Koo Koo Kanga Roo bridges the gaps between hip-hop and dance music and ... dinosaurs.
Sure, Koo Koo Kanga Roo shares similarities with the Beastie Boys, Backstreet Boys, Disney movies and Yo Gabba Gabba! But that's not the point of the duo's goofy rap. For Neil Olstad and Bryan Atchison, the point is the audience, whether tots or twenty-somethings. Olstad spoke to The Pitch about the methods behind Koo Koo Kanga Roo's madness, and how a little booze can make a singalong seem a little less absurd.
How would you describe your music to, say, my grandmother?
It's an interactive dance duo. We create all the songs on our computer, play them back through an iPod, and sing and rap along to them. But it's much more than that. There's a dance move that goes along to almost every song, and singalongs happen, and games. It's probably our biggest hurdle: conveying what we do in words. But we're totally confident that when you come to the show, you'll be like, 'OK, now I get it.'
It sounds like my little cousin's birthday party.
Yeah, we do lots of kids' parties and birthdays. We used to be more focused on being a kids' band, getting on Nickelodeon, doing a proper kids' show, but nowadays not so much. That's kind of the beauty of what we're trying to create here: It's something that is literally for all ages. Your little cousin and your dad could come to the show and, hopefully, enjoy it.
Which do you like better, working a birthday party or a venue like RecordBar?
Our preference is to play venues. Sometimes we're at a bar, and there are elements of the bar -- mainly the alcohol -- that can help us. Sometimes you're at a bar, and the crowd doesn't get into it, no matter how much they've been drinking. If you come to the show and you're not really sure what's going to happen and you're not really an outgoing person, we might not be for you.
How did Koo Koo Kanga Roo start making music together?
We met in college and were in a real band together. I played drums, and Bryan [Atchison] wrote a bunch of songs on guitar, but we quickly realized that it was a little bit boring. You either have to be really, super good -- like, "Hey, this is the best band in town" -- or you've got to bring something new to the table. And we definitely weren't the best band in town. So we decided to do something different.
We were both inspired by musicals and bands that take a live experience and push it forward, like Of Montreal or stuff like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's evolved into this half-kid's thing, half-interactive dance project.
What do you see in Koo Koo Kanga Roo's future?
Right now, we want to make [Koo Koo Kanga Roo] everything we do. Yeah, Koo Koo Kanga Roo's a band, a dance duo, but this is just the first stage. We want to create our own TV show and clothing line. Bryan is really into camps, so he wants to start a summer camp. I want to open a venue. So this is really a brand we're trying to build, a following of people who just want to have fun and goof off.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo plays at RecordBar Wednesday, Jan. 12, and has a new record called "Golden Staircase of Destiny," which is available on the duo's website at kookookangaroo.com.