Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Q and A with the Imagination Movers

Music makes our house go 'round most days. Whether we are baking, playing games, riding in the car, or playing tag, there is music playing in the background.   We often find ourselves stopping whatever toys we are transforming, Barbies we are dressing, tweets we are tweeting, or laundry we are folding to come together in our kitchen and have a spontaneous dance party. We have watched the kids' tastes grow, but some music is a staple. One of our long lasting favorites is the Imagination Movers. Have you heard of them? They are four family guys, dressed in blue suits, solving problems with some rock and roll.

Photo Credit: Adams Photography

We've been fortunate to see the Imagination Movers live in concert twice. They are interactive, goofy, engaging, and FUN! My husband and I have a blast watching the smiles on our kids' faces the entire show while they dance along with Rich, Scott, Dave, and Smitty. Yes, we sing along, too. You can't help it. The energy is infectious. This year's tour, titled Rock-O-Matic (which matches the title of their latest album), is kicking off on April 10th in Buffalo, NY. You can find a complete list of their tour stops online on the website.

Before leaving on their tour, the Movers sat down to answer some interview question for their fans. Please enjoy the responses below: 

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

SCOTT DURBIN - There's definitely more freedom in Rock-O-Matic. Recently, if the song we wrote was not tied directly to a narrative from the TV show, there was no way it would be heard. A tune like "Dance Kung Fu" which is a truly silly dance song or "Buckle Me In" about car seat safety would never have made it on the TV show but it can and does in our recent CD/DVD release. Honestly, we've been together writing songs for nearly ten years now but it's been awhile since we could just do a song without having to wait for it to be approved or not. Our parameters have been removed. 

RICH COLLINS - We're still a bunch of dorky dads but we've gotten really good at writing pop and rock songs over the last decade, so you can hear a little bit of that swagger in these new tracks. It's probably our most "rock" record to date but it's quite diverse stylistically. 

SCOTT “SMITTY” SMITHROM is definitely indicative of our musical growth and freedom.  It touches on a wide range of genres and is the culmination of a lot of hard work.

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

SMITTYMy 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. 

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? 

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. 

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

SMITTY - Our families are definitely our inspiration... and our test audience.  None of this could happen without their support and input.

DAVE - My kids are 9 and 12 now, which is hard to believe. Our kids were the inspiration for this entire project. We had kids around the same time and were exposed to the world of children's entertainment. We started writings songs for, and about, our kids.  Each milestone represented an opportunity for a new song. And it was great to have an audience at home.  We had a little test market that had no aversion to telling us exactly what they thought.  In the earlier songs, you can hear their voices all over the place.  We put them in front of the mic whenever we needed a little voice, or added a part so that everyone got a chance.  When we filmed the show, our kids would look at the script drafts, visit the set regularly and even made a few cameos. We could not have made it without the contributions, inspiration and support of our families.  They give us the energy that fuels the machine.

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.

RICH - All over the place from Otis Redding, the Beatles and Creedence up to Weezer, jay z and the killers and now everything my kids show me ... Except Skrillex; that gives me a headache

SMITTY - The Clash, Big Country, Bob Marley (and Reggae in general), The Meters, Johnny Cash.  Recently...  The Avett Brothers, Neko Case and anything new I can get my ears on.  I think you can hear our influences in our songs.  They are definitely there.  For me, I always gravitate towards funk and ska when I am playing.   

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?

SCOTT - What makes us different? From day one to now, there is so much in children's programming/music that chooses to pacify our children. We've always wanted to change that. We truly want to challenge our kids, treating them as creators instead of consumers. We want to empower them to reach high, think big, work hard and have fun. 
With performing music for kids and families, you know immediately what works and what doesn't so insincerity simply doesn't have a place here. You have to be genuine, sincere in your efforts and execution of ideals. We feel we are or at the very least aspire to those lofty goals. Whether its reflected in the composition or lyrics we pen in our songs to playing the music live - you've got to demonstrate your true colors. We choose to play our instruments rather than rely on lip-synching or tracks because music is organic and is evidence of the beauty of the creative process.  

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.

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. Four goofy dudes who are well aware that they are four goofy dudes. Filming the TV show or being on tour has it's 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.

What are you passions /hobbies/interests outside of music? Do you play any sports or have any favorite teams?

SCOTT - Outside of the Movers, I love to spend time with family. Whether cooking dinner or throwing the football around, I enjoy those moments wholeheartedly. Of course, I am fan of sports, football and baseball in particular. As far as teams, it's gotta be the Saints! We've been fortunate enough to sing the National Anthem at three of their home games. Their record when we sing: 3-0. As for baseball, I played a little fall ball in college, second and center field. I was raised a Red Sox fan which is ironic since I was born in New York. 
I am a fan of the food network and watch Chopped, Iron Chef - all those kind of shows. And movies - one of my dreams is to be in a western. We did a cowboy episode in season three and I got hooked on the boots and clothes.

RICH - I love Saints football. I love movies and books. I also spend a lot of time restoring my old house 

SMITTY - We are all HUGE Saints fans.  2013 Black and Gold Superbowl in the 504, Ya Heard!!!!!  Also, I love the outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, hunting and fishing.  I am also a decoy carver and I like to read.

DAVE - I am a football nut. Being from South Louisiana, I am a big fan of LSU and the Saints. I am also a big fan of the Hornets.  I was never a huge NBA fan, but I took my son to his first Hornets game when he was four and he was hooked from the start.  We still go to games quite often, sometimes with his sister in tow.  

The Night Light Stories household is looking forward to our third concert to jump up, get down, stand up, and turn around with the Movers in May. If you haven't seen or heard in the past, the Movers have recorded bumpers for three of our stories and been part of our Lighting the Way With Words. You can listen to their audio clips from last tour and see which words they were a part of by clicking the links below: 

Dave's bumper: The Leprechaun Trap
Rich's bumper: Alien Pursuit

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