An interview with Ideal Fathers in advance of their farewell show tonight at the Larimer
Over the course of a line-up change or two, Ideal Fathers, playing its final show tonight at the Larimer Lounge, developed a sound and a stage presence that probably would have otherwise been lumped in with "dance punk," but there was always an agenda in the band to inspire people to wake up physically and emotionally and intellectually and live a vital life rather than just be passive listeners.
For anyone open to such a message, the members of Ideal Fathers gave it their all every single show even in the face of disheartening situations. As will be seen below, from fairly modest beginnings with no pretentious foundations, Ideal Fathers happened organically among friends and peers who seemed to share a vision of having a band that could be exciting making music that stood for more than providing a party soundtrack.
We spoke with bassist Mike King, drummer Mike Perfetti and guitarist Adam Rojo at Perfetti's home in southwest Denver. Later we caught up to singer Jesse Hunsaker by phone where he spoke with us from his new home in Iowa. After many years living in Denver, Hunsaker finally moved to be with his fiancée and lead a more tranquil, personally rewarding life. He will, however, be in town for this final show, which promises to be a barn burner. Here is what the guys had to say about the origins of the band and some of its trials and tribulations.
Tom Murphy Ideal Fathers with Paddy McDonough on drums in July 2008
Mike King, Mike Perfetti and Adam Rojo
Westword: When did the band start?
Adam Rojo: February 2006. It was originally me, Paddy McDonough and Vinnie Wray. Vinnie was originally singing. He was the bassist and singer in a band called Pukemop. Paddy sang and played guitar in a band called Codename: Trixie. The drummer from Codename: Trixie and Vinnie and I all went to the same high school many years ago. So we were all friends at Northglenn High School. Kip Winger, I think, went to that high school [actually, he went to Golden High School - ed.].
After those projects were kind of winding down, Vinny and Paddy wanted to dink around with something else and just do the two-piece thing. Then they decided, "Hey, our buddy Adam plays guitar, let's see if he wants to be in a band." This is my first band. [When I was starting out] I had a cheap, little digital practice amp and an 80s shredder guitar, an Ibanez RG470.
Mike King, what band were you in before Ideal Fathers?
Mike King: I played in a band called Ginkins with David McGhee. We played a lot of shows with Pukemop and Codename: Trixie.
Did you play out as a trio?
Adam: No, maybe a month in we had four or five songs started and Vinnie was like, "I wanna play bass this way but I can't sing and play at that level at the same time." I'd known Jesse Hunsaker since college. We had talked about starting a band and toyed with the idea but it never came together until this. He came in and worked pretty well for practicing in a basement. A couple of months later we played a party at Paddy's folks' house. Things went alright.
Was it a different sound than you had later on?
Adam: The early stuff was more kind of generic punk. Reminiscent of Buzzcock, poppy punk. I never saw Ginkins play but I knew Mike from hanging out with Chris, the drummer from Codename: Trixie. There was a time when we all lived down in Denver and we were practicing in Mike's and Chris's basement because they were roommates. It was at Krameria and Martin Luther King. That was about the time that Vinny got wounded.
He was bar backing and dropped a pint glass and tried to catch it. It hit the table and shattered so he just grabbed a fistful of glass and it sliced the tendon in his thumb about ninety-percent. So he lost most of the feeling in his pinky and one of the sides of his finger, he couldn't feel anything. He had a lot of fatigue afterward. He's played instruments since then but he needed a long time off so that's when Mike joined the band.
Was it still more of a punk thing at that point?
Adam: Yeah, we were starting to implement a lot of other stuff. I was really getting into shoegaze and a lot of noisier things at that point. Then we started writing pretty soon after Mike joined.
Mike K: "Failing at Friendly is Not an Option" was the first song we wrote together.
Adam: Yeah, that and "Not an Exit Strategy" came together pretty quickly after that.
When did your more extensive use of delay on the guitar start?
Adam: That started around the time we were recording the first EP. Writing "Failing at Friendly" I was dabbling with that. I had some built-in effects in that practice amp I had. Toying around in my bedroom I had one little delay patch that I used and it was totally set up for a different tempo but it worked well as a subdivision in this band and I based everything around that 330 millisecond delay. I started taking things seriously and got rid of the guitar and got my first Jaguar and my first tube amp. Then I replaced the delay and chorus on my cheap amp. You can blame my girlfriend Amber for Yoko-ing the band and buying me my first fuzz pedal--a Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun. A Place to Bury Strangers is my favorite band of all time and she said, "Here, he's a birthday present." Two years later I've spent god knows how much money on stupid stuff.
Mike Perfetti: I think there was a period of six months where he brought a new pedal to practice.
Adam: That really hasn't stopped, I just stopped bringing them to practice because there's no more room on my pedal board for them. I have a lot of stuff but the Ideal Fathers' actual sound and what I use in the band is that Death By Audio Fuzz into the amp run dirty, a couple of delays and a chorus pedal. I had a Line 6 DL-4 and a Boss DD6. I just traded the DL-4 out and got an M-9. Which I basically just use as a giant DL-4 but I have a lot more presets I can save and tweak delays and customize them to the songs. DD6 I just have for the step on it [Warp] feature.
What was your first release?
Adam: A Complete Waste of Time Travel was our first EP and we released that in 2008?
Mike K: 2009. Because we recorded it in October then Paddy quit the next month.
Adam: He quit to get married and stuff. Which is funny because we had talked about it and he said, "Eh, it's a ways off." A month later we got the text-message break-up.
Did you have another drummer in between Paddy and Mike Perfetti?
Adam: We auditioned a few people. All of which were terrible. We auditioned this one kid, he was really nice and he was a super cool kid but he just did not have any discernible talent on the drums for what we needed. Probably solid for just some simple rock beat type stuff. At that point, right before Paddy quit, that was the fastest we were playing those songs. Regularly not dipping below 190 BPM, constantly banging them out. It was really weird having to audition people because most people don't play that four-on-the-floor dance-y beat that fast.
Mike P: I didn't know when I joined and I had to practice my ass off.
Adam: There was one guy we auditioned that kind of could be he was a total maniac and probably a meth head. Seemed like a nice guy but he was really weird and jittery and animated. He made his girlfriend hang outside our practice space off of Colfax and Fillmore--Electronica.
Mike P: That place made me sick every time I went down there.
Adam: They're cleaning it out, finally. So yeah, he was crazy. Then Perfetti auditioned and it was just like, "Okay, we play this stuff pretty fast." But playing it slow he was kind of able to play it. So we said, "Alright, this'll work. Fuck it. We'll get better or we won't. We'll see how it goes. At least he's a cool guy." And he's still a cool guy.
Mike King, are you from Denver?
Mike K: I grew up in the Holly Hills area.
How did you get into playing bass.
Mike K: When I was a teenager, my brother started playing guitar. I wanted to play guitar too but I didn't want to copy him so I got a bass. I started out with a cheap Yamaha starter thing. The first one I bought for myself was an Ibanez Musician. It was stolen in June and I found it on eBay three weeks ago and the cops did their thing and now I have it back. Pretty happy about it.
Adam: Good job, Denver Police. You're one for fifty. [laughs]
Mike K: Ginkins was just pop punk kind of stuff. I'd been listening to ska a lot when I was just starting out in that band. I kind of learned to play bass listening to Five Iron Frenzy and groups like that. So I just took that into more punk territory when David showed me more of that kind of stuff.
Adam: Your style, the music is definitely different. But the way you play has always stayed the same. You're more of a lead player than the guitarists in your bands. That's kind of the way I like to treat it. I know Mike will always play a bunch of stuff and I can just hang out and play some chords or make feedback with the fuzz pedal and he'll take care of making things sound like music.
Mike K: I feel like I have more of a melodic sense than a rhythmic sense and that may not be the best thing for a bassist. The what I do with this band came after watching how Vinnie played. Because he kind of blew me away with the way he was playing bass, especially after Pukemop. Which was really just fast and simple. Most of the early songs, three of the four on the first EP, were his bass lines.