With Father’s Day just around the bend, what better time to find out a little bit more about one of our favorite local bands–The Dad Beats! We sat down with guitarist/vocalist Yuri Weber and bassist Dan Loomis (and Yuri’s son Elliot) shortly before their set at this year’s WormFest. Well, not Elliot’s set.
Let’s begin with how you guys started The Dad Beats.
Yuri: Our wives were part of a prenatal yoga group at Third Root. Not all of our wives — just two. But following that, all of the moms got together, and Dan’s wife Laurie had an idea to do a babysitting cooperative since she was part of one when she was a child. And us being broke, that sounded like a great idea. And then the dads – especially Dan – were doing the lion’s share of the childcare, and we kind of just discovered that we all played music. Which was not too surprising, considering it’s Brooklyn and everyone does something creative.
Dan: It was surprising that everyone was pretty good.
Y: It was really organic at the very beginning. We weren’t even thinking about having a band. It was like, “I’ll just come over and pick up Adrian from Dan’s house –”
D: First time was you playing drums and me playing guitar. Playing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” trying to see if the kids would stay in the room.
Y: Then Andrew [Purcell, songwriter/vocalist] came on the scene a little bit later. I work at the Park Slope Food Coop and we were both there early in the morning. I’m on staff and he was a member doing his shift – he was kind of in charge of the music down there. We started, like, dueling, putting stuff on, and started hanging out. And the songwriting came much later almost. Like a year later, after Dan and Charles [Michelet, drums/guitar/ukelele] and I were playing together. The first time was probably Don’t Do the Zoo, right?
D: Right. You guys were hanging out before Andrew was singing with the band, writing these songs. You were bringing them in and eventually we started having Andrew sing them.
Y: Yeah, because I have trouble remembering lyrics. Everything, but lyrics especially. It kind of snowballed from there. The gig at Lark started about two years ago. And even then, we were like, “Are you sure we want to do this?”
The Dad Beats‘ Dan multitasks.
Did you all have other music projects at the time?
Y: Dan is actually the only working musician.
D: I play a lot in the studio but mostly live stuff. I have a few original bands that tour around a lot and I work mostly as a sideman playing bass.
D: Yeah, I travel around doing that. I have a band called The Wee Trio. Two of us are in Ditmas Park and the vibraphone player is in New Orleans. Then there’s a band called Spoke, which was another Brooklyn band, but now we’re global–the saxophone player and I are still in Brooklyn, but the trombone player moved in Germany to take a job with the state-sponsored big band there and the drummer moved to Australia. We’re planning a tour to Australia and the States in October and maybe Germany if it works out. But Yuri had just come from writing a whole album.
Y: I’ve been in bands my whole life, basically since high school. When I first met my now-wife, I was trying to phase out being in a band. The lifestyle was kind of destroying me. So I had just quit the band I was in and was finally getting around to recording all the stuff I’d written over the years. I had just finished that.
D: What was the album called?
So you guys just started playing together?
Y: Yeah, how did that work exactly? We were doing all the children’s favorites, like “Hokey Pokey,” “Wheels on the Bus.”
D: Every week, we’d get together when picking up the kids and play, and then Charles joined. We did a few birthday parties – our kids and our friends’ kids. When we got the gig at Lark, that’s when the original material came in.
The Dad Beats‘ alter egos.
Did you already have the name?
D: Charles is a great, great graphic designer, so he came up with branding for the band as soon as it started.
Y: Before we had a band, we had branding.
Did you have any particular influences in writing original material?
D: I had this ambition to write songs for all the Mother Goose rhymes. But the other guys were writing songs every week for a while.
Y: Our challenge was to write songs while we were taking care of children and try to get a song done in an afternoon. That usually involved, if we were here, the kids would completely trash the place. Liam, who is Andrew’s older son, and my son, Adrian, would play this game called “Rubbish Heap” and they would take every single thing they could carry and put it in Adrian’s room until it was completely filled with stuff.
D: Like a Shel Silverstein poem or something.
Y: We have a song called Bad Dads and it’s roughly based on that, on how much trouble I would be in every time my wife Erin would come home. There were definite challenges to writing original material, but the challenges made us do it. For me, I feel like this band has been really freeing. I don’t have the same internal critic I did. But the stuff turns out better because of it. I’m really proud of the original material in a way that I’m not of other stuff I’ve done.
How is it different from writing for adults? Do you even think about writing for kids, or just writing a good song about being a dad, or…?
Y: I think it’s more the latter. Before, putting the song together structure-wise, I would think I’m like Brian Wilson trying to create this masterpiece–but now it’s a lot easier and a lot more fun. I don’t stress about it.
The Dad Beats, probably not recording “Vegetables.”
Do you have an album?
Y: We nearly have an album. We did a Kickstarter campaign, but it’s in the middle of being mixed and mastered and all that stuff that happens to music after you record it that takes forever. We recorded everything basically in one day, but now it’s just in limbo unfortunately. We recorded, I think, 11 originals and two covers.
D: Although not Vegetables. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll have an album.
Will The Dad Beats always be a side project, or would you like for it to get bigger?
Y: That’s a good question. If this turned into something huge and we were the next Wiggles or whatever, I’m on board. I don’t know that I would be able to quit my job to do this, but I could devote more time to this if I were making enough money to cover childcare.
And in terms of your jobs, you said Charles is a graphic designer. What does Andrew do?
Y: He’s a journalist.
D: He writes all the lyrics. That’s why we can’t remember them. They’re too literary. Yuri is a cheese monger and a masseuse.
Y: Cheese monger. I’m not a masseuse any longer.
D: You can’t stop being a masseuse, right? Once you’ve trained, which you have forever.
Y: My license has expired.
But at heart. You can still massage the cheese.
It’s not just their kids–The Dad Beats like playing outside, too.
Any special gigs over the summer?
Y: Three pending library gigs, but we don’t really have anything… The Brooklyn Public Library is totally hip to us right now.
D: We had an awesome show at the main branch April 1. We played an hour at the Dweck Center. Totally crazy. All these school groups came, so it was totally packed. The sound was great in there; we played some stuff electric. But it’s hard for us to actually do gigs–it requires getting four dads in the same place at the same time.
Is there a minimum number of you that you’d do a gig with?
Y: At Lark, you can get away with one or two. Smorgasburg, Charles and I played at, and that was less enjoyable. We have different permutations of what we can do. Having the bass and guitar is big. Having Andrew and me to do the harmonies is big. Anything is workable. But, like I said, I can’t remember the words to our songs, so I’ll do like an epic 10-minute “Froggy Went A-Courtin’.”
D: We’ve both done solo gigs though.
When you play non-original songs, do you stick to children’s songs or do you play other music?
D: I don’t think we do any anymore.
Y: Yeah, we do The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Kinks.
D: The Doors.
Y: The Doors?
D: No, no, who do I mean? I mean The Who.
Y: We try to pull the classic rock card. That’s who I listened to growing up–but also I’ve always liked folk music. It lends itself easily to being adapted, for kids or not. Dan’s been trying to get this “union” song on the playlist for a while.
D: “Union Made.” Wife of a union worker. I’m trying to do more leftist propoganda. It’s an uphill battle.
Want to see The Dad Beats pack a room? You can find them at Lark (1007 Church Avenue between E 10th Street and Stratford Road) every Thursday at 11am, as well as at the Kings Highway Library (2115 Ocean Avenue between Kings Highway and Quentin Road) at 2pm on Sunday, June 29.