Speaking from a rock ’n’ roll fantasy camp in Los Angeles, Max Watson, singer/guitarist for Dallas’ alternative rock band the Intemperate Sons, doesn’t sound much like a rock star. Soft-spoken and deliberate, he sounds like a person in complete control. And he’s only 23.
“Yes, I know intemperate means lacking self-control,” Watson says, “but the truth is, we’ve never done anything too crazy.”
Well, besides having his brother and father in the band. That’s right, the Intemperate Sons consists of Max, his brother Jake (on second guitar) and father Keith on drums.
“Dad came up with the name,” Watson recalls, “because he wanted a play on words with sons or brothers or something like that.”
The Watson family have been playing together since 2019. Keith has a long history of rocking out in Dallas with bands such as Gun Hill and Natural Born Thrillers. Seems once dad heard the music created by his own sons, it felt like a natural fit.
Even though it still can’t be that cool to have your dad around all of the time, Max insists the family unit actually improves the band’s music.
“It’s weird, but it’s also awesome because we already have chemistry,” Watson says. “We don’t need to build that.”
That familiarity helped create The Color Within, the Intemperate Sons’ debut full-length that came out in 2022. The album shows a band mining influences as diverse as Alice in Chains, the Allman Brothers and REM. But Max claims it all falls under the banner of alternative rock.
“Alternative is probably the best to describe what we do,” Watson says. “Or maybe ’90s post grunge.”
Songs such as “Wall of Glass,” “Going Crazy” and “Way Back When” demonstrate a skill and maturity that belies the relative newness of the band. Maybe that’s because dad writes all the lyrics.
“My dad has a novel’s worth of lyrics in his head,” Watson says. “We could probably make six more albums and not have to write any more music. I’ve only written one song, ‘Going Crazy,’ and, on ‘Way Back When,’ I contributed the first verse and the chorus.”
But right now, they’re just concentrating on touring and spreading the word about The Color Within. Since the band didn’t have a permanent bass player (they used two studio aces on the debut), Dad brought in his old bandmate Mark Marks to solidify the lineup.
“It’s kind of like having my uncle in the band,” Watson laughs. And with the new bass player in tow, the brothers can concentrate on playing guitar and producing a fuller sound.
“When we first started,” Watson explains, “me and Jake would just switch around playing bass and guitar.”
But even with the brothers switching between instruments, the sound on The Color Within is fully realized. The music and lyrics evoke a person looking back at relationships, good and bad, and realizing who’s to blame, even when that might be that person.
“‘Wall of Glass’ is about watching another person slowly fade away — a lost relationship whether or not it’s your fault … because of things you can’t control,” Watson says. And not only do the words tell the tale, the music’s polished ebb and flow creates these same emotions.
“Way Back When” is the most like Alice in Chains, but when a band mines an influence, it’s best to go at it full throttle.
And then there’s “What’s Done is Done,” a song so introspective that it could have been written by Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello.
“Dad wrote that, and Jake came up with the guitar riff,” Watson says. “It’s about making so many mistakes and feeling so sad that you can’t fix anything anymore — a really sad song.”
The Intemperate Sons make a cautious, thoughtful noise, a curious mixture of an older man’s trials and his sons’ youthful indiscretions. Yet, it still must be weird having your dad there when you’re living that rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Not so, explains Watson.
“Now that I’m older, I’ve told my dad about the dumb shit I did,” Watson says. “One of our songs [“Going Crazy”] is about an acid trip gone wrong.”
“Besides,” says Watson. “Dad can drink way more than me. I’m a lightweight.”
So with one album under their belt, and those sometimes-burdensome family issues not appearing to be a problem, the Watson family is looking toward a bright future.
“We’re working on our second album,” Watson says. “We’ve released two songs that will be on the album, and we’ve recorded three others. All three of us are a database for guitar riffs.”
So far, the band has been mainly playing in and around Dallas, but they’re planning for a longer tour to happen in the next year.
“We have an idea of doing a West Coast and back kind of tour,” Watson says, “leaving from Dallas, playing New Mexico and Arizona, making it out to L.A.”
Medium-size steps to be sure, but the family that plays together, stays together. These Watson brothers have done the seemingly impossible. They’ve made dad cool.
Cover promo photo by Ryan Whitehead, Ardent Owl Media