Power trios from the Milwaukee area are nothing new, but Dad The Plow, releasing their first album of music this month, have been honing and developing their sound for three years. The Band members hail from Milwaukee groups that include Hangman's Jury, RedRum, and Victims of Voodoo, but Dad The Plow has developed a sound quite distinct from those metal bands. It is a sound that incorporates heavy, almost '70s-style riffs and Metallica-like vocals with sweeping keyboard sounds. Maximum Ink talked to bassist and singer Chris Howard about the group and their new CD.
MAXIMUM INK: Dad The Plow has been around for several years now. How did the band come together?
CHRIS HOWARD: The current band lineup has been in place for three years. I started the group as the drummer with former members of my old band, Spiderwater. At the same time, Remo and Mike Runge were playing in Seven Crow Circle. When things started to fall apart with the original lineup of Dad The Plow, I called Remo and he joined. Mike then followed on drums, and I moved to the bass and frontman position. That is how we've come to be. All three of us have known each other for many years and consider each other very close friends, as well as band mates.
MAX INK: The name Dad The Plow is unique and catchy. How did it come about?
HOWARD: This would be a long story… Let's just say it involves a small town, a black Chevy Barretta and a gi-normous railroad locomotive snowplow, “The King Daddy of All Plows.” Remo came up with the name many years ago, even before putting it into the band. Some people think it has a perverted undertone to it, but that's not the case.
MAX INK: Trying to describe musical style is tough, but if you had to label it, what would it be?
HOWARD: It's hard to really label it. We like to think we write diverse styles of music that allow us to play with a lot of different bands out there. If I have to tag it anything, the easiest description is heavy rock. Remo calls it “heavy rock with a twist of juice!”
MAX INK: Listening to your music, it almost sounds as if you have a keyboardist in the band. But you mentioned earlier that it's all guitar?
HOWARD: Remo plays a Brian Moore synth guitar through a Roland GR33, so he can actually do three sounds at once: electric and acoustic guitars, along with whatever flavoring texture of synthesizer the tune calls for.
MAX INK: Let's talk about your new album. What is it called and how did it come to be?
HOWARD: The CD is titled “The Heavy.” In May of 2006, we recorded 10 songs in our own studio and ended up not being happy with the results. We kept one song from that session that will appear on the new disc. We felt the band had changed so much over the past year, so in June of 2007 we tracked another nine songs and that is what is on the CD. We're very happy with the end result. To us, “The Heavy” means everything that has to do with life, love, addiction, and death. We had some personal losses this year and felt that “The Heavy” was a good interpretation of what we've gone through over the past 12 months, both personally and as a band.
MAX INK: Do you have a single member who writes all of your songs, or is it a group effort?
HOWARD: Everyone contributes in the writing. Sometimes it starts with a guitar riff, or a drum beat, or sometimes someone comes down with a complete idea that they share and we dissect it from there. We never write with the thought that it must sound any certain way.
MAX INK:Are you working with a label or distribution company?
HOWARD: The CD is an independent release. We are open to discussions if any label or distribution company is interested. But in today's world, with Myspace and other outlets such as iTunes, it's really easy to get your music out there for people to check out.
MAX INK: Where can the CD be purchased?
HOWARD: We will have the CD at all our shows, as well as on our website, www.dadtheplow.com. It will also be available at local Milwaukee record shops and online retailers to be determined.
MAX INK: Your CD release party is Dec. 1. What can people expect of your live performance?
HOWARD: Our live performance is what we do best. We have a very aggressive, fun stage show with some audience participation and other cool surprises at every show.
MAX INK: The Main Stage in Waukesha is a great venue, drawing people from both Milwaukee and Madison. Do you consider it your home club?
HOWARD: I guess we do think of it as our home club. We are based in Waukesha, which is nicely situated between Madison and Milwaukee, and the club is located downtown, so it's great to play in our home town. Steve, the owner, has been very good to us. As a matter of fact, we were one of the first bands to play there when the club opened.
MAX INK: Any special promotions for this particular show?
HOWARD: I know we'll be doing giveaways with CDs and other merchandise, and we may be doing some free beer or something. Either way, this CD release party is going to be one hell of a party. When The Dad The Plow is hosting, you're always guaranteed a good time. And no one drinking should leave sober. Be sure to bring your designated driver, folks!
MAX INK: Are there other bands on the bill?
HOWARD: Yeah, we've got two great bands out of Madison: The Motor Primitives (www.MotorPrimitives.com) and Subatomic (myspace.com/subatomicband) will be rocking the stage as well that night. There's gonna be lots of good music, so come early and stay late.
MAX INK: If you could tell the music fans in the upper Midwest any one thing about The Dad The Plow, what would it be?
HOWARD: The CD is only the beginning of what we are to become. Everyone has been great to us, and we think of our fans as friends. Come to any show and see for yourself. There's a vodka shot waiting for you!
The Dad The Plow CD release party is Dec. 1 at The Main Stage, 716 Clinton St, Waukesha, WI (www.mainstagerocks.com).