Reviews

White Hat

6/19/11 | Paste | www.pastemagazine.com | Feature
To celebrate Mother's Day last month, we asked 18 Musical Moms about being both a mother and a musician. From Stars to Mates of State, each shared their thoughts and philosophies on both parenting and rocking out?both the good and the bad. The common theme running out of their responses was one of sacrifice, but one that none of them would think twice about. Chris Senseney Big Harp On Father's Day, we turn to a series of dad rockers to hear their thoughts on music, fatherhood and the overlap between those two roles. We spoke with over 30 musicians including The Hold Steady, Billy Bragg, Elbow, Robert Earl Keen and numerous musical dads about the glories and the perils of their two full time gigs. Name and age of your kids: Hank age 2 1/2; Twila, 10 months. How does having children and being a father change the way you approach your career? I'm a lot more aware of money than I used to be. There's more motivation to try to carve out and keep some degree of success. Not to sell out?whatever that means?just to try and make music a viable way to make a living. What's the best part about being both a musician and a dad? Having kids makes it easy to steer clear of all the extraneous bullshit that goes along with music. I've always believed that you didn't have to be a self-absorbed asshole to be an artist. I think some people greatly overvalue their own worth?like any attachment or impingement on their freedom is going to dim the holy light of their creative spirit. Screw 'em. I'm not trying to live out some tortured-artist fantasy, I'm trying to be a good man. I love playing and I love being a dad. Since my wife and I are in the band together, we get to bring the kids with us. I feel really lucky that we all get to be together. If we didn't, I don't know if I could do it. What's the most difficult part about being both a musician and a dad? Finding time to work. Used to be, if I had a song idea I could put everything else aside and just sit down and see where it led. Now I kind of have to file all my ideas away and wait until I have some time. It's a good thing too, though. The worst ideas get filtered out before I waste any effort on them. What do your kids think of your music? They like listening to the recordings. Hank only lets me play guitar or piano if he can play an instrument too. He's a very demanding bandleader?he'll come right up and move my hands and say, "No no no! Do it like this." What kind of music do your kids currently enjoy? Do you approve of their current tastes? They're both too young to be too picky. They'll listen to whatever we listen to. My son's favorite song is probably "Back in the USSR"-he just calls it "the Beatles song". He doesn't believe that they have any others. Twila's very tolerant. I have a soft spot for eighties and nineties mainstream country, and she's the only one in the family who doesn't complain about listening to Garth Brooks. Have you attempted to immerse your kids in music? How have they responded? Not on purpose. Since my wife Stefanie and I play in a band together there's always music around. Everything we do around the house gets a song, although I think that's fairly common even for non-musician parents. If they want to take lessons or anything when they're older we'll definitely sign 'em up, but there's no plans to push them into music. Although a drummer and an extra guitarist would be nice? If yes, what instruments do they play? And what do their early musical attempts sound like? Stefanie and Hank have a band together. She plays guitar, he plays keyboard, and they both play drums and sing. It's some next-level experimental stuff. Their big hit is called "Red Bus." I think they're considering taking Twila on as a probationary member. If not, what are they interested in doing instead? Hank wants to be a dancing cowboy garbage man. Twila likes to eat plastic bacon and blow raspberries. I'm pulling for accounting.
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