Interview with Andy Walker, Musician and creator of kids' rock’n’roll band Bunny Racket
When did you first have the idea for Bunny Racket?
I’m a child of the ’70s. Brought up on a diet of Kiss, Ramones, The Muppets and Saturday morning cartoons. Rock’n’roll has been pulsing through my veins since a very young age, and the pulse only seems to get stronger as the years go by. The idea for Bunny Racket has been kicking around in different forms for over a decade. When the first of my friends were having their own kids, I was touring in a rock band. I lived in a big old hippie house and a lot of friends and other bands would drop by with their kids, who usually joined in on the jamming. I wrote my first songs for kids in that house, and invented a band made up of a witch, a child-eating monster and a little girl and boy. I now have a little boy, Wolfgang who is three. He’s a little bruiser with a love for the fast and heavy. I’ll throw a Judas Priest record on for him and he just goes mental! And Slayer—look out! The louder the better.
Tell us about the process of making Bunny Racket.
Bunny Racket was set in stone a few years back, but it wasn’t till I was in LA visiting my good friend Brant Bjork that it really started to take shape. Brant and I had toured together on many occasions over the years and always talked of collaboration at some stage. Brant has two young boys, Swan and Brazil. Both of us were aware of the type of music on offer for kids, and we wanted something totally different for our young dudes. I spent the next twelve months writing and demoing the first record with the theme ‘rock’n’roll animals’. I was sending songs over to Brant in California and he was road-testing them on Swan and Brazil. I then went to California when Wolfgang was about six months old, and we recorded the album at Brant’s ranch out in Joshua Tree. The entire session was super-smooth and we got through all twenty-three songs within a week.
Who else is involved in creating Bunny Racket?
At the time of the recording, our engineer, Harper, was working with Robby Krieger of the Doors. Harp took a copy of some of the unfinished tracks into Robby’s studio and played them to him. Robby liked it enough to play some lead tracks on a handful of songs. Never did I dream that I would have Robby Krieger playing on one of my releases! It kind of still seems surreal. I now have a list of people to hit up for future releases. If I can get Glenn Danzig to sing on the Halloween record, I’ll be an even happier man! This isn’t just to keep the kids happy, you see.
Was making Bunny Racket a rock’n’roll band really important to you?
To have Bunny Racket as a rock’n’roll band was a great starting point. Guitar, drums, bass and vocals is a format that I can totally relate to. It opens the doors to a straight-up, live rock show. It also enables me to potentially play music with my favourite musicians. I am really attached to the idea of Bunny Racket on tour, a party on stage for all the kids at the festivals.
Tell us what you know about kids and music.
Kids are the ultimate audience. They are unpretentious, open and honest, and they want to have a good time. We all have the last bit in common, but as adults we often struggle with the first three. When a kid discovers something they love, they go deep. Music is instrumental in developing movement, language, rhythm and all-round coolness, depending on the music the kids are introduced to. Kids will let you know if you are striking the right chord for them. They tend to like it simple, too, which suits my musical skills.
Who was the first person you told about Bunny Racket?
My wife, Poppy. The concept grew out of conversations with her. Whenever Poppy would go travelling, she would send me through these songwriting challenges. There would be a theme and two words for the concept. Like, ’80s power ballad with the number eleven and donkeys in the song. Or a funk tune with a hot air balloon and a slipper. And there would be a twenty-four-hour time limit. Bunny Racket was kind of like an extension of that, in some ways.
How much did having kids inspire the idea?
Since Wolf was just a blob on the ultrasound screen I’ve been driven to show him a good time. I want Wolf to see me doing something I love. If I can pass on my love for music and creating, then I think we are well on the way. It really is the best thing to share.
Has working on Bunny Racket given you a better understanding of kids?
My understanding of kids has developed so much over the last couple of years. Kids have been my test dummies, my collaborators, my teachers and my inspiration for Bunny Racket. I’m often asked if Bunny Racket is an educational venture and the answer is: “Hell yes!” We’re teaching the kids to rock out.
Where can we hear it, buy it, see it?