The Father Figures started with a 50th birthday party, which is either the least or most punk thing ever.
Traditional agitated punk wisdom would suggest that guitarist/vocalist Michael Cornelius, bassist/vocalist Tom Reardon, and drummer Bobby Lerma lead pretty square lives: All three are married with children (Cornelius is actually a grandfather), gainfully employed, and happily settled into middle age. Picking kids up from school and punching the clock doesn't leave much time for smashing the state.
But then there's that other element of punk, the one that suggests that "being punk" is less about sold-at-Hot Topic anarchy and more about actual freedom. The idea that just because you age doesn't mean you have to mellow out. By that logic, The Father Figures, and the band's excellent new LP, All About Everything, is sure as hell more punk than you.
"[Punk] always seemed like it was the safe place for everybody who didn't fit in anywhere else," Lerma says. "For me, as a kid, it was pure 100 percent freedom -- to do what you wanted to do, dress how you wanted to dress, go to the thrift store and get the craziest pants that you wanted to because you thought that they looked cool."
Cornelius, Reardon, and Lerma share a background in Phoenix's storied punk history. In the 1980s, Cornelius was a founding member of JFA, a band that defined "skate punk" on a national scale. Reardon played in Religious Skids, a band that secured the coveted opening slot for a show featuring Fugazi, or "the dude from Minor Threat's new band." Lerma played in The Voice and other bands and joined the guys in frequent skate sessions. Phoenix was punk rock's Wild West -- a place where nearly anything went, fueled by a daring skate culture and endless landscapes of abandoned concrete. Separated from national trends, things got weird and woolly -- with JFA, Meat Puppets, and Sun City Girls creating strange new punk sounds that couldn't have been born anywhere other than the desert. -- Melissa Fossum