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 rock, rattle and roll.
Springing from the multicultural clover of Marrickville, 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 in Redfern and Alexandria wasn't cutting it. "It was fine but it wasn't fun," says Bond. "Kids want silly songs, songs about experiences they relate to – having your feelings hurt, jumping on the bed and bumping your head, stomach aches so bad they stop you going to school but not from eating ice cream."
When he's not voicing B1 in Bananas in Pyjamas, Shanahan plays in bluegrass bands. Bunkering down in a home studio with some of Jade's lyrics, the duo conjured a series of sticky fingered anthems based on their 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, ‘Bopping to the Moon' is Jerry Lee Lewis, while ‘I Ache' is a spaghetti western tune inspired by the Ennio Morricone soundtracks our kids love." The underlying theme is songs with character that connect.
This is no fad. Serious musos have long recognised families as amenable audiences. Sesame Street has hosted everyone from Ray Charles and REM to Katy Perry. Dan Zane's Sydney Festival shows drew on his duets with Nick Cave, Debbie Harry and Lou Reed. The Wiggles have hosted guests such as John Fogerty, Kylie Minogue and Keith Urban.
Electric Lunchbox's first single ‘Prawn Crackers' has even joined the playlist for rock festival Lollapalooza's junior arm: Kidsapalooza. "Musicians are show offs and silly by nature," reckons Shanahan, "so when it comes to live music, kids get it."