Inter-generational bands are common in the roots music field, but father-and-son combinations in rock ‘n’ roll are comparatively rare. Introducing The Discarded, a punk-fuelled trio from Orangeville, Ontario, comprising dad Joel Wasson (J.P.) on vocals and guitar, and sons Jared Dean (bass) and Caden Jax (drums).

Officially a band for just two-and-a-half years, they’ve already released two albums, 2017’s The Discarded and 2018’s Manifesto, and have made a mark on the Ontario live circuit.

The DiscardedA recent in-person chat with all three in Toronto confirmed that this is a family with a very close bond, personally as well as musically. Jared (19) and Caden (15) both live with Joel, while younger siblings Trey (12) and Sadie (8) split their time between Joel and their mother, his former partner.

Joel dates the formation of The Discarded back to February of 2016. “We’d moved into a place together a few months earlier,” he says. “I had a music room set up and we’d play around, so when a band I was in couldn’t play a friend’s birthday party, I said ‘Hey, I’ll do something with my kids.’ That was our first show, and from there we took it seriously.”

The two sons were immediately eager to pursue the project. “I had just taken up the bass guitar, so it was a way to really start practising my instrument, rather than just taking lessons,” says Jared.

Then just 13, Caden had grown up with drums around the house, as Joel was initially a drummer, who’d played in such prominent Toronto bands as Fifth Column and Snowdogs during his time there (1984-1998). “I always played drums when I was little,” says Caden. “Then, in Grade 8, I got a drum set for my birthday, and that’s when I started playing seriously. My dad gave me lessons at the start, but I would mainly work on it and improve by myself. He’ll occasionally show me something to work on, but mostly it’s me practising at my own speed.”

Within six months of forming, The Discarded headed into the studio with one of Canada’s top producer/engineers, Ian Blurton (Change of Heart, Nashville Pussy). A comrade of Joel from his Toronto scene days, Blurton engineered and mixed the nine songs on the album in a single day, neatly capturing the band’s garage-meets-punk-rock sound live off the floor.

“My sons push me a lot to expand on what I do, so this old dog tries to learn new tricks.” – Joel Wasson of The Discarded

Encouraged by the response to The Discarded, the group returned to the studio in August 2017 to record Manifesto, an album that showcases the major musical strides the trio had taken. Blurton again manned the console, and Joel says that “Ian can hear that we’ve got a good rockin’ sound. If it was absolute shite he wouldn’t want his name attached.”

Joel Wasson remains the principal songwriter, but his sons make potent contributions to their sound. “He may come up with a guitar riff and lyrics and we’ll add our own parts,” says Jared. “We have a better sense of dynamics as a band now. We can do things more instinctively.”

It’s easy to rehearse
There are practical advantages to being a family band too, says Joel: “We live together and we don’t have to book a studio, as we have the music room downstairs. We make sure we have two nights a week reserved to practise, and we play two or three shows a month on top of that.” “We’re used to long drives together as well,” adds Caden.

“It’s important in this band that you each find your own feel for what you do,” says Joel. “All the songs on the second album are much greater than just what I came up with. They’ve done songs I haven’t been able to do with any other band I’ve had around, because we’re able to click. My sons push me a lot to expand on what I do, so this old dog tries to learn new tricks, too.”

Playing together has had a positive effect on the family dynamic, Joel reports. “This takes it to a whole different level than just being a dad,” he says. “You relate to them on more of a musical peer level.”

The Discarded’s credibility and confidence have been boosted by successful, high-profile shows opening for U.S. garage-rock heroes The Sonics (at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall) and Lowest of the Low. The group already has 17 more songs ready to record, with Joel reporting that “we plan to put out a 10-inch record every four months, with five or six songs on each.”

The Wassons understand that the father-and-young-sons angle attracts media curiosity. “It’d be weird not to acknowledge it,” says Jared, “but at the end of the day we want the music to be the reason you’re interested in us, not the fact that we’re a family, or that we’re young. We’re going to grow old, too!”