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An interview with Big Bang Boom

Mott is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Kids Rock concert series at Ann Arbor Summer Festival.  The finale concert is July 8, and Mott will be there in full force with a Camp Little Victors activity tent.  We are pretty excited, not only to be out with all of you having fun but because the band sounds like a ton of fun!  To give you an idea of what’s in store, we spent a few minutes on the phone with Chuck Folds from Big Bang Boom. Read on to find out what first graders and fraternity brothers have in common, who Chuck’s favorite Michigan athlete is, and what’s in store for us on July 8!

Mott: Who is Big Bang Boom?

Chuck:  Well, I’m Chuck Folds.  The guitar player is Steve Willard, and the drummer is Eddie Walker.  We’re just three long time professional musicians who’ve been playing since, like, the 80’s.  We started playing children’s music when we had kids.  We wanted to do something different for my son’s 7th birthday party – and that’s where it all got started.

Mott: So that’s where Big Bang Boom got started, but you also play in other bands, as well. 

Chuck: Oh yeah, to make a living as musicians we diversify so we keep a full calendar amongst all the different types of music we play.

Mott: What makes performing for kids different?

Chuck: The comparison we make about playing for children is that it’s actually pretty similar to performing in the band that we have that plays a lot of frat parties.  It’s amazing the number of similarities you see between playing for a bunch of kindergarteners and first graders and playing for college frat guys.  You see a lot of the same dance moves, you have to kind of tell them what to do, make sure they don’t step on your stuff or hurt themselves.  It’s crazy how similar they are.

Mott: We’ve read that part of what is unique about Big Bang Boom’s music is that it’s meant to be enjoyed by parents also.  What is it that makes Big Bang Boom fun for kids, and enjoyable for adults, too?

Chuck: The general philosophy behind “kindie” rock – a whole new genre of children/family music  – is that there are a lot of musicians who had kids who were listening to children’s music and some of it was just awful.  It’s hard for parents to listen to it – why should their kids have to?  There’s no reason for children’s music to be so watered down and so kiddie and toy sounding.  We write, record and produce all of our stuff with the parents in mind because, you know, we have kids and we’ve been there.  We try to take it to a whole different level.  It’s like the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.  When you watch them as a kid you enjoy the slapstick value of it, it’s entertaining, it’s funny.  Then when you get older you see a whole different level of stuff going on underneath the slapstick, and you find out that these guys who wrote that stuff were really doing it to entertain themselves but in a way that kids would enjoy.  There is a lot of stuff in our songs that is written for the adults to enjoy, but in a way that lyrically entertains the kids.

Mott: What do your kids think of the band?

Chuck: To be honest, they’re sort of bored with it at this point.  They had fun with it 3 or 4 years ago – but now they just say, “yeah that’s what dad does.”  I mean, they like it, and they listen to it and have favorites from the new CD, but they have moved on.

Mott: What’s it like in the Folds house when you’re working on a new album?

Chuck: When we’re in the mode of working on another CD they know everything that happens in the house has potential to inspire a song.  It’s hard to be creative when you have to, so we draw from everything when it’s time to write.

Mott: What suggestions do you have for parents who want to raise their kids to appreciate music?

Chuck: Just let ‘em listen.  And let them listen to a variety – don’t try too hard to structure them into liking a certain type of music.  Like my older son, we don’t like the same type of music anymore, but if I hadn’t exposed him to different types of music he might not have really ended up really taking to any type of music.  I think variety is important – they don’t have to listen to “kids music.”  We’re pretty open to different types and styles of music.  I’d say the big thing is just don’t confine them to certain types of music.

Mott: So, do any of your kids play instruments?

Chuck: It took a while – there was a time period where we had drum sets and keyboards and all kinds of stuff were just laying around the house and they just had no interest in it. I didn’t want to force it.  But now my youngest, who’s nine now, is really into the drums – he’s taking lessons.  And my oldest, who’s getting ready to turn 13, is taking piano lessons.  So yeah they’re getting pretty into it.

Mott: Who is your favorite musician of all time?

Chuck: Duck Dunn, who unfortunately passed away just a few months ago.  He’s a guy who’s really known in the music world, but unknown to people who don’t really pay attention to the names in small print on the records.  He played all the bass on albums from Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Tom Petty, Neil Young…the guy laid bass lines down for some of the really great classic stuff out there for years.

Mott: Name your favorite Michigan athlete, past or present?

Chuck: University of Michigan or from the State of Michigan?

Mott: You pick.

Chuck: Okay here’s one…there was a defensive end who played for the Detroit Lions for like 12 years in the late 70’s/early 80’s…it was a long time for a guy to be a defensive end.  His name is Larry Hand. Anyway, when he retired he built a house just through the woods from where I lived as a kid in North Carolina.  And I was really into football when I was a kid so I was really excited and just had to go meet him, and I did.  So that’s my story about a famous athlete from Michigan.

Mott: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about your child’s health or wellness?

Chuck: Man, you just get so much!  Okay, I got one.  Our first son just screamed continuously.  When you put him down he would scream. He was so unhappy.  In the car, in the swing…whatever.  He just couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to be put down.  At all.  So, somebody gave us one of those baby carriers and said try this – he was as happy as he could be.  It calmed him down right away.  It just worked for him – he liked to be held up high and close to us.  It saved us.

Mott: What are some of your favorite healthy family activities?

Chuck: Oh – riding bikes.  We have some great bike trails around Greensboro and we go riding a lot.

Mott: Now, the staff in our Emergency Department and our Injury Prevention Program would want me to check – does everybody in the Folds family wear helmets?

Chuck: We absolutely do.  I have to admit – I hate wearing it, but if I’m going to have the kids wear theirs I know I need to set an example.

Mott: Have you been to Michigan?

Chuck:  You know, I’ve been a professional musician for over 25  years.  Sometimes I lose track of where we’ve been!  I know I’ve been on the lake, but I think I might actually have been in Ohio.  I’m not sure.

Mott:  You’re not going to want to bring that up while you’re on stage at U-M.

Chuck:  I know!  It sounds awful – I have to honestly say I just can’t remember!

Mott:  What’s the song you’re most looking forward to playing in Ann Arbor to this weekend?

Chuck:  Well, I would have to say the one that is always the most fun is actually a cover of Hokey Pokey which we really like.   I’ll just say we have a little surprise twist that we throw in.

Mott:  So you’re going to keep us on the edge of our seats?

Chuck:  Yes, exactly.  You’ve never seen it done this way.

Mott:  Well that’s a good segue to my last question – are there any specific dance moves we should work on before you get here? 

Chuck:  Yes, you should work on the Hokey Pokey.  You should work on hopping on one foot.  And screaming really loud.

Mott:  I’m sure all the parents reading the blog will appreciate that advice.  🙂

We’d like to thank Mr. Folds for his time and can’t wait to see Big Bang Boom take the stage at 6:00 pm on July 8 at Top of the Park in Ann Arbor!  You can find more information about Summer Festival and the Top of the Park concerts at www.annarborsummerfestival.com.  Our friends “Ariel, Eli & Zoey, too” will take the stage at 4:30 and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will be there from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Join us for fun games and sign up for Camp Little Victors there if you haven’t had a chance yet!