The members of the band Daddy’s Beemer were in a unique position when they graduated from Clemson University last June. Apart from just leaving school, they were leaving a music scene they helped create. Not only had the band spent nearly two years playing a jangly, Smiths-influenced brand of indie rock with a flexible, jazz-influenced rhythm section, they also started a house-show venue called Pablo, which gave birth to a collective of musicians and bands known as the Pablo Generation.
Groups like Tom Angst, Wallpaper, and Apricot Blush, among others, cut their teeth playing shows at Pablo, finding a supportive environment in which to build their respective sounds away from the noisy bar scene, places that some of them couldn’t even enter as customers.
But both the band and Pablo have carried on, albeit in slightly different versions. Pablo is in the hands of friends who continue to book a healthy schedule of local and touring groups. Meanwhile, Daddy’s Beemer — minus guitarist Luke Waldrop — moved to Charlotte to pursue music full-time.
“We felt we’d developed ourselves as much as we could as a band in Clemson,” singer/guitarist Brady Sklar explains. “We wanted to move to the closest big city. We didn’t just want to head out to L.A. and alienate whatever following we’d built already. So we moved to Charlotte and now we’re hustling trying to get our name out there and play as many shows as we can.”
One might think it wouldn’t be easy for three guys who just got their degrees to decide to settle on pursuing their band for a living, but Sklar says there wasn’t much discussion. He only remembers asking bassist Wesley Heaton one question.
“I asked Wesley at one point what it would take for him to stay in the band and pursue it,” Sklar recalls. “And he said he wanted to make sure we were getting steadily booked for gigs. If we weren’t struggling to get shows, if people were still reaching out to us to get us to play, then that would be a pretty clear indication that we should do this. And we haven’t had to seek our bookings since last April or May.”
“If there were people coming out, I thought we should keep playing the music so they can enjoy it,” Heaton clarifies. “In the event that they decide they don’t want to see us play, then we should do something else. But for time being, full steam ahead.”
Not that there weren’t sacrifices involved. Heaton works four part-time jobs, and drummer Dan Fetterolf had to give up a steady nine-to-five in order to tour with Daddy’s Beemer. But no one has any regrets.
“It’s become clear to us that it was our destiny to become musicians,” Heaton says. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do our entire lives. I’m not sure our families expected us to do it, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s satisfying to be able to play for folks that really enjoy the music.”
Their resolve hasn’t changed, but the music has. As a trio without school obligations, the band has been able to tinker with its sound. There are hints of this progression on the February EP Pucker — the otherwise straightforward and bouncy rocker “Time We Killed” adds a mournful violin line during the verses, Sklar’s emotional vocal on “Thespian” is undergirded by a stately piano melody before distorted guitars surge forward.
“The songs we’re recording now have a lot more piano and synthesizers,” Sklar reveals. “In fact, the plan now is to have Dan move over to keyboards and violin and then bring in another drummer. Before, when we recorded, we had to find time because we were working on different school projects. Now we’re recording in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and spending days at a time focusing on writing. We have a lot more time to experiment with different styles. We don’t have to rush.”
“We’ve gotten tighter and more concise,” Heaton adds. “We used to be more of a party, dance-y house show band and we’re evolving into larger venues. So the music is evolving because we’re trying to play the bigger stages.”