They’re like the dads all your cooler friends had. You know, the ones that would offer you a beer and a smoke every time you came over even though you were only 15. Well, what if those dads were still cooler than you? What if they formed one of the hardest working DIY hardcore/metal bands in Brooklyn?
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we present to you Dad!
Dad formed a little over a year ago in The Rookery, a bar in Bushwick where our photographer Lena and I waited to meet them. Jon Murphy, Dad’s distortion master and killer guitarist, suggested we meet there. What better place to interview Dad than in a bar?
“Wait, we chose this place?” frontman James Watson asked me and the band once everyone sat down.
“I chose the place,” Jon quickly answered.
The band’s dynamic is a natural one, with each of the four members having an integral piece in the puzzle. Dad wouldn’t be Dad without the four people seated in front of me.
James Watson is the front man, lyricist, and voice of Dad. He’s the crazy man on stage with the megaphone in one hand and a beer in the other. Sitting across the table from him, he seems a lot more reserved without a microphone in front of him but he didn’t loose any of the cool.
Jon Murphy, as mentioned, is Dad’s guitarist. He’s responsible for the face melting sound Dad is infamous for. I gotta admit, I was a little scarred at first. His leather jacket and mustache made him look tough, but underneath his punk aesthetic is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
On the bass is David Flick. He’s the one that dives into the crowd and starts moshes at shows without missing a note. He’s also the goof ball of the group, always ready to throw in a joke or witty comment at any moment. Even though his band mates may take advantage of his goofiness, to put it in his own words, he “loves to hate them.”
Last but not least is Jeremy Duvall on the drums. He’s the quiet one, only willing to give some input if he feels it’s worth it. On stage, he’s anything but the quiet one, though. His drumming is intense and pummeling. He is truly the rock of the band, in every sense.
Sitting with all of them at The Rockery, I quickly got the sense that they’ve done this before. This isn’t your High School Battle of the Bands hardcore group. Far from it. These four guys are tried-and-true musicians who have been in the Bushwick and Brooklyn music scene for quite some time now. In fact, they’ve even played with each other in other bands. James, David, and Jeremy were all in a band before Dad. According to James, he and David met Jon at The Rockery and “hypothesized the band in the backyard, while smoking cigarettes and drinking beers” (as if I didn’t already assume they were smoking and drinking beers).
And thus, Dad was born. It’s funny meeting the quartet in person because just listening to their records, you might expect something else from them. Their music is heavy, unforgiving, and intense. It’s fuel to a raging fire. It makes me want to go into work drunk so I can make a scene and quit (still working on that). Once you meet them though, you realize they’re just a bunch of nice guys with a fuck ton of passion and energy for what they do.
I’ve actually reviewed some of their tunes on Sweet Static before meeting them. Back in April, I wrote about “Party at Mike’s”, which was released through Bushwick’s Greedy Dilettante Records. The guitar and bass chugs on this cut are immense and the hardcore drum beats will bring your blood to a boil. It’s a blueprint to all the other Brooklyn bands out there right now showing how to do punk right in 2017.
I just recently reviewed their latest single and B-side, “Infirmary / Let the Money Roll in (Fang cover).” Like all of their songs, it’s a great head banger but “Infirmary” finds its strength in its catchy melodies and tight structure.
And the good news is, they’ve got plenty more to come. The singles that they’ve released thus far, including tracks like “Infirmary,” “Party at Mike’s,” “Chasm,” and “Company Policy” were recorded over a year ago. They’ve just recently recorded 6 brand new songs at Mollusk Studios in Brooklyn that they have yet to release.
When asked to compare their older songs to the new batch of cuts, Jon responded, “Back then it was more punk.” They’ve actually given us a sneak preview into what their new direction might sound like with their music video for “Domesticate Me,” one of the songs from this new batch of recordings. Judging from the sound of “Domesticate Me” and Jon’s comments, it seems like Dad is going in a heavier and more metal-inspired direction.
You can find the music video for “Domesticate Me” on their website, which is completely designed and run by Jon. In fact, most everything this band does is self-contained. “I build professional websites so that’s where it comes into play,” Jon explained. “You need graphics, you need social media, you need marketing and I can provide all that for our band so we don’t have to pay out of pocket. I just do it for free for us.”
Dad is DIY in every sense of the word. They’re completely self-promoted and managed. “When it comes to booking the shows, we run the deal. When it comes to the songs we write, we run the deal,” David explained. Dad could be the poster band for what an independent is and how they can build a presence.
“Until we sell out,” James jokes.
“Would you get signed? Would you sell out?” I ask.
Jon responds: “We want to have full control over how we’ve been practicing Dad. I know that’s limiting but we want full control of our music, full control of where we play, full disclosure between whoever we work with so we can pick and choose to be the guides of our own destiny.” In other words, Dad will do what Dad wants, even if that means not released a full LP.
“We’ll release a record if a label is paying for it. Until then, we’re just doing singles,” Jon explained. Their plan makes complete sense, too. Why spend thousands of dollars on a full LP when you can just release each track, one at a time? Dad’s staggered single releases have continually and steadily built Dad’s presence to what it is today and they did it without the help of any label or major distributor.
Their decisions are rooted in their desire to maintain control. They want to be able to make the decision on how they release their music. They want the power to be able to choose what their band stands for and what they’re about. For example, though they’re not a “political band,” they’ve been aware of the current political and social climate and made decisions according to that. David put it perfectly: “Yeah, obviously the political climate that we’re dealing with sucks, and we’re doing as many fundraiser shows as possible like we mentioned but it doesn’t seep into our music. It’s just not who we are. It’s an underlying thing that will seep in but it doesn’t make the music.”
“But our choices are deliberate,” James responded. “Like I don’t want skinheads coming to my show.”
Jon then added, “We’ll definitely play shows that benefit ACLU or some other social justice. We’ll deny show at places that have bad booking histories. In our genre, in hardcore metal/punk, there’s definitely a lot of white supremacist bullshit in it: we won’t book that shit because we don’t believe in it, personally.” Just because they’re four white guys in a hardcore/metal band doesn’t mean they are who you might expect them to be.
If there was a single word, to sum up Dad, I think it would be juxtaposition. Much of what the band does deals with balancing opposing ideas or themes. The name “Dad” itself speaks to this. Their heavy and frustrated sound is at complete odds with their friendly and inclusive personalities. Much of their lyrics deal with being fed up with work and the blue collar lifestyle but they recognize that they have to pay the bills somehow. They’re an independent Brooklyn DIY band but they have the sound and looks of any major label rock stars.
Oh, and of course, Dad doesn’t make Dad Rock.