If you have children of a certain age in Central Ohio, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about The Shazzbots.
And if you haven’t, when you discover them, it is one of the best musical treats you can get. After listening to one too many Dora the Explorer lyrics, and wanting to dismiss Yo Gabba Gabba more often than not after a few years of exposure, you need something of substance that both you and your children can enjoy.
We discovered The Shazzbots a few summers ago and for some reason they conjure up images of The Beatles “Yellow Submarine” album in my head. They’re a locally grown rock band that plays a lot of venues in the summer months. The cast of hipster-style characters includes: The Captain, Scopes, Luna Stardust, Watts, The Professor, and Space Chicken. But instead of bars and clubs, you’ll find them at parks and community events. They even might pop up at your local Whole Foods.
To sample their sound, check out this link.
I talked to The Captain, Ian Hummel about the band’s whole family appeal:
“That’s always been my goal, to connect with families. When I’m writing, I’m thinking about the parents who have to listen to the song over and over again. One of my favorite things is to see parents and kids dancing together at shows.”
But in the last year, this kids band with a local cult following (I kid you not), took a leap to the next level in hopes of making a national name for themselves. They made a Kickstarter video to raise money to create a TV show. They made just more than $20,000.
Once they made the money, a very small crew started building sets inside a warehouse in the Short North area and the goal was to make that TV show. Simple, right? They started putting three sets together last August and through the winter they continued their work, with barely any heat and no air conditioning.
It’s been Hummel’s dream to turn their catchy rock into a TV series since the band started playing gigs.
“That was always kind of my plan,” he admitted, “It’s one thing playing shows and singing songs, but you can’t get into the backstory of the universe.”
There’s a touch of science to the TV pilot that focuses on outer space, mixed in with a lot of art and music. With Sesame Street as a gold standard, Hummel says his vision is more of that feel. The Wiggles, even though he hates to bag on them, is not what they’re going for.
“It’s so inane. It’s so cutesy is happy all the time. The Muppet Show still resonates with me. Electric Company. These things had heart. You’re allowed to feel other emotions than happy all the time. You watch the Muppet Movie and Gonzo sings a song in the desert that still brings a tear to my eye.”
The set now looks like a colorful cartoon-like clubhouse that any kid would love to have down in their basement. But with the kid-infused decor– you’ll also find real art and relics mixed in that might qualify for American Pickers rather than a children’s TV show. It again lends itself to drawing in both parents and children alike.
During the pilot, from the outside, you’ll see their Winnebago spaceship. That’s how Hummel describes it. A Winnebago with wings. He also explains that there’s a Dr. Who feel to it all.
“It’s as big as your imagination,” Hummel relays.
I’m sure you have a vision of it right now.
There are no contracts signed, there’s no network lined up, but there’s great hope that someone will see the premiere of the TV show this weekend at The Gateway Film Center and choose to pick up a first season. Hummel already has it mapped out and is ready to film the next episodes. There’s a Master Character List. And they’re working on their pitch to make to larger production companies. It’s not a dream that’s out-of-this world, either. Another band that many parents and children now know as Disney stars had their humble beginnings on their hometown public television channel: Imagination Movers.
In the meantime, this crew still has their day jobs. Scopes has his own coffee shop that’s incredibly popular near campus, Kafe Kerouac. Watts is a freelance electrician. The Professor is a kindgergarten teacher. Luna works with digital photographers. And the Captain? Well, he is a full-time musician… playing in three groups.
So– do you want to be a Shazzbots groupie before they get big?
There are still tickets available for the show on Saturday, you can get them here. The premiere is about some spacebugs that get loose!
And bonus: there’s a Milkshake After Party. Based on my favorite song from the group. Yes, it’s called Milkshake!
I haven’t seen even a sneak peek of this TV pilot, but based on the music this band’s been providing on a regular basis to Central Ohio…. we might be saying soon… Yeah, we knew them back then!