For two decades, the guys of the Greensboro-based power pop band for families, Big Bang Boom, have been playing in bands for adults. In other words, they'd done the fraternity party circuit when they started performing for families in 2007.
What they found, band member Chuck Folds tells me, is that, other than what is in those plastic cups, the crowds aren't really that much different.
"Here’s what happens at fraternity parties: There are people who get in fights. There are people who end up crying. There are people who fall asleep. There are people who bump into equipment. Well, guess what happens at kids parties? The only difference is the consumption of alcohol," he said. "I’ve always thought it was really fun to view it that way."
Big Bang Boom has been a regular at local festivals and libraries for several years. And as they return to the Triangle this Saturday to perform at Cary's Lazy Daze Festival, the trio is poised for bigger things with a third CD set to launch in September and a big year that included performing at some major kindie rock festivals.
The trio includes three dads - Folds (brother of Ben Folds), Steve Willard and Eddie Walker, all veteran rockers. Their goal is to create songs that appeal to both adults and kids at the same time.
"That's our artistic challenge for ourselves," Folds said. "Can we literally write a song that will appeal to commercial radio for adults where at the same time if a six-year-old would listen to the words, it would appeal to him."
The group's new CD, "Because I Said So," comes out Sept. 18. I received a review copy. The songs have a definite pop sound, mixing genres like alternative, hip hop, punk and country. If you ignore the fact that the song is about traffic lights or counting, for instance, several songs sound like something you might hear when you turn on the radio.
For the group, it's the most sophisticated of their kids albums. That mostly has to do with the fact that the band's kids are older now. In 2008, when the band was just starting, for instance, Folds' oldest son had just turned 9. Now he's 13.
"It's just sort of a natural progression of the song writing," Folds said. "The primary motivation that each of us have on any song is what we see and experience with our own kids."
My kids and I listen to a good bit of new kids music at my house and we don't listen to most of it more than once. Much of it doesn't live up to the hype: That it's music that both parents and kids can enjoy.
But my seven-year-old immediately identified with "Because I Said So," dancing in her booster seat in the back of the car while her two-year-old sister tried to belt out the lyrics.
The songs are written from a child's perspective. There's the ode to a hippie mom, a song about riding a bike and a piece about a kid's frustration when a parent says "because I said so." You'll find fun lyrics set to a pop sound with references to bands from the childhoods of many parents today, making it fun for the adults in the car to listen to as well.
The title track, "Because I Said So," with its great twist at the end, along with "Green Light" and "Bicycle" were our favorites.
Folds tells me all three songs are good examples of the group's writing process. "Green Light" was written in the studio. "Bicycle," inspired by watching his oldest son ride his bike, took time to develop. And "Because I Said So" was a combination of those two processes.
"The phrase "because I said so" just needed a song, badly," Folds tells me. "And it had to be a punk song."
In the last few months, the band has been busy, playing as many as 39 shows in a single month. They led several weeks of Big Bang Boom Rock Star Camp in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. And they've hired one of the country's main kindie rock (as in independent rock music for kids) publicists with the hopes that they'll be able to share their music with a broader audience.
And, as they watch their kids grow, they'll continue to find inspiration for new songs.
Big Bang Boom is scheduled to perform a free concert at 11:15 a.m., Saturday, on the Kid's World stage at the corner of Academy and Park streets in downtown Cary. It's part of Cary's massive Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival. Check the website for details and parking information.
The group also is scheduled to open and close The Broad Street Cafe's kids series, which starts Oct. 7 and runs through March, in Durham.