For some reason, The Stinky Puffs have become a lightning rod for media attention lately.
It might have something to do with the indelible charm of singer-guitarist Simon Fair Timony, who, by most measures, should be a rock-and-roll casualty by now.
Simon has spent nearly a decade in the music business, played in two bands, and released three albums. He counted the late Kurt Cobain as a close friend, and even stepped into the troubled singer's shows when he sang with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl at their first post-Nirvana gig. His dad was the green eyeball in the avant-garde art-rock group The Residents, his former stepfather was Jad Fair of lo-fi visionaries Half Japanese, and he had grown up surrounded by most of America's alterative-rock heavyweights. The best part of the whole deal is that Simon has yet to hit his teens.
Alongside drummer Sheenah Fair, guitarist Cody Linn Ranaldo (son of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo), lead guitarist Jeffrey Rotter, and bassist Eric Eble, Simon fronts The Stinky Puffs, a San Francisco-based punk-pop group, with effortless grace.
"We've always naturally drawn attention," says Sheenah, Simon's eternally ecstatic mother, manager, and mouthpiece. "We haven't invited it. We don't have a publicist. We'd rather everything happen very organically then having a convoluted machine."
The Stinky Puffs' latest album, Songs and Advice for Kids Who Have Been Left Behind, details the uneasy personal struggles Simon faced in the wake of Cobain's suicide and his step-father's recent departure from the family. Along with touching songs like "I'll Love You Anyway" and Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver", it comes with a pamphlet offering advice for kids in similar situations. "Hug your mommy tighter and take care of yourself and your mom and take your vitamins," reads one of the entries. The disc is dedicated to Frances Bean, Cobain's child with wife and Hole singer Courtney Love.
"We're going to be sending the album toe children's libraries and grammar schools," Sheenah says. "It really isn't about carving another niche in the market, because the project is for real. Simon really meant to help kids. We have vision of playing at grammar schools."
Simon seems somewhat more timid about his aspirations, prefering to fiddle quietly with a plastic baseball cap which his mother fields the questions. His enigmatic grin suggests the elusive allure of a future Michael Stripe or Eddie Vedder. It's a disarming presence for a 12-year-old, but Sheenah keepts it in perspective.
"If we were all baseball weirdoes, there he'd be, out on the field," she says.
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