A few weeks ago, Dad Jokes played a show in the parking lot of a local grocery co-op.
After the show, a friend of mine from my acoustic open-mic days greeted me. “Hey, nice job! I like the new sound!”
“New sound.” It seemed to insinuate that this was what I was doing now. I chuckled at the idea that my jokey ska punk band could function as my sole creative outlet; that everything I had to say could be said using upstrokes, horns, and power chords.
That feeling is not unusual among the members of Dad Jokes. Of the eight of us on the roster, six of us play in other bands. In total, those six members have over a dozen other projects—many of them overlap. Bret plays in SPACESHIPS with me and in the cowboy punk outfit Lune with Patrick. The Scotts both play in the folk/funk supergroup Tumbleweed Jumpers together.
And I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t think any of us could be satisfied only playing in a single band.
Because here’s the thing. The human experience is vast. Our moods change from day to day. Our tastes are diverse and contradictory. Just yesterday, my turntable saw discs from the Melvins, Bon Iver, and Solange.
But that vastness doesn’t just count with the media I consume. It’s even more applicable for what I create.
Sometimes, I want to write long, heavy space rock about the Book of Revelation and just crush myself in sound. Other times, I want to goof around with my pals whilst recounting the joys of late-90s professional wrestling. And sometimes, I just want to layer hypnotic loops over eachother while I sing about that time I almost died.
Those experiences can easily coexist within the inward expanse of my mind. But side by side on the same setlist? It makes a little less sense.
Not only that, but one of my favorite parts of making music is collaborating with the other players. No two musicians play the same way. Everyone has their own unique tendencies when composing. And when you bring the same riff to two different sets of musicians, you’ll and up with two different songs. Heck, Dad Jokes horn lines often feel entirely different depending on which horn players are at practice when we write the song.
I know way too many great musicians that I want to collaborate with to fit them in a single band. And as ADD a I am, I crave the variety that I get with playing different groups of people.
So thanks, friend. I’m glad you enjoyed Dad Jokes. Stick around for everything else that I’m writing these days.