Father Tribe

Father Tribe: Indie Rock, Surf Rock, Prom Rock?

by Jackie Zeisloft


Father Tribe's music is serious but not too serious, polished but not too pop-y, intricate yet accessible, and a better soundtrack for your high school's senior prom than Skrillex.

Making music since he was an Abercrombie-wearing middle schooler, frontman Kaden Vannorsdel, 20, has evolved from devoted Drake fan to Danelectro toting musician.

After founding Father Tribe with his California-hometown bestie Jackson Wiley, Vannorsdel moved to Nashville in 2015 to join friends. Currently backed by a lineup of Belmont University art school kids, Father Tribe lives on, continuing what Wiley and Vannorsdel started in the suburbs of San Francisco.

Partially inspired by the lovely tunes of Mac Demarco and Wild Nothing, Father Tribe tries to fit into a box but can't. The indie, surf, rock and pop undertones of the band's self-titled debut makes it appealing to anyone who enjoys a bit of reverb and an energetic backbeat.

But all beach vibes aside, these songs aren't thematically light-hearted. Toe tapping rhythms and soothing guitar washes cover up Vannorsdel's serious lyrics, as cynical thoughts are disguised as indie dance jams.

"The serious songs are upbeat so I don't have to realize how serious they are. I downplay how serious things are because nothing really is that serious...and that's always good to keep in my mind." said Vannorsdel.

"Yours," an album standout, is a chief example. The groovy bass line coupled with the Salad Days-esque melody inspires mindless movement but the lyrics suggest spiritual contemplation. "God give me sign/Take me to a piece of mind where I can breathe."

Indie and lo-fi rarely raise questions of spirituality, but Vannorsdel does naturally on Father Tribe in songs such as "Call," "Sequels," "Wrong" and "Yours." Repeatedly, he calls out to God for sanity and answers, never afraid of being too open or honest.

For the Father Tribe frontman, no topic is too heavy, irrelevant, or obscure to write about. Vannorsdel penned the beautiful, whistle-along "Lines" while reflecting on Kim Kardashian's life and fame over a Frappuccino.

After recording and releasing the album, Vannorsdel created homemade music videos for each track on the LP. The "Lines" video is exceptionally emotional, containing footage of a toddler Kim K and her family playing in the backyard.

"I almost cried. Kim Kardashian is so negatively viewed and she has all these serious issues, but we joke about them because she's a pop culture icon. When you watch these videos of her playing with her mom and her brother you see that she had no idea. It's really sad," said Vannorsdel.

Songs like "Lines" and "Sad Cowboy Song" sonically reflect the melancholy mood of Father Tribe's first album. But there is something confusing about the placement of two acoustic songs on this indie rock record.

The lines become blurrier as one listens to and tries to define the group. Questions arise, yet answers are elusive.

To Vannorsdel, Father Tribe's music could be classified as "prom rock," a genre he personally coined. Prom rock is what nostalgia sounds like before sadness and longing come into play; happiness and uncertainty in their purest forms.

Modern English's "Melt With You," a song Father Tribe covers on occasion, could be considered the style's cornerstone. Vannorsdel's first encounter with this famous one-hit wonder was through the Disney Channel Original movie "Sky High."

"Sky High was the first time I envied a relationship... the mix of superheroes and music spoke to my hormones. But now whenever I hear that song all I can see my is mom and dad dancing to it together," said Vannorsdel.

"Leave," the last track on Father Tribe, is prom rock through and through. Romantic in that '80s movie way, the song fits slate as the heart wrenching final cut on the album. Vannorsdel sings over the soft swaying beat, "I wanna go where you go/And I try to stay where you know." Cue the tears and confetti. It's all too much.

So anyways.

What's next for Father Tribe? Who really knows. Not Vannorsdel, that's for sure.

"There's no pressure, because there's no expectation," said Vannorsdel regarding future Father Tribe projects.

The band does hope to play as many shows as possible this upcoming fall. Do not miss the chance to attend a Father Tribe show! They are the best dance parties I've been to since middle school.

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