Interview by: Zoe Marquedant
Words by: Zoe Marquedant
Daddy Issues is a band whose name you’ll always remember. Just look at the name. It’s hilarious. Daddy Issues. Get it? Hilarious. Before you’ve even plugged in your headphones, Daddy Issues has made an impression; however, to dismiss this group as merely another bunch of grunge punks with a goofy name would be an utter disservice to how serious of an impact the band has had on the scene. They’re not just a trio whose shirt you’re dying to wear to family dinner. When they make music, they mean it.
Their new record Deep Dream is an intelligent expression of hurt, of processing pain, of breaking-up and becoming self-aware. It is more than just a sophomore album. It’s proof of ground gained and lessoned learned. The record finds vocalist/guitarist Jenna Moynihan, bassist Jenna Mitchell, and drummer Emily Maxwell comfortable and coming into their own. Their experiences since 2015’s Can We Still Hang? are captured in this catchy, snappy, fuzzy, brutally honest emotional portrait. If Carly Rae Jepsen gets to represent crushing on boys, Daddy Issues gets to corner breaking-up.
Deep Dream sounds like walking away from an ex’s house while flipping a middle finger over your shoulder. In stand-out tracks like “High St.” and “Locked Out”, Daddy Issues walk the traditional post-relationship trajectory: moping, blaming, throwing insults. In “In Your Head”, they simultaneously poke fun at and admit to being “forever dark blue” about the break-up. It’s an unflinching and relatable look at how things end. Borrowing elements from surf and classic rock, Daddy Issues filled the album with self-aware lyrics, dappled with hints of self-deprecation. It’s a sound that was left to bleach in the sun and with observant and curt tracks, it’s one of the strongest albums of the year.
Sonically, Deep Dream a bit of a nostalgia bomb, carrying with it the charm of a late 90s rom-com. It hits with the edge of Jagged Little Pill and commands a Morissette-ian respect. It’s hazy and well-acquainted with the reverb pedal. With undeniably catchy lyrics intertwined with gritty guitar, it’s a contemporary take on an older sound.
In Deep Dreams, Daddy Issues also managed to make a cover personal. Not merely by picking an out-of-genre song and subverting it through a new sound, but through some bonfire witchcraft they took what is perhaps the quintessential summer song, “Boys of Summer”, grafted it so seamlessly into their tracklist that if shotgunning the record you might miss that the song isn’t theirs. It’s a cover, but it sounds like they could have written themselves.
“We didn’t have all the songs that are on the record finished in time, but we had a sense of it,” the band said. “We did a lot of creating in studio rather than outside of it. [For] Can We Still Hang, we had a lot of those songs ready to roll.”
Deep Dream was a different journey, the band members had at the time barely any recording experience under their belts. This time they would return to the studio with some songs, some know-how and an overall better understanding of what they were doing.
“We wanted to take more time on this record. We wanted it to be a little more serious this time,” Daddy Issues said. “We’re putting a lot more thought into everything. [With the last record], we were still trying to figure out how to do it, what we sounded like and what we wanted.”
What would Deep Dream sound like? The band already had a grungy style cornered. They had refined that sound over the past few years into something they’d describe as “rock style” and “grunge pop.” Although, they’d admit “everything’s grudgey now.” That may be true. Everything may be grudge, but not everything pulls it off like Daddy Issues.
To find this sound or rather make it their own, the band went in different directions, searching their vastly different record collections if at all.
“We all listen to different types of music so we didn’t listen to music and like pull from it,” the band said.
Mitchell in particular focused on tunes that put her instrument first. “The way I write my bass parts,” she commented, “is by listening to what I like hearing.” This she calls “bass-forward music” and cites bands like Muse and New Order as examples of acts that make the low-end look good.
“We all listen to different stuff,” Moynihan said, adding notes on her own process. “I was getting into dancey pop music more than ever.”
Hence the dance jams on the record. They arose from her taking the “simple melodies and simple structures” of the pop genre and expertly melding them to the band’s existing sound. Although they all may have taken their own approach, one common influence they all said was their producer Jake Orrall.
“We had to cover a song [for Cover Your Ass] and that was the only cover we knew,” Daddy Issues said.
Whether it is an accident, a great coincidence, or true randomness that resulted in the song, be glad those events transpired, because rarely is so successful a cover cut of such an iconic song. If they were to bottle such lightning again, the band would probably pick “another song that was not similar to us.” Something from the “classic rock” catalogue. They seemed drawn to the success or perhaps prevalence of “covers that people change instead of play straight.” For “Boys of Summer”, Daddy Issues wasn’t aiming to create their own true take on the song. They “tried to play it that way and it ended up our own thing.”
The band has already been breaking the new songs in on tour. In order to prepare for those dates as well as upcoming shows in Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina with Jeff the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet, they’ve been practicing hard.
“We found a new practice space in town that we like a lot, so we’ve been practicing there,” the band said.
The band has honed in on the importance of productive space, praising all the minor comforts, personalities, and amenities of their new home-away-from-home.
“It’s so nice to have a space with really good sound,” Daddy Issues said.
Much like the record itself, the band has “been taking practice a little more seriously.” All signs that they’ve matured as musicians as well as people and are determined to make everything count. They were “trying to save as much money as we can right now, like working our day jobs.” They are three people that know where their priorities are.
“I just got my bass overhauled,” Mitchell noted.
When asked if they could tour the summer season with anyone or host their own Daddy Issues festival, the band was keen to include “everyone”, listing their labelmates, members of the Infinity Cat Records family, and personal friends like Tacocat. Their reach ask was The Hives, who they said played an amazing live show.
“That’s who we’d start with; all our friends,” the band said.
With a flair of self-deprecation that’s pretty on-brand for Daddy Issues, they added “whoever responded to the email” could join. As if anyone would turn down a DM from Daddy Issues.
While they can’t have their dream cast on the road with them just yet, the band does have other essentials in mind besides musical instruments and a set of wheels. Namely: Nyquil.
“I can’t really sleep when I’m on tour. It’s really hard,” Moynihan admitted.
Other must-haves included facewash, a Gameboy for endless games of Tetris, and of course music.
“I do a lot of the driving so I have to have a lot of my favorite music to listen to [plus]podcasts,” the band said (a favorite current summer jam being the entirety of the new Lorde album). “All of it. [We] can’t pick one song off that record.”
Beyond creature comforts, the band also imparted what they believe to be the secret to touring: slides. Logically, having backless shoes that you can slip on instead of having to lace up your boots is a good idea. The only problem is when you lose one, which happened on the last Daddy Issues tour.
“We got to the next hotel and I pulled one slide out of my bag and I was like ‘oh no, this is the worst,” Daddy Issues said,
Besides sensible footwear, audiences can expect a lot of new music on the set list at the upcoming Daddy Issues shows. Plus, a new pair of glasses. The second beside takeaway from a Daddy Issues show (the first being their music); merch.
“We have a new merch. Koozies that say ‘Fuck you forever,” which is the opening line of their single ‘In Your Head,'” the band said.
There’s no mistaking the intention of the line, but it’s snark shouldn’t distract you from the fact that Mitchell, Moynihan, and Maxwell are three incredibly talented musicians and are meaningfully contributing to a scene that at times doesn’t feel positive, safe, or worth showing up to. They write about what matters. Broaching subjects, like abuse, while simultaneously sticking their tongues out at ex-boyfriends and wondering whether they’re a “lemon” of a person. Deep Dream grapples with issues of every size, but never losing its footing and earns Daddy Issues an audience eager to watch them continue to grow.