In honor of Father's Day, which is this Sunday, June 17, Roadrunner Records decided to reach out to some of the label's artists who are themselves parents, and ask them how they balance family life with the sacrifices necessary to be in a rock band —long stretches of time spent apart from wives and kids, the need for isolation to let creativity flow, and more. Here are the answers Roadrunner got back.
Robb Flynn (MACHINE HEAD): "Being a dad is the greatest gift that has come into my life, and something I try every day to get better at. It's the single hardest job I've ever had, and it's twice as hard for my wife Genevra, who for months at a time is basically a single mom with financial support from me who raises our two sons, Zander and Wyatt. Yes, being in a touring metal band and balancing fatherhood is a challenge in so many ways that I wouldn't have expected. It can be amazing, inspiring, depressing, heartbreaking, hilarious, life-afffirming, and at its best, makes me a kid again.
"For over 23 years straight now, I've been on tour. I've never retired, gone on hiatus, took five years off to recharge. Nope, since I was a teenager I've been on tour, and MACHINE HEAD is a band that tours hard, harder than 90% of the metal, rock, or pop acts/bands out there. James Brown, eat your heart out. The shortest tour we've done? 16 months. The longest? 3 years and 1 month. Granted, there were breaks in between tours, some as long as 2 1/2 months, others as short as a week. The flip side is that when I'm home writing a record, I can be home for a year, straight spending a lot of undivided time with them. But when I'm touring a record, another tour is always on the horizon, and for both Zander and Wyatt, that looming feeling that Daddy is going away soon is tough.
"There's the depressing parts: Often times, the week before a tour is the hardest because the boys begin to shut down emotionally, or act out. It's a coping mechanism, it allows them to deal with the situation they are about to face. They don't understand that and certainly don't rationalize that. I've had my five-year-old, Wyatt, tell me he hates my job, he hates my band, and he hates how it takes me away from him. My eight-year-old, Zander, didn't speak to me via Skype for eight weeks on a 10-week SLIPKNOT tour, because he was mad at me for being gone. It was brutally hard. They miss me, and I miss them.
"I've missed many things, too: I've missed both of their first steps, both their first teeth, both their first words, plays, recitals, school functions, soccer games, baseball games, wrestling classes, Tae Kwon Do classes, basketball camps, camping trips. I've missed big chunks of their lives.
"And then there's the hilarious and absurd parts of being a heavy metal dad: We played the Download festival in England in 2007 when Zander was three, and Wyatt was six months old. I flew home the day after, and when I walked in the door at three in the afternoon, my wife handed the kids over and said, 'Your turn,' and walked out the door. Zander proceeded to make seven poopy diapers that day. SEVEN POOPY DIAPERS!!! 24 hours ago, I was a Metal God commanding 65,000 people into a frenzy that Kerrang! magazine said 'blew SLAYER away,' and now I'm changing seven poopy diapers! Ah, fatherhood, it has a good way of humbling you.
"And then there are the life-affirming parts, the parts of fatherhood that remind you why you're alive: As a self-professed 'Star Wars' nerd, being a dad has truly been one of the most enjoyable things in life. We're probably a bit more conservative than most parents when it comes to TV and movies. And until a month ago, hadn't shown 'Star Wars' to either kid, and even now, only Zander has seen it. But since most of the kids at both boys' school had watched that movie, plus they had a ton of the toys, I wanted to devise a way for them to know the story. So what I did was, I told them the story of 'Star Wars'. I broke every movie down into about 10 to 12 different 'stories.' I'd read the script and then every three or four nights we'd all lay down in their bed, turn out the lights and I'd have them stare at the ceiling and listen to the story of 'Star Wars'. I'd do all the voices, make it all dramatic, leave every story on a cliff-hanger, it was awesome! They could stop me to ask me about characters or details, which they often did, and later as we found out, the best part of it, was that it allowed them to dream, to use their imagination about what 'Star Wars' could be, or look like. The first time I had a light saber battle with the boys, I was practically in tears. So fuckin' cool. We've gone through all six 'Star Wars' movies now, all four 'Indiana Jones', and are about to start 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'.
"Being a heavy metal dad is a life less ordinary. It is a choice the wife and I made, and a life we chose to bring our kids into. And while it is Father's Day, I'd like to give some huge props to Genevra for the enormous, nearly inhuman amount of effort she puts into raising our kids, the damn good job she does, the extraordinary patience she has in dealing with a barnacle-ly son-of-a-bitch like myself, and for being tough as nails and making me a better father.
"To my own Dad, Conrad Flynn, for being one heck of an awesome Dad.
And for all the heavy metal dads out there who work their asses off to balance this life we've chosen."
Max Cavalera (SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY): "My kids and my music have crossed paths from the beginning. I always involved my kids with music any chance I had. Richie played guitar at the NAILBOMB show in Holland in front of 120,000 people. Zyon's heartbeat opened SEPULTURA's 'Chaos A.D.' record. Igor's hands and mine are together in the photo shoot I did for 'Soulfly'. Our hands hold the CD in the CD case and on 'Primitive', Igor says 'Tchoo Tchoo' before the song 'Mulambo'. All that connection somehow inspired them to create their own music. Richie sings for INCITE, and Zyon and Igor are together in LODY KONG. We were on tour in America and will be back for another Maximum Cavalera Tour."
M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan (SLIPKNOT): "I will be married 20 years this month. I have four children: my oldest, a girl, Alexandria, 21 years of age; oldest boy, Gage, age 18; Gabrielle, 15; Simon, eight years old. I was married before I started the band with Paul [Gray, late SLIPKNOT bassist], so I am blessed. I have yin and yang, the best of both worlds. I have my dream — I get to perform music, I get to take photos, I create art pieces, I direct, I produce, I do it all 'cause I'm a Renaissance guy, and I do it to the fullest. Before my dad died, he said, 'You're the only person in my entire life that I've heard say wanted to do something' — 'cause I'm his son, he remembered the first time I told him what I wanted to do, and then he came to a show with 30,000 people and looking out, said, 'You did it.' I'm an only child, so I always wanted a family, and I have two girls and two boys, the best of both worlds two times over, and I have my soulmate Chantel. We've been happily married for 20 years coming up June 26, and the way I balance it is easy. One is not the other. You treat one with ultimate respect, and you treat the other with ultimate respect. There's that fine line between, where they can mingle, so the family can come out on the road, whatever. But in this business, even though it's my dream, my family comes first. I wanted my dream so I could put a roof over my family's head. So I could have insurance. I work hard at my dream and give it everything I have so I can have my family world, which is what I wanted more than anything. and my SLIPKNOT family is family, too, but they would even tell you it can't be equal, because you're talking about my wife and my children. I give them everything I am first and foremost, and because I do that, I'm allowed to continue to be the best I can be in SLIPKNOT."
Phil Demmel (MACHINE HEAD): "Adding the complexities of a family member being a touring musician to a split-custody situation is one that my six-year-old son has known all his life. Bridging this gap and maintaining our unique relationship not only takes patience, but a lot of understanding. We have created an amazing kinship based on the fact that no matter how far apart or how long we go without seeing each other, he knows his Daddy will call and he will be seeing him again. With our limited time together, we've learned to not take anything for granted and to enjoy our family time (with Martarino too!) to the fullest. Our situation has strengthened our relationship and thank all that is good for what we have."
Ray Luzier (KORN): "This is my second Father's Day as a dad. I want to raise my son like my Dad raised me — he was always 110% behind me in everything I did. Being a new dad, I want to learn from my father and encourage my boy to follow his passions in life, no matter what they are — because that's what my Dad did for me. When a lot of people said to get a real job and quit trying to be a musician, my Dad always stood behind me and encouraged me to really go for it.
"It's hard to be on the road away from my son, but Skype is a huge help being able to see his face and communicate with him and his mom. And it makes me really appreciate the time I have with him when I'm not on the road."
John Petrucci (DREAM THEATER): "I have three kids and they are all musical. It's a funny thing because they have always been surrounded by music, whether it's at concerts, backstage, on stage, on a tour bus or in the studio. It's kind of inevitable that they would end up being musical. I always say it's like being born into a cop family, or a sports family, etc. They are especially exposed to tons of music at home since both my wife and I are guitar players. There are instruments all over the house and someone is always playing! The interesting thing is that my wife and I never pushed music on our children. They are naturally drawn to it and I think as a parent you have to walk a fine line between encouragement and over-involvement when it comes to the arts.
"As a father, the toughest thing that I've been faced with over the years is the difficulty in striking a balance between career and family. I really miss out on so much of their lives at times, so it's so important to value the time we are together and do the best that I can to hopefully share my experiences and knowledge with them enough that it has an impression on who and how they turn out to be as people. Fortunately for me, I married an amazing woman who has been such a positive and loving presence in their lives and incredible role model as their mother, and we work together at filling in all the gaps that may result from this kind of professional lifestyle. At the end of the day, I find that it really doesn't matter what band you're in or what anyone may think of you as a guitar player…to them you're just Dad!"