There’s nothing like seeing your favorite artist perform. Of course it’s always better seeing them in person, but sometimes seeing them on TV is enough to get you pumped up. When looking at our idols on stage bouncing around and singing their heart out your focus is only on them. You get lost in their appearance, their sound, their aura. The last thing anyone ever thinks about when seeing anyone in concert is their children. This documentary looks at several punk rockers who struggle with performing music while remaining a good father. It’s not something music fans often think about, but it’s not as easy as you think.
The film features interviews with several artists from all over the punk spectrum: Fat Mike of NOFX, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, Ron Reyes from Black Flag among many others. For the most part the film continually follows Jim Lindberg of Pennywise as he deals with life on the road and missing his family. His part of the story is actually really sad. Seeing him dye his hair while saying “Gotta look young for the kids,” steadily getting tired of traveling around the world, and constantly missing his kids makes you feel bad for him. He couldn’t even relate to anyone else in the band because none of them have kids. It’s painfully clear he’s not enjoying performing. By the end, he makes a tough decision to leave the band, but after seeing what he’s been through you end up applauding him.
The other people interviewed all have different views on father hood. Ron Reyes talks about how he was tired of the violence in the punk scene and how it inspired him to focus on his family. Tim McIirath of Rise Against touches on trying to immerse his kids in what he does, but needing to make sacrifices. There’s even a moment where Flea gets so emotional he breaks out in tears when talking about his abandonment and how no child should ever go through that experience. What you begin to realize is a lot of these people came from broken homes. While at first they wear it like a badge of honor you see how it really affects them. In becoming parents themselves they are trying not to make the same mistakes their parents did.
Some refuse to change their lifestyle, such as Fat Mike who says he needs to get wasted just to get on stage, but others acknowledge when things need to change. Mark Hoppus even mentioned how he won’t perform certain Blink songs (mainly the ones about masturbation) because he’s getting too old. There’s an especially heartbreaking story from Duane Peters of U.S. Bombs about the death of his son. He’s visibly hurt and shaken when talking about it. It’s enough to move you to tears. And the revelation of Art Alexakis‘ sexual abuse is shocking. Moments like these give the viewer a chance to learn something personal about these people; something you never would have guessed. It shows them in a vulnerable state and some of their stories leave you thinking “I didn’t know they went through such a messed up experience.”
It’s interesting to see many of the artists struggle with keeping the punk aesthetics while being a parent. The values that are held up in parenthood like order, class, and money are everything these people were rebelling against. With the presence of a child they’re suddenly forced to face those values. They talk about how they struggled with being real to themselves and to their fans while being a responsible parent. Even though every artist has a different view on childhood they all agree that juggling these two aspects of their life isn’t easy.
Overall, the film gets 8.5/10. It’s a really great documentary that shines a light on something fans never consider. You learn that keeping the punk aesthetic while trying to be a good father is pretty difficult. It even revels some the musicians most intimate and vulnerable moments. It’s a great way for fans to learn more about their favorite punkers and what happens when the rock star becomes a parent. But no matter what the footage of each of the guys with their kids show that they are dedicated to their kids. They may love the music and the fans, but they’re kids come first and foremost.