“I was taken aback, to say the least,” says Drummer GERALD DOWD about the moment he realized that he’d soon become a Father for the very first time. “Panic set in first. Then panic turned into pragmatism, which finally became complete, unconditional love when my brand-spanking-newborn son, lying under the hospital baby broaster, squeezed my finger. ‘Been a fatherhood junkie ever since!” Now, the Chicago-based drummer of JUSTIN ROBERTS’ band (THE NOT READY FOR NAP TIME PLAYERS) is working on a solo album of his own, and talking about being a fellow “Rock Father” just ahead of Rock Father’s Day 2014.
LISTEN: JUSTIN ROBERTS – “I’ll Be An Alien”
Name: Gerald Dowd
Offspring: Two boys: Fezziwick (13) and McScrampton (5)
Musical History: Drum/sing for Justin Roberts, Robbie Fulks, Chris Mills, Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, among others.
Current Projects (in his own words): Justin’s most recent album, RECESS (of which we are currently touring in support) was nominated for a Grammy. As a solo artist, I released an EP in 2012, and am currently working on a full-length solo record, to be released in fall 2014. I maintain a pretty full slate of local and national touring, recording sessions and live performances.
Favorite Music to Enjoy with the Family (in his own words): Over the years, we’ve cut a pretty broad swath. A few of the things my kids have been obsessed with at one point or another: BLACK SABBATH, FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE, THE BEATLES, ONE DIRECTION, ROBYN, and some guy named JUSTIN ROBERTS (??). But we play them everything: metal, country, jazz, rock, hip-hop. Nothing’s really off-limits. (Except maybe GG ALLIN. And only at dinner time.) They don’t care for THE GRATEFUL DEAD, which ALSO delights my wife and I to no end.
Watch: JUSTIN ROBERTS – “Recess”
JAMES (THE ROCK FATHER): Was there any concern that you wouldn’t be able to balance your family life with your musical life?
GERALD: Initially, I did have concerns that I wouldn’t be able to integrate family and a music career. I have cut back quite a bit on the amount of touring I used to do, but have maintained an extremely satisfying artistic life, while still working constantly and touring some. And having an heroically understanding wife doesn’t hurt…
JAMES: Have your boys been exposed to your creative works?
GERALD: They’ve been to a LOT of my shows, and even more so now that I spend most of my time playing in a band geared towards kids and families. There are moments when they think it’s pretty cool, like when I bring them backstage and there’s giant tubs of candy and chips, free for the taking! But mostly they just think of it as my job, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
JAMES: Has being a parent changed your creative output or the way you view your musical life?
GERALD: It’s made me want to create the best music I can with the best people I can, as much as possible. I don’t want to embarrass my kids! And I’d like them to see that if you work at it, you can successfully wear a few different hats simultaneously: music, parenting, etc. And make very little money doing it!
WATCH: Gerald Dowd, Justin Roberts and Liam Davis – “You Just May Be One”
JAMES: What’s the hardest thing about balancing your music with your parenting duties?
GERALD: The time away, no question. It flat-out sucks (can I say ‘sucks’ up in here?) [ED. – I’ve said worse] to leave my wife and kids behind when I go on the road, or even to a local gig that keeps me from, say, having dinner with them. I’m thankful to be at a point now where I work almost exclusively with dear friends, so that eases the bite a little, but I never stop thinking about my kids when I’m away from them, even if only for a night.
-WHAT FATHERHOOD MEANS-
JAMES: How have you introduced music to your children?
GERALD: Sheer bombardment! There’s always music playing in our house, in our cars, etc. There’s lots of singing, lots of improvised lyrics (with often hilarious results), and we have instruments lying all around the house for them to whack away at whenever they want. We’ve never pushed them to play music, but simply exposing them to all different kinds of music and instruments has helped them gravitate towards music in a really sweet, natural way. And they’re both killer singers, which delights my wife and I to no end.
Watch: JUSTIN ROBERTS – “Stay At Home Dad”
JAMES: What’s the most “rock and roll” thing you’ve ever done with your kids?
GERALD: One time, my oldest son (who was, I think, 7 at the time) and I flew out to San Diego for a show. For some reason, the venue had us picked up at the airport by a chauffeur driving a giant stretch SUV limo. I’d never seen my son so geeked; he was in complete and utter shock. I think he thought that was just an everyday occurrence for me on the road, even though that was the first and last time I’d ever been picked up in such a monstrosity. He still talks about it, years later. Rawk!
JAMES: Favorite Toys?
GERALD: LEGOs. Bikes. PS3. Baseball gloves. iPad. Superhero action figures. We actually have all the same favorite toys, my sons and I, so either they’re very mature, or….uhhhh, never mind. THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER.
For more on Gerald, check out his Facebook Page or Reverbnation. For more on his work with Justin Roberts, check out the official site.