Over the course of a line-up change or two, Ideal Fathers, playing its final show tonight at the Larimer Lounge, developed a sound and a stage presence that probably would have otherwise been lumped in with "dance punk," but there was always an agenda in the band to inspire people to wake up physically and emotionally and intellectually and live a vital life rather than just be passive listeners.
For anyone open to such a message, the members of Ideal Fathers gave it their all every single show even in the face of disheartening situations. As will be seen below, from fairly modest beginnings with no pretentious foundations, Ideal Fathers happened organically among friends and peers who seemed to share a vision of having a band that could be exciting making music that stood for more than providing a party soundtrack.
We spoke with bassist Mike King, drummer Mike Perfetti and guitarist Adam Rojo at Perfetti's home in southwest Denver. Later we caught up to singer Jesse Hunsaker by phone where he spoke with us from his new home in Iowa. After many years living in Denver, Hunsaker finally moved to be with his fiancée and lead a more tranquil, personally rewarding life. He will, however, be in town for this final show, which promises to be a barn burner. Here is what the guys had to say about the origins of the band and some of its trials and tribulations.
Mike King, Mike Perfetti and Adam Rojo
Westword: When did the band start?
Adam Rojo: February 2006. It was originally me, Paddy McDonough and Vinnie Wray. Vinnie was originally singing. He was the bassist and singer in a band called Pukemop. Paddy sang and played guitar in a band called Codename: Trixie. The drummer from Codename: Trixie and Vinnie and I all went to the same high school many years ago. So we were all friends at Northglenn High School. Kip Winger, I think, went to that high school [actually, he went to Golden High School - ed.].
After those projects were kind of winding down, Vinny and Paddy wanted to dink around with something else and just do the two-piece thing. Then they decided, "Hey, our buddy Adam plays guitar, let's see if he wants to be in a band." This is my first band. [When I was starting out] I had a cheap, little digital practice amp and an 80s shredder guitar, an Ibanez RG470.
Mike King, what band were you in before Ideal Fathers?
Mike King: I played in a band called Ginkins with David McGhee. We played a lot of shows with Pukemop and Codename: Trixie.
Did you play out as a trio?
Adam: No, maybe a month in we had four or five songs started and Vinnie was like, "I wanna play bass this way but I can't sing and play at that level at the same time." I'd known Jesse Hunsaker since college. We had talked about starting a band and toyed with the idea but it never came together until this. He came in and worked pretty well for practicing in a basement. A couple of months later we played a party at Paddy's folks' house. Things went alright.
Was it a different sound than you had later on?
Adam: The early stuff was more kind of generic punk. Reminiscent of Buzzcock, poppy punk. I never saw Ginkins play but I knew Mike from hanging out with Chris, the drummer from Codename: Trixie. There was a time when we all lived down in Denver and we were practicing in Mike's and Chris's basement because they were roommates. It was at Krameria and Martin Luther King. That was about the time that Vinny got wounded.
He was bar backing and dropped a pint glass and tried to catch it. It hit the table and shattered so he just grabbed a fistful of glass and it sliced the tendon in his thumb about ninety-percent. So he lost most of the feeling in his pinky and one of the sides of his finger, he couldn't feel anything. He had a lot of fatigue afterward. He's played instruments since then but he needed a long time off so that's when Mike joined the band.
Was it still more of a punk thing at that point?
Adam: Yeah, we were starting to implement a lot of other stuff. I was really getting into shoegaze and a lot of noisier things at that point. Then we started writing pretty soon after Mike joined.
Mike K: "Failing at Friendly is Not an Option" was the first song we wrote together.
Adam: Yeah, that and "Not an Exit Strategy" came together pretty quickly after that.
When did your more extensive use of delay on the guitar start?
Adam: That started around the time we were recording the first EP. Writing "Failing at Friendly" I was dabbling with that. I had some built-in effects in that practice amp I had. Toying around in my bedroom I had one little delay patch that I used and it was totally set up for a different tempo but it worked well as a subdivision in this band and I based everything around that 330 millisecond delay. I started taking things seriously and got rid of the guitar and got my first Jaguar and my first tube amp. Then I replaced the delay and chorus on my cheap amp. You can blame my girlfriend Amber for Yoko-ing the band and buying me my first fuzz pedal--a Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun. A Place to Bury Strangers is my favorite band of all time and she said, "Here, he's a birthday present." Two years later I've spent god knows how much money on stupid stuff.
Mike Perfetti: I think there was a period of six months where he brought a new pedal to practice.
Adam: That really hasn't stopped, I just stopped bringing them to practice because there's no more room on my pedal board for them. I have a lot of stuff but the Ideal Fathers' actual sound and what I use in the band is that Death By Audio Fuzz into the amp run dirty, a couple of delays and a chorus pedal. I had a Line 6 DL-4 and a Boss DD6. I just traded the DL-4 out and got an M-9. Which I basically just use as a giant DL-4 but I have a lot more presets I can save and tweak delays and customize them to the songs. DD6 I just have for the step on it [Warp] feature.
What was your first release?
Adam: A Complete Waste of Time Travel was our first EP and we released that in 2008?
Mike K: 2009. Because we recorded it in October then Paddy quit the next month.
Adam: He quit to get married and stuff. Which is funny because we had talked about it and he said, "Eh, it's a ways off." A month later we got the text-message break-up.
Did you have another drummer in between Paddy and Mike Perfetti?
Adam: We auditioned a few people. All of which were terrible. We auditioned this one kid, he was really nice and he was a super cool kid but he just did not have any discernible talent on the drums for what we needed. Probably solid for just some simple rock beat type stuff. At that point, right before Paddy quit, that was the fastest we were playing those songs. Regularly not dipping below 190 BPM, constantly banging them out. It was really weird having to audition people because most people don't play that four-on-the-floor dance-y beat that fast.
Mike P: I didn't know when I joined and I had to practice my ass off.
Adam: There was one guy we auditioned that kind of could be he was a total maniac and probably a meth head. Seemed like a nice guy but he was really weird and jittery and animated. He made his girlfriend hang outside our practice space off of Colfax and Fillmore--Electronica.
Mike P: That place made me sick every time I went down there.
Adam: They're cleaning it out, finally. So yeah, he was crazy. Then Perfetti auditioned and it was just like, "Okay, we play this stuff pretty fast." But playing it slow he was kind of able to play it. So we said, "Alright, this'll work. Fuck it. We'll get better or we won't. We'll see how it goes. At least he's a cool guy." And he's still a cool guy.
Mike King, are you from Denver?
Mike K: I grew up in the Holly Hills area.
How did you get into playing bass.
Mike K: When I was a teenager, my brother started playing guitar. I wanted to play guitar too but I didn't want to copy him so I got a bass. I started out with a cheap Yamaha starter thing. The first one I bought for myself was an Ibanez Musician. It was stolen in June and I found it on eBay three weeks ago and the cops did their thing and now I have it back. Pretty happy about it.
Adam: Good job, Denver Police. You're one for fifty. [laughs]
Mike K: Ginkins was just pop punk kind of stuff. I'd been listening to ska a lot when I was just starting out in that band. I kind of learned to play bass listening to Five Iron Frenzy and groups like that. So I just took that into more punk territory when David showed me more of that kind of stuff.
Adam: Your style, the music is definitely different. But the way you play has always stayed the same. You're more of a lead player than the guitarists in your bands. That's kind of the way I like to treat it. I know Mike will always play a bunch of stuff and I can just hang out and play some chords or make feedback with the fuzz pedal and he'll take care of making things sound like music.
Mike K: I feel like I have more of a melodic sense than a rhythmic sense and that may not be the best thing for a bassist. The what I do with this band came after watching how Vinnie played. Because he kind of blew me away with the way he was playing bass, especially after Pukemop. Which was really just fast and simple. Most of the early songs, three of the four on the first EP, were his bass lines. After Paddy quit, you, Mike Perfetti, ended up joining the band but I'd seen you in bands before, I think.
Mike P: I've been in way too many bands.
Adam: He's like the first band veteran to be in this band. He's the first proper Denver musician.
Mike P: That's the thing that surprised me is that this is your first band, Adam, and this is your second band, Mike. I grew up in Carey, Illinois. I was in bands there and I was in a couple of bands in Durango because I lived there for a while. There was this band called Patchwork, this hippie funk kind of stuff. I also played guitar and sang. But I've probably been in ten bands alone.
So what brought you from Carey, Illinois?
Mike P: I was going to go to music school. I moved to Fort Collins at first with the intention of going to music school there. I hated it. I hated Fort Collins so I bailed. And I went to Durango, because those were the two schools I'd visited. Then I went to school for a semester as a music major in Durango and hated that as well.
What did you hate about it?
Mike P: It just seemed like you had to learn tons of theory and get everything that's been done already driven into your head before you can start expressing yourself. Then I tried to figure out what I would do with a music degree. I think the deciding factor was when they made me join the marching band. And I was like, "Alright dude, I think I'd rather just move to Denver and rock."
So I spent a semester doing that and quit and just cooked and played in whatever band I could get into because there weren't a whole lot of musicians there and there were only two bars you could really play at. The San Juan Room and The Summit at the time. I mean there were probably other places you could play but we ended up doing a lot of trailer park parties, which was kind of fun.
What was it like playing those trailer park parties?
Mike P: It was awesome! I have pictures downstairs in a bag. I'll dig them out sometime. One of the bands that played down there was the worst punk band ever, dude. I'll even dig up some of those tapes if you want to hear them. They had to bribe me to join this band. This kid named Deco, who was an obnoxious asshole, he had is name tattooed on his arm, lived with the rest of the band up in this trailer park kind of up by Lemon Reservoir. I worked with the guy and he was just like, "You play drums dude? You gotta play with us!" But I didn't really want to play in the band. It was called Two Dollar Bill. What was the Limp Bizkit record? Three Dollar [Bill, Yall$]? Yeah, I wouldn't want to get the two confused.
It was horrible but at least I was playing drums. We played a battle of the bands at the college and we played a couple of these trailer parties. They got the kiddie pool filled with mud and had chicks mud wrestling in there. A bunch of kegs and obviously there was tons of drugs. It was a bad scene. But we had a good time with it.
There was a band called The Neighbors that we played with and I think they were a big deal down there. The Thirteens also played. We played a couple of shows with them. That whole Brothers Boards crew, we played with them down there. That was pretty much it. There was a hippie funk band down there. I don't know what it is about mountain towns that just lends itself to be in that hippie funk...god, it was horrible. That's pretty much what forced me to move here. I wanted the mountain life and to be able to play music as well.
What was the name of your hippie funk band and did you play some of those trailer park parties?
Mike P: I don't remember what it was called. And we didn't play a trailer park but it was a house that had sort of the same atmosphere. It was kind of run down and it was an A-frame with an outdoor cantina built on to the back of it. It was kind of a good time. Make potato guns and crawfish boils and shit. We'd shoot pick-up trucks with potato guns and play music out there.
These are pick-up trucks that are no longer running?
Mike P: No, they were running. People had driven them there. [laughs] There was one in particular, it was a little Toyota beat to piss and we beat it up more with the potato gun. My buddy Tony lived up on the mountain. He lives up in Fort Collins now and he attends some of our events and gets out of hand, always.
What part of town did you move to when you moved to Denver?
Mike P: I moved to Wheatridge. I got a job cooking within forty-eight hours of being here. I guess when I lived in Fort Collins, one of my high school buddies lived down here and we were starting a ska band at the time. Then before we got to play any shows I moved. When I came back, he was in a band called Lesser Prophets. Sort of a ska band. He quit that band to start a punk band with me called Save the Cheerleaders. Me and this kid Adam Springer who ended up later being my partner in Johnny Knows Karate. After that, that band became Planet 9. I just found out that Justin, our bass player at the time, is playing in Porlolo now.
Mike K: Justin Croft?
Mike P: That sounds right. I ran into him at the UMS and hadn't seen him in like ten years.
What kind of band was Save the Cheerleaders?
Mike P: It was pop punk, dude. Real Blink-182-esque. We played Cricket on the Hill. We played a couple of Bluebird shows but I feel like back then it was easier for a local band to play the Bluebird. It was interesting because we got booked with a lot of metal bands. I feel like that back then if you were in a punk band and no one knew who you were, punk and metal were in the same category. We played the Tavern too and we did the Herman's Hideaway new talent night. We used to play the Back Alley Lounge in Fort Collins, the Aggie, the Starlight a lot. We played at Benny's in Colorado Springs and the Colorado Music Hall. They had some local punk thing there and it was amazing because they had more bands than people.
Patrick had booked a show at the Bluebird opening for the Specials. We got blacklisted from there. The guy who booked the Bluebird then talked to Patrick through email and whatever and assumed Lesser Prophets was playing the show and he'd failed to mention or missed the whole detail that there was a new band called Save the Cheerleaders. We showed up and the sound guys are like, "Are you Lesser Prophets?" There was a big ordeal and Patrick ended up blowing up at these guys and they asked us to leave. I already had my drums set up and they said, "You can't play the show if you're not Lesser Prophets." So I had to break down my shit and we had to leave. Because he had made such a big deal about it, they didn't want to play with the kid anymore.
After that break up, that's when I joined Third Straight Loss. We recorded twenty-two songs and the band broke up before we finished a record. They did an EP before I joined. I have a list of bands where I, as a drummer, I replaced the existing drummer who quit or got kicked out. I think there's only been one band in Denver that I've been in that I actually started from scratch as a drummer and that was Save the Cheerleaders. I guess I kind of kickstarted Everything Absent or Distorted for about five months.
You were in Everything Absent or Distorted?! Mike Perfetti has been in every band in Denver!
Mike P: With David Crowe. He left a month after I quit. I was in Johnny Knows Karate at the time and it was recording and they wanted to do some stuff. Johnny Knows Karate started because when Save the Cheerleaders broke up, Adam and I moved into an apartment on 470 and Bowles. Gated community right by the high school. So my drums were in the closet for a while and he couldn't play bass, he's a really awesome bass player. So we just had these acoustics laying around and we'd just sit around and watch Smallville episodes and during the commercials we would play songs. Before we knew it we had a handful of them.
We weren't thinking of starting a band. We would play these songs we wrote for our friends. They said, "Dude, these songs are good, you should get a band name." We got the name from watching Karate Kid. Because we were recording a full-length, and those guys wanted to get serious, and there were frickin' eight dudes in the band I thought, "I don't know if I want to deal with this." I played two or three shows with those guys. That scared me because I'd had so many issues with bands I'd been in before. Even with Johnny Knows Karate trying to get Adam to do shit. Trying to get eight, maybe seven, dudes to do shit was scary. There was major drama going on during practice. The moodiness of these guys, the ups and downs sometimes, is unbearable. But I'm like that too.
So was there an overlap between that and Ideal Fathers?
Mike P: After I moved into this house, I got wrapped in three bands, I was in Anti-Glacier Movement, Johnny Knows Karate and Raleigh. Then Raleigh kicked me out and asked me to come back. It was a mutual thing and they wanted to give it a go as a three piece and they did their first EP. Crowe wanted a keyboard player but that's now how he sold it to me to get me to come back. So I found myself playing keyboard and guitar and I was just over the keyboard. It was me, Crowe, Bryon Parker and Dave Sprague, who's the drummer in Accordion Crimes now. That band broke up in the most obnoxious way. We did a show in Evergroove studio in Evergreen. It was raining. There was already some tension between me and Crowe over money and shit, which is dumb. I didn't want to play keyboard anymore in Raleigh and I bought a fuzz pedal because we only used one tone on his keyboard and I only played it for two minutes and thirty seconds throughout the whole set. I thought that was pointless and tried to learn those parts on the guitar and mimic the noise we were making.
We went up to play that show in Evergreen and he drives us all up there. He and Parker get in this tortilla/been chucking fight inside the studio. I see this beer come launching over people, bounce off some drums and hit the wall and it's all over the cymbals. I turn around and Crowe had beer all over his vest and it's all over this vest. And I fuckin' lost it. "What the hell are you guys doing?" It's an expensive studio and we're dousing expensive equipment with beer, Parker helped me. I think Sprague caught a ride home with his wife at this point. There was all this shit talking, like an argument. Todd Spriggs instigated the whole thing because he was making fun of David Crowe for being in an all girl band, which was just hysterical. That band was Au Jus. So I was off in the other room laughing. He took it really personal and I think that's how the tension started.
Todd was totally kidding, of course.
Mike P: Yeah. While Parker and I were cleaning up, the guy comes in and he was pissed but I told him we would take care of it and clean it. We were all drunk. I go to find Crowe and he was gone. He got in his car and drove home. So we had to give one of the dudes from all capitals some money to drive us to Sprague's house from Evergreen. The next day we wake up, those were the Myspace days, he had taken all our names off the Myspace page. That's how he kicked all three of us out. Then he started playing the same songs with other people. So that band broke up and then Anti-Glacier broke up because Jesse Nesbitt didn't want to play music anymore.
That bastard. Anyway, I like Jesse and whenever I see him I ask him when he's going to release that stuff.
Mike P: I give him shit every once in a while too because he just gave up. He just wanted to concentrate on being a dad and having a girlfriend. He actually sold all his gear except for maybe an acoustic. In fact, he still has some gear here. He just said, "Whatever I didn't pick up is yours." Johnny Knows Karate finished a full length and never even released it. We played one show after finishing that record and Adam got a job in the mountains so we just kind of quit.
So I went from having three bands to zero bands. Then Parker came over one day and it was months into the winter and I was just drinking too much and he was like, "We've got to find you a band." He went on Craigslist and finds these guys and had the computer hooked up to the stereo and started rocking Ideal Fathers and I go, "Okay, dude, that sounds cool. I'll join that band." So if it wasn't for Parker I never would have joined this band or even tried out.
Your new EP is called Retail Eyes? What's the significance of that?
Adam: It's from the same root source as "Failing At Friendly Is Not an Option." Jesse and I used to work together as typesetters and we do a lot of daily communications and forms for the restaurant and hotel industry. One of our clients is a really large company had a list of things you must accomplish during the day. One of them was "Failing At Friendly Is Not An Option." There was another mention of using your "retail eyes" which involved checking out shoplifters and various miscreants robbing from the poor, defenseless corporation of course.
We thought the title was kind of strange and a lot of the lyrics on this EP are based on a retelling of the original post-punk movement. There's more post-millennial dread now. There's this weird, "What the fuck do we do?" We were supposed to have this great new world and shit that was supposed to come for us after the twenty-first century and it wasn't going to be as bad as the doomsayers said.
The lyrics are all about economics, social media and how it's all kind of further even than it was in creating a sense of community in the world, not just America. You used to go bowling with your neighbors. Then you didn't do that and now you don't even leave the house to hang out with your friends because they're on your fucking computer. And there's stuff about mortgages and other shit Lion Sized would sing about to. "Werewolf NYC" is about Wall Street in a big way. "Associated Press" is kind of about Facebook and "friends."
You were in a band before Ideal Fathers?
Jesse: Yeah, I was in a pop punk band called Lucky Bastard. We only played one show in a suburb damned near Boulder. Broomfield or some shit like that. I played with just some guys I went to art school with called Dread Pirate Roberts. It was bad. We played Rancid covers. I look back now and I feel totally ashamed that I was a part of that band. It was some barbecue joint. It was just all bad news.
Before I moved to Denver I was into terrible music. My favorite band of all time, before I discovered what real music was was Goldfinger. I lived in a small town and the only thing I had telling me any band was any good was radio. I lived in Twin Falls, Idaho. Ironically, Built to Spill comes from Twin Falls and so did that old band Treepeople. I didn't listen to them until I moved to Denver. I went to Denver for art school at the Art Institute of Colorado where I studied Media Arts and Animation. 3D animation, 2D, Flash, character design and stuff like that. I did all the artwork for the record.
How did you meet the guys in Ideal Fathers?
Jesse: I met Adam through a mutual friend, Matt Campbell. Matt went to the Art Institute and so did Adam. We started hanging out and he said he was starting a band with some friends of his. Originally Vinnie was going to do all of the singing but because of the complicated bass lines Vinnie couldn't do both at the same time. They asked me if I wanted to be a part of it.
Adam said the band was more punk than it was later on. Would you agree with that?
Jesse: Definitely. I would say the earlier stuff was more like The Dead Kennedys. One of Vinnie's main influence was that band. I'd say it was more in that vein of punk and it started evolving into its own entity.
My whole bottom line for the band was about like how Denver's music scene was really melancholy to me. It's just either like you're in an acoustic band or a soft pop band or there's like metal, you know? There's some really great metal bands like Black Lamb and Cephalic Carnage and all that stuff. But there was nothing in between. There was no angsty, Big Black-ish, angular stuff. This was a few years ago. Now there's more to choose from as far as that goes. But it seemed like every local show I would go to would be this music that was literally trying to put me to sleep. And people just seemed so unenthused about it and I don't understand why they showed up to the shows unless they were willing to commit themselves to movement.
It's not like they did that at our shows either but at least there I do. But that's my thing to and not just be the bands standing there, play their stuff and "Goodnight" and leave the stage. I always wanted, at the very least, be into our music and to let people know that we're doing it because we like to do it. It's the kind of music we like and if they choose to enjoy it, it's great. And if they don't, they don't have to.
So you lead by example in a big way?
Jesse: I tried to. It's hard because I think people in today's society don't want to be seen as uncool. They're afraid of being judged. I'm guilty too. I go to shows and I'll just stand there and I'll like the music but I won't really get into it.
It seems that your songs and albums have had interesting titles. Some of that comes out of corporatespeak. Like "Failing At Friendly Is Not An Option." Is that true to some extent?
Jesse: Adam and I worked together for quite a few years at a place that did employee handbooks for [a large fast food chain]. One of their mottos was "We'll be fast. We'll be clean. And failing at friendly is not an option." We always thought that was hilarious. We incorporated that into what we do. When I wrote the lyrics to that song I had just watched Tetsuo: The Iron Man. I was kind of enthralled with the idea of a corporate businessman literally turning into a machine and going berserk. It was this really interesting imagery that I tried to incorporate into the song.
"Tokyo Gore Police," we definitely got the title from the movie but the lyrics I'd had for a while and it was about genocide, "there's no secrets, there's no sound." Genocide committed over the years in the name of God, country, religion, politics. I was talking about that and dead souls essentially screaming in unison.
The cover art for the new EP is quite striking and seems very political. Is that what you were going for?
Jesse: Yeah. But I don't like bands that try to shovel their right or left wing propaganda down your throat. At a show we've never laid our political beliefs on the line. There are things in America that are fundamentally wrong and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. How we treat minorities and gay rights and that kind of stuff. And war, you know. I don't understand how anyone can be a god fearing Christian but believe in mass genocide. It doesn't make any freaking sense to me. When Moses came down from the mountain, one of the things written on one of those rocks was "Thou Shalt Not Kill." There wasn't an asterisk next to it with a footnote that says, "As long as they're white and Christian."
And some people make exceptions in that realm too.
Jesse: Yeah. There's such a class gap between the filthy rich and the dirt poor and they have people working so hard to make sure that the richest people in America get as many tax breaks as possible and get as much money back as they can, you know. I read an article that said something along the line that the richest man America hasn't paid taxes in ten years because he writes off so many things. Even though he is paying taxes, he gets all he paid into it back.
Did that story inspire any of your songs?
Jesse: One of the songs is called "Werewolves in NYC" and it talks about the recent imagery of the bull market being brought down by the wolves, the people in society that feed off the poor. "Lies and Statistics" has a few different meanings. Like the printed word. Like the Bible and contracts like for a house you can't afford anymore because the economy has been in the toilet. People that take the Bible literally for everything it says but there are exceptions. Like the part about how man that lies down with another man shall be put to death but it also says, "He who lives without sin, cast the first stone." There are contradictions, you know.
Killing someone else, even if they're a murderer is fundamentally wrong, you know? There's gotta be different ways that we as a society can deal with our problems. There are European countries that have a better understanding and government. Their police don't carry guns. The people are also more motivated too. If things are wrong in Europe they march, they riot.
Or in France, they shut the country down.
Jesse: Exactly. They really stand up for their beliefs and they don't want to be pushed around by the government or commerce. We're not like that. We sit idly by and let them put on the shackles.
All the imagery in those two songs, "Lies and Statistics" and "Werewolves in NYC" are more political. The very last song on the record is kind of about my childhood. I grew up in a volatile household. It was the ideal June Cleaver type shit. I didn't have a mom that baked cakes for her girls. I see how it affected my siblings emotionally and physically. Most of them were wounded and the way they behave, you can see a direct correlation to their upbringing. As a future husband and father, I'm trying my best not to repeat the sins of my parents and what they did to me.
That relates to the name of the band in some way?
Jesse: Yeah, the name was actually Vinnie's idea because he was taking a sociology class or something and they were having a discussion on "ideal fathers" and he thought that was a great name. Paddy and Vinnie had a strong upbringing in their families. They really did have great parents and ideal fathers. Adam and I? Not so much. Adam was raised by his grandmother and I was raised by my mom. There was no really dad in the picture. So it was kind of a double entendre. Some of us did and some of us didn't have a strong male presence in our lives.
What are you strongest memories being in this band?
Jesse: I'll give you the best and the worst. We were playing the Underground Music Festival a couple of years ago. It was raining like a motherfucker. There were tons of people in there. We were getting started and Adam played one cord and one of the tubes on his amp exploded. We were totally screwed and we asked over the P.A. if anyone out there had an amp we could borrow. And hope they trust you're not going to break it like you broke yours.
It took probably ten minutes awkwardly sitting there and someone brought us a guitar amp. When we were ready to go we were so frustrated and we put that into the music and everyone started moving. I'd never seen anything like that before. Waves of people were jumping up and down and they were really getting into it. We through caution to the wind because we were so frustrated how things started out that it really came through the music. Because of the rain throngs of people were inside because they didn't want to get wet. So it kind of worked in our favor because there was a large throng of people to see us. It was amazing. You could feel the energy and it felt really fucking good. I'd give anything to get that feeling again but that was the only show where we really had something like that.
Wishful thinking. I thought for sure after that because it went so well, it felt so good and tons of people came up to us telling us how great it was. We thought maybe more people will show up to shows. Maybe some did but we never had a turnout like that again. That sucks because even tough as an artist, you're making the art for you, without an audience, how will you ever feel gratification? If you make a picture and hang it on a wall and no one sees it...some people are content with that because they don't care.
But for me, I want people to appreciate it. I want people to look at it and say, "I understand you guys worked hard and you cared and this was your blood and sweat and tears." We didn't make tons of world, we don't have jets, we don't fly around the world. We're just guys like everyone else and we have regular jobs. We do this for us but we do this for you too. And gratification from doing it makes it worthwhile. There were probably more bad shows than good. But the worst was when we played Red Rocks. It was called "Punk Rocks." They had us on a second stage on top by the concessions. I thought, "This is a great place to be because people are going to have to get their food and beer and there's a good amount of people there." We played our music to people there to see Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If you classify the Mighty Mighty Bosstones as punk you might want to look at yourself and say, "I have a problem." My grandma listens to Mighty Mighy Bosstones. That's not punk, man. But you have these kids and adults that are obviously sheltered and weren't really willing to listen to anything they heard on the Clueless soundtrack.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Anyway, on the whole line-up, the only band I wanted to see was Circle Jerks with Keith Morris. But he damned near died because he was sick and they weren't there so I was super depressed. People there to see the Circle Jerks would surely understand what we were trying to do. We played our music and people were just staring at us. But there was one old, gutter punk guy with three teeth. He was stomping around, jumping up and down and trying to get people to get involved. It was good to see at least one person enjoyed it but also sad to see that just this one guy, older, had been part of the whole 80s punk thing. The radio wasn't playing Black Flag unless it was a left of the dial station. "Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" and Milli Vanilli and that type of shit. Basically the same conundrum as far as popular music goes.
So we finished our set and he walks up to the stage and pounds on it saying, "One more, man, one more. Fuckin' destroy me, man, one more." I said, "Dude, we would totally play one more right now but we can't because we're getting hounded to get off stage." It's times like that you get done playing and for some people it's energizing because they're like, "You know what? Fuck this. They don't understand it. Fuck 'em." I'm the opposite of that. I'm like, "Well, shit, why am I doing this?" I don't feel like our music was that far outside the box. It's not Lionel Richie or anything, but geez. Times like that that made me wonder why I'm putting all my time and energy into it and money into doing this and not having anyone appreciate it. If it wasn't for all the positive reviews we got from you, Jason Heller and Cory Casciato and other critics and other people in bands, we probably would have quit a long time ago.