There have been greater inconveniences rendered over the course of this winter’s interminable snowfall, but for a young girl, still mercifully ignorant of faulty Red Line switches and parking space wars, losing the swing set was a big deal.
It was still there, of course, just marooned in the four feet of snow that has blanketed the playground where Yoshi Walsh of Streight Angular takes his 22-month-old daughter Lina, the seats dangling barely above the surface of the white powder. An obstacle for sure, but not enough to dissuade a girl who wants to ride “the whee,” as she calls it. For Dad, that’s all he needs to hear before he’s off trudging through the frozen tundra with her to the swings.
“If I was a kid, I would love for my dad to do that,” says Yoshi, on the phone, back inside his apartment. “That’s how I look at parenting. I have a kid now, so I might as well give them the best fucking life ever.”
The palpable joy heard in Yoshi’s voice when he talks about Lina should sound familiar. Since 2012, Streight Angular have thrived on his infectious energy to craft quirky garage pop-rock, perhaps best exemplified on their relentlessly entertaining single “Everyone is Syncopated.” Family life is a literal extension of his music; his wife Teresa plays drums in the band, and together, somehow, they make it work.
“We played as a band until [Teresa] was like eight months pregnant,” says Walsh. “In the womb, she was pretty much rocking out to every show. When she was six months old, we had a gig and we couldn’t find a sitter, so we strapped her to the back of Teresa and we played the show. At first she was crying, that’s why we had her on the side. Then we put headphones on her and put her on Teresa and she fell asleep.”
If that’s not a fun dad, one might not exist. But the birth of his first child also stirred up deeper emotions in Walsh that he explores on the band’s new record Messenger of Love.
“I think the songwriting has changed because now it’s more about life and death,” says Walsh. “When you have a kid, you start thinking more about your life and the life of a child. I’ve gotta take care of this kid, I can’t let this kid die. And I can’t die! We gotta watch out for each other. Having a kid is amazing. It’s the best song I’ll ever write. I’m not gonna top it. But it’s super scary.”
In other words, don’t expect another “Isn’t She Lovely.” Songs like “Once More” and the title track face brooding existential questions about the meaning (or lack thereof) of life head-on, while “Life Sucks and Then You Die” reflects on Walsh’s own bouts with depression over the past year. Like having a child, it’s serious business, and yet wondrous at the same time.
“If she’s not asleep, she’ll be there,” Walsh promises ahead of the album release show. “She’ll always be in our hearts anyway. Now everything we do is for her. The music we play, even this interview is for her. It’s all about love now. That’s all you can pass on.”
STREIGHT ANGULAR “MESSENGER OF LOVE” RELEASE SHOW w/ Nickel and Dime Band, Horse Jumper of Love, + Arlen and Baxter Hall. Sat 2.21. Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. 617.876.6838. 10pm/$10/all ages. streightangular.bandcamp.com