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2016 Rock Father Greatest Hits: Racing into 2017…


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Last year, at this same time, I sat here in my office at Rock Father HQ, taking stock of the year that was about to be behind us. I don’t believe that I’d ever done such a proper year-end wrap-up, but when I posted my “2015 Greatest Hits,” I declared that “it’s all downhill from here.” I don’t know if that was really accurate, but from a site standpoint, I can tell you that I ended 2016 with a bang – November and December were the biggest traffic months in the history of THE ROCK FATHER Magazine… and I’m just getting started. 

“As we sit here on the edge of one year, and on the cusp of another, it’s come time to reflect on all that 2016 has brought us, and everything that 2017 may have in-store. Our social feeds are filled with tales of triumph and sorrow, as our friends and colleagues both celebrate their victories, and mourn their losses. It’s always this time of year, among the melancholy post-Christmas days when the “holiday high” wears off, that everyone either can’t turn the calendar quick enough, or they wish to bask in a year of successes that they hope will never end. “

James & Jen

The Rock Father’s 2016 Greatest Hits:

January started off loud. As some of you know, I co-manage the band PRODUCT OF HATE, and ahead of their Napalm Records debut, BURIED IN VIOLENCE, we ended up renting a defunct factory in Romeoville, Illinois to serve as our studio for the production of a trio of new music videos that I would direct and edit. The first, “Monster,” was an incredibly quick-flip, turning it around in a week to coincide with the release of the single, which would be in heavy rotation on SiriusXM Liquid Metal from January-April. On January 21, 2016, the “Monster” video was released…

By the end of January, I was back in Los Angeles for a “secret mission” as part of my gig with the Netflix Stream Team. As an extension of their marketing crew, I joined a handful of other writers at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena where we worked on creating content tied to the release of the Netflix Original Series’ FULLER HOUSE and DEGRASSI: NEXT CLASS. One such piece appeared on POPSUGAR. While there, I got to sit-in with the casts of DAREDEVIL, THE RANCH, and more. 

Fuller House Cast

While the visit officially happened in December of 2015, my adventure on the set of MARVEL’s AGENT CARTER was revealed, with a look behind-the-scenes, along with cast interviews including Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) and James D’Arcy (Jarvis).

When February hit, I continued our always-in-progress remodel of the house by working on a re-do of our family room,  then hitting the promotional circuit with PRODUCT OF HATE for the album release. The guys did their first in-store at FYE, along with release weekend shows in Chicago and Milwaukee. The album made an immediate splash, charting on the Billboard Heatseekers and CMJ, with Metal Hammer/Team Rock deeming them “One of 12 Bands to Watch in 2016.” 

The Chicago Auto Show was up next, and my wife and I kicked that off with a suite at the United Center to catch the Chicago Bulls v. Cleveland Cavaliers, hosted by Kia Motors. 


As Spring neared, I ended up in Las Vegas for a gig with Pennzoil, creating content around Team Penske and driver Joey Logano. With a small crew, I attended the Kobalt 400, and dined with Logano and Team Penske at The Wynn.

Back in Illinois, my wife and I decided to give the girls a look at the “democratic process” in the United States, attending a Hillary Clinton rally that took place close to home. 

In April, I was back in Los Angeles for my first red carpet with Disney. After meeting with filmmaker Jon Favreau and the cast of THE JUNGLE BOOK, I attended the premiere of the film at the El Capitan Theatre. 

Jungle Book Premiere

From there, it was a quick stop at Disney for breakfast, and then a day on the set of Disney XD’s WALK THE PRANK at Paramount Studios (read about that here and here)

Going coast-to-coast in one week, my wife and I were in Orlando just seven days post-Jungle Book premiere, giving The Rock Daughters their first experience at Walt Disney World, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, all before driving to Tampa for a wedding.


After a couple of weeks back at home in Illinois getting ready for spring with the girls, it was back to Los Angeles for another gig with Netflix – visiting DreamWorks Animation to create promotional content for VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER and HOME: ADVENTURES OF TIP & OH


PRODUCT OF HATE hit the road for an April-May tour with MUSHROOMHEAD, SUMO CYCO and MADAME MAYHEM, and in support of that tour, Napalm Records released the second of the new videos that I’d directed & edited for the new album. “Kill. You. Now.” was issued on May 20, 2016… 

June was a big month for the girls, as they put on their first big recital at the end of their first year of ballet/tap classes…


Later that month, I was back in Los Angeles for more adventures with my Disney friends, meeting filmmaker Steven Spielberg, and attending the red carpet premiere of The BFG. A stop at DisneyToon Studios for a look at FUTURE-WORM! came alongside an early look at QUEEN OF KATWE.

BFG Premiere

July brought a new gig as I began working with The Toy Insider. First up was a trip to Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite in NYC – a quick in-and-out (I have a habit of quick trips) to meet with a lot of friends and business partners, many of whom I’d never actually met face to face.

Back in Illinois, an annual family outing to see the Chicago White Sox was in order, and just a few days later I was back in California for a gig with Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book. While there, I checked out a ballgame at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

As the summer brought birthdays and anniversaries, we also had more family travel with adventures in Michigan and Wisconsin, a visit to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, and a few excursions to Six Flags Great America.

Back-to-School came quickly, and we got to check out the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Learning Campus prior to it opening to the public. Summer gave way to Fall, and we hit the annual Frankfort Fall Fest, Six Flags Fright Fest, and I ended up back in New York City.

Another quick trip, I stopped by the St. Jude Holiday Preview, and then attended The Toy Insider’s HoliDAY of PLay, all before ending up back in Illinois the very next day.


We went back to Wisconsin for a Fall excursion on the lake, and then closed out the White Sox season with the team from Guaranteed Rate ahead of the ballpark re-naming… appropriately, on “Rock N’ Roll Night.”

Peppa Pig Live!

The girls got to meet Peppa and George at PEPPA PIG LIVE!, I started working with PJ Masks, and by November, something else happened…

The folks at Nintendo of America invited my oldest daughter and I to visit their North American Headquarters outside of Seattle for an adventure – one that happened to take place the same day that the long-awaited NES Classic was released. We were there to work on some content pertaining to the 3DS XL and its games, but the timing was impeccable.

Nintendo HQ

Late November brought the annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair at Navy Pier, and along with that a date night for my wife and I to check out the playCHIC Fashion Show. And then I wound up as a card in a special edition deck of Top Trumps.

Top Trumps

December brought the holidays, and we capped it off by doing our annual “Rock Father Santa” Toy Donation

Toy Donation

An exhausting effort just to put this round-up together, I’d say my prediction that things would be “downhill” after 2015 was incorrect, but the fact is – the adventures chronicled here just scratch the surface. As a family, we’ve had so many in our day-to-day action, and that continues as I work from home most of the time.

As with last year, I’d like to give a HUGE thank you to my wife and daughters, my family, my friends, to everyone that reads this website, to those who support my creative endeavors, to all the new friends and colleagues that I’ve met along the way, and to anyone who simply believes in what I’m doing. THANK YOU!


A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

So what does 2017 have in store? Unlike the past couple of years, I have no travel on the books for 2017 thus far. What I do have is an unusually high amount of writing gigs for clients for January (work that I’m very much appreciative of), and then the 2017 Chicago Auto Show is on-deck for February. We have one more new PRODUCT OF HATE music video that I directed, and I need to finish the edit and get that one out there. Beyond that, who knows? This site will continue to grow and expand, and there’s some creative projects that I’d like to explore beyond that. I have no shortage of ideas for film/television/comic projects, and one day those might come into focus. What can be certain is that adventures will come from unlikely places, most of which will fall into my lap and chance the course of my road at a moment’s notice. Stay tuned…

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