"There is just so much kids music that makes you want to rip your ears off...so I wanted to make an album that the parents could play over and over, because that is the nature of kids music, it get repeated." ~Chris Patterson (insidetoronto.com)
Born in Kingston, Ontario, Chris Patterson is a singer, songwriter, musician, screenwriter and actor. He is one-third of The Arrogant Worms, Canada’s most successful musical comedy group and he's also a solo artist with a solo album for kids called 'Small Potatoes'.
The album is a pretty damn fantastic mix of silly, funny and kid attention grabbing tunes. My personal favourite track? Well there's two..'SuperFunCrazyRidiculous' and 'Francisco'...they get in your brain and stay there...but in a good way not the 'oh gawd this song again? where is the vodka' kind of way.
And the CD dedication...totally tugged at my heart strings...
Dear Laine & Charles,
Before your were born, I wanted to make a special gift for you. So I started writing songs that might like to listen to and even sang you a couple before you arrived. Now they're all finished and you're here with us in the world. This is for you. I hope you like it.
Love Dad xoxo
I had a chance to ask this dad of many talents about his music, his kids and his love of Regis Philbin...
How did you go from The Arrogant Worms to Small Potatoes (a fabulous title for a biography by the way)?
I had written some songs for the Dairy Farmers of Canada as a video series for nutrition education and I loved it. Small Potatoes started as a continuation of that and as a fun side-project and creative exercise. And then we found out we were expecting twins. I thought this would be a nice gift for them. I was able to fit in the recording during breaks in Worm touring. I'm lucky that the Worms play a bunch of festivals and a lot of them have kids stages so I can double my duties and play some of my kids songs too.
Why kids music?
I realized that I really like kids music. Like my work with the band, the motivation of every song is fun. And I like how honest kids are in their reactions. It was a challenge to write songs that would keep them enthused and not drive their parents crazy. And the hours are pretty good too! I rarely work past nap time.
Was it easy to make the transition from 'The Arrogant Worms Chris' to Small Potatoes Chris'?
I was a little nervous at first, to be honest. I'm used to being on stage with two other people so being up there all by myself was a bit intimidating. Both Worm Chris and Potato Chris are very much me - just a bit inflated and amplified. In a comedy atmosphere with the band, there is a playful and almost combative relationship with the audience. It's all in good fun obviously but I can't be that way in front of kids. It took me a few shows to figure out the "less talk, more rock" approach to kids performing.
Do you draw from that musical comedy background when coming up with songs for kids?
Absolutely. I wanted songs that were quirky and funny and silly. Discovering new rhymes is fun for me and I did think of the parents a lot too because they have to listen to the music often for hours at a time in a confined space.
Where did the name'Small Potatoes' come from?
I wanted a song about food and was thinking of titles and concepts. Small Potatoes was the result and I figured it could kind of sum up the whole project. So I wrote the song knowing it would be the album title and what I considered to be the theme for the whole kit and kaboodle.
Growing up who was your favourite child performer?
Mr. Dressup. No question about it.
Given the number of live performances you've done over your career - who is the tougher crowd...adults or kids?
Kids can be tough for sure. It's all attention span and keeping them entertained so they don't fidget or even wander off. However, when it works at a kids show, it can be pretty amazing. Kids don't have the inhibitions that adults have so if they feel like dancing, they start dancing. It's a beautiful thing to watch from up on the stage.
When not doing the children's music thing...what music do you love listening to [top 5 artists/songs you are currently listening to]..?
Radiohead, Jay Z, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith, The Clash. I don't hear a lot of pop music right now unless it's on Glee.
You list them as influences...what is it about Don Rickles and Regis Philbin that you love so much?
Probably longevity. I like that Rickles has not changed his act one bit since he started. I like that neither Rickles or Regis needs to work but obviously still enjoy it enough to keep going. And they seem like nice guys.
If you could have a drink with anyone dead or alive - who would it be?
President Obama. He just always seems like the coolest guy in the room.
What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear...
Small Potatoes: future classic?
Fraggle Rock: great theme song
Barney: likely a classically trained actor in a purple suit
The Wiggles: now that I have kids, cooler than I thought
Mr. Dress Up: greatest
Mr. Rogers: gentle
Robert Munsch: under-appreciated
How did becoming a dad to twins change how you looked at your career?
It made me want to do things that would keep me closer to home. My family is my priority and my motivation for everything now.
Best piece of parenting advice you ever got?
Don't wake up a sleeping baby.
What is the most important thing you have learned about fatherhood that you can pass on to other dads?
Don't eat what a nursing mother eats. You will get fat.
Greatest gift that a dad can pass on to his children?
Decency. And a copy of Small Potatoes.
Christ Patterson's 'Small Potatoes' CD is available through Maple Music and iTunes.