What do you get when you mix the Beastie Boys' sound with Monkees-style comedy, blue mechanic's jumpsuits and a Mister Rogers friendly neighborhood vibe?
Every dad's man crush, that's what.
More specifically, the kid-tested, mom-and-dad-approved Imagination Movers.
Made up of dads Rich Collins, Dave Poche, Scott Durbin and firefighter Smitty Smith, the self-proclaimed alternative rock band for the preschool set has taken the mini music scene by storm with Emmy award-winning songs about everything from messy rooms to saying please and thank you.
I had the honor to go head to Gearhead with the dynamic group in early 2008 to talk about their launch into the solar system of stardom with what was then a brand new Disney Channel television show (also called Imagination Movers) and their personal adventures in parenting.
And, they must have liked what I said, since a year later I was granted a follow up interview to get the scoop on their 40-city tour (including Waukegan), Happy Ha-Ha-Holidays premiere coming up December 5 at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Playhouse Disney, and the Thanksgiving- and Christmas-oriented family traditions (shrimp and grits for breakfast) that really get them in the spirit of the holiday season.
What was the inspiration behind the holiday show where Santa loses his signature laugh?
It was really a collaboration of us brainstorming with the writers. Without giving too much away, it's not the same old Christmas story and Santa is a really human character.
So little kids will really be able to realate to Santa.
Yes, and we're really proud of it being original. It's tough to come up with new angles for Christmas. The fact that Santa comes to the Idea Warehouse fits in with whole second season of the show where we have a lot of very archetypical characters from Santa to the Tooth Fairy to Cinderella come through the door. It's one of the coolest things we've done.
Do you have any special family holiday traditions?
For Thanksgiving, the Smith family usually does something outdoorsy like a fishing trip and then has a big feast where everybody gathers around like a little family reunion. We just hang out and do the stuff-yourself-take-a-nap situation.
For Christmas it's very much the same thing. It's getting together with family. Chillin' out. Maybe doing something outdoors and having some time to actually hang out with the people you don't see on a regular basis. A lot of food in New Orleans, too.
Rich has five little ones under 10, and does all the usual rituals with the tree and the gifts and of course hoping Santa comes. This year, we're taking the family and driving halfway to D.C., to meet my family at a rented house on a lake in the Smoky Mountains. It's an eight hour drive for each group of people - everyone will be in this one big house and essentially, have one big feast. Four days of food.
How do you stay connected with your kids, wives and families when on tour?
Postcards is about as old fashioned as you can get, and Skype is about as advanced as it gets. Those are the best ways.
Us Movers decided to send postcards home every day while on tour. We get almost every city. It's a tradition, but yet being able to use Skype is a great way to do homework with the kids. It's the closest thing to sitting in a room with someone. Dave was actually doing math homework with his son Dean the other day, and they were sitting there looking at his paper, doing the work, it was great.
As for the postcards, it's not only old fashioned but there's still nothing like getting a letter from a loved one in the mail. It's just cool. It makes people feel good.
Convonista says: The Movers and I had a chance to catch up in late 2009, and this interview ran a week later.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.