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Pop Culture Clash interviews Disney Junior’s Imagination Movers

Pop Culture Clash

Interviews

Disney Junior Channel’s

Imagination Movers

As a parent it is very difficult to find entertainment for your toddler/pre-school age children that you as a parent will enjoy also.  There is no way that I can stand watching Barney the dinosaur, so much so that I have tried to ignore Barney in hopes that my kids will never find out that he exists.

Luckily my son was really into the playhouse Disney block on the Disney Channel now called Disney Junior which has even morphed into its own Disney Junior channel.  One of the shows we stumbled across was the Imagination Movers.

In 2003, four New Orleans friends – Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche and Scott “Smitty” Smith – started gathering after their kids’ bedtimes to write songs and brainstorm ideas about a children’s television show. Two years later, they had become the latest sensation of their musical city, attracting parents and children alike with an eclectic pop sensibility and lyrical turns about healthy snacks and playing catch and conquering childhood fears of bedtime. Lines to the Movers’ shows stretched down blocks.

When the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, the far-reaching disaster turned the Movers’ world upside down, but it didn’t put an end to their dream. Even while band members salvaged their belongings from flooded homes – and Smith reported to his day job as a fire fighter and first responder – they never stopped living according to the Movers’ motto: “Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun!”

The band has now won an Emmy for best original children’s song, sold over 250,000 CDs and DVDs and national television appearances on The View, Live with Regis & Kelly, and Good Morning America.

I had a chance to interview the band by email in anticipation of their new Rock-O-Matic concert tour in support of the Cd by the same name.

Who are some of your music icons? How have they influenced your music?

SCOTT – I was a child of the 80’s – anything from U2 to The Smiths to The Specials to De La Soul had my attention. Nowadays, I enjoy alt rock, Christian Rock and Americana. On any given day, you’ll hear me listening to the Jimmy Eat World, the Avett Brothers, Ugly Duckling or Jars of Clay – depending on the shuffle. Obviously what influences us musically speaking will find a way into our music, directly or indirectly. On ROM you can hear ska to electronica to arena rock flexing their influential sounds in our music. In concert you can hear these influences and more – hey, you might even recognize a cover of early Van Halen gem or the latest single by Jesse J.

DAVE – It’s so varied. I am a child of the original MTV generation.  When it was ‘all music, all the time.”  If there was a band on those first 5-10 years of MTV, it had some kind of influence. Alternate acts like U2, Hoodoo Gurus, XTC, INXS, Psychedelic Furs, etc. and the standard Top 40 groups like Journey, Styx and Def Leppard. From there it has been pretty much everything that comes along. The availability of music today is so incredible you get to hear a huge variety of styles and artists. The more recent bands on my playlist include Panic! At The Disco, The Killers and All-American Rejects, among others.

What sets the Imagination Movers apart from other children’s groups?

SMITTY – We are simply four regular guys who had a good idea and with the help and hard work of a lot of people, got to see this project blossom.  Also, We are having fun doing what we love.   This Project comes from the heart.  It wasn’t created in a lab in Hollywood.  It is “US.”  And….  one of us is a full time firefighter in New Orleans.  Not many kids groups can claim that.

DAVE – Well, for one, we are just regular guys, dads and husbands. 4 goofy dudes who are well aware that they are 4 goofy dudes. Filming the TV show or being on tour has its moments, but the vast majority of time we are lugging the kids around town, mowing the lawn, washing dishes, etc.  We also have been, are, and probably always will be a children’s band. We were not an adult band who decided to exploit a niche or got tired of doing something else. And we never try to pander to our audience or talk down to the kids.  Our tone is sincere. We write music that we would enjoy listening to with age appropriate lyrics. The goal is to make songs that are able to be enjoyed by young children, older siblings, parents and grandparents.  We try to cast a wide net, and if our Ticketmaster reviews are any indication, we have done a pretty good job of entertaining everyone.

RICH – We’re real dads writing songs about real ideas and real feelings and playing real live concerts on real instruments AND most important: we can’t dance.

How does your family inspire you and your music? How many children do you have and what are their ages? Do your children ever get in on the fun?

RICH – Five kids ages 12 to 3.  They give me ideas and tell me their opinion They also set the tone of the whole project.  We sing and write and perform essentially to make them smile

SCOTT – Our kids have always been a source of inspiration for our music, stylistically and content-wise. Had it not been for them, this idea would not have been born. They act as our focus group, letting us know what works or doesn’t. And we try to have them participate in all that we do, whether being in our music videos or even guest singing on our songs. We’ve always been about family and our work philosophy reflects that.

How is ‘Rock-O-Matic’ different from your previous albums?

DAVE POCHE – Rock-O-Matic is an interesting combination of our music sensibilities from the earlier days coupled with the production and songwriting skills we have gathered over the years. I think there is a real looseness and energy to it. “Everybody Sing” is a great example of the CD/DVD’s upbeat vibe. We set out to make a video that looks like a bunch of people having fun. Once we started shooting it was clear that this goal would be accomplished. You can really feel the energy that was on the set that day.  It was a very positive, validating shoot.

When we were writing music for the TV show, we were bound by the narrative of the episode and had very little time to complete most of the songs. We would literally run from the set to the studio when we were between takes to spend ten minutes singing, playing or re-writing lyrics.  There were also additional layers of writers, producers and executives each with their own idea of what the song should be. With Rock-O-Matic we have the freedom we had back in our early independent CD releases.  We can explore different topics, try some new approaches and allow the songs to grow and change over time. Some of the songs on Rock-O-Matic were actually written years ago. They were songs we loved and hoped to release, but they never found a home on the TV show. We are very happy that we are finally able to get these great songs out there.

 

What’s your favorite track on the new album and why?

SCOTT – Personally I love “Dance Kung Fu” from our new release. One of our more popular songs “Jump Up” is based on simple dance moves the audience can do while we perform: jump up, get down, stand up, turnaround. With “Dance Kung Fu” we made up some unique, nonsensical dance moves for our fans to have fun trying: swatting a fly, gum on your shoe, or ducking a water balloon to name a few. Bottom line is that it’s just a simple and fun song – and the video came out great too. 

RICH – I like the title track because it was the last one we wrote and it only took 10 minutes; it’s as if that melody was always there and we just found it underneath some trash in the corner of the studio

SMITTY – My favorite track (at this moment) is Firetruck.   For the entire lifespan of this project we have been trying to come up with a fire safety/ fire service song.  It was elusive, but I feel like we came up with a fun, funky jam that hits the mark.

DAVE – I will give you my choice for best song and also my favorite song. They are not the same. The best song, in my opinion, is “Blast Off.”  We tried like crazy to get that song featured in a space themed episode of the TV show, but never could push it through. The network wanted some changes and we were never comfortable making them. This is one of those rare songs where everything fell into place for us. We knew when we wrote it that had a unique quality and were very happy with the way it turned out. Rather than deconstruct it, we wrote another song for that episode. Score a victory for Rock-O-Matic!

My favorite song might be “Buckle Me In,” but for personal reasons. When the song was written my kids were both pretty young and had the somewhat cumbersome five-point harness car seats. I was always tried to have them installed exactly the way they were supposed to be, almost to the point of being obsessive. At the time it was a pain, but as a parent you always try to do the right thing. That song was is just a little reminder of that.  And it’s not just about car seats. It’s something of a metaphor for all the little things you have to pay attention to as a parent.  But when I hear that song now, I am taken back to the time when every trip in the car started with a struggle to buckle in my two pudgy little tykes. 

Thanks to Josh at Shore Fire media I have a copy of the new Imagination Movers CD/DVD combo to give away.  Just email me at chrisjpierce23@gmail.com by April 30th at midnight and I will pick a winner at random.

The Imagination Movers will be making some Philadelphia area appearances in the next few months. I highly recommend checking them out

Monday April 30 at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington Delaware shows are 2pm and 5:30pm tickets are available at

http://www.ticketsatthegrand.org/Performance?Perf_no=2012

May 12 at the Keswick Theater in Glenside Pa shows at 1 and 4pm, tickets are available for the 1pm show at

http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/2B00474C8E6B3C49?artistid=919365&majorcatid=10003&minorcatid=23

and the 4pm show at

http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/2B00474C8E9B3C55?artistid=919365&majorcatid=10003&minorcatid=23

Please email me with any feedback at chrisjpierce23@gmail.com and don’t forget to check out my wife’s photography company at www.ashleypiercephotography.com

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NYPZ49DDyk&w=560&h=315]


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