Fathers bad as they want to be at Picador

BY DAN WATSON | MARCH 12, 2009 7:27 AM

Los Angeles: home of angels, celebrities, traffic jams, and Bad Fathers.

Nearly two years after leaving Iowa City, the rock/rap-based band will return to perform at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. today.

Bad Fathers sprouted its roots in Iowa City in 2002, establishing itself as the prime example of Mohawk wearing, rhyme dishing, somewhat chauvinistic musicians in the area. The six-person band called Iowa City home for four years before the members decided a larger city would better suit the band’s ambitions.

“LA was an easy choice for us,” said vocalist Justin Alan Cox. “We could either go there, New York, or Chicago, but LA is sunny and 70 [degrees] every day, so it was obvious.”

One year before the band permanently moved to Los Angeles, Cox, along with band members Juan Hooks and Jethro (who only goes by his stage name), flew to Hollywood with demos in hand.
“We got lucky in LA by landing a good manager,” Cox said. “Through her, we were able to create a solid LA connection and get our foot in the door.”

Some of Bad Fathers’ newly found California opportunities have been collaborating with Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green on a track, having a song featured in the movie College, and being reviewed by various large music magazines.

“Iowa City was great,” Jethro said. “But in LA, I’m friends with an XM radio bigwig just because he shops were I have a part-time job; connections like that just don’t happen in Iowa.”

A majority of the band’s time in LA has been devoted to recording its third full-length CD, Sex Defender. “Not sex o-fender, sex de-fender, don’t be mistaken,” Hooks said.

The CD is scheduled to be released in May, but it will be sold at the Iowa City show this weekend. It’s the first album the band has recorded with live performances in mind — in the past, Bad Fathers recorded music with tricky beats and recorded material that was hard to play in front of an audience. Cox said Sex Defender is more straightforward than any of the band’s prior records.

While Sex Defender is less complicated, the band doesn’t stray away from its unique sound fans have come to appreciate. The tracks are influenced from numerous subgenres, but the backbone of Bad Fathers has always been hip-hop.

Bad Fathers has a reputation of being over-the-top when it comes to its lyrics, attitude, and stage presence since it formed in Iowa City. The members’ happy-go-lucky attitude adds a level of humor and satire to its sound — most prevalently in such tracks as “I Care Less about the Bitches” and “The Couch.”

“We arrive at the humor in our music because we all realize we do this to have a good time, and joking around is part of that,” Cox said. “There is definitely some tongue-in-cheek elements to this band.”

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