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INTERVIEW: The Jolly Pops

Can you talk to us more about your song “Picnic Place”?

Sure.  Sometimes my children’s songs happen from hanging out with my kids and noticing what gets them excited.  Picnics are high on that list.  So I wrote the idea down one day after a family picnic.  Over a few months I slowly crafted this tune.  I love how interactive the song has become playing it live, eating sandwiches and juggling grapes and shouting “chocolate cake!”.  It’s a terribly good time for everyone involved.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

Absolutely.  It’s been one of The Jolly Pops most successful songs, so it will surely get a video.  We are simply waiting for the weather to allow us to shoot outside.  The new album came out in the spring of this year.  In Minnesota it takes a while for “Spring” to arrive.  But the summer here is absolutely the best.  So we will shoot it sometime during summer break.

The single comes off your new album We Are Happy Dads – what’s the story behind the title?

In America we sometimes refer to our dad as “Pops”.  It’s an older tendency, but some sons and daughters still do it.  So, “We are Jolly Pops, We are Happy Dads” has been the tagline for this project since it’s beginning.  Although I’m the central figure and standard bearer of the Jolly Pops, the idea has always been to create a collective of Dads playing music for the kids.  This album had a lot of Happy Dads play on it so when it came time to name the album, well, that one seemed appropriate.  Mind you we aren’t “No Girls Allowed” and Moms are welcome.  But the focus has always been on Dads.

How was the recording and writing process?

Maybe the best I’ve ever had.  I wrote for a while and amassed about 10 solid tunes.  I found the right producer (Matt Patrick, The Library Minneapolis, MN) and we co-wrote the rest of the songs while demoing the others.  Then we brought in an All-Star supporting cast of musicians to fill the songs out.  The album took a while to create but it always was on a steady and positive pace.

What role does Minneapolis play in your music?

I’m relatively new here having moved 3 years ago from Brooklyn, NY (my wife grew up in MN).  But I used to tour through Minneapolis with a variety of rock bands and it was always a city you looked forward to running through.  Everyone in the world knows about Prince (I live about 5 miles from Paisley Park which is terribly cool), but what you find when you live here is a vast and vibrant music scene that is very inviting and enthusiastic from its fans to its bands, top to bottom.  It’s not as big as NYC, not even close.  But what the Minneapolis scene lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.  So, the biggest role Minneapolis played in this album was the unbelievable local musicians and people I was able to get involved in recording it.

How Parenthood does influences your writing?

Being able to make your kids dance, laugh and celebrate music as a result of a song you wrote might be about the best feeling in the world.  Whenever I’m working on something new I can’t wait for the moment when I’m ready to share it with them.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I find it in trying to remember what it was like to be a little kid and watching my own children.  The mixture of excitement, confusion, wonder and even fear is always present. All I have to do it listen and watch.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’ve been lucky enough to get some out of town gigs all over Minnesota this summer.  But we won’t be wandering too far for the time being.  Someday I’d love to tour, but not yet.

What else is happening next in The Jolly Pops’ world?

We had two stickers made recently featuring our puppets, who have become an integral part of our show and classes.  One has “Bacon” the Pig on it and the other “Chompy” the Alligator.  At the end of whatever we are doing we give out stickers to all the kids.  But they have to choose one or the other.  Are they “Team Bacon” or “Team Chompy”?  It’s kind of reminiscent of the “Twilight” dilemma.  (I was Team Edward).  I’ve been keeping score each appearance and the competition is tight.  We’ll be making a video for our YouTube channel announcing the results so stay tuned.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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