When I first meet Adam Bautz, the frontman of alternative rock band sexdad, he rushes out of his band’s practice space wearing a sleeveless orange tank top and baggy sweats. If he looks like a man who’s spent too many hours holed up in a cramped room in front of a computer, that’s exactly what he did while mixing the band’s as-yet-untitled, date-stamped new album. uncertain output.
“I basically live here,” Bautz tells me as we climb the stairs from Utopia Studios to Shaw. The industrial-sized building was once a tobacco warehouse, and on the fourth floor the band has their practice space.
Bautz facilitates a series of quick introductions: Andy Lewis on lead guitar, Blake Hahn on bass and Jack Kohler on drums.
Each member has been or is currently in a number of groups. But, like a couple who’s planned a week-long trip together or just split the cost of a couch, they all seem certain that this group, sexdad, is “the one.”
They give me a rendition of “I Was a Teen Psycho”, an understated rocker that reminds me of Velvet Underground.
Then Kohler and Bautz exchange looks, and it’s clear to everyone in the room except me that the drummer is waiting for comment.
“It’s the only time they’ll take me seriously because there’s a spotter,” jokes Bautz, referring to my presence. He goes on to tell Kohler that he “gives a little too much rock n’ roll” to the song.
Kohler knows exactly what that means and seems to take it to heart. Later, the drummer references a secret language he feels like he shares with his bandmates when they really click, which is what they’ve been most often lately.
“I wouldn’t be in a group called sexdad if we didn’t have camaraderie,” Lewis says.
The ridiculousness of the group’s name seems to weigh a little on Bautz. The jokey name, for some, could undermine the band’s and Bautz’s serious intentions. Apparently, however, her mother is one of the biggest advocates for the name. So at least there is that.
“And people remember that,” he says.
Among their many influences, sexdad cites Sun Volt, Wilco and Big Star. The last of which Bautz refers to as “inspiration in the field of not making money”.
A few songs later in what has become a private concert, they play “Congratulations”. During the verses, Lewis plays a noodly lead guitar that turns out to be a sleight of hand as the band hits the tight, staccato chorus that sounds from an entirely different decade than Young. But then, just as quickly, they return to Young for the verse. The different sounds freeze together nicely though and to my surprise, especially as this group of 20-somethings talk about who they want to sound like they’ve concocted a style of their own.
As if reading my mind, Bautz said a few minutes later: “The last record, it was me who decided that I didn’t mind copying other people’s styles entirely. Song of the Stones.’ And then really, I don’t know if these songs are very similar to my songs in fact. Which is exciting. “
Before moving their operation to Utopia, sexdad practiced in the basement of Bautz’s mother’s building. But, as Lewis says, “Unfortunately, the upstairs neighbors weren’t Adam’s mother.”
As Bautz recounts, “We were recording a song for the record, and I think it must have been really annoying because the same single instrument was playing the same thing over and over. Then we hear this noise of stomp followed by ‘Shut. The. Fuck Up!'”
Later, my sense that the band created their own sound is doubly confirmed when Bautz plays me a recording of “A New Dawn in St. Louis”, which, by the name, sounds cheesy as hell but is a total ear Earthworm.
The song begins with a few ambient keys and a soft, groovy bass. The guitar steps in for the anti-anthem chorus as Bautz sings, “It’s a new dawn in St. Louis. No!” On the heels of the vocals is a viola and what Bautz says is a poorly played clavichord and faux French horn.
The tune is lo-fi but really catchy. Imagine a song that would play over a public service announcement broadcast by the St. Louis tourist office. Now imagine if the tourist board asked Handsome Boy Modeling School and Guided by Voices to co-compose the track.
I ask Bautz if they’ll be playing “New Dawn in St. Louis” at their gig the following week at the Heavy Anchor.
He says I will just have to wait and see.
Over the next week, I listen to the track several times a day. There’s a tendency with earworms that what originally made the song special can start to squeal with too many repeated listens, which doesn’t happen with this track. “New Dawn in St. Louis” is the perfect mix of weird and catchy that’s hard to pull off.
The following week, sexdad prepares to play a show at the Heavy Anchor to a cheering crowd of around 30 young people. Before they go on stage, I ask Bautz if they are going to play “New Dawn”.
“Did you bring your viola?” he asks.
I reached into my pocket and, finding neither the viola nor the know-how to play one, shrugged my shoulders in response.
“So I’m afraid it won’t be tonight.”
The show still rocks.
Sexdad’s new untitled album is forthcoming. You can find their catalog on Spotify, Apple Music, and most other streaming platforms.