Dads, for the most part, get a bad rap. Dad rock, dad pants, dad jokes: None of these signal “cool.” But dads are the coolest! (Just ask our founder, actually.) Being a parent isn’t easy, and notions of cool take backseat to the eternal patience, compassion, presence and mutual discovery required to be a papa. Yet, some dads out there manage to be fathers and rock stars (literally).
As Father’s Day approaches, we commend those who have undertaken the impossible task of raising a human life. But these fathers below have a particular challenge in their fatherly duties. They remind us that, for every silly dad joke, there is infinite creativity and passion that goes in to being a father. For our 12 dads , these guys juggle a life of touring and musical demands. On the other, the specter of fatherhood that many view to be the death of those same dreams. When asked what about fatherhood surprised them, they gave answers that give hope to creatives who want a baby in one arm and their guitar in the other.
I’m surprised by how much she’s improved my quality of life. Before having a kid, I think I tended to worry about the idea of the responsibility of it all, but in actuality, she has been the most calming force. I learn from her every day. She’s not even two yet, but just watching how her mind works and how she forces me to be present has been the greatest joy.
The inspiration I’m able to draw from being a dad and seeing my beautiful daughter every day is endless. It is a lot of work, but it is also extremely special. I might have to fight a little harder to find the moments where I can sit down to write or practice, but when I do, they seem to be sweeter and more rewarding. I’m really excited to share the music I’ve been working on from this new phase of my life.
I think my current self would tell my pre-father self to not worry so much about it. I remember having some anxiety about it all, the idea of having to take care of a child. However, once she arrived, and I saw her face, it all lifted. It was like I was magically saved and I felt ready to rise to the occasion. One caveat: I had done a lot of work to prepare myself mentally beforehand, and I think fatherhood came at the right time for me. I didn’t take it lightly and I have an amazing partner in my wife.
Chris Senseney, Umm
Everything about becoming a father was a surprise for me because it wasn’t a planned decision at all. At first I think it did change me creatively; I think I perceived myself as an “adult” for the first time. As time went on I realized I was still the same person, and fatherhood was just one big aspect of my identity. It’s like having parents in a way; it’s not something you have to integrate into your personality because it’s already there.
Umm’s debut album Double Worshipper is out July 28.
Bardo Martinez, Chicano Batman
As a father of one three year old, everything about parenting – from soiled diapers, emergency room visits, and all-night massage therapy sessions on those growing limbs – are new experiences. But all of it comes as no surprise, because since my wife became pregnant over four years ago; life is the surf and we are the surfers focused on maintaining our balance, and when we fall in the ocean, we never stop swimming!
Being a musician has its pros and cons in relation to fatherhood. When you’re home, you’re home! But when you’re out, you’re out. I was lucky, however, to see our infant grow into a toddler. When our kid was born, we were commissioned to make a film score for a PBS documentary. It was such a blessing. I was there for the sleepless nights and the neverending naps with my wife and experience it together. I would write and compose with a phone in one hand recording notes while a tiny body diffused sweat on my chest as we lay in the hammock in the backyard in the shade of a hot summer.
Creating a human being, a living organism that speaks eternal truths through her every movement, her every word, her every newly formed sentence, and every facial expression, has provided a wealth of inspiration that fills my soul with life and energy. She is the lifeblood of my family and metaphorically, the first child, the first granddaughter, etc. I’ve written so many songs related to her, I regularly jot down these genius lines that spew out. I’m like a journalist following around a foreign diplomat.
Carl Broemel, My Morning Jacket
With fatherhood, the concept of time really came more into focus for me. It was as if my life odometer had reset to zero as I was watching. And within these new time limitations, I have actually been far more productive than before. My son is musically inclined as well, we have our own little band going and we are writing songs and stories all the time just having fun with it, music for the sake of doing it. I mean it truly is like starting over, and now I see how important it is to savor time, music time, family time, alone time.. all that good stuff. I maybe wish I knew that would be the case before having a family, would have saved some worry!
Carl’s second solo album, 4th of July: Deluxe Edition, is out on June 30.
The surprising thing about fatherhood was getting to relive so many things from my own childhood. The first time down a waterslide, throwing a baseball, riding a bike. I can’t tell if it’s me or him who is more excited about these early life milestones because I feel like a kid again myself.
As a songwriter and musician, I always keep in mind that my songs and music are (hopefully) going to outlive me. Fatherhood raises the bar even higher because I feel the pressure of the future. It makes me want to be positive and honest and write in the way that I would want to speak from the future.
I wish I would have known how much happiness and joy it would bring. Before my son I was scared to death of having kids. Now I know it’s the biggest source of joy I’ll ever have.
What surprised me about fatherhood was how smart kids are these days and how much energy they have. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
It hasn’t really changed the way I make music – I always try and make positive music that I wouldnt mind my kids listening to or anybody else’s kids – but I definitely try to keep kids lit with my brand of music the Dae Dae way!
I wish I would have known how much they eat! They’re always eating! That’s why I say I got a family to feed. Shout out to all the fathers out there in their kid’s life, ya dig?
What surprised me most about fatherhood was the fact that I’ve probably learned more from my kids than they have learned from me. They have taught me so much about the true meaning of unconditional love. They have taught me so much about sacrifice and just the length I’m willing to go to make sure they are safe and sound. I can go on and on, I Just didn’t think two little people at such a young age would teach me so much about myself.
Being a father has definitely changed the way I make music in the sense of working harder and being consistent and also knowing that music is how I am able to provide for them. I’m still raw and I still use bad language, but it’s crazy because my more positive and PG songs that they should know are their favorite.
Before I became a father, I wish would’ve known how fast time flew. It really didn’t hit me how fast time goes by until I had kids. It seems that I was just a kid yesterday.
My life is insignificant compared to my kids. Everything I used to do for myself is now all for them and to make it better for them. I wish I knew how amazing being a father was. It is truly the best thing in my life—being a rad dad and husband.
Scott Kirkland, Crystal Method
I’m always surprised when my kids remind me of myself when I was their age. Of course there’s the physical imprint that’s there but it’s the emotional similarities that always surprise me. I’m not sure if it’s my kids or the fact that my own personal musical interest evolves more than anything. But I’m always happy when we find that song that my whole family enjoys; that brings a smile to my face. Sometimes I wish we would have started a family earlier but then I think if I would have then my kids could be grown up or driving, that’s a scary thought.
Paul Meany, Mutemath
I never knew how much primal joy would be attached to it. It’s a trade off: Lose sleep for joy. Everything I do is full of more meaning now. And I’m not speaking about lyrics. The notes, the attitude, the experience of what music means just feels more enriched. Plus, I care now if my daughter likes what I’m working on. She’s hard to please. There’s nothing to worry about. Having a daughter is by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Nick Hexum, 311
I’ve learned two things since being a father. One, how comparatively pointless my life was before kids. Two, that I would find myself with no free time at all, but be happy about it. Fatherhood opened up a whole new depth of feelings to draw from. I feel like I see the big picture more now. I’ve been wanting to write earnestly about the family experience, but never thought of a cool way to bring it up. I think on 311’s new song “Inside Our Home” we found a way to broach the subject that people might really relate to. Save up your money first because kids are expensive!
311’s new album Mosaic is out June 23.
Ishmael Butler, Shabazz Palaces
Fatherhood surprised me with how natural of a process it is. Ever since I became a dad, my music became more concise and self-centered. I just wish I’d known how to double dutch jump rope before becoming a dad.