When I first met Adam Bautz, the first man in the alternative rock band, he was walking out of his band’s practice space in an orange tank top and loose sweats. If it sounds like a guy who spent many hours hiding in a cramped room in front of the computer, it’s because that’s exactly what he was doing shuffling the band’s still untitled new album, release date uncertain.
“I basically lived here,” Bautz told me as we climbed the stairs of Shaw’s Utopia studios. The industrial-sized building used to be a tobacco warehouse, and on the fourth floor is a band rehearsal space.
Bautz facilitates a quick round of introductions: Andy Lewis on lead guitar, Blake Hahn on bass, and Jack Koehler on drums.
Each member has been or is currently in any number of bands. But, like the couple planning a week-long trip together or just splitting the cost of a couch, they all seem sure that this band, the sexdad, is “the best.”
They treat me with translating “I was a teen psychic,” a low rocker that reminds me of Velvet Underground.
Next, Kohler and Bautz exchange looks, and it’s clear to everyone in the room except me that the drummer is looking for some notes.
“This is the only time they’ll take me seriously because there’s an observer,” Bautz jokes, referring to my presence. He goes on to tell Kohler that he “gives up rock ‘n’ roll” a lot in the song.
Koehler knows exactly what this means and seems to be taking it seriously. Later, the drummer points out a secret language that he feels like he shares with his bandmates when they really click, which they have been quite a lot as of late.
“I wouldn’t be in a band called sexdad if we didn’t have camaraderie,” Lewis says.
The silliness of the band’s name seems to have little effect on Bautz. For some, the joking name may undermine the serious intentions of the band and Putz. Apparently, although his mother is one of the biggest advocates of the name. So at least there is that.
“And people remember it,” he says.
Among their many influences, the sexdad cites Sun Volt, Wilco, and Big Star. The last of what Bautz refers to is “an inspiration in the no-money world”.
And after a few songs in what turns into a private party, they’re playing “Congratulations.” During the verses Lewis plays lead guitar fashionably proves to be a sleight of hand when the band hits the choppy, tight chorus that sounds from a decade very different from Young. But then, just as quickly, they turned back to Young for the verse. The different sounds freeze well though to my surprise, as much as this band from their early twenties talks about who they want to sound like they’ve come up with a style of their own.
As if I was reading my mind, Bautz says a few minutes later, “The last recording I had was that I didn’t mind completely copying other people’s styles. I’d say, ‘Okay, that’s a Beatles song.'” This is the song of the stones song. And then really, I don’t know these songs are actually very similar to mine. Which is exciting.”
Before moving their operation to Utopia, the sexdad used to practice in the basement of Bautz’s mother’s apartment building. But, as Lewis says, “Unfortunately, the upstairs neighbors were not directly from Adam’s mother.”
As Bautz says, “We were in the middle of recording a song for the recording, and I think it must have been really annoying because the same solo instrument was playing the same thing over and over again. Then we hear a stomping sound followed by ‘Shut up… damn it!”
Later, my feeling that the band made their own sound was doubly confirmed when Bowtz played me a recording of “A New Dawn in St. worm.”
The song begins with some ambient keys and a cool, soft bass. Guitar comes to play with the counter anthem as Bautz sings, “It’s a new dawn in St. Louis. No!” Coming in the wake of the sound is Viola and what Bautz says is a badly played clavicord and a fake French horn.
The melody is simple but really catchy. Imagine a song that will be played on a public service announcement put out by the St. Louis Tourist Board. Now imagine if the tourism board asked Handsome Boy Modeling School and Guided by Voices to co-author the track.
I asked Bautz if they would play “The New Dawn in St. Louis” on their show the following week at Heavy Anchor.
He says I will wait and see.
Over the next week, I listen to the audio clip several times a day. There is a tendency with earworms that what originally made a song sound special can start to come off with too many repeat listens, which doesn’t happen with this track. ‘New Dawn in St. Louis’ is the perfect blend of the grotesque and the hard-to-achieve.
The following week, the sexdad is preparing to play a show at Heavy Anchor in front of an excited crowd of about 30 young men. Before they even took to the stage, I asked Bautz if they’d be playing “The New Dawn.”
“Did you bring your viola?” Asked.
I put my hand in my pocket, finding neither the viola nor the know-how required to play one, so he shrugged in response.
“Then I’m not afraid tonight.”
Show rocks anyway.
The new sexdad album will be released untitled. You can find their catalog on Spotify, Apple Music, and most other streaming platforms.