The Wanna Bees reach out to familes on new CDWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
For many parents, watching The Wiggles with their children is a chore. For Chuck Riepenhoff, it’s an inspiration. He created The Wanna Bees while watching a Wiggles video.The band’s debut CD, “Work Together,” was released Oct. 25.
“The idea of The Wanna Bees goes back to February 2002, when I was sitting around watching The Wiggles with my two boys,” Riepenhoff said. “At that time they were toddlers. Now they are a freshman and a sixth-grader. I had been in some bands where we’d write good catchy pop tunes before. I thought it was something we could do. Shortly thereafter, the concept of The Wanna Bees popped into my head with all the characters. Right along with that came songs; the theme song came pretty quick. The idea was that we’d be introducing careers to kids through catchy songs and dance.”
Riepenhoff has been playing in bands since college. He graduated from the University of Toledo in 1995 with a degree in pharmacy.
“Whether out and about at bars and events or down in the basement writing songs, I’ve always had something musically going on,” he said.
“Work Together” introduces kids to careers through the characters Doctor Dan, Mailman Mike, Builder Brad and Officer Ollie, each with his own sidekick. The CD includes a theme song, a title track and a song from each character.
The band’s second album will introduce more characters, such as Fireman Freddy and Hydie Hose and Terry Teacher and Charlie Chalkboard. The project has a working title of “Dream Big.”
The concept for The Wanna Bees came to Riepenhoff while watching The Wiggles, but the comparisons stop there. He prefers to compare the band to more contemporary groups such as Barenaked Ladies and Weezer, and he describes the genre as “kindie” music. Riepenhoff envisioned The Wanna Bees as a video-based band but decided to record a CD after the songs started coming together.
“I had a group of musician friends that whenever I had song ideas, they’d come help me jam them out,” he said. “We worked the songs out in my basement. At first I felt this was more of a visual thing and that the songs couldn’t stand alone. I pictured putting together a DVD with the songs as a backdrop. We were working on a demo DVD. The more songs we wrote and input we got from other people, we realized they were catchy pop tunes and can be on a CD to just listen to and have fun with.”
The project stalled from 2003-07 as Riepenhoff and his friends got busy with other musical projects such as The Wow Factor and The Skoobie Snaks.
“We each found ourselves in other party bands doing events,” Riepenhoff said. “The Wanna Bees kind of took a backseat to that and got forgotten for about five or six years. After a while, those bands weren’t going to be playing routinely, so it got back in my head to finish this thing. We started refocusing on The Wanna Bees.”
Riepenhoff handled the majority of song-writing duties with Brad Bury contributing two songs. While his friends helped with the writing and recording, they are less inclined to participate in live shows.
“The live shows are either myself as Doctor Dan playing an acoustic set, or it will be Doctor Dan and a percussionist as another character,” Riepenhoff said. “It’s one thing to know musicians to write music with or play with, but it’s another to make them dress up in a fireman suit. I have a few people at my disposal for that.”
In 2009, The Wanna Bees finished in the top 5 of the Toledo Free Press Song of Toledo contest with its song “You’re in Toledo, Baby!” Last April, the band submitted a song and video to Fox Sports Detroit for the “April in the D” contest. The panel of judges, including Kid Rock, selected their song “Go (April in the D)” for the Top 10.
“We went to Detroit in front of Comerica Park and Joe Louis Arena,” Riepenhoff said. “We were running around performing in full costume.”
Riepenhoff is exploring teaming up with another Toledo project called “Benny’s Kitchen” for a TV show. It would be called “Field Trip with Benny and The Bees.”
The Wanna Bees are performing Nov. 6 at the ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital “Kids Celebrity Wait Night.” The event starts at 5 p.m. at The Pinnacle, 1772 Indian Wood Circle in Maumee. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children 12 and younger. Call (419) 291-2809 or email Carolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The CD is available locally at Culture Clash Records and RamaLama Records and online at CDBaby.com/CD/TheWannaBees and through music distributors such as iTunes and Amazon.
Visit Facebook.com/TheWannaBeesBand for more information. Contact Riepenhoff at email@example.com.