New Fathers Day Album Finds Douglas Patton Losing His Grip on Reality
Douglas Patton of Fathers Day
Photo by Troy Farah
Whether you're going through a midlife crisis (complete with the ponytail and motorcycle) or you don't know how to deal with the fact that your son is gay (gasp! I knew he shouldn't have gone to art school!) Fathers Day knows how you feel. But more so than usual, the thrash punk band's frontman, Douglas Patton, seems to be slowly loosening his grip on reality.
Now in his early 50s, Patton's tongue-in-cheek musings on life as a dad have devolved into nearly eight-minute dirges swearing off ever taking his kids to "Disney World." This, and songs such as "My Daughter's a Slut" and "My Son's a Gay" come from the band's upcoming sixth full-length album, That's It!
The follow-up to 2013's Life is tighter, more frantic, and more of the enraged fatherly wisdom all of us dread to ever parrot, such as "Turn Your Music Down" and "You Can't Do Anything Right." The other dads in the band include Frank Brando (a.k.a. "Golf Dad") on guitar, Ronny Hayweather (a.k.a. "Step Dad") on bass, and Tony Sykes (a.k.a. "Olympic Sports Dad") on drums.
Patton begrudgingly agreed to meet with me and discuss the album under the condition we went to Original Hamburger Works, a grease spot in Central Phoenix famous for soggy onion rings. Fresh from dropping his kids off at the pool, Patton arrived wearing an obnoxious yellow T-shirt and beige shorts that were, well, a little too short. He promptly ordered himself a basket of said onion rings, plus a ginger ale. Having lost my appetite, I only could ask for a water.
Immediately, we get to talking about Patton's many offspring, a number well above the teens that Patton is reluctant to share, although he does try to count them all. Okay, so he has a lot of kids. Some are his through blood, others are through marriage. In fact, Patton has been married eight times. Which immediately begs the question: After the fifth or sixth divorce, wouldn't you just give up?
"Well, call me old fashioned . . ." Patton trails off. "But as fun as it is to screw around with a girl every now and again, I still like to commit to marriage. If I like a woman -- if I can tell she's gonna be a good mother -- I figure why not? And after the fifth or sixth one, it's really not that bad. It becomes easier with time, divorce and marry again. Well, I shouldn't say it becomes easier. The older you get, the worse single people become. I guess I'm a living example of that."
Though it might not seem readily apparent, That's It! is a loose concept album about the mental and emotional state of men of a certain age. If you can relate, you'll probably love lyrics about what it's like to wake up one day and realize you hate your job, you hate your wife, you hate your kids, you hate your entire existence.
"When you get older, it feels like time is going by faster, but you're not going faster. It feels like you're slowing down and everyone else around you is speeding up," Patton says, wheezing and uncomfortably scratching his shorts. "And that's a scary feeling. But it's also kind of enjoyable. I take it easier now. I'm still stressed out all the time but I just try to mellow out, watch my programs . . ."
No one ever said being a father was easy, but according to Patton, the worst hurdle is financial. "Kids, they're real fucking expensive, [and] every wife wants something different from you," Patton complains. "Though at first, when you get married, you're in that honeymoon stage and they act like all they need is your love and support. But eventually, they want more."
But as for parenting itself, Patton says that's only gotten easier for him, now that he's grown more apathetic toward his kids.
"You just stop caring. You just go, 'You'll figure it out.' And if they fuck up . . .," Patton says, smacking his hands together. "You put 'em in line."
Wait, does this suggest Patton is in favor of physically punishing his kids? When I bring up the topic of ever having to deal with the vampires at Child Protective Services (CPS), Patton is quick to change the subject.
"I don't like the word 'spanking' unless it's in the bedroom," Patton chuckles. "I don't want to say on the record that I hit my kids because it might land me in jail, but I think it's okay to give them a little love tap. Because they need that. And adults need that, too."
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