Kids’ music doesn’t have to turn adult minds to mush. It doesn’t have to wiggle, hop on one leg or brush its teeth with orange juice. It can be cool, smart, funny, and – as Electric Lunchbox are proving – it can shake, rattle and roll.
Electric Lunchbox are husband and- wife parents-of-three Steve Shanahan and Jayde Bond. And with a band behind them and a Tonka truckload of snappy, parent-savvy songs in their pram, they’re the best thing to happen to contemporary kids’ music in yonks.
The band’s inspiration came from frustration. The music Bond was using for her music movement classes for kids wasn’t cutting it. “It was fine but it wasn’t fun,” says Bond. “Kids want silly songs about experiences they relate to – having your feelings hurt or jumping on the bed and bumping your head.”
When he’s not voicing B1 in Bananas in Pyjamas, Shanahan plays in bluegrass bands. Bunkering down in a home studio with some of Jayde’s lyrics, the duo conjured a series of sticky fingered anthems based on their own kids’ adventures and the music of their heroes.
“We went hard at our genres,” says Shanahan. “‘Prawn Crackers’ has an AC/DC edge, ‘Feelings’ is Johnny & June, and ‘I Ache’ is a spaghetti western tune inspired by the drama-filled Ennio Morricone soundtracks our kids love.”
This is no fad. Serious musos have long recognised families as amenable audiences. Sesame Street has hosted everyone from Ray Charles to Katy Perry. “Musicians are silly by nature,” reckons Shanahan, “so when it comes to live music, kids get it.”
Electric Lunchbox will be appearing at Rhymes Festival on Sun 30 Oct.