Recess Monkey is kindie-rock fun

Jul 10, 2011

What inspires bands to make music? For Recess Monkey, it’s the lives of kindergarteners and grade schoolers.

All three musicians – Drew Holloway, Jack Forman and Daron Henry – in the band teach at Seattle elementary schools. And they're having anything but a sleepy summer: playing gigs and promoting their latest CD, "Flying" is on their agenda.

Funk and booster seats

You've heard of indie rock? Recess Monkey is a kindie rock band.

Think funk songs about booster seats. Or catchy songs about sack lunches, head lice and bandaids.

The genre has taken root in Seattle as well as Portland, LA. Kansas City and New York.

Kindie Rock: A gentler kind of rock music whose concerts don't incite the audience to throw certain unmentionables on stage.

At a Recess Monkey concert "a couple of pacifiers, a half-eaten lollipop. But nothing of the likes that Tom Jones might see at one of his concerts," band member Drew Holloway says.

Formation of a kindie band

The band formed the way most bands do: three guys were at work. They found out they all liked playing music.

So they got together.

They tried making indie music for an adult audience.

But that didn’t feel right.

"It was weird to make music we couldn’t share with the kids that we knew. We spend 50 hours with kids. We're surrounded by kid energy all the time, so naturally, of course, the music followed our surroundings just like any art is a function of where you live and what you do," Forman said.

Playing for adults was also a logistical nightmare. They’d play clubs and get out at 2 or 3 a.m.. Then they’d have to start work at 7.

Holloway also ended up writing a bunch of songs for a grad school project in children’s literature. So the teachers got the idea to make kids music that adults would also like.

"We would never put a song on the record that feels schlocky or pandering. That would drive parents insane because we have to play these songs 400 times, " Forman says.

Concert time

It’s Kid Day in Auburn and Les Gove park is packed with bouncy houses, food booths, and games.
 
Recess Monkey is on stage. The audience on the grassy lawn ranges  in age from a toddler with his sippy cup to a girl about six years old in face paint. Then there are the parents.
 
The concert lasts an hour. The band sings about flapjacks, swimming pools and the feat that is swinging on the monkey bars.

Lesson-based songs

The bands that influenced them while growing up were the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Sha Na Na, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen.

You can hear all of it in Recess Monkey, which aims to make music that isn’t preachy to kids but is still lesson-based: Like taking a stand for something even when it’s hard.

It’s happy music with a purpose. Recess Monkey wants kids to have fun and wants adults to remember and celebrate the joy of childhood.