Our neighborhood seems more like a haven for PTA moms than rock stars, yet an increasing number of the latter choose to raise their kids here. Case in point? Old 97s’ drummer Philip Peeples and lead guitarist KEN BETHEA both call Lake Highlands home. We sat down with Bethea to find out why he and wife Heather chose Lake Highlands, what’s on tap for the band, and how the Old 97s got so involved with that not-so-little 2006 film, “The Breakup.”
When did you guys move to Lake Highlands?
In the summer of 2002. We were living in Hollywood Heights (in East Dallas), in a little house, and we wanted a bigger house. There was also a crime issue where we lived, and that was not so good. Plus, looking into the future, we were thinking DISD vs. RISD. And we chose RISD.
How do you like Lake Highlands?
I love it. I lived in East Dallas for 14 years, and the vibe here is different. Over there most of our friends that we’d run across were more people who were musicians or artists … it’s a little more conservative here, but I don’t even care. When I’m not with the Old 97s, I prefer to coach soccer (for his 7-year-old son Audie’s team; Bethea also has a daughter, Eliza, 4) than play music.
Audie goes to White Rock Elementary, right?
Yeah, and it’s just amazingly cool. We’ve met a lot of people, a lot of our friends, through there. It’s our little neighborhood school — not next to a big street at all. Lake Highlands feels like small town in that way, and it wasn’t like that whatsoever in Lakewood.
So will you be joining the Lake Highlands Exchange Club?
No, that’s not really my style anyway. I’ve got my own club (the band), and we go around the country together. I am secretary of the Lake Highlands Soccer Association, though.
All four band members have kids now — how has that changed the group dynamic?
We have to, in a way, just block out time months in advance — schedule stuff around birthdays, even things like school drop off and pick up a little bit. Philip (Peeples) and I both have heavy-duty kid duties. We are the picker-uppers and dropper-offers, the makers of the lunches — if we go on tour, somebody’s gotta do that for us. So you can’t just take off at the drop of the hat.
What do your kids think of their dad being in a band? Do they understand the magnitude of your fame?
They’re getting there, but it’s been the same thing for years. When I was little, I always saw movie stars and heard people on like late night talk shows. But you’re just “daddy” to them. They know I play in a band, they know I have CDs — they just don’t really realize that that’s abnormal. Audie is going with me to play Gruene Hall. He’s going to fly down with me, go to the gig, spend the night with the guys and then fly back. He’s pretty excited about that. I tell him: “Man, it’s so much fun. I hope someday you get to do something like that.”
What’s the band working on now?
We’ll be recording some demos in a Lower Greenville studio. Ideally we’ll start working on the next record in August or September, and then it’s usually about six months from the day you start, at best, before the album is released. You don’t set the (release) date until the label gets the master, and then for four months you argue over art and album title and wind up with a compromise nobody really likes and nobody really hates (laughs).
A few Old 97s songs were in “The Breakup” last year, and the band was in a scene, too. How’d that happen? Did you meet Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan?
Vince Vaughan has been a fan for a long time, and that’s why we’re in that movie. We met Jennifer. She was great — very hot and very cute and nice. It was kind of overwhelming. She got thrown in with this band and crew — seven guys sitting there giggling and asking her questions. ‘Um, you used to be on “Friends,” right?’ ‘Where are you from?’ ‘New York.’ ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there …’ It was like Beavis and Butthead sitting there talking to her.’ And Vince Vaughan — that was much cooler. He’s a fan, so that helped — they’re asking us the questions. And plus he’s a guy. But my wife got to meet him, and I think she was doing the drooling. She’s always had a big crush on him.