There’s a lot to love about Disney’s animated series Phineas and Ferb, a fact that we GeekDads mention often enough. From the clever writing to the exceptional character design to the show’s unique take on the relationship of a modern blended family, it’s that rare cartoon that I find myself watching even when my kids aren’t around. Yet, for me at least, the show’s greatest strengths are clearly its eclectic cast and its inspired use of music as both set piece and plot device.
While reviewing the recently released Phineas and Ferb soundtrack album, a work that drives home the sheer genius of both, I was struck with an idea; I should interview Jaret Reddick, the frontman of Texas punkers Bowling for Soup and the voice behind the show’s popular theme song. But how could a no-name blogger garner the attention of a Grammy nominated artist?
Much like Dr. Doofenshmirtz, I know people!
GeekDad: I understand you’re a father yourself. How old are your kids?
Jaret Reddick: They are 6 (Emma) and 3 (Jack), and they rule!
GD: How difficult is it to balance family and the life of a touring musician?
JR: You know, if I had kids back in the 90s, I wouldn’t be here right now. Technology and the availability of travel make it MUCH easier than it woulda been back then. I fly home EVERY day off. I am never away more than two weeks without coming home for at least a day, and I chat (which) is the best thing EVER!
GD: While those in my age bracket generally know you from tracks like “1985” and “Girl All the Bad Guys Want,” how does it feel to reach an entire new generation of listeners as the voice behind “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day,” the theme from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb?
JR: Well, “Punk Rock 101” and “1985” were HUGE on Radio Disney, so it isn’t unexplored territory. But being involved with that show is amazing! So cool to be there from the start and see how huge it is now!
GD: In addition to singing the theme, you’ve also provided in-show vocals as the frontman of fictional rock outfit Love Händel. How did your association with the show first begin?
JR: The show creators (Dan and Swampy) were BFS fans.They sought me out. I actually went in for a screening of the first episodes so they could pitch the idea to me. Basically, they had a “theme” song and wanted it to be a full length song, so I wrote “Today is Gonna be a Great Day” around the theme that already existed. While I was there I was reading for a voice role in another Disney pilot and they had me read for Danny of Love Händel. There is another Love Händel episode in the works BTW! Woo hoo!
GD: In the newest episode “Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo,” Bowling for Soup appears as themselves in animated form. How does it feel to have your own genuine cartoon avatar?
JR: I just hope people pick up on the fact that we are supposed to be 20 years older and fatter! Other than that, it is amazing! I love seeing my guitar. It is perfect.
GD: Bowling for Soup also provided the alternate theme song for Nickelodeon’s film adaptation of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Was that your first foray into children’s television?
JR: It was, (and) also my first BIG meeting at a TV studio. I got to see the movie before it was even done. It was REALLY cool.
GD: You likewise provided vocals for the track “Endless Possibility” for SEGA’s Sonic Unleashed. Are you a gamer, and how did you find yourself involved in the making of a videogame soundtrack?
JR: I am actually NOT. I feel guilty when I play video games… Like I should be doing something else. I also have a bit of an addictive personality, which is why I try not to watch TV! Haha!
SEGA came to me in Japan with the idea. They liked my voice for some insane reason! So they sent me music and melody and I wrote the lyrics. They are REALLY intense. Every word was analyzed. But I think it came out great!
GD: Considering you’re also the man behind more obviously adult-oriented tracks like “My Wena,” do you ever struggle with how much of your music is appropriate for your kids?
JR: We don’t even have a “Parental Guidance” sticker on this album!!! Haha! You know, I don’t REALLY struggle too much with it. It seems obvious to me. My three-year-old’s favorite song is a new BFS song called “Hooray for Beer.” It’s not like he is singing something from NWA. I really feel like it is up to the individual parents and what is right for their kids. My parent’s didn’t really care what I watched or listened too, but I policed it myself. Obviously, there is a lot more out there and a lot more available these days.
My kids LOVE music, so I try and keep the songs with swear words to a minimum and try and explain to them… wait… I got off topic…
I pretty much let them listen to all of my songs except the obvious ones. “My Hometown” has 27 F-words. They can listen to that one when they start paying rent!
GD: On the geekier side of modern music, you sang on MC Lars’s breakthrough single “Download This Song,” and he recently mentioned via Twitter that you were helping out with the video projection element of his set on your October UK tour. What sparked your working relationship with Lars, and can we expect any future musical collaborations?
JR: I got handed his first EP in 2004 (I think). I flipped… I couldn’t believe how smart and creative he was and that he had made this amazing album in his dorm room! I basically told everyone “We are taking this kid everywhere we go!” and we did. We took him out on our bus for a year and he killed every night!
We have written together a bunch, and it is always so cool to watch his mind work. His new album is on my CRAPPY RECORDS label, and I think it is just amazing!
We will be doing many more things in the future! I still LOVE our Christmas song “I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas.” I am pretty sure it borders on genius!
GD: Bowling for Soup is set to release Sorry for Partyin‘ later this month. What can fans expect from the new album?
JR: It is by far our best album yet, and I am not saying that because I feel like I “should.” I am so incredibly stoked about it. I really feel like it is a perfect combination of the “funny” and “real” that makes our band different from everyone else. It is some happy stuff!!!
GD: There’s also talk of a Bowling for Soup documentary. When will it be released?
JR: This got put on the back burner for a while. We just got way to busy. We will get to it though. It NEEDS to happen!
GD: And lastly, Jaret, as we’ve already established that you’re a dad, are you also a geek? If so, what kind?
JR: I am a total nerd! I subscribe to every Mac magazine I can and I buy every new gadget that comes out. I LOVE technology!