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Drunk Dad interview with Dane Herrin and Jose Delara

Look over at the turntable, it’s loud, it’s noise, it’s punk, it’s metal; no it’s Drunk Dad.  Pumping out some of the most hardcore and blown out sounds from Portland, and that’s no easy feat folks, Drunk Dad is blazing a trail in an alcoholic haze to their rightful place in history.  With a cassette EP, appearance on a killer local comp and their debut full-length album Morbid Reality Drunk Dad is as hard working as they are hardcore.  Combining all of the harder and more interesting parts of the classical Seattle movement like Mudhoney, Drunk Dad succeeds where so many other self-proclaimed hardcore bands fail.  They’re actually capable of composing a song.  The music manages to convalesce into some seriously sick sounds, with mangled guitar solos and a spasmodic, sporadic rhythm section as tight as a tourniquet and as loose as a two-dollar trick as the same time.  Drunk Dad would sound as at home in the mid-90’s underground scene, that sprung up so many years ago from the success of bands such as Nirvana, as they do in the chocked digital scene of today.  All name dropping aside if you’re into metal, shred, noise, thrash, punk or hardcore Drunk Dad is going to blow your mind!  If you haven’t seen a live show where these guys really shine make sure and check out the Bandcamp link below to see what you’ve been missing out on and where you can score copies of some seriously sickening music.
Warning:  The following interview may cause severe inebriation, altered states and a massive beer buzz.  Do not drink hard liquor with this one or you might end up with blood poisoning!
Listen while you read:

What is your current lineup?  Is this your original lineup or have you gone through some personnel changes since the band started?

Dane:  Our current lineup is Dane Herrin, Jose De Lara and Joseph Naylor.  The first members of this band were Emmett Riddells any myself.  We started playing songs together in our shared basement in about March of 2010.  We tried out a few different people until Adam Garcia started playing bass for us.  Jose was with us from the beginning.  He was the only one with a license, so he drove us to our first shows.  He recorded our first demos and after a couple of months, and a night of drugs, he joined our band as a full-time member. 

Jose:  I was originally their roadie/driver/recording engineer/best bud.  I remember the first time I heard them was when they practiced in my basement, it shook my entire house and pissed off my yuppie neighbors with a newborn baby.  Regardless of having to deal with the neighbors' complaints, they kinda blew me away.  After going on a short tour with them, Dane approached me about playing second guitar and I enthusiastically accepted.  Emmett parted ways with us in December 2011 and we reformed with Joseph in the spring of 2012.

Are any of you in any other bands?  Have you released any material with anyone else?  I love to play musical connect the dots, but I love cheating and getting the answers directly from the musicians rather than doing all the leg work myself, ha-ha!

Dane:  No fucking comment.  Joseph used to be in Stag Bitten which was an amazing band and he’s also currently in Mustaphamond who’re also amazing.

Jose:  I've been playing and touring with bands for quite some time now.  I’m not currently in any other bands, but I used to play in a punk band with Adam Garcia called Batmen.  I was also in a post-punk dance rock band Protokoll from Boston that was highly active in the mid-2000’s.  We released a few records and did some touring in the U.S. and Europe.

Were your households musical growing up?  Were any of your parents or relatives musicians or extremely interested in music?

Jose:  Not particularly.  My grandmother was musical.  She played the organ and had a great voice, but not really much else.  I had an uncle who introduced me to a bunch of heavy bands like Prong and Mercyful Fate, which had a huge influence on my upbringing.  He worked security for rock concerts in the early 90's, so he was always telling me stories about being backstage with people like King Diamond and Iron Maiden.

Dane:  I was always encouraged to be creative.  It wasn't always musical, but from a young age I would write and paint.

How were you first exposed to music?  When did you decide that you wanted to start making/writing your own material?

Jose:  I was exposed to music at a very young age, although not necessarily loud, heavy, rocking shit.  Growing up we listened to top 40 pop and nothing else.  I remember seeing The Ramones on Letterman when I was around eleven and thinking it was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen.  I soon started veering away from what my family members and friends were listening to.  Growing up as a Mexican kid in Southern California, it really wasn't typical to be into metal and punk.  While all the other kids I knew were listening to hip-hop and old school jams, which I actually still like a lot by the way, I was raging to bands like Sepultura, Butthole Surfers, Minor Threat, and Black Flag.  I think I pretty much knew right away from the second I heard The First Four Years by Black Flag that I was going to be in band for the rest of my life.

Dane:  The first song I learned the lyrics to was Shot Through The Heart by Bon Jovi.  I was four.  In grade school I worshiped Aerosmith and AC/DC.  It was fifth grade when I came across a CD of Confusion is Sex by Sonic Youth and from there learned about more no wave and punk bands.  I grew up in Washington, so I had a huge boner for Mudhoney and The Melvins and Nirvana, but it was always the more aggressive and noisy elements of those bands that got me off.  Mostly, I've always tried to look at music as an exploration of artistry and emotion, and have tried to keep following the extreme elements down the rabbit hole. 

Where are you originally from?

Jose:  I'm from outside of San Diego, California.   Joseph is originally from Idaho.

Dane:  I'm from Eastern Washington.  Total small town agricultural community outside of the Tri-Cities.

Where’s the band at now?

Jose:  Currently residing in Portland, Oregon.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at now?

Jose:  I heard someone recently say it is one of the more diverse, active, and interesting music scenes in the U.S., which I find hard to disagree with.  There’s a ton of great stuff going on, especially in the realm of weird, heavy, and experimental music.  Eolian Empire, the label that released our latest record, recently put out a compilation called Keep Our Heads which is a testament to this.

Dane:  Yep, Yep.  Buy that compilation right now.  Portland has always been a hub for really amazing and overlooked bands, but it seems that some of the hard work is being recognized now.  My favorite music has always come from the northwest.  Now it seems like people are paying attention not just too individual bands, but to the city, as a place to experience weird, heavy music.  And while you're at it, buy our record.  And Big Black Cloud's.  And Honduran's.  I can safely say that there isn't a label in this country right now that is putting out better music or is more prolific.

Are you very involved with the scene?

Dane:  I try not to be, but I still book shows and do DJ nights every once and a while.

Jose:  We are all part of this large, interrelated and tight knit family of friends who support each other and contribute to the music scene in various ways.  It's pretty easy to meet people here and there’s no shortage of creative people to find to work with.  I've been booking shows, recording, mixing and mastering local bands' music, and doing my own DJ nights at a few places around town since I moved here in 2008.

Has it played a large role in the history, sound or evolution of Drunk Dad?

Jose:  In some ways yes, we are definitely influenced by our environment.  As mentioned before there are a lot of different sounding heavier bands that all seem to share a common thread.  The band Rabbits are a major influence on us, I think, and have been one of my favorite bands in town for a while.  Some people in that band also run our label so it's been pretty cool to work with those guys and an honor to be a part of this rad thing they’re doing right now, capturing the essence of what this town is about when it comes to weirder and dirtier heavy bands.

Dane:  No one creates in a vacuum.  Regardless of where you are, you're going to be influenced by your environment.  A lot of the reason I started this band were because I wasn't hearing the music I wanted to hear in this city.  Seeing Rabbits definitely gave me the initial spark to start a band that was off the wall and completely different from what was going on.  When I saw them, it seemed like most bands in town were on some Nuggets compilation, Stax Records dick worship, but those dudes were playing some heavy fucking music. 

When and how did you all meet?

Dane: I knew Joseph because he played in a few of my favorite bands in town.  I met Adam outside of a feminist bookstore.  We shared a couple of beers and he showed me his KARP tattoo.  Through Adam, I met Jose and the rest is some dumbass history.

Jose:  Our old bands played together a bunch and somehow it all worked out that we ended up in each other’s bands.  Adam and I moved here together in 2008, we both used to live in Boston, and had played in other bands before Drunk Dad.

What led to the formation of Drunk Dad and when was that?  Is it true that Drunk Dad formed on Nikola Tesla’s birthday?  I’m a Tesla nut and just thought that was either the coolest thing I’d ever heard, or reversely some of the best bullshit ever!

Dane:  It's true!  Our first show was July 10th, which is Nicola Tesla's birthday!  No one ever catches that, Tesla rules.  Thomas Edison was a fucking hack.

Jose:  I always wonder how different the world would be if Tesla had seen all of his ideas come to fruition.  We might be playing music out of amps that wouldn't need to be plugged into the wall or something.

I’ve seen mention of several historical figures on your Facebook page alone, what’s with the preoccupation with historical inventors?

Dane:  I guess I just like innovators and science.  People who come up with different ways to think about old problems have always interested me.

What does the name Drunk Dad mean or refer to?

Dane:  Our friend Will Mayo came up with the name.  And all of our fathers are alcoholics.  It's just dark and humorous, so it fits our personalities pretty well.  At this point I couldn't think of calling ourselves anything different.

I freaking hate to label things.  To classify and categorize music just doesn’t seem right to me.  And besides that I’m awful at it!  How would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you yet?

Dane:  Fucked.

Jose:  The end result of an AmRep noise rock, 80's Midwest hardcore, and 90's sludge metal shitstorm.

There are some rather obvious influences that bubble to the surface but from there’s a lot more at work here beneath the surface, the more you listen the  more you can hear.  I’m curious who your major musical influences are?  What about the band as a whole rather than individuals?

Jose:  Much of my guitar playing is influenced by jazz guys more than metal guys.  Sonny Sharrock is one of my favorite guitarists of all time, particularly his work with Last Exit.  He was the quintessential fucked up heavy noise rocker of Jazz.  He was so rhythmic, experimental and urgently whackified about his playing.  Greg Ginn from Black Flag also had a lot of Jazz influence.  I always loved how he could adeptly make the wrong notes sound right and I strive for a similar approach to soloing.  Otherwise, I'd say Eyehategod and Cavity's early material shape a lot of our riffing.

Dane:  I recently learned that Jose, Joseph and I all were in Jazz band at some point in our lives.  I guess a lot of the theory and chord structure I learned were through hard bop and experimental jazz, but now I work very hard at ripping off Swans and Buzz*oven. 

Can we talk about Drunk Dad’s songwriting process a little bit?  Is there a lot of jamming and people tossing ideas off of each other that goes on or does an individual approach the rest of the band with a good bare bones jumping off point to work out with the rest of the group?

Dane:  One time I complained to a friend about having writer's block.  He asked me if I was drinking during band practice.  I said no.  He said, “Well, that's your problem”.  Our sound is the end result of four thirty-year-old men getting drunk in a room with loud instruments.

Jose:  Well we aren't called Sober Father, so there's that.  We all bring pieces to the table and then hash it out in the practice space.  Over time things might morph into other songs or get swallowed up as parts of another arrangement, but I think we work the best when everyone brings lots of ideas and we sort out what works the best.  And alcohol, lots of it.

Do you all enjoy recording?  Some musicians love to get in the studio and mess around.  Others feel like a rat trapped in a cage with no way to escape!  Do you do a lot of preparatory work before you enter the studio?

Dane:  I used to hate it but have become comfortable with the whole process.  Working with Jose has given me a really good perspective on the more tedious aspects of recording.  I also like that we do everything ourselves.  It's way more relaxing that way.

Jose:  So far we've only recorded our own music.  I've been in the studio a lot before in other projects and like being in that zone, but it is also nice to be on our own time and do things that we might not be comfortable doing on studio time.  Preparatory work involves knowing what we want to do and getting in and knocking it out.  We’re always discussing how we can throw interesting effects and noises into our recordings.

December of 2012 saw Stankhouse Records releasing your debut tape, Failhouse.  Can you tell us about that album?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

Jose:  It was a collection of older songs that we'd been playing out for a while and some newer material we had worked out when Joseph and I joined.  It was recorded in the fall of 2012 on a 4-track cassette machine by the band.  We wanted something really primitive and raw for the tape with our friends at Stankhouse.  It was recorded in our practice space with just a couple of Shure SM-57s and whatever we could find laying around the space and then some overdubs were added later.

Dane:  Joseph recorded the basic tracks on his Tascam 4- track and we did the vocals and guitar overdubs on Jose's computer.  It took a week in September 2012 and turned out really well for how quick we did it. 

What does the name Failhouse mean?  Is/was Failhouse a limited release?  Is that still in print?

Dane:  I live in a punk house on Failing Street in North Portland that has been around for over a decade.  I'm sure Travis, the head of Stankhouse, has a bunch of tapes left, so there's no real reason to reprint it yet.

Then you had the exclusive track S.O.U. for the Eolian Records compilation (We’ve Got To) Keep Our Heads.  Was that recorded specifically for the compilation or had it been around for a while?  Is that intended to remain exclusively a part of (We’ve Got To) Keep Our Heads or might it show up on a future release or single?

Dane:  Last winter we basically just holed up and recorded everything we had.  Morbid Reality seemed to flow and fit together pretty well, so we just used those four songs.  We had a bunch left over, so when Josh asked us to be on the comp, we gave him the song we thought would be the best fit.  We might use it for our next record, but who knows?   We sure don't.

Jose:  If we do end up using it, I think we will re-record it since that was supposed to be an exclusive track but I don't think we will since it also appears on Failhouse.

You also released your debut album Morbid Reality this year.  Tell me about that record.  Was the recording process much different from the session(s) for Failhouse?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

Dane:  Like I said earlier, we just did it ourselves over a month last winter.  We scratched together some equipment and set it up, Jose hit record and we played them shits out.

Jose:  We had a lot more time to sit with it and make it exactly what we wanted it to be.  We knew that the song Guts was gonna be full of all kinds of interesting production stuff.  It’s best heard on headphones to get that out of it.  The two other full-band songs were more straightforward, but still have a few little things thrown in there to make them interesting.  The drone track Ritual was something Dane and I put together using random synths, animal samples, guitar noise and feedback.  We wanted to do something more experimental that would be disturbing, catch people’s attention and stop them dead in their tracks.

I recently did an interview with Ttotals who released their debut 12” through Eolian Empire.  Is Morbid Reality a limited edition release?  How did you like working with them?  Do you plan to continue to work with them for future releases?  Has Drunk Dad released any other music we haven’t discussed?

Dane:  It's not super limited.  I guess it's in stock until it runs out.  So people should buy it, right now.  Do it.  I'm pretty sure Eolian is the only record label that would put up with our incessant dipshittery.  Also, Josh, dude seriously.  Let me borrow that money for that guitar.  It's really, really sweet and I'll pay you back as soon as I can.

Jose:  Haha, we have a great relationship with the guys who run the label.  So we can send them ridiculous requests like eighteen-hundred dollar loans for new guitars while out day drinking at the strip club and they won't get mad at us; except understandably, we probably can't tour with them because our alcoholic asshattery is a bit too much to handle.  Drunk Dad does have a demo CD-R that’s out there, but it was with old lineup and we don't really play any of that material anymore.

Dane:  That's because it kind of sucks.

Speaking of future releases, are there any plans for any other releases or follow-up full-length anytime soon?

Dane:  We're writing for it right now.  We have a lot of ideas.  Fellow Eolian artist and harsh noise musician REDNECK is going to be on it.  However it comes out, our next record is going to be a fucking ripper.

Jose:  We also have a split 7” with our friends in the band Red Liquid coming out at the end of this year.  That's two records and a tape within twelve months, I'm happy at the pace we’re at.  As for the release date of the full-length, we’re shooting for some time in the middle of next year.  We’ve got a lot more writing to do but Portland's crappy winter will force us indoors anyway.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to purchase your music at?

Dane:   Sethro will send it out when he gets the time.

Jose:  They are pretty on top of things as far as mail-order goes for the records.  You can also get digital copies on the Eolian Empire website via Bandcamp.

With recent international postage rate increases where is the best place for our international and overseas readers to purchase a copy?

What does Drunk Dad have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?  I know you are just getting off tour as I am working on these questions.

Dane:  We're done touring for this year.  We’ve got a few shows booked in Portland, but you kids in 
other cities will have to wait until next spring to see the Drunk Dad show.

Jose:  We’ve had two western state tours, a couple of jumps to the bay area and a northwest tour this year.  I think we’re going to focus on writing for the full-length now.

Do you all tour a lot?  Do you enjoy life on the road?

Dane:  Yes and yes.  I always say that touring is the most and least fun you can have at the same time.  After a couple of days, we become a single minded unit of Twisted Tea chugging, madmen.  It's glorious.

Jose:  I think we’re all pretty well adapted to the road and best of all, we get along well.  We recently came back from a western U.S. tour with Big Black Cloud who is also on Eolian.  That was a super fun time.

You have played with some seriously killer bands!  Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

Dane:  Some of my favorites have been Rabbits, of course, Elephant Rifle, and Diesto.  I can't wait for our upcoming show with Sioux, that's going to be killer.  Star Bar, August 31st.  Come to it Portland!

Jose:  Too many to name!

In your dreams.  Who are you on tour with?

Dane:  The Melvins, Weedeater and us set up and all play at the same time.  Everyone hates it, we make zero dollars and we go home failures.

Jose:  HAHAHA!  Sounds like more of nightmare to me, but yeah definitely playing with the Melvins, Weedeater, or Eyehategod.

I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to physical music.  There’s something about having a physical product to hold in my hands and look at.  Having liner notes to read, artwork to look at all serves for a more interactive, and for me, complete listening experience.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Dane:  Completely!  I've always felt that the record, as a whole, is an art object and should be treated as such.  You can't hold a download.  I can only bond with a download so much, but a record is such a total representation of a band, good and bad.  I like ours because it was a true collaboration between us, the band, and the record label.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us about it?

Dane:  I've been collecting music since I was a child.  I still have my first copy of '74 Jailbreak by AD/DC that I got in the third grade.  Fuck everything after Bon Scott.

Jose:  Most of my records are of EBM, Industrial, Italo Disco, or 80's Electro artists.  Most of my digital music is metal, punk and experimental/noise.  I think it ended up that way because my entire record collection I had growing up got stolen in 2005, which was mostly punk, hardcore and metal.  Some of that stuff is way out of print, expensive, and impossible to find, so I shifted my vinyl buying elsewhere.  I still buy records and tapes from new bands whenever I can though.

There are so many choices available to musicians right now as far as the mediums that they want to put their music on, do you have a preferred medium for release?  What about when you are buying/purchasing music?

Dane:  I prefer experiencing music live.  Records have a time and place, but a live show is the real testament as to whether or not a band is good in my humble opinion.

Jose:  For a band like us, it really has to be experienced live to get the full spectrum of what we do.  It's incredibly visceral and loud, which is hard to reproduce at home.  Other bands work better in the studio, it all depends I guess.

As I said before, I love my physical copies.  I cling on to them like victims in a boating accident cling to their life rafts.  But I do really enjoy having a digital copy.  Being able to take it on the go wherever and whenever I want without fear of damaging the original is a priceless thing to me.  Digital music is rapidly changing the face of the music industry to put it lightly and there are several ways to look at it.  As a musician in the reign of the digital era what is your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Dane:  It's bittersweet.  I find it exhilarating that music is so accessible, but I still want people to buy records.  I WANT THAT MONEY, SON!  I MADE THIS SHIT!  PAY MY RENT! 

Jose:  It's easier than ever to find new music, but there are so many bands to sift through that it can be pretty overwhelming.  I discover bands mostly from seeing them come through town and buying their records.  I was never really into the whole searching around on blogs to see what's new, although I probably should.

I’m a glutton for punishment.  I spend hours every week scouring the internet and local shop looking for cool new music, all the while this gnawing fear in my gut that I’m missing out on the next epiphany on wax so I make sure I ask everyone I talk to this question.  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of before?

Dane:  Oh, you're a glutton for punishment?  Try throwing your life away in crappy service industry jobs for the chance to tour in a van with five other smelly dudes for no money while slowly pissing away your dignity and youth.  On that note, I love Rohit, Redneck, Acre, Tiny Knives, Gaytheist, Sioux, Rabbits, Diesto and Mustaphamond.  There are truly too many amazing bands going on in this town to count.  Just buy the comp tape (We’ve Got To Keep) Our Heads and go from there.  There truly isn't a bad song on it.  And it comes with a beer koozie!

Jose:  I would check out Big Black Cloud, Raw Nerves, Prizehog, Honduran, and Tyrants.

What about nationally and internationally?

Dane:  I'm really excited to play with DEAD from Australia at the end of this month.  Those guys rule!  There are a lot of really good bands coming out of Seattle right now, how nineties was that sentence?  Including, but not limited to, Red Liquid, Same Sex Dictator, Terminal Fuzz Terror, and Monogamy Party. 

Jose:  Grunt from Missoula, Montana, Whores from Atlanta, CCR Headcleaner from San Francisco, Augurs from Oakland, Ramming Speed from Boston.

Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?

Dane:  These questions are pretty thorough, dude.  Right now I would just like to say that I need to quit staring at a fucking computer screen and drink a GOTDAMN whiskey.  Thanks again buddy, it's truly an honor that you would take such an interest and ask us about our music.  Living this life is truly a gift and I couldn't ask for more.  Thank you.

(2012)  Drunk Dad – Failhouse EP – Cassette Tape – Stankhouse Records
(2013)  Drunk Dad – (We’ve Got To) Keep Our Heads – digital, Cassette Tape – Eolian Empire (Limited to 100 Copies)
(2013)  Drunk Dad – Morbid Reality – digital, 12” – Eolian Empire

*All photos © Beastbeastiary

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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