In the tail end of August, three girls graced the likes of Chicago, Atlanta and Cincinnati, tackling stages with their punchy, witty jams. The three—Emily Maxwell (drums), Jenna Mitchell (bass) and Jenna Moynihan (guitar and vocals)—comprise “witch rock” power trio Daddy Issues. Nashville natives, the three met while attending Belmont University. Currently, Moynihan is the lone member studying at Belmont, a junior balancing the responsibilities of a band and college. Having just finished the tour for their debut Can We Still Hang (Infinity Cat), the girls have plenty of tricks still hiding up their sleeves.
Forming a band can pose oodles of challenges, but for Daddy Issues, its conception was rather humorous. As the friendship of the two Jennas bloomed, they began playing music together. “We went to record a song named ‘Pizza Girl’ as a joke,” explained Moynihan. This was after the two had created a twitter account for Daddy Issues … also as a joke. To complete the punk-flavored puzzle, Maxwell made her move. “Emily was just hanging out and we were like, ‘Oh you should play drums!’ and she somehow knew how to play the drums,” said Moynihan. To this, Maxwell reminded me, “I had never even played the drums.”
What makes Daddy Issues so refreshing lies in their lyrical content. Channeling the innermost feelings of a self-aware twenty-something girl in snappy one-liners is second nature for the troupe. On “Ugly When I Cry,” Moynihan sings, “I hate girls on TV, they’re much prettier than me.” Quickly encompassing media’s impact on women, the standout track fits the role of an angsty adolescent, frustrated with society and its expectations.
Can We Still Hang is peppered with pop culture references that resonate with the “alternative” cool girl: “Veronica” is all about the infamous protagonist of Heathers, while “Creepy Girl” begs you to watch Star Wars and stay up late. And as some of their songs allude to the messiness and haphazard approach that growing up induces, the girls proceed to write music with a similar, take-it-as-it-comes attitude, adding music and lyrics simultaneously.
Merely being on tour was helpful in this capacity, as the girls would pull inspiration from conversations. “We were on tour and somebody would say something and [Emily or Jenna] would write that down, so a lot of that stuff gets recycled in songs,” explained Mitchell. As for recent pop culture inspiration, Emily was interested in Anthony Bourdain and Wes Anderson, while Moynihan was on a polar opposite spectrum with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Their tour presented the three with ample Kodak moments and rare stories, complete with a donut created in their honor. Featured at Indianapolis’ Rocket 88 Doughnuts, the Root Beer glazed goodness was even vegan. The lower parts of tour included jellyfish stings, with no band member left untouched. Amid well-received shows and increasingly devoted fans presenting the band with homemade shirts, there was an unfortunate brush with the feds. While out with their friends and fellow rockers White Reaper, the girls were invited to go swimming at what they thought was a private pool. After taking their dip and learning that the pool was not actually property of the friend, the cops paid a visit. Moynihan had left her beloved boots at the scene, and quickly learned she would not be getting them back. “After they finished interrogating two of our friends, they said, ‘you’re fine, no one’s going to get in trouble, but we’re taking these shoes as evidence,’” said Moynihan.
Stories like that shed light on the carefree ways of Daddy Issues. They’re fun-loving jokesters, who know how to sing what we don’t know how to say. This translates effortlessly into their songs, as they put even the most difficult to discuss issues into a morning commute-ready jam.
The future of Daddy Issues is certainly an exciting one: the band will be performing their second show with Hardly Art’s Colleen Green later this month, something they were clearly and rightfully gushing about. There will even be some fresh music being squeezed out this month, as the three head to Chicago to record with some friends.
As I wrapped up my conversation with the girls, their love for each other was infectious and clear. The three bounce off each other continuously, providing a beautiful union of supportive rockers who also exemplify true friendship. Jenna Moynihan and I bonded over our mutual lack of enthusiasm regarding microeconomics, as we’re both succumbing to it this semester, but Maxwell and Mitchell were eager to immediately offer their help. The girls were quick to wax me some life advice, and Maxwell left me with this gem: “Life is about waking up tomorrow.” Daddy Issues reads like the cool grrrl lunch table you can finally be apart of, as they offer you slices of their world.