Punk Rock Icon, Johnny Rioux just might never slow down. A barber, musician and record producer, as well as a dedicated father, it seems like he is always going always full speed ahead. Though he is a part of one of my favorite bands to date, Street Dogs, his most admirable quality to me is his absolute devotion to his children. I’m honored mohave him on the site and humbled to be able to read his bits of parental wisdom. He is a perfect example of a rad dad, and someone who has remained true to himself, others, and most importantly his family. It’s with great pleasure that I can share with you this feature!
1. Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
I am a barber, the bass player for Street Dogs, FM359, The Bruisers, and front my own solo project, as well as a future project I am going to do with some friends called American War Machine. I’m also a record producer/ engineer, a guitar tech, tour manager, or whatever is needed for various other bands and artists. My most important work though is being a Dad for 4 wonderful kids, and 1 adult daughter. The positive thing about balancing the music work for all of these years along with being a Dad is that when I’m off the road I can usually focus more attention on my children than many 9-5 Dads. I try hard to make sure that my kids realize that when I’m away it’s for work and that my favorite place to be is right there with them. Sometimes I am successful with this and sometimes I am required to put in extra work. There is definitely no manual on how to be a Dad, so I need to be aware when something isn’t working so I can try something else.
2. What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
It’s important I start by saying I come from great parents myself but I feel parents today are re-inventing the parenting traditions of previous generations. I was confused as a child about everything from religion, diet and nutrition, politics, class systems, authority, and school (to name a few as I was a complicated little bastard!) As I developed as a vegetarian, atheist, punk rocker in a middle class environment in New England at a time where these traits were not at all common, I felt pretty alienated to say the least. I am always aware of these experiences today so my kids don’t have to feel alone if they go through anything similar. I try to make sure my kids know there isn’t always one way to do things and that there are many options and opinions out there in the world and balance conviction with an open mind and practice love and tolerance with those with different opinions. Even when it’s my own beliefs and opinions, I want my kids to ask questions (unless it’s parental or disciplinary) I am definitely old school on certain things however. I want my kids to feel the rewards from hard work, I’m not a believer in participation trophies. Kids need to learn how to feel and manage emotion. We aren’t doing them any favors if we reward mediocrity, that’s not how the world works. That is the only job we have, raise kids that will grow into adults after 18 short years. I was never a good student, I dropped out at 16 but that of course is important too. I am lucky that my children’s mother and grandparents are very school smart, let me handle street smarts.
3.How did becoming a father change your life?
I always believed in live fast, die young. That changed…. Somewhat… When I had kids. I now had someone else to live for. My kids are often times my reason for waking up in the morning. They raised me in many ways.
4. Whats the greatest part about being a dad?
The greatest part of being a Dad is seeing them smile and take pride in themselves when accomplish something. Nothing makes me happier in life than this. One of my favorite memories is when my daughter Ellie was learning to doggie paddle and with the biggest smile she said, “Daddy I’m so happy”. That memory has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.
5. Can you share a funny story about being a father?
One time on a Street Dogs tour, I had my daughter Marilyn with me who was about 16 at the time with blue hair. In Seattle after the show we were walking out and a group of kids approached me and asked what I was doing and that there was “the f’n sickest party” with f’n this drug, and this drink… I told them I was hanging out with my daughter right here and they choked up and apologized for talking like that. I felt old!! There was also the time I pulled the car over, approached an 18 year old guy, and gave a ‘persuasive and stern’ talking to for trying to give my oldest some herbal medicine…. Instead of being angry and embarrassed she had a huge smile and felt loved. My kids do something funny and cute every day though, I could bore you for hours.
6. What advice can you give any new father out there?
Don’t be nervous, it’s amazing how natural everything is if you follow your gut and your heart. Also, put the needs of your wife or significant other before anything. If you do this it naturally puts your kids and the general household environment at their very best. I’ve learned so much from my mistakes.
Thanks so much Johnny! I can’t thank you enough for taking part! All the best, brother!