Punkish Dad - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Punkish Dad. We discussed his introduction to music, favorite pop/punk bands, his decision to release pop/punk covers, an early encounter with Shawn Harris from The Matches in Barcelona, getting the opportunity to jam with Less Than Jake, favorite guitars, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview. 

Thank you for having me! 

For those not familiar, you record pop/punk, emo, and rock covers. How did you initially become interested in pop/punk and emo music? 

It happened organically. My older sisters were always listening to pop music in the 80s and 90s, really danceable stuff. So I had a lot of exposure to catchy beats and melodies early on. Then I fell in love with the sound of loud, aggressive guitars in the grunge era, which is when I started playing guitar. I also got into skating in the mid-90s and was exposed to a lot of skate punk. Pop punk blended all those appealing things together in a way that resonated with me. It also helped that it was all over the radio and MTV during my teen years. 

Who are your top 10 favorite pop/punk bands? 

That’s a tough one, there are so many good bands. But if I had to choose: 

1 blink-182

2 New Found Glory

3 Green Day

4 Saves the Day

5 MxPx

6 Less Than Jake

7 Goldfinger

8 Yellowcard

9 Jimmy Eat World

10 Fall Out Boy

I lean towards established acts, but there are many newer good ones carrying the torch as well. Mom Jeans, Hot Mulligan, and Real Friends are a few newer favorites. 

What made you decide to start releasing guitar covers on Instagram?

I have a pretty bad short-term memory guitar-wise, so I mainly started posting songs after learning them so I could revisit them later and remember how to play them quickly. In addition to that though, I have found a great community of pop punk fans out there, I have connected with cool people all over the world. So it has turned out to be something more and better than I originally intended. 

Do you have a favorite cover you’ve recorded? Why?

Well, as a hobby player, I’m not a super technical musician, so I’m excited when I learn something that has previously been difficult for me or took a lot of effort to learn. However, my very favorites are usually ones that are really satisfying to play, but not necessarily complicated. Understatement (NFG) and Josie (blink) are a couple examples like that, they’re super fun to play, I don’t have to think very hard and can just get into the vibe. 

Have any of the bands that you’ve covered ever reached out to you about any of the covers?

A few have reshared and/or replied with a few words of thanks or encouragement. I usually don’t tag the bands other than in hashtags, I’m not even sure why. :) But once in a while I remember to. 

People may also know you from your guest appearances on the High School Never Ends Podcast. Can you tell me how you became interested in that podcast and how it worked out for you to be featured on those episodes?

I discovered that podcast during their “Winter of Blink” series, it was labeled as a “pop punk dad podcast” which sounded like it would be right up my alley. It definitely was, so I started interacting with their socials and commenting on posts. They were creating a series about Drive Thru Records and asking listeners to be guests, and I was fortunate enough to join and share my thoughts about The Starting Line. I played and sang their song “The Best of Me” to my wife when I proposed many years ago, so that album is special to me. I must not have been too obnoxious, because they asked me back later to discuss Waterparks. That one was a little more controversial, since not all of us liked the band, but that made it fun. 

You have a really interesting story about running into Shawn Harris from The Matches in Barcelona. Can you tell me a little bit more about that story and all the circumstances around it?

I was living and working in Spain in summer 2002. On a day off I was wandering around some tourist areas and heard a street musician singing something that sounded like pop punk. I listened for just a few seconds, tossed a Euro in his guitar case, and snapped a quick photo. I didn’t recognize the song, but the melody stuck in my head all these years. 

After Shawn was a guest on High School Never Ends, I saw a picture of him online that reminded me of that street performer. He seemed like a pretty approachable guy, so I posted the photo and tagged him asking if it was him. He responded that it was indeed him, he was traveling in Europe in 2002 and ran out of money so he had to busk. 

I wanted to also ask him about the song, and I remembered that I had a short audio clip of it since my girlfriend (now wife) and I were sending each other audio diaries on cassette at that time. I found it in storage, tracked down a cassette player (which was challenging), and posted the clip. He responded that it was a song called Superman which was a fan favorite from their first record when they were known as The Locals, but it never made it on a record from the Matches after they changed their name. So I finally got closure on that catchy melody stuck in my head 20 years later.  The internet scored a win that day! 

I also saw that you won the Less Than Jake 30th anniversary guitar contest and had the chance to jam with some members of the band. What was that experience like for you? 

It was pretty wild, and it happened fast. Their management contacted me the day before the show, so I didn’t have a lot of time to plan. The whole interaction lasted maybe five minutes, but it was kind of surreal to be sitting with Less Than Jake on their tour bus, playing a Less Than Jake song in front of them (with a camera on me), and then having Chris sing along unexpectedly. Watching it back I was nerding out quite a bit, but I was living in the moment and let myself experience the excitement. I’m grateful I was chosen. And the guitar is super cool! 

What are some of your favorite guitars to play?

There are so many good ones, and they all serve a purpose. But I prefer simpler setups with fewer knobs and switches to get in the way. Les Paul Juniors are known as rock and roll machines for good reason, they’re simple but reliable and sound tough. But I most often gravitate towards Fender Strats in a Tom Delonge style with one pickup in the bridge, or variations on that theme. I’m really curious to see if Fender will reissue Tom’s iconic Strats or come out with a new Starcaster signature model for him now that he’s playing some prototypes. Those would probably sell really well. 

What covers do you have coming up and/or which ones would you like to record at some point? 

I keep a running list in my phone whenever I hear something that sounds fun to play, that list is really long currently! There are a lot of good pop punk albums on the horizon this year that I plan to dive into, but I am most anticipating blink’s new record. The goal is to learn it front to back. 

You’ve mentioned that you do not create your own original music. Is that something that you might like to pursue at some point? Why or why not? 

I wouldn’t rule it out, but for whatever reason I haven’t really felt the urge to do so. Some artists have a song inside them and just have to get it out, but that’s not really me so I’m glad I don’t do it for a living. :) I have contributed a couple guitar tracks to original works that others have written and that was fun. I play in a cover band with some people from work, it’s actually kind of a PR thing for the company, we play fundraisers and company events, free concerts in the park, etc. We put our own spin on the covers, maybe someday we’ll do some originals too. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

It’s always great to connect with other pop punk fans. See you out there! 

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