Having faith in today's folk music can be difficult for the '60s audiophiles caught between paralyzing nostalgia and an ideological distaste for Mumford and Sons. Luckily, in the earthiest corners of the Internet, we still get small signals flickering from bands like Daisy House who exist not only to remind us where folk should be going, but also where it's been. The father-daughter duo of Doug and Tatiana "Angel" Hammond rely on a mixture of '60s pop, the enchanting U.K. folk a la Fairport Convention and adventurous layered sounds in their home recording studio in Long Beach. Their new record, Beaus and Arrows, was just released last month. We recently spoke to Doug about starting the band with his daughter, cracking the BBC airwaves, and finding the key to developing a brand of folk we rarely see in the States.
See also: Why is OC's Folk Scene So Terrible?
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): How did you manage to see eye to eye with your 21 year-old daughter enough to not only appreciate the same music, but start a band together?
Doug Hammond: I suppose if I wanted to be clever about it, I'd say I had to make my band. Mostly because I couldn't find anybody else who was into this shit. In that sense it's kind of easy. I'm a musician so I have more influence about what gets played around the house and what kind of music I hip my daughter to. There's no such thing as background music in this house. And she's grown up on my record collection. I have an affinity for '60s music, but I've always kept my ear to the ground for bands that are coming along now, although less so lately. I made mixtapes when she was little–Nina Simone, Talk Talk, classic rock, folk rock, the Byrds. But the '60s were the richest years for musical innovation, the idea of making music for music's sake. My daughter came up with all of those kind attitudes about music and an intense focus on it. But I never held a gun to her head and said you have to be a musician, or you have to play guitar. It's just not in the family's culture, but it was kind of inevitable.
Can you think of some good examples of where a similar dynamic has worked with a significant age gap between singer-songwriters?
There was one country band in the '70s called The Kendalls who had this hit "Heaven's Just a Sin Away." But there are very few examples of that intergenerational thing. Can you even count Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra? Because they just did a one off or two off thing. But as far as older songwriter guy and focus female, I think maybe Sonny and Cher, because I think he was a good bit older than she was. It's a unique dynamic. You've good this old school, sort of completist musical memory and then a new thing expressed by a young person's sensibility. And it makes for a greater depth in the music, I think.
As a writing partner, do you have a lot of input as far as the lyrics go? They are pretty mature sounding for someone so young, like your daughter.
That's funny because a lot of her peers, she's 21 now, they'll say "gosh you sound so wise." But that's because I write everything. I write all the songs and the lyrics. She's put in a little bit here and there, though I do piggyback off of her. She tells me things about school, or her boyfriend or things like that, and then I use that stuff to give her some connection when singing it. But I try to make the songs universal too. I have a giant pop streak as well. And of course, any good writer tends to universalize themes and stuff. But that's why she may come off like the ancient mariner. That's because, ya know, the ancient mariner's kinda writing the lyrics.
You also play a lot of different instruments on this album. Did this project inspire that in you or have you always picked up a bunch of instruments when recording?
I always played bass, keys and guitar. But home recording is ridiculously complete now. You can be playing with the London Philharmonic inside the Grand Ole Opry. Anything you want to do, you can do. I have maybe two terabytes worth of sound toys that I haven't even touched. Folk/rock has it's own parameters I guess, but we plan on breaking out of that. I like to use real instruments when I can, even though I swore I'd never pick up a banjo. But I did use one on the last record. What we do is more English folk, not American folk Deliverance or something. We draw much more from English sources rather than American.
Why English folk?
You have to take your hat off to the English. I mean, that tiny freaking island has come up with so much good over the years, and they're still doing it. They respect and revere their musical predecessors, and it just comes through. Something about the labels over there, you end up with more music for music's sake. And it's more expressive. In America, we get people who are willing to jump through whatever ugly steps they have to just to get a career here, so a lot of the stuff I hear doesn't cut that deep.
You've mentioned Angel is currently away at college back east.
Yeah, so we're trying to get the word out about the band the best we can, given the circumstances. We won't be able to go and do it the old school way until she gets out of college.
What is she studying?
Math and French. She has a scholarship actually, a four year scholarship. She's back in Pennsylvania at one of the old Quaker colleges. She's got a job where she's doing video tutorials for incoming math students so she'll have an even more truncated summer. But it's fine, we've just released the second record and I won't get on the writing stick for at least another month for the next batch of songs.
You guys seem to have some interest from various podcasts and websites where your music has showed up, right?
Yes, and we've been played on BBC radio, we have a friend of a friend who knew Mark Riley from The Fall and he's got his own show on BBC 6 and he played us, which is really cool because I love The Fall. And part of me really wanted to break in England first, because that's sort of the hometown for this kind of music.
What's your favorite song to play live from the new album?
Probably Beaus and Arrows. What's your favorite on the album?
I'd say "Rise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter." What's that one about?
I wanted to write about when you're with somebody and you have that initial burst of affection where you wanna be with them all the time. Like you're with them at 3 in the morning and you feel like time has kind of stopped. And again [Angel] just nailed it. And to be able to reach down through the generations like that and have someone like my daughter just get it, tells me it's a good composition, and maybe other people would feel that way about it too.