Pete Reilly is a Modern Day Dad in every sense of the word. I first started chatting with Pete as he was an early supporter of Modern Day Dads and realized he is one of us. A hardcore kid turned Dad, who has absolutely dedicated himself to his family. Guitarist in one of my favorite bands, The Eulogy, his passion for everything he does is clearly evident. As father, husband, musician, and artist, amongst other things, he pays great attention to detail and has a clear idea of what it means to be a great parent and all around radical dude. Meet Pete!
1. Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
I’m Pete Reilly, 40 years young and a resident of Los Angeles, California. I have two sons, Shay, 8, and Kai who is 5. I currently play guitar in The Eulogy, and was a member of the band Mouthpiece during the 90’s. Career-wise, I wear a few different hats. I’m an artist who works in a few different mediums; painting, graphic design and occasionally tattooing. I also design drought tolerant landscapes in conjunction with the local water department and personally grow a lot of the plants that get used in some of the projects. Plants that come from different areas of the world where there isn’t an abundance of water, that have proven to be condusive to our local environment. My wife Meredith and I also rescue and care for injured and unwanted animals. At any given time we will have around a dozen different animals that have been dropped off, or just showed up on our doorstep. From ducks and turtles, lizards and cats, to dogs, rabbits, really whatever happens to come our way is welcomed with open arms. We don’t do it for any sort of profit, just the simple satisfaction of helping out those who can’t help themselves. Some we adopt out, and others end up becoming part of our extended family. Balancing my career with being a dad has been pretty easy for the most part. Working for myself has allowed me to make my work schedule around my sons. Until this year they went to different schools, so Meredith and I would each take a boy and drop them at their respective school. This year they will go to the same school, so that makes it easier. But, It’s been nice getting to see each of them off to school in the morning and then being able to be around later in the day when they get home. It can be a challenge when I’m working on a project and they need to use the computer for homework, but that will give me a break and a chance to see what it is that they’re learning in class. So it actually keeps me involved. As far as doing my fine art, I tend to work best at night, so I usually don’t get started on those types of things until after they go to sleep.The time that I refer to as “My Time”. In my free moments, you will find me lurking in empty pools on my skateboard or surfing as much as possible.
2. What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
Being a modern day dad means being more than a guy who is gone all day working, showing up for dinner and asking a few questions about their kids day at school, while not really paying attention to the answers. I have these two little beings in my life who I see more as friends than sons. I see the potential in each one of them and I encourage each one to take it to the highest level. I’m not trying to make carbon copies of myself. Rather, I’m trying to help them to have the confidence to be who I always wished I could have been. I don’t set limits on their dreams or goals. Right now my son Shay wants to be a scientist and a tattoo artist. And Kai wants to be a Police officer and an artist. As a kid, if I said I wanted an unconventional career, my parents would tell me that I couldn’t do that. I was heavily into music at a young age, and although my parents nurtured my learning to play instruments, they always reminded me that it couldn’t be a career when I grew up. I feel like that stifled me. It robbed me of a lot of confidence. Of course I will be straight up about having some other skills, training or schooling in case the dream doesn’t work out as planned, but why would I interject any sort of negativity into their hopes or dreams? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Of course, along with any Modern parenting, I still teach my sons the same old fashion morals that my father taught me. Being a kind person, respecting others and knowing right from wrong is just as important today as it was when my dad taught it to me.
3.How did becoming a father change your life?
How did it not change my life? (Laughter) Well, before Shay was born, I worked mornings in an art restoration studio with my wife, and I glassed and repaired surfboards in the afternoon. We lived across the street from the beach and I spent all of my time either surfing, sitting on the sand, or skateboarding if there weren’t waves. I thought nothing of leaving town on a moments notice and returning when I got bored or ran out of money. Life was about doing whatever I wanted, and aside from my wife and my dog, I had minimal responsibilities. It was just like a party that never ended. A broken arm from skateboarding just meant that I was bumming while my friends were having fun and I watched. Nowadays, with three people depending on me, a broken arm is a huge wrench thrown in the gears of our system. It took a little time to adjust from living just for myself to living for other people. When Shay was about 8 months old, I broke my elbow socket and it was a big wake up call. Luckily, it wasn’t my money making arm, and I was still able to work. But it all kind of drove home the point that I had to slow it down a little and think more about the big picture, which was tough after living for the moment for the last decade. I laugh about it now, but having kids is one of the reasons that I am still alive and healthy. It gave me something to really live for.
4. Whats the greatest part about being a dad?
There are so many great things about being a dad. I don’t need friends anymore, because I have these two new friends that are pretty much cooler than anyone that I know. Pulling all of my old toys out of the attic and seeing which ones they like or dislike, teaching them how to DJ (they have their own set of needles and some beat up records that they can thrash), listening to their thoughts and ideas on how the world works is amazing. Not to mention taking them to places where I run into people I know, and they act like little men, not bratty kids. I’m constantly told how well behaved and polite they are, and how good of a job Meredith and I have done raising them. We have given them a lot of room to breathe and express themselves. They’re their own little people and they have pretty advanced senses of humor, and really good taste in art and music. The boys are a pleasure to be around, and when breaks from school come up, I’m not looking forward to shipping them off to camp or daycare like a lot of the parents do. I’m reworking my schedule so I can spend as much time with them as possible. There is one thing thing that may be the greatest of all though. I was adopted as a baby, and while I looked a lot like my siblings as children, when we all grew up it was obvious that I was the adopted one. My two boys are the first blood relatives that I have ever known. My older son looked just like me as a baby, but as he’s grown he looks like a great blend of my wife and I. Kai, on the other hand is seriously my mini-me. It’s incredible how much he looks like me, and he really likes the fact that we look so much alike. His middle name is Peter and he’s super proud of that. To finally know people whom share the same bloodlines as me is a feeling I can’t really describe.
5. Can you share a funny story about being a father?
These guys are oozing humor. Everyday I’m laughing about something that they say. Recently Kai told me that he wanted to be called Machete Master, and Shay wanted to cut his arm off so he could get a robotic arm. I’ll have to keep the machete away from Kai so he doesn’t fulfill Shay’s wish. The other day Kai told me his old best friend was lame because he doesn’t like heavy metal. Shay has his own science center in his playhouse where he does his “experiments”. He wants to mix the “blood” of a plant with an insects blood and create some sort of hybrid. Last night he asked me if I was friends with Ice Cube, because he’s a really good rapper. And then he continued to tell me that King Diamond sounds like a girl. Or coming home and having a 5 year old waiting at the door with his skateboard and saying “Hey dad, can we go shred now?” The laughter never ends when you have two comedians under four feet living in your house.
6. What advice can you give any new father out there?
For the new dads, well for starters just know that after you get out of the infant stage, every day gets easier. You will get to sleep through the night in a few years. But seriously, have fun with it. Becoming a father is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Be involved. Read to your kids, don’t stick them in front of a tv or an iPad. That isn’t parenting. We don’t have video games here, because our kids don’t want them. Go hiking and play in the dirt. Ride bikes and go surfing and skateboarding. Think about all of the things that you enjoyed as a kid and do it again. It’s your chance to be a kid all over again, but see it through their eyes. Give them room to explore and if they fall, help them back up and keep moshing..If you’re not having fun, you are doing it wrong.
To peep my artwork or see what I’m up to https://instagram.com/gnarmadillo/
To hear my band or pick up our record: https://flatspotrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fsr13-s-t-ep
Thanks so much Pete! We look forward to many more bone crushing riffs in the future!