Kindie rock stars Recess Monkey return to the Triangle on Saturday with a new member, new music and plans to rock some little ones and their adults during their hour-long show.
The Seattle-based band released their ninth CD, "Deep Sea Diver," last month. Dubbed the "blue album," it has an ocean theme and the kind of music you'd expect from the trio who has enjoyed praise from The Washington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Sirius XM Kids Place and (probably most notably) Go Ask Mom: high-energy songs, fun lyrics and lots of funk.
At my house, we've been fans since the group released "Tabby Road" in 2008. We loved it so much that my older daughter actually incorporated their song "Moon Boots" from 2010's "The Final Funktier" into her preschool graduation that year.
This is fun music that takes on the subjects of childhood and crazy imaginary adventure - a great mix for an album that aims to appeal to kids and parents. But it's not just the lyrics, it's the music too. These are talented guys who know how to write a catchy song blending all sorts of genres. (Kindie music refers to independent kids music).
I caught up with the guys ahead of their 11 a.m., Saturday, show at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Click here for details.
This time around, there's a new member among them. Korum Bischoff is the band's new drummer, joining Jack Forman and Drew Holloway. When they aren't Recess Monkeys, Bischoff is a drum teacher. Forman and Holloway are school teachers.
Now with "Deep Sea Diver" released, they aren't slowing down. Another CD is scheduled to come out in October. And they already are at work on the one after that.
Here's our email chat for the details:
Go Ask Mom: You have a new member! Korum, tell us how you joined up, what it's like joining up with kindie stars?
Korum: Playing with these guys is a dream. The music is so fun and then energy is contagious. And when you have a really amped-up audience, it is through the roof! I've never had this much fun playing music. It's really fun coming into a band with devoted fans who know every lyric and dance move (not that I didn't pay my dues!). I should also say it is completely exhausting in the best way possible! First off, we play a ton. Sometimes three shows in a day. And the music is super fun and high energy which means I get a 45-minute workout with each show... and that's not even counting loading in and out the gear and P.A. and setting everything up.
GAM: Tell us about your new album. Like your others, it's a collection of fun, silly songs and childhood experiences (like swimming lessons in the latest). Is that always the goal?
Drew: First off, thanks for calling it an album! We are all grown-up kids who grew up on "records." And... YES! It is a goal to craft a collection of songs that is thematic while mixing in different topics, moods and genres. We do a lot of front-loading to develop a theme and generate song ideas before going off to mine our memories of growing up, teaching stories and everyday experiences as parents. Swimming lessons are a hot topic in my house at the moment as my eldest daughter is equal parts excited and frightened by the water. I can also still feel some butterflies at having to take the deep water test!
GAM: You've been churning out great, highly acclaimed albums each year and another one is due in October. How do you do it?
Jack: Thanks for saying that. We feel really lucky to have found each other and such a warm and excited audience! There's no secret to our band and prolific output. It's more that we're just so perfectly in sync with kids and families. We have kids of our own, have been teaching for years, and are truly inspired by the family-centric themes that surround us. Our band definitely has a growth mentality - how can we push ourselves creatively and technically? But more than that, we're extremely lucky to be able to derive energy from our experiences with kids. That leads to this endless hunger to capture that energy on albums!
GAM: Are you all still teaching? Is there hope that this becomes a full-time gig? Or do you need those classroom interactions for songwriting fodder?
Drew: I'm not teaching at the moment as it's SUMMER VACATION! In a month however, I'll be back at school to get the classroom ready and re-up on my CPR, first aid and blood borne pathogens training. After that is the fun part, seeing the kids! I'd love to keep teaching as long as possible as it's the best job on earth. Being in the classroom certainly provides songwriting inspiration but it's not about that for me. It's exciting to coach kids, listen to their amazing ideas and help them solve problems of all sorts. You can't help but feel truly alive and in the moment when you're in front of a class of five- and six-year-olds!
GAM: What can we expect from your concert in Carrboro on July 20?
Korum: Lots and lots of dancing! We're going to play a few songs from our new album "Deep Sea Diver" along with some Recess Monkey classics. There will be something for everyone. Kids should expect to laugh, wiggle and sing. Parents should expect a nice long nap in the car on the way home!
GAM: In addition to the album, what's next for Recess Monkey?
Jack: This is crazy to even say, but we've already booked studio time and enlisted the help of a producer for our twelfth (!) album. Longtime fans won't be surprised about the amazing person that we're about to work with- but we have to keep it a secret for now... In the meantime we're playing a ton of shows coast to coast this summer, including a new series of circus shows at the amazing Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle this fall. Next year, we're playing with the Seattle Symphony and even producing a record for a fellow kindie artist. Suffice it to say, we're excited as ever to be in this band!
Their concert at The ArtsCenter was so much fun last summer. I can't wait to see them again. I'd say their music is best for toddlers to early grade schoolers ... but I'll enjoy the concert as much as my 3 and 8-year-old will.