Fuzz Kings rock Dad Punk
What happens to punk rockers when they reproduce?
We get more punks, maybe.
There are a number of other answers to be found right here in Edmonton. Some punk-parents add hyphens to their names, become singer-songwriters, country-folk musicians. Many look forward to the day they can take their kids to see the bands they once enjoyed. The last Bad Religion concert here was a father-son bonding event. And most put their own rock star dreams on the back burner, get real jobs to meet real responsibilities.
Yet one never quits being a musician. Ask local punk parent Dave “FatDave” Johnston, and he will tell you. The 34-year-old singer came of age in the second (or was it the third) wave of punk rock in the 1990s. He quotes Chris Rock, “The music you were into when you started getting laid, you’re going to love that music for the rest of your life. I always have a soft spot for the ‘90s punk rock scene.”
The father-of-one fell whole hog for the rock star dream back in the day, he says, starting with his first serious band, The Open Wounds, and later with FatDave CrimeWave. He got his nickname ironically because he was, in fact, not fat.
These days Johnston fronts a raspy rootsy rock foursome called The Fuzz Kings, which plays the release for their fourth CD Friday at the Bellevue Hall. His younger co-workers at the Long & McQuade music store dubbed his band “Dad Punk” – and given the title of the new CD it’s clear he’s comfortable in the role. Your Kids are Gonna Love It! is about self-reflection, he says, an example of writing what you know when what you know is rock ‘n’ roll. Within growling howls and crunchy chords on fuzzy guitars are rock songs on the subject of rocking, particularly in It’s Never Too Late (to Be Too Late), which is about rock ‘n’ roll time, which passes both slower and faster than normal time. It is a temporal anomaly, like toddler time. Punk dads: Am I right? Of note is a pungent slice of local lore in The Black Dog Bathroom Wall. A true punk, Johnston also flips a rhetorical bird to the pigs in the Ramones-esque Law Abiding Citizen, as in “I’m a law abiding citizen – and you’re a cop!”
While Johnston does not censor his lyrics to protect the sensitive ears of his seven-year-old daughter, becoming a dad had a big effect on his music. In obvious ways: “It forces you to grow up a little bit,” he says. “You no longer get to be the reckless weirdo you used to be. You can still be a reckless weirdo, but you have to make sure the bills are paid, and make food out of real food instead of plastic and chemicals.”
And in less obvious ways, for the dream is still alive: “My motivation is different. I’m not concerned with having my record on thousands of turntables all over North America at this point. Sure, I write songs and I want people to hear them. But really I want to show my daughter: this is what I did. You can do whatever you want to do. You can make a record, you can become an Irish dancer, you can become an Olympian, you can do whatever you want, just take it on your own terms. It’s about self-expression.”
Of his daughter, who’s too young for punk shows quite yet, he says, “I can tell that there’s music in that kid. My job as a parent is to prepare her for the heartbreak and frustration that comes from having an artistic outlet that’s bigger than you, and you don’t understand how it works yet.”