You may know him best as Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls, but Scott Patterson is a prolific singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Providence Moms Blog had the chance to talk to Scott about juggling parenthood and his career, how he bonds with his son over a love of reading and roughhousing, how he’ll stay in touch with his family while on his upcoming tour with his band SMITHRADIO, and, of course, poop.
You have one son who just turned three. How are you handling life with a threenager?
Well, just like anybody else would — just raising him up, reading to him, playing with him, and encouraging him to have fun. I sit with him a lot and I take him through a lot of different types of books. He’s very bright and very curious; he fascinates me. I can already tell that he’s going to get a law degree; you really need to convince him with logic as to why he should do what he needs to do. He’s going to camp right now, and a lot of his teachers are coming up to me to tell me, “you don’t have anything to worry about; nobody’s getting anything over on your son.” Parenting is hard, but I didn’t realize it would be this much fun.
What are your favorite books to read together?
Dr. Seuss, absolutely. He’s so vastly superior to anything else. They are so beautifully written and conceived in iambic pentameter, and I enjoy reading them most of all. My son is really into the Thomas the Train books, so we also read those together at bedtime.
What’s the funniest/grossest/most authentic/ridiculous parenting moment you’ve had so far?
The first time that he went to the bathroom in his little miniature toilet. He was calling me upstairs; “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, come upstairs, come upstairs!” My wife was calling too and I thought something had happened, so I ran upstairs. And when I got up there, he was standing there naked, and he took me by the hand, and we ran down the hallway and into the bathroom. We went up to the toilet, and he said, “look Daddy, I made a dinosaur!” And it actually looked like a T-Rex! It had a head, it looked like the jaw was open, it had little arms, a big body and a tail, and I looked at my son’s hands, and I thought, “maybe he crafted this thing.” But no. It was untouched; that’s how it came out: a T-Rex sitting in his toilet bowl.
You’ve had a very successful and multifaceted arts career. How do you juggle acting, singing, songwriting, and raising a son? How do you prioritize family time?
Well, I don’t sleep very much — that’s one way. I need more hours in the day, so I grab them. And I always make sure mornings are for my boy. When he comes home from camp, if I’m around, I have lunch with him. At nighttime, we all have dinner together. That’s a ritual I will not break. At night, I read to him, play with him, and put him to bed. He’s got a ton of energy. Lately, in the last six months or so, he’s really into rough play. He loves me to throw him around. He loves to dive on me, attack me, and play fight, sword fight — we’ve got our light sabers. He’s just a ton of fun. Every night, we’re spending a lot of time together. It’s going to be hard when I go on tour, but I’ll be in touch. I’ll make videos for him and I’ll FaceTime him a couple times a day. It’ll be tough. I was away from him for three weeks when he was about three months old, and I missed him terribly, but at that age, it’s really just about mommy. Now, we’re so bonded and have so much fun, it’s going to be really hard to not have him around.
Has fatherhood changed the way you approach the creation of art?
As soon as I realized I was going to be a father, I started shifting away from acting and being an independent contractor to being a businessman and creating my own art. I’ve built a lot of things in my life; some more successful than others, and my son hasn’t been around to watch me do that. I wanted to give him the opportunity to grow up watching me build something; overcoming the obstacles and celebrating the successes. It’s important to me. That’s why I’m starting a coffee brand and products; that’s why I’m going out on the road. Being a father really made me lose any doubts about my ability as a songwriter, singer, and a businessman. And I just thought, this is real life. This is really important for him to see and he’s going to witness me do this, and I will be successful. I just turned down a role in a film where the guy was a jerk. I just don’t want to do that. I’m being very selective and a little more careful now.
Do you and your son bond over your music? How do you promote the arts in your son’s life?
When my wife was pregnant, we played him classical music — Beethoven, Mozart. When he was born, we’d soothe him to sleep with Chopin. When he was very young, he loved to come into the studio and play the guitar. Now he doesn’t like it when I sing or write songs, because it pulls attention away from him. If I’m in my studio, he’ll come in and take me by the hand so I can play toys with him. If I say, “what do you think of this song?” he just says, “no singing, no singing!” He doesn’t want to hear it. But I actually show him a lot of art books. We go through Picasso, Julian Schnabel, Basquiat — and they hold his attention. He likes the colors and designs and will crack them open when I’m not around and look at them. He’s painting a lot now, and we’ve got all of his stuff up on the walls of our house.
Any children’s CDs in the works? Because that would be awesome.
A children’s CD? I have not contemplated that. Maybe down the line. I wrote a song for my son that I’m going to be singing on the road every show. It will be right in the middle of the set, where I wanted an emotional moment. So I reserve that space for my son. It’s called “On My Way Home,” and I’ll perform that every single night on this tour for my boy.
Our readership grew up on Gilmore Girls and rooted for Luke and Lorelai to get together. Now, we’re in the midst of parenting our own small children. What did Gilmore Girls teach you about parenthood?
Not a thing. How can a television show teach you anything about parenthood? The only thing that teaches you about parenting is having a child. You learn that it’s on the job training. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a child until you have one. Nobody knows until they have a child what’s it’s really like. I was shocked. I didn’t realize that it was going to be this much fun. I didn’t realize that it was going to be this enjoyable. I didn’t realize that my entire life was devoid of this magic on a daily basis, and I kicked myself for waiting so long. You can’t know until you experience it.
And again, because our readers grew up on Gilmore Girls: what do you have in common with Luke?
Like Luke, I’m very no-nonsense and down to earth. I’m very loyal; loyal to a fault, and we’re both extremely hard working. He lives below his means, and I do as well. We’re smart. I like to travel, and I like people; I’m far more gregarious than him. What really hooked me into him — and I do relate to this — was his ennui. There’s a tragic element to his life. He can’t get the girl, and he feels he’s not good enough for her. For Luke, it’s really about hanging around long enough and outlasting the competition. What I liked about him is that he valued the friendship so much that he hesitated for so long to reveal his true feelings. I respect the hell out of that.
On top of performing and acting, you’re making your own coffee brand. Like most moms, we pretty much only function because of coffee. When and how we can get our hands on Scotty P’s Big Mug Coffee?
It’s not out yet. We’re going to try to be out before the holidays. Everyday, I’m talking to people in the coffee industry. It’s a very exciting time. I want to be careful and not rush into anything; I can only do it once, and I am going to do it right. I want it to be the perfect packaging, the perfect blend, and the right price. I want to make sure that people who want quality coffee and can’t afford to pay a premium, like young mothers, have the opportunity to drink something special.
And lastly… how do you take your coffee?
It depends what I’m drinking. If it’s an African bean from Kenya or Ethiopia, I’ll put honey in it or drink it black. I put brown sugar in my espresso. And a latte is a latte!
As part of his Atomic Love Acoustic Coffee House U.S. Tour, Scott Patterson will be performing with his band, SMITHRADIO, on July 28th at LaSalle Bakery and July 29th at Vanuatu Cafe in Providence. While both shows are sold out, you can purchase their CD here. You can follow along on Twitter at @SMITHRADIO111 and @ScottGPatterson, Instagram at @SMITHRADIOOFFICAL and @scottgordonpatterson, and Facebook at @SMITHRADIO111 and @scottpatterson111.