Interview with Dan Vapid | By Kayla Greet
Fun Fun Records is a side project of Mike Park’s Asian Man Records. They’ve released children’s albums from the likes of Kepi Ghoulie of Groovie Ghoulies, Play Date—featuring Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls and Shanti Wintergate—and now, Dan Vapid! With a pop punk pedigree ranging from Screeching Weasel to The Methadones to his current project, Dan Vapid And The Cheats, Vapid is no stranger to constructing a catchy song. However, a record just for kids had never crossed his mind.
“I got an email from Mike Park from Fun Fun Records asking if I had ever considered making a children’s record,” Vapid remembers. A little encouragement from Park goes a long way—remember the Spraynard reunion?—so Vapid gave it a shot. He says that he thought about when his son Max was around 2 years old, and the two of them wrote “Beep Beep Beep” together as a fun way to cope with Chicago traffic. Vapid recounts, “I picked up my guitar, fleshed out some additional parts and lyrics, and finished the song. The next day, I wrote another song. The day after that, two more songs.” All of a sudden, he’d tapped into a new world of creativity, and he let Park know that he was onboard. The end result is All Wound Up, which was released on Sept. 9.
During the writing process, Vapid says, “It was like a door had opened, and our day-to-day life, little experiences, observations, children’s books, and movies were coming into play.” While his son Max might not have had much input on the songs, Vapid says that he “definitely was the inspiration for the topics I chose. In many ways, the record is written through his eyes.” Some of the songs on All Wound Up are written from a child’s point of view, such as “I Don’t Wanna Eat My Vegetables,” aptly followed by “Gimme Gimme Gimme Ice Cream.” While Vapid explains that it was just fun writing from a kid’s perspective, the tracks on this record have some practical applications as well. “As a parent, getting my son to eat vegetables is a daily battle. It can be downright exhausting,” he reveals. The two aforementioned songs are intentionally paired, echoing his parenting technique of rewarding Max with a trip to Dairy Queen if he finishes all of his broccoli. Who could argue with that?!
A well-balanced diet and having fun in traffic aren’t the only takeaways from All Wound Up. Songs like “I Wanna Play in the Dirt” and “Take Me to the Park” emphasize discovery and learning about the world through play. Lyrics such as “Can’t you see that I am curious / And I am totally serious / I don’t wanna stop / Playing with sticks and rocks” instantly transport you back to youthful days of careless wonder. “As the writing evolved, songs that had potential to teach became more and more appealing to me,” Vapid reflects. He continues, “I believe there’s many things adults take for granted that cause curiosity and joy for a child. I also believe children often live in the moment more than adults.” These feelings and imagery are bundled up with Vapid’s catchy melodies—on both vocals and guitar—and set to a beat, making for one earworm of a record.
All Wound Up easily fits into the collection of any fan of Vapid’s work, or of pop punk in general. With Luke McNeil from The Copyrights on drums—as well as helming production, mixing, and mastering—the record is bound to be an instant favorite for kids and adults alike. Vapid mentions that “after making this record, I honestly believe children’s songs could be made under most musical genres and be entertaining and fun.” He continues that he wants to explore different musical styles at some point in the future.
As someone who grew up surrounded with music from “sitcoms and cartoons like the ‘Brady Bunch,’ ‘Partridge Family,’ and ‘Banana Splits,’” Vapid insists that it’s unlikely he’d enjoy a kids record like All Wound Up. He remarks that KISS were his favorite band as early as 5 years old, even though “the lyrical content and sexual innuendos went over my head. I was completely blown away by their larger than life image, loud rock ‘n’ roll guitars, and the sound of Paul Stanley’s voice.”
Vapid continues that his goal with All Wound Up was to “make a record [that] parents and children could enjoy together. I know so many punk rock parents and many of them play music for their kids,” he adds. And while he hasn’t quite considered doing a tour for kids, he confirms that a few of these songs will be making their way into setlists for The Cheats from now on.