The Lost Tape: A Previously Lost Interview with Tall Ships & Dad Rocks! (Parts 1 of 2)

Digital media is a funny thing. You think you record an interview and it’s safe due to the wizardry of the internet, when in fact it becomes lost to the world as a slew of binary that corrupts beautifully just after you click ‘Save’.

Posted on Jan 19th, 2013 in Features and Interviews, Dad Rocks! / By Jack Richardson
The Lost Tape: A Previously Lost Interview with Tall Ships & Dad Rocks! (Parts 1 of 2) This is what happened to two interviews I did with Falmouth three-piece Tall Ships, and an almost mythical fatherly Icelander under the name of Dad Rocks! back in November at a gig at Nottingham’s Bodega, and it’s only recently that I’ve somehow managed to uncorrupt the corrupted, to retrieve the sharp insights and funny anecdotes buried within.

Sitting down with Snævar, the brain behind Dad Rocks! and Danish Death Indie titans Mimas, we discussed the how, the what, and why, including a story about a banana.

So you’re currently on tour with Tall Ships, and you’ve also just released a mash-up album by 6001 Hulls that takes your album Mount Modern and twists it around – how did that come about?

Snævar: There was a guy that contacted me on Facebook called Jack with a link to a Soundcloud were he’d made a mash-up of 10 ten of my songs. I had a listen to it and thought it was way better than anything I had done, so I just asked him if he was interested in doing four or five other mash ups of Dad Rocks! stuff and I would release it on my label. I’m very very happy with it, we actually had him on stage with us in Sheffield where he’s from and played a song together. It was so nice to have people getting involved creatively – it means a lot.

For anyone who hasn’t listened to you yet, what is Dad Rocks!, and how did it start?

Snævar: It’s a sort of solo project to my main band Mimas, from Denmark. I had a daughter four years ago and it was at the same time that I brought an acoustic guitar because I wanted to be able to play more music, and all of a sudden songs started falling out because I was playing guitar anyway. I had a real need to express myself – to express how fatherhood changes you, and it didn’t really fit in to the Mimas stuff. So I thought “Okay, I’ll do a solo project”.

You’ve got a ‘Dad-like’ image, as you can see in the video fro Nothing Keeps Up, which is quite playful, but your songs have quite serious undertones – even if they appear to be quite jovial. Was it something you specifically did?

S: In terms of seriousness, I know a lot of people thing the songs and the lyrics are quite silly, but for me it’s actually very very serious. I mean, like, the last song we played tonight – Pants – basically talks about shit and tits (laughs) but for me it’s about becoming a father and all of a sudden being another generation closer to death and decline. It’s actually a very serious song!

There’s quite a few well-placed swear words in your songs. For English speakers, swearing is pretty natural and we don’t think about it, but with English not being your first language did you specifically include swear words, or is it more that you’ve adapted so well to speaking English?

S: That’s a good question actually, I think my English is not very elegant and I just try to express myself the best I can. I also don’t really care what people really think about the lyrics so I just put these words in that feel right with the song.

Are songs like Funemployment, Skyscrapers, and Downaging based on real-life situations or are they made up?

S: Well Funemployement is about a friend of ours who was unemployed and became depressed, and I just wanted to write a song about was a “Big up”. Like “make the most of it, as you’re going to hate the job you get at some point, so make the most of your unemployment”. Downaging is definitely my own experience about being on tour and being away from your cell phone, your family, and girlfriend, etc, and it’s the sexual frustrations that come from touring. The broken Wind Comber mentioned in the first verse I actually saw when I got back from tour… I could totally relate to that bird!

How does being a father change how your write songs, and how have your kids influenced you?

S: It changes your perspective of the world, I think, as you're experiencing it both from your own and your kids’ angle. Like, Pro-Disney is about targeted ad’s to kids, you suddenly see a lot of things you didn’t notice before, so that’s a big inspiration for me – experiencing the world through a different view.

So do your kids have a direct influence behind the songs, in situations or whatever, or id it just that they’re always on your mind?

S: Well that stuff comes more from the effects of fatherhood really, like parenting, upbringing, how the media tells you to raise your kids, and stuff like that. So the connections are more stuff around fatherhood than things directly lifted from my experiences.

Your other band, Mimas, have a darker edge to them. They’re more morbid. Was Dad Rocks! a bit of a rebellion against that?

S: Sort of, because for me there has to be a distinctive aspect that separates the two. With Mimas it’s very morbid and humorous, but they're more surrealistic and we do it together as a band and just like the weird stuff. With Dad Rocks! there a more personal meaning, not that there isn’t in the Mimas stuff, it just that Mimas isn’t as personal.

Nikolaj (who features in the video for Downaging below) and Peter, who had been sitting with us throughout the interview, now got involved.

So how were you two involved in the recording of Mount Modern?

Peter: Yeah, I did some of the bass parts.

Nikolaj: I did some of the programming, including the beats on Funemployment.

Snævar: Well, a lot of people got involved, but for me it had to be a record that I did a lot of myself because I wanted to see what I could do. Obviously I got a lot of help from friends too, but the next record will be more of a collaborative effort.

Have you got any songs written for the next album?

S: Yeah, we have about seven or eight songs.

Is it a continuation from Mount Modern? Or does it have a different theme running through it?

S: It sort of revolves around appearances and the pressure of existing in a world that has expectations of appearance. Some of the songs will be quite serious, like some of the songs are about my sister suffering from anorexia, and other stuff.

Ah, i’ve had friends suffer with that.

S: Yeah, it’s pretty horrible.

Are there any plans for another Mimas record?

S: Well we had a small break but we’re still going. We have enough songs for an EP we’re going to record in February.

Is it more like The Worries, Mimas’ first album, or Lifejackets? There was such a difference between the two!

S: It’s a bit of a combination between the two, The Worries is quite sombre and Lifejackets is quite quirky. The songs will go back to the post-rock-y stuff, but there will be the quirky vocals and guitar noodling!

You’ve been on tour with Tall Ships for about a week now – what was the best city you’ve played so far?

S: Well there’s been so many! I think this one was really really nice, though.

Nikolaj: This one has been one of the quietest, actually. As in people actually being quiet, they’ve been pretty attentive. It kind of reflects the state we’re in, haha.

S: Yeah, we weren't very loud on stage, it had a nice vibe.

It was almost a bit unplugged?

S: Yeah, definitely. The gigs have been really different. Brighton was a real tough one for us – there were about 300 people there but only 100 really paying attention. Mainly people were there for Tall Ships, there was just a lot of people talking at the bar so that was a tough one.

Peter: But last night in London was really nice, there were like 3-400 people and they were really attentive. It was sold out too!

S: yeah, when we started there was about 350 people there. It all went down really well. We had the full band too, there were two extra people helping us out on the earlier dates.

Have you had much a chance to look around any of the cities?

Nikolaj: Edinburgh was really nice. We had a day off and wandered around, it was beautiful.

What’s the most ridiculous thing to happen on tour so far? There’s always something.

N: It must be our viola player who had a banana in his pocket for about three or four days.

S: Yeah, he calls it his ‘Tour Banana’ – he takes one from one venue, then swaps it with another when he gets to the next venue. But he hadn’t swapped for a few days, so it was completely black and looked like a slug!

N: That’s one of the weirdest things I’ve seen.

What are the plans for the near future? You’ve got the label, the bands, and of course, the family. Where would you like to see yourself in the near future?

S: Holy Shit! Haha. That’s a tough one. Dad Rocks! is going really well, and I want to keep the pace up. With Mimas, being all fathers, it’s bit harder to organise stuff. For us it will be more like going on tour twice a year, which means it can’t progress as much as it should progress to do it full time. Not everyone is as lucky as me, though. My girlfriend is very supportive and okay with me going on tour all the time and stuff.
I’ll definitely aim for the stars with Dad Rocks! and with Mimas we’re still going to record and go on tour occasionally and stuff.

Is Mimas becoming the side project?

S: No, I’d never call Mimas a side project. It’s a group of my best buddies, it’s a sacred thing for us to have together.
Besides that, I’m also aiming to be the best dad possible!

And what about the label?

S: Well we’ve got a French band called Mermonte, and a Danish band Nikolaj is in, TM Hunter, and a release I can’t really talk about as the deal hasn’t been completely signed yet, but that should be coming out soon!

Lastly, what’s the best bit about being a Dad?

S: The kids! Haha. Ahh man, I’ve really missed them today, it’s been a hard day for me. It’s both the best and worst, but seeing them grow is amazing. It’s also a bit depressing as you can’t keep them as they are!

Part 2, an interview with Tall Ships, will be available soon!