Interview: Play Date (Greg Attonito and Shanti Wintergate) talk about children’s music, festivals, and walking through protests

I’m not a parent, but I can imagine that finding good music suitable for children that doesn’t make you want to drive nails through your ears is tough to find. Especially if you listen to punk rock, where you can try to find the radio-edit version of the album, or go the censor-it-yourself route with foghorns (what, your parents never did that?). However, now it’s getting easier to find good children’s music, with bands like Play Date, the project of Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls and Shanti Wintergate.

After their wildly popular appearance at Pouzza Fest’s children’s stage, Pouzza Bambino, Play Date took the time to answer some questions about children’s music, rock music, and finding themselves in the midst of a Montreal protest.  Check out the full interview here.

 So tell me about your project.

Greg: Okay, we put out a children’s book in 2007, and it kind of propelled us to start writing some children’s songs.

Shanti: We booked a tour, doing readings for kids from the book, at elementary schools, libraries, and bookstores, and during the readings we decided that we’re musicians, so we wrote a couple of kids songs. And through that whole process, the one thing that parents kept coming up and asking us was where they could buy the record, and we were like, “Uh, we’re going to record one! Really soon!”

Greg: It took us since 2007 to finally finish recording all the songs.

Shanti: Well, we didn’t really start recording. Just with Greg’s schedule with The Bouncing Souls, and I released another solo record during that time, we’ve just been busy, and in the last six months we decided to get our act together because Mike Park, who runs Asian Man Records, decided to start a label called Fun Fun Records.

Greg: That motivated us to get it done, because he said that he would release the record.

Shanti: So we just finished recording the album, and it was mastered.

Greg: We recorded part of the record with Pete of The Bouncing Souls, he engineered the record, which was really good.

Shanti: And Mike, who plays the drums in The Bouncing Souls, played on the record.

Greg: And it sounds great, and it’s going to be out on August 14th.

So there’s a lot of excited parents out there, waiting to buy the album?

Shanti: We hope so! There does seem to be. And if today was any example, it was a packed show this morning, starting at 10:30 this morning.

Greg: We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if anyone was going to be there, and it was packed! It was totally packed. Hugo (Mudie), and all the people who organized Pouzza Fest did Pouzza Bambino really well. They did a great job.

So what motivated you to play Pouzza Fest?

Greg: Hugo asked us. He contacted us like 8 months ago, and said, “I’m doing the first children’s stage at Pouzza Fest,” and he really wanted us to play, and he heard we were doing kids music. So we were just really excited that he was that interested in having us play his first children’s show. Then, The bouncing Souls ended up playing Pouzza Fest afterwards, which was pretty funny, so we did that show with The Bouncing Souls last night and then stayed the night and played this morning.

So how is it, going from playing with the Bouncing Souls last night, in a packed venue where no one else could get in, to playing for children this morning, in what also was a packed venue?

Greg: I’m getting better at it. I think I’m getting better at that kind of transition, as far as physically and musically, and mentally. I think that something that I was proud of was that we rocked last night with The Bouncing Souls show, then we got to take a little break and go back to the hotel and rehearse the kids music, and that was really good. I locked in and was able to transition and do it.

So how are you enjoying Montreal?

Greg: I’ve noticed the changes that they’ve made in downtown are really cool. With all the art installations, and video things, and all the protests!

Did you see that last night?

Greg: Oh, yeah. We were walking in it. We were like, “Okay, we’re protesting!” We might be on some sort of police file in Montreal now.

It’s been pretty intense. It’s been going on for fourteen weeks now. (Ed. note: And it’s still going)

Shanti: I so admire their strength with it, and I just hope that change is created from it.

Greg: There’s something very inspiring about it, you know, people putting so much of their time and energy into that.

Shanti: We were just walking down the street and all of a sudden it just engulfed us.

Did you have any reservations about playing Montreal because of it?

Greg: No, we hadn’t heard about it.

Shanti: There was nothing dangerous about it. It’s just people walking all together, and saying what they want.

Yeah, it’s just fun times here in Montreal. But the shows are good!

Greg: Yeah, we just heard from Helene (of L’Ecurie booking agency) that the turnout was just way more than they thought.

Shanti: I just feel like they’ve taken such good care of us during this whole process.

How does it compare, playing this type of festival, to some other tours or shows you’ve gone to?

Greg: It’s cool because you’re running in to a lot of musicians that you like, and friends, and you get this sort of community aspect of it. A lot of people are coming out because they love music.

How does it compare to other festivals that The Bouncing Souls have played on?

Greg: I’ve played all kinds. I’ve played big ones that have been run poorly, and even prestigious ones, where you’re not even treated that well, so this was great. After having played many festivals around the world, they’ve really done a great job and treated us great.

Shanti: And all of the people attending the shows and their enthusiasm… I mean, at the Bouncing Souls show last night, you couldn’t have had a better show.

Any discussions about having Pouzza Bambino again next year?

Greg: We just talked to Helene to say good bye, and she said, “You’re coming back again next year!”

Shanti: They’re like, “Next year, we want to try to have it at a big stage outside,” and I think they want to try to go bigger.

Greg: It went really well, and they’re excited about it. So yeah, we’re already coming back.

Shanti: I think we’re really exploring a new world, because it’s handled a little differently than just the rock and punk scene, and we, with Mike Park, and Kepi Ghoulie and Dan Potthast and Jesse from The Aggrolites, we’re all on the same label together, so I think we’re going to try to submit ourselves as groups to festivals. A lot of festivals are now starting kid’s stages, because I think all of the people who are going to these shows have families now. It’s kind of new territory.

Greg: We don’t know exactly how we’re going to do it, is the answer to your question. We’re going to figure it out, and maybe put together a little package tour.

Shanti: So yeah, more fun in store!

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