The Father Figures
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The Father Figures

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | SELF

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review of the CD Release Show"

Anyone that reads this blog at all knows I have ranted and raved about this band now for a year and a half. I saw their first show when they played to celebrate guitarist / backing vocalist Michael Cornelius’s 50th birthday party (the cake was delic that night), have listened to demo versions of songs and interviewed the band twice, once for their website, the second time for my blog the week of the CD release show.

This show was absolutely dynamite, a sheer rush of energy from the moment the first chord of the lead track from their new CD Lesson Number One was struck. “Caviar” is an older song from the band, one they have played live since 2009. It was delivered with typical Father Figures power and precision this night, a perfect way to start the show. - Frank Gallardo

"The Father Figures Show the Youngsters How To Get It Done"

The Father Figures didn't meet on Facebook. They'd all been around the Valley scene too long for that. But Facebook is where they came up with the idea of getting together.

As bass-playing singer Tom Reardon recalls, it grew out of a comment he'd made on a Facebook post by drummer Bobby Lerma.

"He'd posted a clip of . . . I forget the name, but some post-punk band from New Zealand and I commented on it. I said I liked the song but I thought that we could do something better. So that was kind of the impetus for us to say, 'Well, yeah, maybe we could do something better.' "

It was Lerma's idea to round out the lineup with Michael Cornelius, the original bassist for '80s hardcore heroes Jodie Foster's Army (JFA) - who plays guitar, not bass, in Father Figures.

"I was just super-excited about the prospect of jamming with him," Reardon says, still sounding pretty excited. "He's one of the reasons I even play bass in the first place."

They first got together in late May 2009, by which point Reardon's other projects, North Side Kings and a group whose unprintable name involves "Happy Days" character Pinky Tuscadero, were running on fumes.

"North Side Kings hadn't even been in a room with each other for seven months," Reardon says with a laugh. "We just never decided to break up officially. And Pinky, I was definitely ready to not do that on a regular basis."

With a name they chose in reference to their roles not just as longtime members of the Valley music scene but as actual dads as well, the Father Figures played their first show five or six weeks after that first practice at a 50th birthday party for Cornelius at the Ruby Room.

"He's got tons of friends, so it was packed," says Reardon. "And we probably weren't super-ready. At that point, I definitely didn't have many set lyrics. But we pulled it off and the people there seemed stoked. The three of us enjoyed it a lot from the beginning. We were kind of thinking, 'Maybe we've got something here.' But that kind of gave us a kick in the pants to crank it up a notch and take it more seriously. It cemented the deal."

The original plan, Reardon says, was to do something a little more melodic, with "less screaming" than those other bands he'd been in, maybe something more along the lines of Gang of Four

Asked if it's safe to think of what they do as post-punk, Reardon says, "Well, that was our original intention, to kind of go in that vein. I've always been a big fan of Gang of Four, of course, and Wire and some of the second-wave U.K. bands that were more a reaction to punk. I've always wanted to do a band in that vein. I just never had found the right folks to do it with. We've gotten a lot of different kinds of comparisons, but that is definitely what we talked about in the beginning - that sort of melodic, bass-driven, powerful, not just straight-up punk. I always tell people that we're sort of post-skate-punk. Michael wrote quite a bit of the JFA material. So there's definitely some skate-punk in us. I definitely bring in a whole different take on the punk-rock background, being more into the heavier, noisier stuff. And Bobby's influence brings another angle in as well."

With all three members contributing riffs and Reardon supplying the lyrics, it wasn't long before they'd come up with enough material to document their brand of post-punk on a debut, "Lesson Number One," that more than makes good of the promise of their individual resumes. After setting the tone with the sneer-along brilliance of "Caviar," where Reardon memorably rhymes "The mess is in the kitchen but the missus doesn't care" with "The skinheads are all bitching 'cause they haven't any hair," they never once let up, from the angular post-punk groove (and Keith Levene guitars) of "Butterfly" to the album-closing "Fe Fi Fo," where Reardon delivers a spoken-word rant about the materialistic values and greed at the heart of the fairy tale, "Jack and the Beanstalk."

Read more:
- Arizona Republic

"The Father Figures Interview"

Many of us have had a father figure in our lives. That person who was responsible in some part for shaping and molding our personalities and lives. The person we may have emulated or even hero-worshiped in some way. The Phoenix rock scene has been blessed with three prime examples of this person. The Father Figures, a power trio from cen-pho is just that role-model that is easy to hero-worship.

Three extremely talented (and slightly aged, but in a good way, like cheese, but without the mold) gentlemen have been imposing their surf-tainted post punk on the Phoenix scene for the past 18 months. They could all easily receive "Greatest Dad's Evar" mugs for Fathers Day from this reporter.

Imagine, if you will, if Man or Astroman, Fugazi, and Les Savy Fav all went skiing and got snowed in to their cabin for a couple of weeks with nothing but guitar, bass and drums and a grip of recording equipment. There is a real bum-shakin quality to The Father Figures. Intelligent lyrics compliment the cleverly style riffs. Anthemic choruses in songs like "Typical Bible Beating Hypocrites" gets the fists pumping and the crowds boogeying.

The Father Figures are getting ready to release their first album, Lesson Number One. I think it's about time we sit down and listen to what our father figures have to say. Hell we almost have to, in this day and age of creep-tastic senator shooters, it's about time we do a little hero-worshiping. - Punk Globe

"Concert Review"

The crowd was spellbound by the band, which made the fact that Phoenix rockers The Father Figures followed the band's set pretty damn strange. Not that Father Figures weren't worth sticking around for.

"We may not be as sexy [as the Love Me Nots], but we'll try and bring some rock & roll," guitarist Michael Cornelius laughed.

The band's jerky, post-punk sound was fantastic. It was no wonder that our own Michael Lopez, a man of discerning taste, took to the band. The band took his advice about opening with "She Does Gymnastics," which showcased the terse interplay between Cornelius' guitarwork, Bobby Lerma's near math-rock precise drums and bassist Tom Reardon's growling lines.

The band was just as good as The Love Me Nots, but it felt strange to have them follow the band of the evening. It didn't end up mattering much, the Figures held up on their promise about the rock 'n' roll, even if it felt like the night belonged to the sexy. - New Times Phoenix

"The Eight Best Records of 2011 (So Far)"

Released February 2011
The Father Figures are a Phoenix supergroup, boasting former members of well-known Valley punk bands like Jodie Foster's Army and the North Side Kings. The 13 tracks here embody the hard-and-fast formula of punk rock, but also display the band's impressive musicianship through surf-twang guitars, tight bass lines, and spot-on drumming. Hear some tracks at - New Times Phoenix

"CD Release Show Preview"

The opening track of Lesson Number One, the debut album from non-ironically named Phoenix trio The Father Figures, announces to listeners that this band has no intention to "re-create the scene." That's a relief to those who've followed the exploits of the band's members for the better part of two (or more) decades and witnessed the blood-on-the-floor roots of the Valley punk scene. In past outfits, these guys made names for themselves by blasting away in skate punk and hardcore bands, but as Father Figures, they've chosen chisels over dynamite to get to the core of post-punk, tapping angular second-wave progenitors like The Wipers and Mission of Burma as well as '90s acts such as Fugazi, Shellac, and Tar. Favoring precision over raw power in their playing, bassist/singer Tom Reardon, ace guitarist Michael Cornelius (ex-JFA), and drummer Bobby Lerma (ex-The Voice) employ a brainier, but no less muscular, approach to the music whose local scene they helped birth and raise. This show celebrates the release of Lesson Number One. - New Times Phoenix

"Stinkweeds Records Review of Lesson Number One"

Father Figures
Lesson Number One

Lesson Number One is the first full-length disc from the Valley's own Father Figures. Anyone who believed that classic post-punk music was dead needs to check out this disc and hear for themselves what true music without compromise sounds like!

For the uninitiated, The Father Figures are a trio of veteran Valley musicians from several long-time Valley music faves that include J.F.A, Hillbilly Devilspeak and The Voice. The three came together with the original intention of simply playing together for the sheer joy of playing aggressive music. They quickly discovered a similar and unique vision that made the creative process a natural undertaking.

A number of live shows and hours of practice together led to the creation of Lesson Number One. Many of the tracks that appear on this album have been played live by the band since their inception, but months of polish have dramatically improved the tightness of the band's melodic, yet powerful post-punk delivery. One of their oldest songs that appears on Lesson Number One, "Save it for Later", had its beginnings as far as back as the second time the band jammed together. Their sound may originally have reminded some of a cross between Fugazi and Interpol. Lesson Number One from The Father Figures shows a distinct progression from such comparisons.

The album contains 13 tracks of unadulterated post-punk mastery, a journey that takes the listener on a controlled but utterly intense ride full of varying tempos. What immediately jumps out at the listener is the album is not typical, generic punk rock. Lesson Number One is a showcase of the precise musicianship of bassist/lead vocalist Tom Reardon, guitarist/backing vocalist Michael Cornelius and drummer/backing vocalist Bobby Lerma. This is punk rock loaded with pop hooks galore, all without sacrificing any of the power.

Several Father Figures gems that have been live standards for some time get the professional treatment here, including "Caviar" and "No Guarantees". Both are great songs and Father Figures staples, but when newer tracks such as the incredible "Butterfly" with its frenetic guitar work and brutal chorus of "I wish I never met you!" come on, the listener will quickly understand how far this trio has progressed in a relatively short period of time.

The band keeps things interesting by interspersing stellar instrumentals such as "She Does Gymnastics" in the mix and songs that feature dramatic progressions in tempo like the title track from the disc. "Lesson Number One" features Reardon speaking about advice from one's father while the tempo builds and builds to a pulverizing climax 2:30 into the song.

There is not a single mediocre song on this disc, with one of the first Father Figures songs "Typical Bible Beating Hypocrites" and newer track "Fe Fi Fo" as two particular highlights for this reviewer. "TBBH" is an incendiary piece of music with a bass groove and complementary guitar lick that will pummel the senses of the listener, while "Fe Fi Fo" features some of the best work on the guitar from Cornelius. Lerma holds every song together with furious and well-executed precision.

Lesson Number One is one heck of a contribution to the Valley’s indie rock scene. Very highly recommended! - Stinkweeds Records

"The Father Figures (Show Preview)"

Tom Reardon is been a guitar-beating, band-organizing, lyric-spitting juggernaut who's been a major figure in Phoenix's rock scene for more than 15 years. In addition to his lengthy involvement with on-again/off-again noise-rock act Hillbilly Devilspeak and the defunct joke-punk band Pinky Tuscadero's White Knuckle AssFuck, the bespectacled 40-year-old has also been a longtime member of hardcore rock terrorists The North Side Kings. As the latter project has been on hiatus since a fire destroyed the Scottsdale home of frontman Danny Marianino last year, Reardon's been gigging around town lately with his new band The Father Figures. The trio's name is apropos, considering it's also made up of such music-scene warhorses as guitarist Michael Cornelius (a.k.a. the former bassist for local legends Jodie Foster's Army) and drummer Bobby Lerma, who's a veteran of such '80s bands as The Voice. Given that they're punk progenitors, it should be expected that their powerful sound is a pastiche of Shellac-era Steve Albini, Fugazi-like power chords, and pop hooks straight out of the playbook of Elvis Costello. - New Times Phoenix

"Razorcake Review of Lesson Number One"

Lesson Number One: CD
Again I say, I dunno what they put in the Kool-Aid out in Arizona, but true to form, this three-piece, featuring former members of North Side Kings, the Voice, and the mighty Jodie Foster’s Army, dishes up stuff that sounds familiar but is tweaked just enough to bend the noggin a little. This is Arizona sun-damaged surf-meets-Baiza post-punk less interested in loping dub bass influences than creative restructuring of the “loud and angry” template, and melds urgency with intelligence, catchiness with dissonance, sophistication with blunt force. Could this be the missing link between early Saccharine Trust and Fugazi? Can’t rightly say, but it is some pretty fuggin’ good ruckus-makin’. –Jimmy Alvarado (AZPX, - Razorcake

"The Father Figures, live at the George and Dragon, April 24. Sucks to be you if you did not go …"

The Father Figures have only been a unit for about 11 months. I have had an opportunity to see them on three, maybe four occasions now, and there are a number of factors that really jumped out at me during this show.

Father Figures at St. Georges Day 4-24-10 - 1First, this trio becomes more of a unified unit every time I see them play. Tom Reardon (bass, lead and backing vocals), Michael Cornelius (guitar, backing and lead vocals) and Bobby Lerma (drums, backing vocals) are all superb musicians that have played in some stellar bands here in town over the years. I was at their first show at the Ruby Room July 2009, and to say that they have progressed mightily is a severe understatement. This band possesses some serious power now, exponentially more than when they began playing together. More important, it is obvious all three members are taking this endeavor seriously and practice hard together, because all three members are in sync with one another. Older tracks such as Typical Bible Beating Hypocrite, No Guarantees, Theme and Save it for Later have aged extremely well. - Frank Gallardo


"No Guarantees" appears on the May Cause Dizziness Records release, "Personality Disorder" from May 2010.
"No Guarantees", "Caviar", and "TBBH" have appeared on various internet radio stations.
"Lesson No. 1" LP was released in January 2011 on AZPX records.



If you are a fan of hardcore music laced with a heavy melodic edge, chances are you have seen frontman Tom Reardon over the years in one of several bands where he developed his unique bass style. In addition to The Father Figures, Tom continues to be involved with Hillbilly Devilspeak, Pinky Tuscadero’s WKAF, and North Side Kings. Tom’s tongue-in-cheek lyrical delivery, coupled with his heavy, riff-based songwriting, provides a solid foundation for The Father Figures.

Bobby Lerma picked up the drumsticks while still in grade school, driven to play the drums by punk rock, post-punk and new wave artists of the late seventies and early eighties. With extensive band and session experience over the years, he added several other musical influences to further develop his unique style of playing. Bobby is an artist that has been in high demand for two decades; playing in bands as diverse as Jeff Dahl, The Voice, and The Captives.

Michael Cornelius was the original bassist for JFA (Jodi Foster’s Army), which was (and is) the seminal skaterock band known to any skater from the era, but his talent and experience extends far beyond the scope of the frenetic thrash attack of a band like JFA. Michael’s presence was also felt in the stellar funk rock outfit Housequake, jazz/hip-hop group Suite No.3, and he played guitar in the experimental punk bands Zuwal and the Jr. Chemists.

The Father Figures came together during a Memorial Day weekend in 2009, with the simple idea of “just friends playing together,” as Cornelius stated. The fact that the three members have played in bands for decades leads to a collective wisdom and a more ideological approach to creating music. “We originally just wanted to create a post-punk sound and work off that common musical thread.” Lerma stating this is right in line with Reardon’s belief that “we have ideas for something different (musically) and we are all open-minded.”

After two incredible shows at the Ruby Room and at the St. George’s Day Fest at the George and Dragon, both in July of 2009, The Father Figures realized this was no mere project. They are a band that takes cues from Sonic Youth and meshes the sounds of Fugazi and Interpol. This process has enabled the Father Figures to create a wall of sound that is full of great pop hooks, delivered with sheer power.

Three music veterans; one creative force in independent music. This is The Father Figures.