Punk Rock Grows Up, And Grays, In 'Other F Word' Punk rock has provided the anthems of angsty teenagerdom for decades — but as the genre's idols age, they've found themselves with teenagers of their own. In The Other F Word, director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins profiles punk rockers facing a paradoxical challenge — fatherhood.
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Punk Rock Grows Up, And Grays, In 'Other F Word'

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Punk Rock Grows Up, And Grays, In 'Other F Word'

Punk Rock Grows Up, And Grays, In 'Other F Word'

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.


And I'm Robert Siegel. A story now about the F word. Actually, "The Other F Word," which is the title of a new documentary film. And we should say here that the other F word is fatherhood. The subtitle of the film is "The Coming of Middle Age," and it tells us how a handful of serious punk rock performers have made the transition from rebels to responsible family men. The movie is funny and serious and obscene and sweet, and its director and writer is Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, who joins us now from our studios in Culver City, California. Welcome, Andrea. Welcome back, Andrea, I should say.

ANDREA BLAUGRUND NEVINS: Oh, thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: I should explain that 25 years ago, you were booking interviews for ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

NEVINS: That's right.

SIEGEL: I guess, about 25 years ago, the guys who made this film were young and living like there was no tomorrow.

NEVINS: They sure were.

SIEGEL: How did this idea to find punk musicians who've turned into devoted fathers, how did this come about?

NEVINS: A dear friend of mine, Cristan Reilly, who is now the producer of the film, came to me with a book written by an old high school chum of hers named Jim Lindberg, and the book he had written was called "Punk Rock Dad." And it was what seemed like a really fun oxymoron to jump into, and we did. We went down the punk rock rabbit hole and came out with this movie.

SIEGEL: Jim Lindberg, I say this, if I knew this before 72 hours ago, Jim Lindberg is from the band Pennywise. Here's a clip of him as he's packing for a long tour.


JIM LINDBERG: I've been doing this for 20 years, being a singer for a punk band. Rock belt, that's where the magic happens.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Can we get you a different pair?

LINDBERG: We have a big album coming out. You know, a lot of touring in front of us. We've got open house at school. I'll be in Myrtle Beach. Sometimes I'll be here. Sometimes I'll be gone.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, I can't take 20 Barbies. I'll take one.



SIEGEL: He's the person we see most of in this film, and he seems to have made the transition pretty well, from a wild and crazy young guy to daddy.

NEVINS: He's made it pretty well, but it's been a struggle. It's really hard to go out and yell the band's anthem, "F Authority," and then come home and be the ultimate authority in his house.

SIEGEL: Yes. We're talking about not just the language of the performance, the look of the performance, the tattoos that go along with being a punk rock musician, the attitude towards society. It's a pretty sharp turn one has to make to start socializing one's children.

NEVINS: It is. But what I discovered in doing this film and didn't expect at all - I was really just thinking of it more as a potential comedy. What I discovered was that a lot of these guys were really devastated by their own fathers. And when handed a child, suddenly that all came rushing to the forefront, and they felt like they had to truly be there in a way that their parents weren't. And in many ways, that was the reason for the strength of their early rebellion.

SIEGEL: Yeah. I have to say that I had actually assumed that a lot of the outrage of punk bands was as much a pose as the statement of what their lives were like. And, in fact, you describe - you interview a lot of people here who had horrible upbringings and came from terribly broken families and backgrounds.

NEVINS: They did, and more than that, I think that all of them were, in addition to having been maltreated as children, they were also very sensitive kids and really kind of the poets of their classes. And so they felt that they needed to express the outrage that they were experiencing in a poetic way but not your regular sonnet.

SIEGEL: Here's one of my favorite moments of balance in the film. This is - is it Tim McIlrath?

NEVINS: Tim McIlrath, yes, Rise Against.

SIEGEL: McIlrath of the band Rise Against. We hear him playing his song on guitar with his little grade school-age daughter, and then it segues to him performing that very song in a concert.


TIM MCILRATH: You know how it goes?


MCILRATH: I'll start it.

(Singing) Now I'm standing on a...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Singing) Rooftop ready to fall.

MCILRATH: (Singing) I think I'm at the...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Singing) Edge now.

MCILRATH: (Singing) But I could be...


MCILRATH: (Singing) Now I'm standing on a...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That's all I know.

MCILRATH: That's all you know?

(Singing) (Unintelligible). I'm standing on a rooftop ready to fall. I think I'm at the edge now, but I could be wrong.

SIEGEL: I'm standing on a rooftop. I think I'm at the edge. Not the typical song that father and daughter sing together.

NEVINS: No, not at all. But these kids are being raised with some real truths in their lives, and I think it's benefiting all of them.

SIEGEL: One tension here is between the aging punk rock musician and his family, but the other tension is between the musician and his fans. For his family, he may have to become a mature daddy, but for the fans, he has to remain the raucous kid out there.

NEVINS: Absolutely. It was one of the things that really struck me in doing the research for this because I was not a punk rock fan growing up. And what struck me was that with most musical genres, the audience ages with the artist. But in this case, this is really an art form that speaks almost exclusively to rebellious, angry teenagers. And as you're getting older, it becomes kind of ironic to be up there screaming a teenage kind of angst. And a lot of these guys are struggling with how do you stay honest because honesty and authenticity is sort of the watchwords of the punk movement.

SIEGEL: Yes. There's - one of the musician's remarks: There's a bit of the clown playing the kid's birthday party here. Old guys coming in dressed up and making youngsters, teenagers happy, happy in their anger.

NEVINS: And so when do you call it quits if it's actually still putting bread on the table, and then what do you do if that is your expertise? It's a question they were all asking themselves.

SIEGEL: These are bands that somebody says in the documentary that they're not so big that they could do a couple of shows a year and live through their 50s on that income. They've got to get out there. They've got to get out and perform which means being away from little children.

NEVINS: Exactly. And they're coming of age and really having to put food on the table corresponded with the decline of the music industry. So that's one of the things that all of them are dealing with, the fact that they used to be able to put out a record and at least be able to feed the kids off of that. But now, with file sharing and the decline in CD sales, they have to get out there to get paid. They have to get ticket sales to get paid.

SIEGEL: I won't spoil the end of the film here, but Jim Lindberg throughout the movie has to make a big decision. He reflects on that in a very honest revealing way about what he's learned. So I wonder what you've learned from making this film about him and the others.

NEVINS: You know, it was something that I was wrestling with, this decision about how much do you work and how much do you try and spend time with your kids? It's such a tremendous pull, I think, on all of us who have children. And I think what I learned is that I have to be there as much as I possibly can.

SIEGEL: Of course, this story, one can see it as an extreme; that is, people who in their youth, which went deep into their 40s, let's say, were out performing raucously, publicly misbehaving, and the question is how do they reconcile that with raising their children. But in a much broader and perhaps less shocking sense, parents have done things in their youth. They behaved in ways that were young and irresponsible, and it's a general question. How do you reconcile that with the kids you're raising knowing some things are inevitable, some bad choices are inevitable, but hoping they won't make too many of them?

NEVINS: Exactly. And I think all of us go through a period where we have to re-evaluate who we are in the world. We're no longer the person who's rebelling against our parents. And one of the reasons why I wanted to explore this with punk rockers is because I think it's actually much harder for them because their whole identity is involved in being the rebel. And then, how do you come home and send your kids to school and make sure they get their homework done? And, you know, I think a lot of these guys are finding it amusing that they have to play the deleted F word version of their songs in the car for their kids. Otherwise, their kids can't share their art. And I think that's very hard.

SIEGEL: Well, Andrea, thank you for talking with us about the film.

NEVINS: Thank you for taking the time. I so appreciate it.

SIEGEL: That's Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, who is writer and director of the documentary film "The Other F Word." It opens today in New York and on Friday in Los Angeles.


ART ALEXAKIS: (Singing) I will never be sane. I will always be weird inside. I will always be lame. Now I'm a grown man with a child of my own. And I swear I'll never let her know all the pain I have known. Oh, yeah.

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