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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - padre
Monday, July 09, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I was in New York City and saw a group called padre perform. I had heard their album, Left In a Trade, dug the content, and wanted to check them out live. Their show was fantastic and immediately afterwards I linked up with the band’s lead singer, Eli Kaplan, to find out more about the group. padre consists of (from left to right in the picture) Ryan Bair on drums, Rob Weiss on lead guitar, Eli Kaplan on vocals and guitar and Jesse Schleger on bass. Kaplan, the self described “mouth” of the group, is originally from Detroit and his parents grew up in the same neighborhood as Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight. He says his mother swears she used to ride Stevie Wonder around on her bike. Both of Kaplan’s parents are musicians and his sister Lisa is a professional pianist in the new music group Eighth Blackbird. Kaplan jokes “as of now, she’s the famous, and incredibly accomplished, sibling.” There soon may be a hotly contest battle for that title in the Kaplan household, however, as padre is garnering a nice following in their NYC stomping grounds. This week I sat down with Kaplan to talk about the group, their interesting lyrical content, and what’s up with his backwards t-shirts and socks pulled up high.

Adam Bernard: For starters, tell me why you chose the name Padre? As far as I know you aren’t a father and you aren’t from San Diego.
padre: The name thing is funny. In college a bunch of my friends called me Cool Papa after the Negro League Baseball player James “Cool Papa” Bell. And I like the fact that the word father can be a noun or a verb, and that it has some positive/nurturing connotations. Also, I knew I wanted to have a band name that’s one word, just like my favorite band of all-time, Pavement, and I wanted a somewhat ambiguous name that would sound good for a solo artist or a full band like some of my favorite groups; “Kind of Like Spitting” – Ben Barnett and “Pedro the Lion” – David Bazan. Oh, and there was no way I was having a “The” band. The Strokes, The Shakes, The Killers, The Raconteurs, The blah, blah, blah… Aren’t we supposed to be creative artists here? Can we make a band name without “The?” Okay, I’ll get off my high-horse now.

Adam Bernard: Your lyrics are extremely interesting and very different from what most people normally hear. When you were writing for Left In A Trade were there certain topics and themes you wanted to touch on or was the writing process more free flowing thought?
padre: For me, the lyrics are really important. All my favorite musicians have really interesting lyrics and messages; Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Elliott Smith. They all have something important to say and it makes their music intriguing because their songs are about what they want to share from their hearts. With Left in a Trade almost all my songs are about my relationships; romantic, platonic, etc. and the ways in which people choose to treat one another, and themselves, as friends and/or lovers. Most of the songs come from an extremely personal place, but at the same time, everyone can relate to them unless they live by themselves, in isolation, on their own planet. Actually, the first four padre albums have already been written, and they each represent different themes, phases, and cycles of relationships. Currently I’m working on albums five, six and seven, but that’s a story for another day.

Adam Bernard: On Left In A Trade you have a waltz, this makes me think your influences range greatly. Who are some of the artists you feel have influenced you and how do you feel those influences are apparent in your work?
padre: I grew up hearing and listening to all kinds of music; country, classic rock, classical, folk, rock, pop, rap, soul. I love music ranging from the unrestrained rock of Led Zeppelin to the country lovin’ of Loggins & Messina to the blues of Blind Willie McTell to the angst of Bright Eyes. So my songs range in style and sound a lot. padre is pretty straight up indie-rock, but we also have some country, folk, pop, punk, to throw into the mix. One thing I especially love is when an artist refuses to limit themselves to a specific genre. Music is music, and good music is good music. I like to think padre is in the good music genre. There isn’t a “good music” section in the record store near you is there? Damn, me neither. We gotta work on changin’ that.

Adam Bernard: Very true. Now let's move from the stores to the stage and talk about your live performances. What do you enjoy most about performing live and how do you help to convey they enjoyment to the audience?
padre: I have a ton of fun playing shows. It’s great on so many levels. It’s fun to be able to play a show with my band-mates and to be reminded that there’s a good reward for all the hours of practice together, and it’s especially wonderful because I make music to communicate and entertain and a live show really gives you a prime opportunity to have instant gratification in both regards. It’s great to watch people dance, or hear them cheer, and it’s just as awesome to have somebody come up to you and say something like “hey man, I really liked that line. That really made sense to me”. I also feel like sincerity is irreplaceable onstage. My songs are straight from the heart, they’re about certain madness, sadness, and happiness I’ve experienced, so even if I ham it up from time to time the songs already mean a lot to me personally so there’s not much acting going on onstage. I think an audience can feel that sincerity and embrace it pretty easily and openly.

Adam Bernard: We have to talk about the gear. The socks pulled all the way up, especially. Describe your style and how it’s uniquely you.
padre: Style?!? Ha! Some people, mainly hipster snobs, would say I don’t have any style and some people, like my family, might politely say I have a style all my own. I try my best not to concern myself too much with style. Styles are just passing feelings invented to make us the greatest consumers we can be. I generally hate slogans, logos, and advertising. And if you don’t believe me just ask my t-shirts, they’re always turned inside-out. For real though, I don’t know if this is just a New York City thing, but a lot of bands seem to really put an emphasis on style over substance with crazy costumes, outfits and antics. I can appreciate that to a certain extent, musicians are entertainers, we’re there to entertain, to excite, to entice, but the bottom line is the music should still stand strong, even when your fans have their eyes closed. As a fan, if you like our wardrobe, then cool. If not, then that’s cool, too. Personally, I don’t want audience members thinking about what we’re wearing when we’re playing. I want them to think about, and hopefully enjoy/relate to, the songs. Oh and about the socks, it was too hot that night for pants, still my hairy legs needed some kind of covering, and Cool Papa Bell and the Negro League Baseball players invented that style of socks pulled high. If I’m a true cool papa (or padre), I’ve gotta be able to pull that look off, from time to time, right? Ha!

For more padre check out myspace.com/padre & shadowheadrecords.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:43 AM  
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