The Imagination Movers are one of the biggest things going in children's music, a rapidly growing genre increasingly populated by older modern-rock acts and singer-songwriters.
Hell, the Verve Pipe play ACL every year to wide kiddie acclaim. Plus, if parents don't find it horribly grating you can last a bit longer too. It doesn't hurt older catalog sales either.
Children's music is pretty hip these days, considering we were listening to Raffi and Barney 20 years ago. Now it's Jack Johnson, Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, Laurie Berkner and the aforementioned Ververs. We'll just have to wait for the big names like the Arcade Fire and Bon Iver to have some kids and make some ominous, soaring hipster-baby tunes.
The Movers are coming to Houston's Bayou Music Center Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. for a kid- and parent-friendly rock show. (Note: The second show, scheduled for 5 p.m., has been canceled.) One of the head Movers, Scott Durbin, talked to Rocks Off about being a touring kiddie act, and what it takes to make pop both parents and their little ones can enjoy together.
Rocks Off: How does touring with a kids' rock band differ from touring with an adult-oriented group?
Scott Durbin: The touring part is similar. Bus to venue to hotel -- repeat process with each new city. Of course, our show times are generally earlier during the day or evening due to the age of our audience. That's a big difference.
We're fortunate to play for families in particular who have taken the time out of their busy lives to come and see us and that motivates us to give them a fantastic experience -- a real rock show every person in the family can enjoy.
RO: Do you get input from educators and parents when you record and write albums, or does it come internally?
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SD: When we developed this concept over ten years, we did a lot of work getting educators and clinical psychologists to provide feedback for lyrics and concepts. Having taught for ten years, I knew whatever we did, we wanted it to have a strong educational foundation but still make it entertaining and accessible.
One of our achievements is introducing the term "brainstorming" into the vernacular of our audience and reinforcing that there are no bad ideas when you're brainstorming. Our own kids too provide quality feedback on songs. We definitely have the opportunity to test out ideas to see if they resonate with our own kids. Plus, much of the inspiration for the project comes from them.
RO: What does the term "Child-Oriented Indie Rock" mean to you?
SD: For us, it means stepping outside of the traditional framework of children's music, where an acoustic guitar and songs in a circle rule the day. We have a lot of respect for the singer/songwriters of kids' music past but the path we've chosen is one draped in the full rock regalia.
We are visually and sonically more in tune with what indie-rock is doing than anything else out there and we're pretty proud to bring real rock to kids and their families. We write and preform our own music and do so in concert. We're not "pretend" playing over tracks like so many other kids artist do and we're proud of that - even if it means hitting an off note or breaking a string.
RO: Who are your influences? What groups help make the IM sound?
SD: For the whole group, the influences are truly varying -- indie to Americana to pop to country to hip-hop to ska. With that said, the one thread that dominates is 80's New Wave and punk.
RO: Do you foresee a day when twentysomethings will be covering IM songs themselves as they get older and reach back to their true bedrock roots? Wouldn't that be fun?
SD: We'd be humbled if that were to happen. Although, we'll get an email now and then with a YouTube link of someone covering a song. I remember seeing some high school garage band covering "Imagination Movers Theme Song," which was cool.
On the flip side, we do some covers in our show and one experience in particular was memorable. During one show, we were doing a mash up of our song "Puppy Dog" and Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle." Unbeknownst to us, the manager of Jimmy Eat World was in the audience with her kids and texted the members letting them know we were paying homage.
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That was pretty cool.
1 p.m. Sunday, September 23 at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas (Bayou Place), bayoumusiccenter.com.