NORMAN — “Our songs are about our friends and being awkward,” Paige Willett, percussionist and vocalist said about her music made alongside guitarist and vocalist Kevin Lough.
Known as Dadrock, the duo has developed a rough and ready sound that mirrors affection for the punk precursor sound of some garage rock bands from the 1960’s. There’s no affectation to their music, it’s all hit and go. Willett doesn’t play a full drum kit and stands while she’s performing. Lough’s guitar is fundamental shredding. Their gentle moments are of the power pop variety.
“We’re pretty much a minimalist band,” Willett said. “People tend to either love or hate that about us.”
The only Dadrock recording I have is a cassette tape “…In glorious mono.” They explained it’s cheap to record that way and follows their do-it-yourself ethic.
“I just think it looks cooler,” Lough said. “A little square,” Willett interjected with a lilting chuckle.
They dig the cassette tape sound that sometimes includes random buzzing and also being able to individually decorate each tape box.
“I did have someone yell at me after a show, ‘It’s 2011, why are you doing cassettes,’” Willett said.
They give out digital download codes for their music too, but still appreciate the throwback to an earlier era that reminds them of childhood. “When I was a little kid I listened exclusively to cassettes,” Lough said. “I don’t think I had a CD player until I was 13 or 14.”
The duo is set to record new material at engineer Steve Boaz’ Breathing Rhythm Studio in Norman.
“We have three categories they fall into,” Lough said about their original songs,” they’re about being in a band, feeling awkward or threatening to punch people.”
He admitted to more imaginary threats of violence than anything actually life-menacing. I pointed out that at least three Dadrock song titles were mash-ups of main stream rock songs, such as The Who’s “The Kids are Alright” becomes “The Kids Are Uptight.”
“The being in a band part is all about me being a big music nerd,” Lough said. “Sort of poking fun at other bands.”
Willett proudly noted their jab at Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” is called “Lisp of an Angel.”
Both Willett and Lough are University of Oklahoma undergraduates near matriculation. They’re also romantically involved, but they draw inspiration from life before and during their relationship
“Oh, just tell the real story,” Willett said when Lough began delicately describing a tune about an ex-girlfriend.
“I used to date this girl a long time ago and now she’s married but keeps texting me,” he said. “She was sending me pictures of herself everyday and saying ‘Just thinking about you.’”
The song, titled “Photographs,” is about one thing: receiving them is decidedly unwelcome.
Currently Dadrock is writing songs together and some are about their own relationship.
“I think they’re pretty cute but maybe that’s just because I’m in the middle of it,” Willett said.
Lough was formerly with Zanzibar! label band Psychotic Reaction. He left that combo to play with Willett. Dadrock have been performing together a little over a year but have snagged an enthusiastic mentor in that short time.
“We can’t talk enough about Rhett Jones from The Needles and John Wayne’s Bitches,” Willett said. “He’s been excited about everything we do and has helped us so much.”
Jones is a long time presence on the regional music scene going back to at least 1997 from my own archives in an outfit called Visceral Punch and later with Dallas’ The Happy Bullets.
“Rhett’s encouragement and help getting shows booked has been great,” Lough said. “He’s the ‘Dad’ of Dadrock,” Willett added.
Dadrock are happy to be in the midst of Norman’s creativity, both music and other arts. Their Saturday evenings are often spent not actually drinking because they’re broke, but going with friends from joint to joint in downtown Norman looking at visual art and steeping in the atmosphere.
“It’s really cool that there are so many non-traditional venues like Anty Shanty (Vintage Clothing) willing to let bands play there,” Willett said.
Dadrock’s show tonight is at traditional venue Opolis, 113 N. Crawford, as part of Oklahoma Noise Fest Night One.