Sunday, June 08, 2008

Daddy A Go Go Interview

Rockin' Daddy-o, Daddy A Go Go (John Boydston), has released his 6th CD, Rock of All Ages. Father's Day is just around the corner, so let's catch up with this papa John & see what's shakin':

1) You've been performing & recording kids music for many years. How did you get started & keep it up so long?
It was 10-years ago today - that I was busy working on my first CD release, and I realized then I was insane to be doing it, but I didn't care. I had been entertaining my kids with my little ditties for a couple of years (as a stay-at-home dad, I had time for this sort of thing, thanks to preschool), and after I brought my guitar and a boombox to school to entertain my son's kindergarten class, his teacher suggested I make a CD, and it sounded just crazy enough for me to think 'yeah, that sounds fun.' It was truly a labor of love and I was cool with that. I figured if I sold 100 copies to 100 future best friends, it would be worth the effort cause I had too much fun making the my basement, one track at a time, doing everything but the drums. You have to be crazy to do that at age 40 without an iota of real recording or writing experience. Then one day I woke up and found my CD "Cool Songs for Cool Kids" on's Top 10 BEST KIDS CD'S OF THE YEAR LIST (1999). So that was very say the least. 4 OF MY first 5 CD's ended up on that list, so that has been very encouraging. I still do everything with my CD's, writing, engineering, producing, recording, playing, literally everything but the art work and layout, which I hire and supervise artists to do. new - I finally starting having a guy, Jeff Bakos, mix my songs starting with my 3rd CD. He's very good and we work very well together.

Now Ten Years After, and I've just released my 6th CD, and I still think there's a bit of insanity involved in doing this. The CD's aren't any easier to make, cause its still basically me in the basement, going track by track, and the technology is harder to get my arms around, but it is still every bit as fun. I love the creative process and having an outlet to express myself that way. It has been said 'you gotta write about something you love' so following that advice and playing the music I love to play, has kept me going.

2) What are your thoughts on the growing independent children's music world?
To be honest, I don't know what has changed the most, the indie kids music scene or just my awareness of it. When I started out (1998) I was oblivious to any of it, and was slow to learn about it. I thought I had an original idea - to make family oriented rock and roll (guitar-bass-drums) music for kids that didn't sound like kids music at least on first listen. Music that if you took away the lyrics you wouldn't think it was kids music. Then about a year or two after my first release, the Dan Zanes tidal wave hit, and everyone's doing it which was great, and you had a much wider acceptance of all kinds of kids music.
But lately I've noticed a broader regressive trend back to two types of kids music, either toddler-oriented stuff, something that I have never tried to do, or music for 'tweens.' It seems like increasingly what gets all attention these days are either Wiggle's type acts or Naked Brothers band wanna bees. Have you've noticed XMKids playlist lately? They used to play a whole range of kids music....indies and all. But recently they've gone 90-percent toddler music. That next to their Disney Channel and they've got those two bases covered, Tots & Tweens. I guess that is what's selling in massive quantities, but what about the 3 -10 year olds? Check out the front page of kids section at iTunes. Every week they feature a preponderance of tots & tweens artists, most of them from Nick & Disney TV shows. And those are the supposed critics choices there, not paid placements. There's automatic acceptance by the deciders there of anything with a TV show behind it. Come to think of it, I guess I noticed this trend back in 2004 when I wrote a song called "Radio Dizzy" for my 4th CD. The lyrics are on my website, check it out. I tried to make it a funny song, but the song is based on this observation.
(Speaking of Naked Brothers Band, for the record I just want to say I wrote a song called "I Don't Wanna Go to School" back in 2004. It was the lead off song from my 4th CD, "Mojo A Go Go," for which I earned my 2nd Parents Choice Award. The NB's are much cuter than me, but I was first with that title. So nana nana boo boo.)

3) Seems you're quite a rock fan...with ACDC, Ramones & many influences. Do you enjoy any guilty pleasure music? (You know the kind you hum in the shower when no one's around.)
To be honest, I've never been a huge ACDC fan, but I heard my kids playing that song "For Those About to Rock"...and that inspired the title I ended up using "For Those About To Walk (We Salute You). A year later I wrote and recorded the song. That's why the song I did rocks hard, but doesn't sound like the ACDC song, I wasn't trying to parody them, just the title. My bigger influences on my guitar playing and the music I like to make, are people like Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, The Replacements, earlier Beatles & Stones. Creedence. The Long Ryders in the 80's. Earlier REM. Even 60' s era psychedelia, like the Nuggets Box Sets I & II I just got, I love that stuff. My iPod is a history of rock and roll, with a bunch of new bands my kids keep introducing to me that I really like. But when I start to write songs, those artists I mentioned are the styles that motivate me.
The guilty pleasure question is easy - Frank Sinatra and people of that era. I love lounge music. You spend 3 hours with headphones on trying to record a song with a guitar in your hands, and your brain and ears are toast. I set my iPod to Easy Listening, and its loaded up with Frank, Babs, old jazz, the complete Capital Records Lounge Series CD's, and my brain is on mellow and I love it. That is usually what I have on around the house. Now my kids know who all those artists are as well. We'll be in a restaurant or somewhere and one of my kids will say "Dad, that's Frank Sinatra." I love that.

4) My kids love the School Bus Driver song...especially the stops. They also dig The Root Beer that based on an actual experience? (some comparable experiences?)

Glad to hear you like those tunes, thanks. I just shot what could be the first Daddy A Go Go Video, of the School Bus Driver song. Waiting to hear back from the editors how it turned out. That song I just made up on the spot with a drummer, and was listening to it later and just said - this song is about the stops, so the Bus Driver idea was born. The Root Beer song - kids say the darnedest things and the scoundrels in the crowd always strive to say the words they think they aren't supposed to say like "Beer" in root beer, or the Dam in Hoover Dam. Kids always do that and it has always cracked me up....and I heard a kid say at some point - "I drink beer...(long pause waiting for someone to notice...)...yeah, Root Beer." It made me laugh so I thought it would be a funny song...

5) Do your boys get allowance for being in the band or do they really dig it, & think you're the hippest dad ever?
In lieu of payment for being in the band, they get to see their favorite bands when we go do shows like SXSW & Austin City Limits Festival, with an artists' pass on their wrists, so its backstage access...they love that. At ACL they were backstage for The Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, The Kaiser Chiefs, at SXSW they were front and center for Kings of Leon, Iggy Pop, Pete Townsend. Such a life.
It's funny, 10-years ago my kids thought I was a rock god cause I made CD's and did shows and gave interviews and stuff. Then about 5 years ago, it was "dad, can you not mention the kids music thing when my friends are around?" And I was cool with that, cause I knew they'd aged out of the kids music program, just like aging out of little league baseball. But now that they are teenagers and pretty good musicians - they are like to their friends 'my dad's got a guitar like that, dad's on iTunes, or my dad played Lollopalooza...and to me they are like 'can I play that guitar,' 'dad my amp isn't working, can I use one of yours,' and 'heck yeah we'll learn more songs if it means going to back to Austin.' It's gone full circle, and I'm glad. I was persona non-grata for a while, which I suspect every dad goes through. Especially us more goofball-inclined dads.

What do you say boys? (Leave the room dad.)
Yosi, the kids are sleeping....I'll ask them to fill in these blanks later, but honestly doubt you'll get much of a reaction. Music has become an amazing device for me to still be a big part of their lives....we can relate on every level, either as fans, players, guitar lovers, etc. Course they wouldn't tell you all this, mainly cause they're still asleep. To me its amazing that I started doing this for them, documenting their lives in songs, etc. Now 10-years later they are still motivating me, not as children, but as players. They bring a lot of energy into the live stage mix, and they make good suggestions on arrangements and things. Its very interactive.

Max: zzzzz


6) Throughout your CD's I've noticed a pattern of plenty of puns, silly jokes, & nods to rock legends. Do the kids get it? How about the parents?

I throw that stuff in cause it makes me laugh, and my hope is it makes others laugh too. If the kids don't get it, then having the parent explain it to them kind of makes it interactive between the two age groups listening. I am always explaining things to my kids when something has flown over their heads on TV, or on a record, or in a movie. Good family entertaining has always had the element of 'something for the grown-ups the kids might not get', like The Lion King, or "Toy Story." Or the Muppets. Kids loved em cause they were cute and funny, The writers always threw stuff in for the grown-ups. And kids are so smart today. When I think of the wherewithal my 8th grade son has today compared to me when I was in 8th grade, its fairly mind-boggling. So I try and play up to kids that way, not play down to them. But don't get me wrong, I do like silly. And the kids do get it. I got an email from a mom telling me I was the funniest guy in the world to her two kids because of the false endings at the end of "The Guy Who Couldn't Make a Rhyme" which closes the CD. She was kind of groaning about having to hear it so often, but her kids were amused, which of course was the point. It was nice of her to share.

7) What do you get on Father's Day?

I spoiled myself this Father's Day (came early this year) by getting a Bill Nash T63 Western Cowboy guitar. It's so retro looking and such a fine playing guitar I still can't get over it. It's like a Fender Nocaster with a big fat neck, a leather Tele pickguard, stars burned on the front of the guitar, and horseshoes burned onto the back. (guess I'll have to learn to play a solo with my teeth to show off the back of it sometime.) I'm going to put a pic of this on my website its that cool.

8) Any advice for dads?
Far be it from me to give advice to any dad, cause I feel like I've been the luckiest dad in the world by having the opportunity to be a full-time parent. I just loved it from the gitgo....there was a period of adjustment and not every day was sunshine and pixie-sticks, but it was all good. I used to be a TV news producer, and when given the chance I figured being a hands-on parent would be much more rewarding and important way to spend my time. As for future dads - just make sure you want to be a dad before you become a father. Cause you only get one shot at it, and kids need a dad, and if you have the chance to be one, be the best you can, and the saddest things to me is when someone looks back on their life and says something to the effect of 'I wish I had been a better dad.' I'm glad I waited til I was 30 or so to start having kids. I was much readier and that much more mature, which are big bonuses in the parenting department.

9) What's next for Daddy A go Go? A 7th disc? World tour?

I don't know about a 7th CD - I'm on the 2-year plan so far, and while I'm lucky enough to get good reviews on my CD's, I never get enough publicity to carry me over to the next release and I have to kind of reintroduce myself to the CD-buying kids audience. It's not easy. I might do a best of volume or two for release in 2009, then ponder a 7th disc for 2010. As for world tours, I really don't do that many live shows. I'm more of a studio creature,I love coming up with new riffs, & songs, and trying to make them sound good. And with my kids in the band, trying to schedule an event around 3 teenagers schedules is almost impossible. (Our drummer is Jonathon Paz, a family friend who is also 16, and the only person I'll ever know to have played onstage with a Beatle.) When we were rehearsing for SXSW last year, I had to cancel a practice cause everyone else in the band had strep-throat. I said 'Oi Vey, this could only happen to me...'

10) What's one of the coolest things to come from the whole Daddy A Go Go Experience?

Having Rick Derringer do a cover of one of my songs. Its a long story as to how it happened, but this guy is a living rock legend in my book and I was a big fan when I was my kids ages...and since.
The song was "Pink Floyd Saves Hugh Manatee" one of my quirkier tunes, and it was great hearing what a producer and player like Rick D did with it.
Thanks John!
Happy Father's Day!
Check out the new disc at Daddy A Go Go.

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