Rock and Roll Dad

The nature of road trips really changes when you become a dad. When I was younger I played in a band and my buddies and I would constantly trek around Australia, playing in pubs to mostly small but appreciative audiences. Often we’d fly, but in hindsight what I miss most about those times were the marathon overnight road trips.

It was so much fun sitting in the back of a van, telling dirty jokes, drinking beer and listening to favourite tunes for hours on end. It was a mobile lounge room, which I couldn’t escape from – but that’s OK because most of the time I didn’t want to.

Of course, when I became a dad, leaving home for days on end became less feasible. As a family, we still went on road trips, but now I ended up swapping the beer and dirty jokes for horrible service-station coffee, endless games of ‘I Spy’ and cries of ‘Are we there yet?’ from the back seat.

Some dreams never die, however, and during my daughter’s younger years I still managed the occasional gig and snuck in a few hours alone in my home studio to record some songs, to less than impressive results. I no longer had the time to spend on what was now an expensive hobby, but in my defense, I at least never wrote a terrible dad anthem such as Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle”.

Babies eventually become children and fathers end up having a bit more time to themselves. When my daughter turned seven, I noticed her musical tastes becoming more mainstream compared to my quirky, independent tastes. She would often want to listen to Nova FM instead of my dusty old vinyl collection or local independent radio station Triple R. I didn’t want to force my musical tastes on her, but I figured I needed to re-assert myself to save my own soul.

Just like the Blues Brothers before me, I decided it was time to ‘get the band back together’ and I booked a few days in a studio to record some songs I’d been working on for the last couple of years.

The results were surprisingly good and I eventually decided to put it out on vinyl. I’ve always thought it best to lead by example with children. Surely seeing me having fun doing a musical project is more inspiring than forcing my daughter to sit through endless hours of learning scales on a piano?

It was obvious to me that the music war wasn’t over between us yet, but I had won a small victory.

To keep her interest in the project, I got her to design the album cover. Her naïve style really contrasted well with the title of the album that would eventually be called Experts. Of course, she wanted to know how much money she was going to get for it. I cleverly said she could have a percentage of the profits – leaving out the detail that there are no profits to be made in the music industry anymore.

After a long and arduous mixing, mastering and printing process, the album was ready. My daughter seemed happy with her cover art, but would she be happy with the music itself?

I placed the record on the turntable and the first couple of bars began to play. It sounded great to me, but would it impress my daughter?

She sat in silence for the first couple of songs, paying attention but looking slightly disinterested.

Eventually, I had to speak up.

“Do you think it’ll get any airplay on Nova?” I asked.

“No, but it might get a bit of attention on Triple R,” she replied.

It wasn’t the ringing endorsement I was hoping for, but her response proved she was at least paying attention.

We sat and happily listened to the rest of the record. It was obvious to me that the music war wasn’t over between us yet, but I had won a small victory.

Trevor Ludlow has been a fixture in the Australian music scene since the early 1990s, playing in many Brisbane bands as well as co-writing the Custard hit from 1998, “Girls Like That (Don’t Go for Guys Like Us)“. He currently resides in Melbourne and fronts Trevor Ludlow & The Hellraisers. Their latest album, Experts, is out now.

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