With the musical pseudonym falling foul of today’s more typically po-faced standard, Billy Hamilton catches up with El Padre’s Bobby Steve Jacksonson to find out just what’s in a name
Despite a loving embrace from globe-conquering hip-hoppers, the pseudonym is often much derided in today’s bourgeois indie circles. Keeping it real’s all part of the deal and, unless you’re after a one-way ticket to attention-starved oblivion, that tight little package your band earnestly plugs had better not include any weed-induced appellations. So when I chew the fat with El Padre’s entitled guitarist/vocalist Bobby Steve Jacksonson it’s a shock to discover his mammy didn’t christen him so.
“One day, a long, long time ago when the old version of El Padre was falling apart, I renamed everyone and came up with [Bobby Steve Jacksonson] and when the day came to stop using it I thought: ‘na, na I’m keeping that’,” Jacksonson explains. “Now I kind of like the anonymity of it all.”
Completed by the equally well-monikered Beat-á-Maxx [Beats/Vocals] and Papa Flash [Guitar/Vocals], El Padre’s synth-centric furore of jay-walking lyrics and rumbling melodics has been striking a dagger deep in the heart of po-faced fashionistas since the current line-up coagulated just over a year ago. A spate of doom-saying tracks like electro-ballad Monsters In The Blue certainly bely the trio’s playful disposition but Jacksonson is eager to stress that any perceived dolorous moping is an unavoidable trait.
“I want [El Padre] to be fun but it’s very hard to write a happy song with synths,” he says. “When you introduce synths you’re treading into weird territory - you’ve got to do it really well. I guess some of the lyrics are very, very sad but it’s just a bleak way of saying something nice. It really annoys me when you hear that band who wrote that song about dancing to Joy Division (that'll be the Wombats - Ed). I mean, who actually has the audacity to write a song like that. They’re just a terrible, terrible band.”
Having fervently established those not on the group’s hitlist, Jacksonson unveils who actually tickles their electro-shock fancy: “There’s a huge influence coming from Scotland. The three bands who quite accurately form our sound are Errors, Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad. El Padre’s really a combination of different styles: Beat-á-Maxx has a lyricless, electro project whereas Pappa Flash is in many, many strange and wonderful bands. Hopefully, he’ll get a wedding gig soon – that’s where the money is and we could do with some new gear.”
Jacksonson’s own solo work is a skewer of introspection that flickers to the tune of dreamy acoustica, far removed from El Padre’s oceanic depths. So how does his work compare to El Padre’s motorway-rolling sonics? “It’s the kind of thing I do for myself, the things I relate to,” explains Jacksonson. “In [El Padre], Beat-á-Maxx is the one who does the sounds and I’m just an instrument for that. I really like that, I like being able to write lyrics for chords I normally wouldn’t produce myself.”
With fingers buried deep in a multitude of pies, surely it’s time for the trio to refocus as one singular unit? Unsurprisingly, Jacksonson disagrees: “Well, right now, we’re working on one of Beat-á-Maxx’s projects which has something to do with twin peaks – it’s a Dr Dre influenced electro song called ‘The Owls Are Not What They Seem’. As for me, I’ve done a poem called a Πem, where the first word of each line is three letters long, the second one letter long and the third is four letters long – you know, 3.14? It could go on forever.”
Much like that age-old mathematical constant, you get the impression El Padre’s possibilities are endless.
El Padre support De Rosa at Oran Mor, Glasgow on 31 Julhttp://www.myspace.com/elpadremusic