Fanny Packs, Baby Jail, and Being Emo: An Interview with Dad Brains
If you’ve been hanging around in The Punk Lounge for a while, you may have read the album review for the Dad Brains 7″ they released in September. Dadcore is not only a fashion trend… it’s also a music genre thanks to Pat Pedraza – the lyrical mastermind behind this fun punk outfit out of California. Dad Brains is a four-piece dadcore band from Oxnard/Ventura, California. Made up of ex-members of No Motiv, The Missing 23rd, Creep Division, and the F-ing Wrath, these now-dads are back at it with the greatest project ever.
Personally, my husband and I can’t get enough of this group of dads. Their songs are wicked fun and the lyrical content brings you back to the days of when your kids were young. Allowing you to relive all the epic (and the not-so-epic) times of parenthood.
Hey Pat! Thanks for talking to The Punk Lounge. I know your life is really busy with family, but I appreciate it! I don’t know if I’d have the energy to do what you are doing now while raising a young child.
Yeah it takes a lot. She’s starting to walk and I’m chasing her around the house… it drains me. Last week I was totally sick. I’m just getting better it’s just crazy but it’s cool.
What made you guys decide to form a band together? I’m assuming you’re all friends from other projects.
All the other guys are from punk bands around Oxnard and Ventura. When I was in high school I played in a band called no motiv and we were kind of like an emo-pop rock band. I met these other guys who played in punk bands and there was a pretty cool scene down here. We kind of lost touch for a little bit; everyone went onto their own bands. I always kept in touch with my friend Matt though. It’s weird. I had a baby and they all had babies and I started writing stuff down and I said “hey matt. You want to start something?” and we ended up writing a whole bunch of songs that came together really fast. These guys are other dads and it’s kind of cool to be in a band with them they kind of teach me stuff.
So, you guys were all parents when you started Dad Brains?
Yeah. I was a new daddy… like a month or two months in. I was the newbie so it inspired me to write a bunch of stuff about it. All these guys already had kids so they were kind of looking at me like ‘Oh my gosh, he’s at the beginning of it’. All my songs so far are about the beginning stages. Which means there is always stuff to write about as they’re getting older, which is cool.
It’s weird how much my husband loves your music. When I first put it on, I was not expecting him to love it as much as he did. I’ll get into the car some days and it’s what comes on as soon as I start it up.
Is he a punk rock guy?
He is; he’s really into Oi! And street punk more than anything. I thought the content was something he might not be interested in. But when he listened to it we were both like “Wow. This is accurate as f**k. It’s weird how much I love this.”
You know what’s funny? My wife is really honest with me… she likes country and we’re totally opposite on the music spectrum but she really likes the songs. We played a show last week and there were teachers there and people were asking if we could play their schools and I was stoked. It was a totally different crowd but it’s rad.
Who decided on the band name? Did you guys come up with it out of the blue?
Matt came up with the name. He called me while I was driving and said “What do you think about this name? It’s kind of funny but kind of cool…. Dad Brains”. And I was like dude that’s rad. I just don’t want to get a cease and desist, ya know? Haha but um, because we already have the artwork, we just changed it to a baby bottle, ya know? But a lot of people probably think we’re a cover band but we’re not.
Nice. Actually, I have to admit that the first time I heard your band name I thought you were a cover band. I was talking to Ginger from the Ramoms and she had mentioned you all. I figured it was a cover band like theirs. But once I heard you I realized I was pleasantly mistaken.
That’s kind of cool. If people think that, it’s totally rad. It makes them want to listen to it, to see if it will be a good cover or a bad cover… but once they hear it they’re like ‘oh it’s not a cover band’. Maybe they will also be pleasantly surprised… or horribly surprised… but whatever kind of surprised they are, I’m stoked on people listening.
So It really doesn’t bother you that people might think you’re a cover band at first before hearing your music?
Oh no, not at all. I’m just stoked that I get to write from lyrics that are going to get out, ya know? I’ve been doing this for so long now. I’m 41 and I’m kind of like whether you like it or not, as long as I’m stoked and the kids are smiling and people are smiling I’m stoked but like everyone has their own opinion so it’s all good.
You mentioned playing at schools and places like that. Is this something that you want to do regularly? Would you like to become a touring band with Dad Brains?
No. Like my wife wouldn’t allow it, but even so, I wouldn’t allow it myself. I’ve toured so much in the past and I know what comes with the life. The most we’d do is like a short week-long tour in California. Maybe one on the east coast if it’s worth it. But getting in a van and driving around to play to just a few kids… I’m kind of over that stage, ya know?
Just getting music out there… if the show is right and we’ve got to travel and our wives are cool with it we’re down… cause it’s I’ve done it before so much that I just don’t know if I could do it again unless it was totally worth it. I’d rather just get music out and play select shows here and there. I’m stoked about that ya know.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I honestly don’t know how people with kids go on tour… it just seems way too crazy.
Yeah, it’s too much. I’m trying to make it not about me… like when I was younger I used to have that mentality. I was like “hey look at me, I’m in a band”. But now it’s like “Hey I’m in a band and I want to see you guys smile and if you guys laugh at it, I’m cool with it. It’s more about helping other dads and getting people laughing and hear the song and see some music videos.
For sure. Now, did you guys approach Pirates Press Records or did they come to you? How did that relationship form?
Well, I was the guy in my old band that would send out demos. I got my first band our record deal and stuff by bugging people and I just got these songs and I was like ‘these are really cool, I’m going to send these out to these labels I know of’ and even old labels of people I’m friends with. I sent to some way bigger labels and I got like 90% good responses. It was weird. Everyone was like “this is really cool man. Seriously, this is awesome but we can’t put it out right now”
I was cool with that because I’d always say to them we’re not a touring band. That’s alright with me because I just wanted to honest from the get-go. So I sent to Pirates and a guy got back to me and said he’d check it out. I emailed him back and asked if he had checked it out. He said “Yeah, it’s good man, but we can’t put it out right now” and I was like ‘alright’. Then the next thing I know, he emailed me and said people in the office are laughing at it and they really like it and they want to put it out. I was like ‘cool’ cause if people in the office are laughing that’s the best thing. It means everyone will be behind it, ya know? So that’s what we want… get a laugh out of them and what not. So yeah, I approached them and they were super cool. They’re a legit punk rock label but they’re all pretty nice and it’s very cool.
Now that you have this 7” out, are you going to put out a full album? Are you guys just writing and going to keep putting music out?
People just put out a lot of singles and stuff now. My first band put out a 7” and it was pretty cool but I feel like we have so many things going on in the future. I want to put out different songs – like Christmas songs and a Father’s Day song –so like select songs here and there with different release dates.
I already have a song written for next year that we’ve already recorded and I’m working on a song for next Father’s Day already. So at certain times maybe put out singles and then after that put out a full length with all the songs on it. I think it would be good to put out singles digitally. Then we can put all of the songs together on a full-length physical record and release them later.
That definitely sounds like a solid plan. I can’t wait to hear your Christmas songs. I hope you guys put some out this year.
You’ll hear ’em this year at Christmas time. You don’t even understand – I’m so stoked on these, it’s unreal. I listen to them and I think to myself “These came out really good!” It’s funny and it still makes you want to mosh.
That’s good to hear…. Cause like for me Christmas is the most stressful time of the year so I’m looking forward to this. This will be like my Christmas present from you guys hahaha.
Oh, you’re going to love it. Like really just love it.
So this is your first kid… what is the one thing you’ve experienced during parenthood that you weren’t expecting?
Um… how many diapers I change every day. Yesterday I changed three – and that was before 10 am. She only woke up at 7 am, so that’s like a diaper change every hour. And one was sort of a false alarm. Like the first one was a normal diaper change but the second one wasn’t. She kind of pooped a tiny little bit and then the third one was a big one.
I don’t miss those days….. haha
But really, I wasn’t expecting how much how much I could love something. I never thought I could love someone this much, it’s really kind of scary ya know? That is the one thing that I’ve learned that shocked me the most. I am like Oh my god I love this girl so much it’s kind of scary.
I think about all the bad and terrible things that could happen and I’m like ugggghhhhh. I’m just stoked because at least I love this little girl. It could be worse. But yeah that’s really it. I didn’t’ think I could love somebody this much. Everyone told me that but I was just like ‘yeah whatever’ because people are always giving you advice and stuff. But then it happens and you’re like ‘hooooly crap. It is real’.
Yeah, and it’s so instant. Like as soon as you hold them for the first time it’s there.
Oh my gosh, yes. How does that happen? It’s like god magic, it’s crazy. I don’t know how it happens. Your heart just explodes with love and it’s insane. I mean there is a lot that goes with parenting and that’s what I like to write about. It’s awesome and tiring and jacked up and beautiful – all at the same time, ya know?
What’s been your favourite part so far about becoming a parent?
All the little things… the differences every day. The first smile… oh my gosh, she’s starting to walk. She took her first step yesterday and that was insane. Seeing those things happen in front of you… You get to witness everything… it’s pretty awesome.
Has she started speaking yet? Or Babbling?
Babbling, yeah. I think she said ‘dog’, and she says ‘dad’. We’re trying to not let her get into bad habits. My wife and I would be out and say things like “Look at the peacock”. Our daughter would just look and say ’cock’. I would say “No, don’t say that. You’re already saying your first bad word…!”
You mentioned you started thinking all these bad things that could happen… what is your biggest fear now that you’re responsible for another life?
My biggest fear is … gosh, there’s so many: her falling off a third storey balcony, her choking to death, me having to give CPR for some reason…
But really, one of my biggest fears is that she is going to be a mean person. I’m trying my best to instil love in her. My wife and I are just supporting her and loving her as much as we can. A lot of families just go bad when there is no love present, ya know what I mean? And that’s my biggest fear, that when she grows up that we will lose that bond and she doesn’t have that love in her heart. That we grow apart from each other…
With me personally, when I became a parent I became almost hyper-aware of all of these things that will probably never affect me – but human trafficking and things. As my daughter started getting older I would think “oh my gosh, there are so many people out there who could hurt her”. I was checking neighbourhood watch lists and stuff, I went crazy.
I imagine bad stuff happening like that all the time and it’s like having visions of doom. I imagine people kidnapping her and I think “Is this normal to think about these things???”.
When I take her for a walk in the morning I have this dad fanny pack. And I have a knife in there! I’m ready in case anything happens. A dog could jump on her and I’d shank a dog. Not that I’d ever want to hurt a dog – I love animals and we have our pets here – but I don’t know what’s going on anymore.
Once your kids get older are you going to teach her how to play an instrument or are your thoughts to keep her away from this life?
Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to teach her how to play. I’m already playing the guitar for her and she likes it. I play “I’m Old” for her on the guitar and she starts jumping around. It’s crazy. So yeah I want to teach her how to play an instrument, even if it’s the piano or something. Anything would be awesome for her.
Do the kids of everyone else in the band take an interest to the music?
Kind of. The guys try to get them involved but it’s one of those things I learned from other parents, they’ll find their own likes. I like to surf sometimes I think maybe she will surf but it probably won’t happen. I’m trying to keep a realistic approach.
I think the other members try to install the music and that into their kids. I know Matt has a record collection and he tries to share that with his daughter but she likes Taylor Swift or probably something else now.
So what has been the response to Dad Brains overall? Has it been positive?
Yeah, overall it’s been really great. I’ve been stoked on it and it’s been really good. The whole experience has been pretty awesome.
When your kids get older are you going to let them do gang vocals?
Yes, that would be awesome. That would be a really cool idea in a video too! Thanks for the idea.
No problem haha. Now your official release party that just happened recently, how did that go?
It was so great. There was a whole bunch of kids that came up on stage to sing. People were having a good time and bought merch. And there were ‘normal’ people there who weren’t punks and they liked it… and I was just stoked.
That has to be refreshing… playing to a completely different crowd.
Yeah, it was great.
Do you guys have anything coming up?
We’ve got a few shows coming up! We’re playing at a bowling alley for a show called the Nardcore Turkey Bowl in November. Then we’re playing a Toys for Tots show in December at the Viper Room. You can check out our Facebook page for more information about shows and upcoming releases as well. We always keep that up to date.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me on behalf of The Punk Lounge Pat, we really love Dad Brains. You guys are amazing and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming songs that you’re releasing. Your thoughts on raising kids and what it’s like to be a parent are spot on.
Interested and want to read more? Check out these links:
You can find Dad Brains‘ music on Bandcamp here: https://dadbrains.bandcamp.com/ or on Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Spotify.
Follow them HERE on Facebook for all their upcoming releases, shows, and goings-on.
You can also find a ridiculously amazing cache of Dad Brains treasures on the Pirates Press Records Merch Store.