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Interview: John Popper Of Blues Traveler Talks Becoming A Rock Star Dad

It’s been an exciting year for Blues Traveler frontman, John Popper. His band’s twelfth studio record – Blow Up the Moon, was released in April, he got married and is a few short months away from becoming a father for the first time at the age of 48. Popper has seen great success with Blues Traveler; having sold millions of records, winning a Grammy award and touring the globe. Becoming a father however, will top it all.

During a short tour break, Popper spoke with Alternative Nation about his eagerness, anticipating the arrival of his daughter.

See Blues Traveler on tour now:

On his excitement of becoming a father:
I’ve always wanted a daughter. The closer I get to the day coming, the more I find kids to be adorable. All of the things that make us people, come through this experience. At least that’s how I am imagining it. So many of my friends have babies and it’s such a beautiful experience to watch them, but until it’s your kid, it’s always theoretical. You need to meet your child to actually have this experience. Every time I see a sonogram, I fall a little bit more in love. The mother is having a chemical relation with the baby. She feels the kicks, she feels all of these sensations that involve having another person inside you. We don’t get to do that as fathers. We have to wait to meet them. But, I feel all of these instincts coming in where you are suddenly more interested in what a little kid does.

Mostly though, it’s for the tax write-off. I’m in it for the cash. It’s also a great way to pick up girls. You have your wife and your baby there and you’re like “Hey, I’m a beautiful Dad.” (Laughs)

On the anxieties of becoming a new father:
The truth is I have no idea what to expect. That’s also what everyone keeps telling me, “You have no idea what’s coming.” I’m prepared to take that. I guarantee I am going to freak out, but also have great moments of satisfaction. I’ll feel in over my head. The fact is, this is one of those things that just comes at you and this is what life is for. I’m going to meet somebody that I was always destined to meet. So, I wonder what I’ll say? I wonder what it will be like? I wonder what the first feeding will be like, what the first poopy diaper will be like? I’ve always made that joke that as a Dad, you should only do the diapers twice. Once to refer to that time where you did diapers so you can say “see, I do the diapers,” and then one more time where you screw up so bad that Mom never lets you near the diapers again. (Laughs)

I’m really counting on being as open as I can though. If you’re committed to being open, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised on how not ready you actually are. So, I want to accept that I am not ready. Then I can feel that it surprisingly comes natural. It’s the adventure of being a human. If I was not going to be a Dad, I would be just continuing boring habits. I think there was a period in my life where I was simply waiting for this adventure that I was supposed to have.

Something my guitar player said was – you think you plan to have a kid, but they sort of show up on their own. My Mom and Dad had seven accidents. There are seven kids in my family and each one was an accident. They had enough money to afford their first apartment or a baby and they chose the apartment. Then my Mom got pregnant. They received each event as beautiful news. That’s how Jordan and I took it. It was terrifying at first and then it got exciting. The relationship obviously has to be strong and it’s also about having faith in the unknown. There’s something great about the unknown because most of your life is unknown. This is a strong confirmation of that fact. You can plan and you can prepare, yet you will not be ready. That’s how you really find out who you are, in those situations.

The scariest thing is when you have to leave them to society. I think the world will never be good enough for my little girl.

On how life on the road, as a touring musician will change with a family:
I think if it’s practical and feasible to bring Mom and the kid on the road, that’s what you do. Then they get to a certain age when they can come out without Mom if that’s cool. You really try and figure out as much as you can how to have them with you. It seems to be the case that everyone wants to be with their kid. It’s not like something of “oh God I have to get them here.” You want to spend time with your family. I’m so used to touring as a bachelor where I just go and do what I do. Now there’s somewhere I’d rather be and that’s fun. Anything worthwhile has work to it.

What scares me the most is that I see parents go through airports with like 600 pounds of toys, lugging bassinets and the kids are just dangling. Somehow you have to bring all of this on a plane. I can’t imagine bringing around that much stuff. But, we will figure out a way to travel. Again, there’s a period where you don’t know how to do it, then you get better at it, then you get used to doing it. What seems so daunting will likely become – I didn’t know I can do that!

On any first songs he would like to play for his daughter:
No songs in particular, though I’m sure she will help me write some. I’d like to first teach her the word orange, so when we write songs together, I can see her try and rhyme it. This way, she learns how to deal with frustration early. Although you probably always end up hating whatever it is that your parents make you do. Maybe I’ll require she plays a musical instrument and does finger painting so she begs to do math.(Laughs)

On his earliest childhood memory:
I was number six of seven kids. My parents would travel all over Europe with us and they’d do a roll-call. There was one time before they even got to me; they had pulled away from Heathrow Airport. They eventually realized they had forgotten me. When they came back to the airport, I was just sitting there. I knew they’d come back.

On his introduction to music as a child and what he will carry on:
Musically, my parents found that I was always harmonizing in church so they figured they should get me some instruments. I will always want my child to get a hold of some instruments, but I don’t ever want to pressure her to think that’s a job to do. The arts should be fun, that’s the real reason you do it, especially as a kid. It really should be the reason you do anything. I just want her to be whatever she wants to be. I want her to have the opportunity to find out what it is she wants and completely understand the concept of wanting to be something. Ultimately, I want her to be happy and to have all those Disneyland experiences that all kids have. I hear that you relive through that.

On beginning to prepare his home:
We’ve turned my gun room into a nursery. I find that incredibly philosophical. We have a giant safe. All of my guns will be going into the safe and the room off the bedroom is now going to be a giant nursery. The very first thing we bought was the giant 15 foot elephant from FAO Schwartz. Since they are going out of business, we thought we needed to get it now. The fact that Jordan and I both had that as a priority I think says a lot about our parenting skills already. Our child will not be without the 15 foot giraffe!

Blues Traveler’s new video – Blow Up the Moon:

John Popper recently joined the Foo Fighters on stage:

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Watch Foo Fighters’ Epic Harmonica Jam With Blues Traveler Frontman

Blues Traveler frontman John Popper joined Foo Fighters for an epic jam session last night at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, IN that was led by Popper going all out on his harmonica. The jam session combined southern rock, the blues, and folk, much like Blues Traveler, who have been known for their jamming and segues during their live performances over their 28 years as a band.

Monkey Wrench
Learn to Fly
Something From Nothing
The Pretender
Big Me (Slow Version)
Eruption (Van Halen cover) (Intro Snippet)
You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover) (Intro Snippet)
Roundabout (Yes cover) (Intro Snippet)
God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols cover) (Intro Snippet)
Cold Day in the Sun
My Hero
All My Life
Times Like These
These Days
This Is a Call
Jam (with John Popper)
Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie cover)
Tom Sawyer (Rush cover)
Best of You

Dave Grohl mocked bands who play short concerts during a recent Foo Fighters concert in Calgary. Grohl said, “You don’t want one of those little hour and a half long shows do you? You don’t want that shit. All of those new bands that play those little two hour concerts, you don’t want that shit. 2 hours and 15 I don’t think is enough. 2 and a half hours, does that sound okay? That’s not enough is it? Here’s our fucking problem. We’ve been a band for 20 fucking years, we have a lot of fucking songs, and then add my big mouth on top of that, and we’re going to be here all night.”