We recently published an article on the emo revival scene and a couple of pioneering artists who have pushed the genre/trend toward a bigger audience. A handful of bands were mentioned, but one in particular, Dads, was responsible for actually turning me onto the scene. If it weren’t for Dads, I wouldn’t be aware of such a vast array of talented emo efforts. If it weren’t for Dads, musically, 2013 would have been pretty boring for me.
The two-piece emo duo from New Jersey absolutely blew me away in 2012 with their breakthrough album, American Radass (This Is Important), and again with their well-polished Pretty Good EP in 2013. Twinkly guitars, gut-wrenching lyrics, addicting chant-alongs — Dads was everything I loved in punk and noise rock, with even more added flavors.
Needless to say, I was stoked as hell when I saw them in Orlando two weeks ago. We had the opportunity to catch up with lead vocalist/drummer of the band, John Bradley, and talk about Dads’ current tour with Reggie and the Full Effect and Pentimento, the duo’s directional shift between albums, and what it means to be a figurative dad for fans.
Mass Appeal: Who are Dads?
John Bradley: I am John Bradley and I sing and play drums in the band. Scott Scharinger plays guitar and sings as well.
JB: Very well! We’ve been having a great time each night and it has been a dream come true to be able to connect with James and company.
MA: You guys have been a part of some really solid tours in the past couple of years. Are there any new touring rituals or anything you learned from touring the first time that you now avoid or have gotten used to?
JB: We’ve found, more importantly than anything else, to keep a good attitude and do whatever it takes to keep that attitude. Everyone needs private time so we kinda wander around the place as much as possible. Just keeping morale high whether at the show or in the van or wherever.
MA: When you guys released Brush Your Teeth and Brush Your Teeth Again , it really had a certain charm to it. It was raw and it just sounded like the two of you were having fun. On American Radass, everything sounded matured and polished, yet that fun was still there. You guys really stepped up between albums, especially with the Pretty Good EP. What was the aim with each release and what was different with the recording processes in between albums?
JB: Brush Your Teeth and Brush Your Teeth, Again were recorded by me and mixed by Scott all in my basement, on whatever random sound system Scott had at his apartment. We didn’t have any money to go to a studio and it was easier to just set up mics where we practiced.
When we got down to American Radass, we wanted to do it right, or what we thought was right. That was my first time in a studio. We put in our own money cause we still didn’t have enough to cover it from the band, and it was gold to us. It feels amazing to hear songs you write being played back in the studio. You could write the most basic cock-rock butt-rock riff, but when you hear it back on good speakers in the studio, you’re like, “Fuck, I fucking did it, this is how it sounds in my head and now how it sounds in real life.”
With Pretty Good we wanted to work even harder, so we went to a friend who had a different studio and the plan was to demo it out and send it to different labels to see who wanted it, but when we heard the “demos” back we were so happy with how they sounded and once again we didn’t have much money to throw around so we scrapped going to the studio we recorded AR at and we kept the “demos” as the real thing. 6131 swooped in and put us in our cribs and we’ve been happy ever since. When you’re starting out you just want to get your name out there quickly and you are young and don’t know any better, and then as we got older we realized it was all about first impressions and realized having a nicely tuned and polished finished product that sounds just like how we heard it in our heads was more important and we wished we could’ve started with our best foot first. But like you said, we were having fun. None of that mattered.
MA: You guys reply to almost every fan on Twitter or Tumblr who messages you with questions or praises. When I saw you guys live, I noticed your merch booth was also pretty affordable. Shirts for $12? Records for $12? You guys even talked to fans and hung out after the performance. How important is the connection between your fans and the band?
JB: EXTREMELY important to us. I remember seeing shows and wanting to talk to the bands if even to just tell them good job or thank you or something, and I remember sometimes being able to do that and running back to the car and being ecstatic that I saw them off stage. We are just two nervous dudes that are sort of able to do what we want every night, and at the end of the day we want to help people through their shit, whether it be through music or through talking. If someone is going to pay whatever door price or buy whatever merch item you have, as an artist, the least you could do is talk to them.
MA: Does anything you listen to today influence a lot of what you put into your own art?
JB: Honestly, we try our best to not let outside music influence how we write too much. It is very easy to try to replicate something you hear, to the point of ripping it off, and we are afraid of doing just that. Also, I personally get very tired of music very quickly. I obsess over what I love and play it to death and then sometimes, like right now, I want to listen to podcasts and audiobooks instead. Right now, we are on chapter 31 of the fifth “Harry Potter,” book.
MA: What is the best part about being on tour and playing different venues? What do you guys enjoy playing the most?
JB: Being out there, working, keeping busy. I miss my home life and being basically a stay at home dad to my girlfriend’s pets, but playing shows every night and driving hours each day keeps me sane. Meeting people, talking to everyone, seeing friends from each city, eating great food in each town, shit like that.
MA: How do you feel about being a pioneering band of the “emo revival,” scene and achieving success into a bigger audience along the way? How do you feel about being covered by publications who normally wouldn’t cover your type of genre and the trendiness of it all?
JB: I had a friend in college who jumped on and off bandwagons and it got to a point where I found it exhausting. I had a hard enough time keeping up with bands I loved, let alone finding out about new bands every five weeks and having to remember who was who. There was a point that my friend and I were going to shows every week and I would forget which band was which. I still have a list of bands that I’m not entirely sure if I saw or not because it all fit under that whole bandwagon shift, but at the same time, it isn’t their fault.
I’m sure, if Dads is this “emo revival,” pioneer, we will fall on that list. We might pick up some press coverage that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, that might help us get the name out, and then either in three years people will have stuck with us or they’ll find their Dads shirt in their drawer and go, “Lol I can’t believe I used to like this dumb EMO shit.” And then in 10 years they’ll find it on their iPod or whatever electronic device they have and be like “Oh yeah, I did really like this!” So who knows
I’d say the only reason we are considered a pioneer is because bands that really spearheaded this whole scene broke up before press started watching closely. There are/were bands that have been doing this longer than we have, we just talk on the Internet a lot.
Catch Dads live on Reggie and the Full Effect’s “No Country For New Musicians,” tour at one of the remaining dates:
FEB 14 Cleveland Heights, OH- Grog Shop
FEB 15 Pittsburgh, PA- Altar Bar
FEB 16 Syracuse, NY- The Lost Horizon
FEB 18 Hamden, CT- The Space
FEB 19 Boston, MA- Brighton Music Hall
FEB 20 New York, NY- The Studio at Webster Hall
FEB 22 Asbury Park, NJ- Asbury Lanes