Ralph Gleason, one of the founding editors of Rolling Stone magazine once called San Fransisco “the Liverpool of the United States” while acknowledging the city’s contribution to music. The counterculture and flower power of the Bay Area gave birth to numerous influential musicians and bands – too many to even mention, but how about Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Flamin’ Groovies, and Blue Cheer to start.
Alex and Nate of San Fran/LA psych rockers Volunteer Dad may be influenced by the Haight-Ashbury sound of the 60s, but that simple comparison would be selling them short. After repeated listens to their debut record “Fake British Accent” – I hear all kinds of influences – 70s Art Punk and New Wave, Power Pop, and garagey Flower Punk. Hell they even admit to ripping off Guided By Voices. Either way, from the opening guitar of Vin Scully, the first track, you know what you’re getting with Volunteer Dad; this is excellent lo-fi, psychedelic garage, all jangly and fuzzy and weird like what I imagine it would sound like if The Black Lips did an album of XTC covers.
In their spare time Alex and Nate also run a record label called Paisley Shirt Records, and have released all kinds of interesting lo-fi, psych-seasoned artists as featured on the excellent compilation released last year – The Paisley Overground (listen below).
Alex and Nate took some time to answer some questions.
Alex Machock (vocals, keyboard, guitar, and bass) and Nate Rogers (vocals and guitar)
People say we sound like….
The Modern Lovers, The Beach Boys, and according to our totally sober friend Kevin, “like a faded ’90s memory of what the ’70s could have been like.”
We are originally from…
The darkest depths of Los Angeles (read: San Gabriel and West LA).
You run a record label, why did you decide to record?
Making music was always the first priority for us, and Paisley Shirt Records was originally just a byproduct of that. But once the label started growing, it kind of organically became its own thing.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
Five of our biggest influences are Guided By Voices, Big Star, Television, Fleetwood Mac, and The Mantles.
Tell us about Paisley Shirt Records…
Paisley Shirt Records is basically the mothership operating system of our being, but it’s also an independent tape label based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles specializing in rock and roll of the underground variety.
What influences the band lyrically?
Philip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon, Lester Bangs, the Ridgid Calendar girls, and beer.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be…
Alex: San Francisco, 1967, so I could get laid for playing a guitar and not much else.
Nate: San Francisco, 2067, so I could find a techie Doc Brown to get me unlimited time-traveling. And then from there to like, New York in 1977. That’d be tight.
Growing up, at home we listened to…
Alex: KROQ anywhere, everywhere. Meaning Nirvana, RHCP, and Sublime ad nauseam.
Nate: Let me put it this way: I could easily still sing every word to Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning.”
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
We would choose the boy band One Direction purely in an effort to do a public service for all the sad and defeated dads forced to attend. After all, we are the Volunteer Dad.
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Nate: At Astro Burger in West Hollywood, crying.
The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to our music….
Our parents said we did a good job.
What’s up for 2015?
First up is finding an actual rhythm section instead of just doing it all with just two people. Next up after that—and we think this will be pretty obvious—is to put out our first triple LP. Oh, and also to keep our goals realistic. We’re also gonna work on that.