Koo Koo Kanga Roo is band known more for playing schools than playing the Warped Tour circuit. Their songs are mostly for elementary school-age audience but from the fun/interactive element they bring to their live show, it makes their music more universal. I had the chance to speak with them at the West Palm Beach stop of Warped Tour. We talked about the differences between their live show and their albums, being a male fan of One Direction, and favorite podcasts.
Hali Neal: So the One Direction shirt – why a One Direction shirt?
Neil Olstad: Well they’re a pop band and we’re a pop band.
HN: [laughs] I don’t usually see many guys, or anyone over 12 usually, wearing a One Direction shirt. It’s pretty interesting.
NO: We got it in the U.K. We were in the U.K. on tour in the fall. I had to search hard for it. We went to a store that’s sorta like H & M, but in the U.K. It’s called Premark, I think? This is a women’s XXL, this is not even a dude’s shirt.
HN: [laughs] I figured that.
NO: They [the shirt sleeves] came pre-sewn up like this.
HN: They’re girl sleeves, man. Yeah. Do you listen to them or…?
NO: No, 100%. I love it. They came out with my favorite album this fall.
BA: You don’t listen to them?
NO: No, I do. Love ‘em. No yes. I thought I said yes. Did I say yes?
BA: You said “do you listen to ‘em?” “no”.
NO: Oh no no, yes I do.
HN: Do you have a favorite song of theirs?
NO: Um. Yeah. I think–
BA: Choose carefully. It’s on the record. Favorite.
NO: I know. I’m trying to not say a single, but I love the singles.
HN: Don’t worry about it. I mean, that’s why they chose ‘em probably. ‘Cause they’re good songs.
NO: “Steal My Girl” is – was the hot jam.
HN: Which one is the one where they have a video of them in the desert?
NO: That’s for that [“Steal My Girl”]. The one with Danny DeVito. Yeah.
HN: ‘Cause I really like that video, that video’s funny.
BA: [laughs] They have a video in a desert?
NO: Yeah. Actually, the best video they put out was the newest one for “Night Changes”.
HN: Maybe it was that one.
NO: It was all the POV for them as, like, you’re on a date with them and it turned out to be a really crappy date—
HN: No, maybe it wasn’t that one.
NO: I think it was funny, I like that.
HN: “Best Song Ever” is the one where I was kinda like—
NO: Oh, the big 7-8 minute video?
HN: Yeah, where they’re pretending to be record executives. It’s really funny.
BA: Yeah, I saw that one. Where they play all the different people.
HN: Yeah, which actually made me look at them twice ‘cause I was kinda like “One Direction? Pshhh”, you know?
NO: James Corden, he directed that video. Right? Isn’t that the new Late Night guy?
BA: It is.
NO: Yeah. 1D. We’re all for 1D.
HN: I was actually speaking to MC Lars earlier and he actually mentioned you guys, ‘cause you’re both rappers, I think?
BA: Yeah, we’re on the same stage here at Warped Tour. Beatport stage. Yeah. We just met him when we started Warped Tour two weeks ago.
NO: He’s all about happiness. MC Lars.
HN: What’s one thing you’d want people to know about your music?
NO: That they should come to the live show. It’s made for the live show.
HN: ‘Cause you guys incorporate more stuff or?
NO: It’s supposed to be listened to live. You know, mainly because that’s where the most fun happens and it’s better that way.
BA: Every chorus is made for a sing-a-long part and there’s a dance move that goes with everything. So. That’s the trick.
NO: We’re trying to make it more listener friendly, but it used to be, the old songs were just- straight up like only for live, only for interactive dancing.
HN: Sometimes I feel like it’s better that you do it – that it’s better live than on the CD ‘cause that means you actually play them live and you’re not just using “studio magic”.
BA: Yeah exactly.
NO: [amused] Yeah, we don’t have “studio magic”.
HN: A lot of bands do that and yeeeah.
HN: What’s been your favorite moment here on Warped Tour so far?
NO: [deadpan] Sweating.
HN: [also deadpan] Really?
NO: Really enjoyed sweating. Happens all the time.
BA: [jokingly] It’s only been one moment? One moment of sweating?
NO: Oh you said moments, I’m sorry.
HN: I mean, Warped Tour is kinda one long moment of sweating so yeah.
NO: All day every day.
BA: That’s what I’m saying! It covers most.
HN: Even today, I’m covered in sweat. It’s kinda gross, but hey.
BA: What you got Neil?
NO: My favorite moment was in Nashville when this band PUP joined the tour ‘cause they’re amazing and I really like watchin’ them. They’re really good and they’re from Toronto and they’re called PUP and so far it’s been fun to see their girl bands.
BA: I like our stage crew. We get along with them really well.
NO: Meeting them, I guess I was kinda worried that everyone would be rough and tough and like and maybe a little grumpy, and they were all sweethearts and that made me happy so it was good.
HN: Other than One Direction, could you name a song that people would be surprised to find you have on your iPods?
BA: Oh. I don’t know. I have One Direction on right now. I have Katy Perry’s first album deluxe on there. A song. What do you got for a surprising song, Neil?
NO: I don’t know. I don’t really listen to music right now. Just podcasts. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to music.
HN: [amazed] You’re a musician and you don’t listen to music?
NO: I know.
HN: [jokingly] What is this?
NO: It’s just all podcasts, all the time. You know?
HN: So what’s your favorite podcast then?
NO: My favorite podcast is a podcast called “Back to Work”, it’s a podcast about productivity and life. And it has two of my favorite hosts ever on it, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. So I just listen to podcasts all the time. I like to listen to music sometimes. Maybe if I’m like running or doing something active maybe. But washing the dishes. Driving in the car. Cleaning up. Just chillin’. Podcasts, all the time.
BA: Using the restroom [laughs]. Having a lube.
NO: Yeah. Podcast time. So yeah I don’t know. I think pop music is something that’s not surprising for us ‘cause all our songs are pop music. So I don’t think anyone should be surprised that we listen to pop music. I listen to a lot of Jim Croce, you know.
HN: I don’t know who that is.
NO: [in disbelief] You don’t know who Jim Croce is? Just a beautifully mustached 70s folk singer. “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” is his big hit.
HN: Oh okay, I know that song. I didn’t know who that was.
NO: “Operator” and “Photograph”. Yeah.
HN: You’ve heard of All Time Low, right?
NO: Our buddy does merch for them.
HN: Oh, that’s awesome. The singer and the guitarist, they both have a podcast that they do.
NO: Oh really? I’ll have to check that out.
HN: Yeah, it’s called Full Frontal. It’s just them being uncensored and hilarious.
NO: I like it.
HN: They’re on like Season 4, I think.
BA: Wow. There are seasons.
NO: That’s really interesting.
HN: They’re on idobi Radio. You can subscribe to it, I think.
BA: We have a show too. It’s called Banter Buddies, it’s on Friday nights we talk to friends of ours who we think are cool and do cool things. So we’re trying to interview people out here on Warped Tour. We interviewed our friends in Baby Baby right here. We’re going to interview — well you talked to MC Lars — in a couple days as well. Podcast town. All Time Low. Gotta check it out. Full Frontal.
HN: Yeah, they’re hilarious. And they do really weird segments too.
HN: Weird news. Call random fans and then fans don’t believe it’s them and then they’re like “OH MY GOD!”
NO: Random fans? Do they feature someone?
HN: Like they [the fans] send an e-mail or something.
NO: Oh that’s a great idea.
HN: And they’ll just pick a random one to call and sometimes they don’t answer and I’m like—
NO: I get a call from All Time Low—
BA: Really, they call their phone? How’d they get their number?
HN: They probably send it to ‘em.
BA: And they send it back. That’s a great idea.
NO: Be like “hey, wassup. This number is unlisted so you can never call me back”.
HN: Aww [laughs]. Terrible. Is there anything else you guys want to add?
NO: Come to Warped Tour and see our show. Go to our website and check our new album “Gross”. It’s five songs about potty humor things, featuring the single “Everybody Poops”. The video for that just came out, so you can check that out. And yeah, we’re on Twitter all the time so if you can’t come to Warped Tour, maybe another day.
HN: Fans of Blink-182 would probably enjoy you. And All Time Low.
NO: Yeah. That’s right. Potty humor. Silly stuff. [laughs]
BA: All right. Thank you. Thank you very much.