Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Rocknoceros

Rocknoceros (Courtesy Photo)
Rocknoceros (Courtesy Photo)

The Northern Virginia-based children’s music pop trio Rocknoceros has been entertaining crowds around the nation for the past decade – but they rarely play later than 8 p.m.

“It was pretty good, decent turn out. It was kind of an early start to a day but 10 o’clock is about the earliest that we typically rock,” Patrick Williams, who goes by Williebob in the band, told the News-Press right after a show. “It’s pretty early for a musician, but we’ve gotten used to it.

“Most of our performances by far are mornings and early afternoons. Occasionally we can rock in the evening but this band does not stay up past 8 o’clock basically.”

Williams mentioned that the group will play a 7 p.m. show at Jammin’ Java on June 26 celebrating the release of their latest album, Plymouth Rockers, which is the first installment of their state-song project. He said that the idea for the album has been percolating since the group got together in 2005.

“It’s an idea that we’ve had since the beginning of the band,” Williams said. “It started off with us thinking, hey wouldn’t be neat if we had a song for every state in the union….We were thinking about what subject matter we could write not just for children, but their parents, too. So we thought it would be easy enough to write songs about this place or that and what celebrities come from there and a little bit of history about the place.”

The album, which comes out on July 4, is made up of 14 songs, each dedicated to a different state in the U.S., and is a bit more rock-oriented than their previous releases.

“I like it a lot. We recorded it in record time. I don’t think it sounds rushed, but it definitely has more of a live feel,” Williams said. “In fact, this is the most live recording that we’ve done with a bunch of players in the room playing and recording together. Most of our records in the past would be a lot more piecemeal.”

Despite the different recording method, which Williams admitted is unusual for the band, though he said they liked it, the record still features Rocknoceros’ child-appropriate, parent-amused style of writing that follows the tradition of movies like “Shrek.”

“Around when we started Rocknocers, there was a lot of press for children’s records and children’s acts. [Like] ‘Shrek,’ that was the key,” Williams said. “The ‘Shrek’ movies made it seem okay to bring your kids to something where there would be some real tongue-in-cheek humor. Where you could slip suggestive adult ideas to the grown-ups right past the kids.

“And then you end up with a situation where the kids are happy and the grown-ups are happy. That sort of subversive humor made an impression on me and Coach, too.”

The Coach Williams is referring to Coach Cotton, who Williams started the band with a decade ago. Boogie Woogie Bennie joined the group right after its inception, and they’ve been writing, recording and performing original children’s music ever since.

Williams said that one of his favorite memories from the past decade was when the group got to play backup at the Kennedy Center for Bob Dorough, who wrote and performed many of the songs on the popular 70s children’s show “Schoolhouse Rock.” He said that he, Coach and Bennie are all children of the 70s, so it was an honor to be able to play with someone who’s created music in the same tradition as their own.

• For more information about Rocknoceros, visit rocknoceros.com.