You don’t know what brutal is until you have kids. Festivals may wipe you out, and hangovers are rough, but there’s something perfectly crushing about going three days on six combined hours of sleep because someone who had milk for dinner won’t stop shrieking at you. This isn’t to say that being a parent is bad — raising kids is beautiful and inspiring — only that it stretches your mind and body thin in ways that have to be experience to be understood. Watch a parent talk about how great their kids are and you might see a glaze fall over their eyes similar to the one that comes with a war flashback.
Thankfully, Metal Dad has heard the call. The new clothing line, created by Kyle Schwotzer, features shirts and comfy sweatpants for all the metal parents out there, who want to tell the world, Heads up, I listen to Dying Fetus and just lived through five of my kid’s teeth coming in at once. And don’t let the name make you think this is only for fathers — metal moms are also celebrated here for giving their flesh and blood to the cause of making sure their little blessings get a daily dose of multivitamins and Numberblocks.
We reached out to Kyle to learn what went into both his clothing line and his own love of metal…
What’s your metal background? What bands did you grow up with?
I grew up with a metalhead dad and uncles, and heard a lot of Sabbath, Dio, Maiden, Priest, etc. As a teen, I was into punk and hardcore, which eventually led me back to metal. Growing up in New England, I was lucky to see bands like Killswitch [Engage], Converge, Unearth, Shadows Fall, The Red Chord, etc, every weekend as they were all exploding. The Black Dahlia Murder opened the world of death metal for me.
When did you become a dad?
We had my son Henry in July of 2018 via IVF.
What’s been the most difficult part of being a dad, and most rewarding part?
The most difficult is when your kid is sick. It’s horrible watching them suffer and being helpless to make it better. Being tired all the time sucks, too. You reach a new level of tired as a parent, and you never leave that place (hence our Eternal Exhaustion shirt design). Every dad can relate.
The most rewarding is all of it! Watching them grow and learn and develop a personality is amazing. He teaches me as much as I teach him, if not more. Being a parent is the most stressful and most rewarding thing ever, all at once.
Do you play your son metal? Who does he like?
He’s been hearing my music since before he came out, so he’s used to it. I don’t think he’s at a point where he “likes” any of it per se, but he’s OK with it if it’s on.
When did you conceive of the clothing line?
Early on in the pandemic, I was doomscrolling way too much and spiraling in anxiety and needed a healthy outlet. I’m a huge fan of the artwork and logos in metal, so I decided to have a Metal Dad logo made for fun. People responded to it and suggested putting it on shirts, and that was the start. Soon after, I had the idea to do different logos for each genre of metal, and to do designs that combined ‘dad stuff’ with being a metalhead. I’ve been really lucky to work with some amazing artists and logo designers already, and there’s so many more I’d like to collaborate with.
How has the response been? Do you get a lot of metal dads venting to you?
The response has been really good! People ‘get’ the idea, and every parent can relate to the same things. My whole thing is trying to combine dadhood with being a metal fan, keeping it kinda fun, and people are into it. There’s a lot of us out there and it seemed to be a niche that hadn’t been explored yet. The best part really has been the friends I’ve made. A bunch of us chat all the time, trade music recommendations, parenting advice, whatever. It’s great. My buddy and I started a Facebook group for metalhead dads, too, and that’s been cool. It’s called The Metal Dad Collective.
You have great black metal and death metal parody shirts — what else do you want to do?
I’d love to do designs for all my favorite metal sub genres. Thrash, tech death, etc. I have a cool idea for a brutal death/slam type design, and some other cool stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to get them all out there eventually.
You can buy Metal Dad gear via the company’s website.
Words by Chris Krovatin