Fans of artists like Canned Hamm, JP Incorporated and Neil Hamburger will likely appreciate their style.
Although it’s debatable whether Koo Koo Kanga Roo makes non-offensive kids music that adults can get behind (a la “Yo Gabba Gabba”).
After seven years of (intentionally) doing things themselves, the Minneapolis-basis Koo Koo Kanga Roo signed with Fun Fun, a sub-label of Asian Man Records.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo Performance Art
The label helped start the careers of Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms and Big D & The Kids Table.
The duo’s latest release will be Whoopty Whoop, which hits streets on May 14th. Song titles include album opener “All I Eat Is Pizza,” which contradicts the title of track seven, “I Like Cake” and “Unibrow.”
In their more preferred element, Bryan and Neil can be seen live on May 7th with The Aquabats at Irving Plaza. Neil took the time to answers some questions for TheImproper.com about the past, present and future of Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
TheImproper: How would you describe Koo Koo Kanga Roo to someone who hasn’t heard the band before? How do you feel about the “Beastie Boys meet Sesame Street” tag that’s been thrown out there?
Neil: We love the “Beastie Boys meets Sesame Street” tag! There’s a reason it has stuck around for so long. Usually I describe us an interactive dance-party kids’ band for adults. We do so many different things and exist on a bunch of different levels, so talking or writing about what we do can be difficult. It usually ends with “JUST COME TO A SHOW!” It’s the best way to fully understand what our band is.
IM: How do Bryan and Neil on-stage compare to Bryan and Neil off-stage?
Neil: On-stage we are basically Red Bull versions of our normal selves. In general, Bryan is more extroverted and friendly, while I am more quiet and want to keep to myself. When we put on the outfits, grab our mics and do the show, we suddenly have permission to put all of that aside and can just focus on freaking out and putting all of our energy into dancing and making people smile.
IM: Koo Koo Kanga Roo started off releasing its music using the ‘pay what you want’ model, and is now releasing Whoopty Woop via Asian Man Records. What brought the change in label situations?
Neil: When we started the band in 2007, we were very excited by offering our music as a ‘pay what you want,’ free digital download only. That was pretty much how we consumed music at the time so it only made sense to offer our own product that way as well. We were never against a record label, or against putting out physical media, it just never really made sense for us.
I grew up playing in a punk band so I’ve always had great reverence for Asian Man Records. So when [Asian Man head] Mike Park approached us about putting our new album out on his family music imprint label Fun Fun Records, we were super excited. We share a lot of the same ethos and play lots of shows with punk bands, so it made sense on a number of levels. Plus Mike Park has incredible eyes, you look into them and you can’t say no!
IM: The Aquabats made a TV pilot more than 15 years ago, which didn’t get picked up. Then after finding a new audience via “Yo Gabba Gabba” – which got a lot of their punk rock friends on television — their series on the Hub Network was picked up. Knowing all of that, where does television fall into the aspirations of Koo Koo Kanga Room?
Neil: Being in a band that can create on many different platforms is always something that Bryan and I have been excited about. The Aquabats have helped us so much. We were on tour with them a few years ago right before “The Aquabats Super Show” [on the Hub] was launched.
Hearing those guys talk about how long the process had been, all the years, and the crazy number of pilots was eye-opening. It illustrated how insane the TV world can be, but it also made us realize the importance of iteration. Yes, we want to make a TV show. But first we need to make a rough draft, then scrap that and make it better. Wash, rinse, repeat.
IM: Is a follow-up book planned for last year’s “Unicorns R Real?”
Neil: Yes! We just put our our second book. “The Cat Party” book is available in our store as well as at our merch table at shows. We have more of those coming as well. Books are great and we play lots of libraries these days. It makes sense.
IM: Finally, any last words for the kids?
Neil: Make a band and play shows with your friends.