off work for two straight weeks. ... The isolation helped me get it done."

Though Compton sees Comptalo as a solo project (he likens the band to Tom Petty' Heartbreakers), Stop Calling Me does include plenty of contributions from other members of the music scene. "Secrets," a mellow, groovy number that sounds like a vintage version of MGMT, features Balazs and Marah Armenta of The Stakes. Indie rock number "Escapistapade" was co-written by Prier and features Elliot Elijah. The mellow, rhythmic "Fever Dreamix" is based on a tune by The Woodworks that Compton calls "maybe his favorite local song ever." Compton took the band's song "Fever Dream," put some of his own music over it, after which the band added their own new sounds to create a new, collaborative work.

And of course, there's the album's title track, a jazzy number driven by Compton's rap interludes and a banging trumpet solo by Torgensen. See the hilariously surreal video here.

Compton says Stop Calling Me has been "really successful in my eyes. I finally acquired a Phoenix music scene fanbase and it’s been a stepping stone to get to this piece, which is the band."

Though the Last Exit Live show is the first time Compton and the other six musicians will perform together as Comptalo, he doesn't want it to be the last.

"They’re putting their own spin on things and adding to what was already there," he says. "I want to hold onto these guys as long as I can because they’re really good."

Dubs's Going Away Show. With Comptalo, The Woodworks, and The Psychedelephants. 8 p.m. doors, 9 p.m. show, Friday, November 5. Last Exit Live, 717 South Central Avenue. Tickets are $8 to $10.
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.