The Father Figures Dish on Phoenix's Punk Rock Glory Days
In this week's issue, we chat with the members of Phoenix art-punk band The Father Figures, discussing the band's phenomenal sophomore album, All About Everything. We ended up with quite a bit of information left over from our 90-minute interview, so in this installment of Outtakes, we'll crack open the tape recorder and let a whole bunch of good material that didn't make the print edition see the light of day.
-The Father Figures Play Punk With No Rules
-Gregg Turkington on Punk in Tempe, the '80s, and a Band As Good as Black Flag
-JFA Celebrates 30 Years of Skate Punk
-More Oral History of Phoenix Skate Punk
-Download: The Father Figures Cover The Feederz Classic "Avon Lady"
All three members of The Father Figures -- bassist Tom Reardon, guitarist Michael Cornelius, and drummer Bobby Lerma -- are longtime members of the Phoenix punk scene, and in their minds, it was only a matter of time before they would end up playing together. The idea to jam first arose when Lerma's wife and daughter were out of town.
Ben Sanchez The Father Figures
"I had wanted to play with Tom for a long time," Lerma says. "It was just [a matter of] finding the right project. He had me come in to try and fill in for [his band] Pinky Tuscadero ['s White Knuckle Ass Fuck] and I don't have the stoner rock genes, so I floundered. I've never been so frustrated trying to play music before in my entire life; it was borderline embarrassing, so it's good to be able to play together. He said, 'Hey, who can we get to play guitar?' I immediately thought, 'It's got to be Michael.'"
Although Cornelius acts as the band's guitarist, Lerma has always respected his bass skills. Cornelius played the instrument with the legendary skate punk band JFA (Jodie Foster's Army), a band he helped found.
"There's always Mike Watt, but Michael was my favorite bass player," Lerma says.
The three began jamming -- with Cornelius flexing his jazzy muscle on guitar, Lerma on drums, and Reardon on bass and vocals. Six weeks after getting started, The Father Figures played its first show at Cornelius' 50th birthday party at The Ruby Room. The band soon released its debut, Lesson Number One, but immediately began working on its follow-up. Finally finished, All About Everything, is a testament to the band's precision.
"We agree with each other to keep writing the songs until they're really done," Cornelius says. "We've written songs that we don't play. We've written songs that we haven't recorded and don't play that we may come back to; they're just on the bench."
The material may see release -- but the lesson learned is that the band takes its material, with requisite woodshedding, very seriously.
"We're not The Replacements," Reardon suggests.
The band still likes to have a good laugh about the origin of its name. Lerma claims it was the only name they could afford. Reardon suggests, "All of the other domain names were taken." The name doesn't have too significant of a meaning, though the band likes to think of it in the authoritative big-brother sense.
"I've always thought of it as, 'We're just a bunch of clean-cut, regular guys imploring you to listen," Lerma says.
"If we had a good scolding once in a while, that'd be true," Reardon says.
All About Everything straddles the line between living in the now and nostalgia (songs "Switch" document the band's shared obsession, skateboarding). Still, the trio was around for Phoenix's punk rock glory days.