By Tony Hicks, Contra Costa Times
It’s one of those ideas that makes a middle-aged musician smack himself in the head for not thinking of it first.
Like so many suburban kids, Coane Brothers — not to be confused with the filmmaking Coen Brothers — grew up with dreams of being on MTV. And like 99.9 percent of those kids, they didn’t quite make it. Real life intruded: jobs, wives, kids, mortgages, the works. They couldn’t even keep their band going.
“We were in an ’80s cover band, playing around the city and getting home at 3 a.m.,” says Scott Coane, a sales manager for a California radio station. “And bottle-feeding at 5 a.m. just didn’t cut it.”
Sitting in the park adjacent to the Orinda Community Center, where they play with their own kids, Scott, 34, and his 38-year-old brother, Craig, describe how they went quietly into rock retirement. Then a couple of years ago, they were driving to the mountains to go skiing when they started messing around with the lyrics from rock songs on the radio — and an idea was born.
“We had a pad of paper and an ’80s station on,” says Craig. “We started writing and cracking up.”
For the next year, the Coanes worked on the concept of taking songs popular when parents were kids and rewriting the lyrics, gearing them for kids.
“We love kids and we love music,” says Craig, who has an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. “We’ve always had fun changing lyrics. We went through the years of listening to kids’ music and we thought, ‘There has to be a way to do kids’ music that adults like.”
Among others, J. Geils Band “Centerfold” became “One Year Old.” Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” became “Puppy’s Fur.” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” became “We Are Going To Bake It.”
The guys got the thumbs-up from their kids, hired some studio musicians and, calling themselves Juice Box Heroes, recorded the 12-song CD “No Sugar Added: Song Favorites For Parents, Fun New Lyrics For Kids.”
The CD was officially released in August.
“America already likes the music; we don’t have to worry about that,” says Scott, who has three daughters, ages 5, 3 and 1.
“We’re just trying to be silly,” says Craig. “Our kids love it. They always ask to hear it in the car.”
The concept works. The music is recognizable for adults, but kids will relate to the words, put to quality melodies they likely have never heard. Although the Coanes do all the adult singing, they have kids on some of the songs, bringing a slight “Kidz Bop” vibe.
They’ve sold a couple hundred CDs through their Web site (www.juiceboxheroes.com) and are working to get some in local music stores and stores where parents congregate. The guys are also talking about playing live, where they can really get their silly on. Although there hasn’t been a lot of planning in that area.
“We’ve had at least a dozen requests to play,” says Scott. “We’re like, ‘Uh … let us get our schtick together.’ ”
Ultimately, the live version of Juice Box Heroes is what will make the biggest impact, they say. Even though they’re not sure how they’ll deliver a kids show, they know it’ll be big, colorful and fun.
“The show is going to be more important,” says Scott. “This is for the kids. We’re not necessarily concerned about the music critics of the world.”
Unless, of course, they’re younger than 10.
In their CD “No Sugar Added,” Scott and Craig Coane — aka Juice Box Heroes — rewrite rock hits for a child’s point of view. Examples:
- George Michael’s “Faith” becomes “Cake.”
- Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” becomes “Puppy’s Fur.”
- Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” becomes “We Are Going To Bake It.”
- Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” becomes “Sweet Dreamin’ Pajamas.”
- Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” becomes “Mommy 123456789.”
- Madonna’s “Material Girl” becomes “Cheerio World.”
- Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” becomes “When I’m Big I Want Braces.”
- Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” becomes “Don’t Worry, Take a Nappy.”