Four good men talk about raising kids while living the rock star dream.
You’d have to work hard to find a more stereotyped guy than the heavy metal musician. The headbanger (homo sapiens rockus) is an irresponsible, drug-addled boozehound found whoring it up when not busy sacrificing goats to the Dark Lord. Just one look at all those tats and piercings will tell you that.
Sure, those guys are out there, but you’ll find them in every walk of life. The truth of the matter is that most musicians are just regular guys who are living the dream of getting paid to do what they love. They have responsibilities, both business and personal, and a lot of them are great dads.
James Stafford chatted with a few of those great dads on the topic of fatherhood and music as they prepared for this weekend’s Aftershock Festival. Participants included:
- Mark Vollelunga, guitarist, Nothing More
- Gas Lipstick, drummer, HIM
- Richard Patrick, singer, Filter
- Trevor McNevan, singer, Thousand Foot Krutch
What’s a heavy metal dad do for fun with his kids?
Gas: Just random stuff, exactly the same stuff that for instance a car mechanic or a nurse would do with their kids: play with Barbies, draw, read books, take them to the zoo etc.
Gas Lipstick down on the floor playing Barbies! That blew some minds. How do you guys balance the demands of a working musician with the demands of being a parent?
Mark: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I have to continually remind myself that every day is a new day and I’m going to punch it in the face and do my damnedest to do everything I possibly can for my family.
I welcome the challenge to try and balance the many duties of life, but I honestly don’t know how I do it. There’s not enough time in the day to make everyone happy, so you really have to prioritize and figure out how you’re going to be a good dad, be a good spouse or partner, be a good band member, and pay your bills.
No matter how overwhelmed you are, if you believe in what you are doing, you’ll find a way to make it work. It’s a crazy roller coaster of a ride and I definitely couldn’t do any of this without the support from my loving fiancé.
Well said. Gas, you balance all of that and four bands! How is that possible?
Gas: Well it’s really hard at times. Thank God I have a very understanding wife. But to be honest with you we don’t practice that much with my three other bands, mainly just a little bit before gigs and studio recordings. It’s not that I’m active with all bands the same time. I do something project related when I have a longer break from HIM.
You guys are out on the road a lot. How do you maintain that connection with your kids when you’re on the road?
Trevor: My son is still only 4 1/2 months old, so we haven’t run into much there yet. Right now I’m trying to make sure that we spend concentrated time together, regardless of what’s going on, so we can maintain that consistency as he grows older. I think that’s key.
Gas: Skype is awesome. Can’t live without it.
Mark: Yeah, technology is amazing and on our side. Pictures, videos, text messages, phone calls and face time is huge! I don’t even want to imagine what touring was like even 10 years ago if you had a family. Communication is everything. If you don’t put in that time, everything back home will fall apart. You have to make it a huge point to be present in your relationship with your child and your partner even though you are physically 1,000 miles away.
Richard: Not seeing my kids as much as I did before this last record cycle has proven to be very hard on me. I find myself so lonely without them but they, on the other hand, seem to be fine with FaceTime and iChat. They hear and see me all the time. Thank you Steve Jobs for making the iPhone!
When I was growing up parents hated their kids’ music, but now I see whole families at shows. Do you and your kids bond over music?
Richard: Yeah, the kids got to listen to me working on my record because I would listen to work files in the car. At first I would play them “First You Break It” and “Surprise.” After a while they started to hear the darker stuff and they would start screaming, “Hey Hey What Do You Say.”
Once I was playing “We Hate It When You Get What You Want” and to my surprise they start shouting “sit yourself down like a booger.” Having never heard the phrase “mother fucker” my daughter laughed and said, “Daddy, are you saying ‘like a booger?” To which I replied “Yes!” (Laughs.) They love my music and I love their laughter from the backseat.
What are some of the challenges and misconceptions you face as rock star dads?
Mark: I don’t really know what misconceptions people have for rock star dads, but I can think of two most people have about touring musicians: We’re whores and all we do is party. Granted, some are, but the stereotype sucks for all of us who are faithful and responsible.
Trevor: The biggest misconception has to be that we’re all flying around the world with our families on jets and buses (laughs). Not the case. Our wives come out when they can and we get home every chance we get, but it’s not realistic for them to be out all the time, and that gets a lot harder to do when you add kids to the equation. They all have their own passions and things they’re working at, along with taking care of the kids, and that’s a full time job in itself!
Some of your bands have been together going on twenty years. How have families changed things for you?
Trevor: It’s been such an adventure from the beginning. The obstacles and situations just change along the way. My wife and I have just had our first child, Cohen Avery James McNevan. He’s been teaching us a lot! (Laughs.) What a trip it is to have your first child—it’s a game changer for sure. It’s brought the balancing act of juggling life and work to a whole new level. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been absolutely amazing.
It does make being away from home that much harder, I’d say that’s the biggest difference. Right now I’m writing for our new record, which is always a very consuming process, so juggling the two has been more of a challenge. God’s so good though man, always fine-tuning us, and we’re always learning. It’s a whole new calling in life!
Photo Leann Muller