Washingtonian Parents By Day, Rock 'n' Rollers By Night (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Washingtonian Parents By Day, Rock 'n' Rollers By Night

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:09
I'm Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today's show is all about moonlighting, you know, splitting your time between a day job and an after-hours hobby or gig. We've already met two moonlighters, one who combines executive recruiting and rescuing dogs and another who does political consulting and art. In this next story, we're going to talk parenting and rock and roll.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:32
Those two things together may kind of sound like an oxymoron. But back in 2006, a bunch of D.C. parents got together to form bands for an event known as Schoola Paloozza. And as Kavitha Cardoza found out, they've been rocking out together ever since.

MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA

00:00:50
Pete Willsey is going through his closet. There are 20 costumes in here. The druid costume won't do, the dictator costume isn't quite right, neither is the evil Wiggles costume. Willsey finally finds what he's looking for.

MR. PETE WILLSEY

00:01:06
This is one of my favorites, it's a jumpsuit that we had custom-made, Princess on the top and the D.C. city flag underneath that. And it says, Property of Chevy Chase D.C. Correctional Facility.

CARDOZA

00:01:18
Three years ago, Willsey formed the band Princess, named after his daughters' obsession with all things girly. The band's logo is bold pink.

WILLSEY

00:01:27
Then we decided it will always be in all caps to give it a little masculinity. And there you have it, perfect.

CARDOZA

00:01:35
Willsey's daughter Lisa and son John are wearing Princess t-shirts.

MS. LISA WILLSEY

00:01:39
It's cool to see him, like, of all the songs that are popular. But sometimes he can be a tiny bit embarrassing, like the costume.

MR. JOHN WILLSEY

00:01:47
He wears funny costumes, like diapers.

CARDOZA

00:01:51
They're referring to their dad's baby New Year costume. Princess is a band of mostly fathers, all lawyers, whose children go to Lafayette Elementary School in northwest D.C. They do punk rock covers of pop songs.

WILLSEY

00:02:03
I am the "lead singer," end quotes.

CARDOZA

00:02:06
Why end quote?

WILLSEY

00:02:08
If you ever saw us play, you know, it'd be readily apparent.

CARDOZA

00:02:12
Willsey and his bandmates do perform in public. Princess has done 35 gigs, including at local bars, block parties and school fundraisers at Lafayette. And bassist Hunter Bennett says they're open to more.

MR. HUNTER BENNETT

00:02:25
If any school, frankly, asked us to do anything, we would happily play for them for free or maybe even pay them to do it.

CARDOZA

00:02:31
Willsey's garage has makeshift sound proofing.

WILLSEY

00:02:34
This is a special occasion so we actually tune.

CARDOZA

00:02:42
This is where they practice their teenybopper hits -- Miley Cyrus's "See You Again," Taylor Swift's "You Belong To Me," and Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy."

WILLSEY

00:02:52
If you drink, now's a good time to have a beer before we start playing.

CARDOZA

00:02:55
Consider yourself warned. In Princess's hands, the ballad starts out tender...

CARDOZA

00:03:17
And quickly becomes this.

CARDOZA

00:03:29
Sweating, screaming, riving. And that, says drummer Vinny Badolato, is exactly what Princess is all about.

MR. VINNY BADOLATO

00:03:36
You know, as long as it's fast and kind of loud, that's sort of a Princess signature sound.

WILLSEY

00:03:42
Speed and volume make up for a lot of mistakes and outfits.

BADOLATO

00:03:48
Outfits, theatrics, jokes. Yeah, that's our musical floor plan.

WILLSEY

00:03:50
We are masters of diversion. That's what Princess really is.

SHEIR

00:03:56
A few miles away, another parent-band Cheaper Than Therapy, is starting practice. Members' children go to Janney Elementary, Deal Middle and Wilson High Schools. Karen Harris is the lead singer.

MS. KAREN HARRIS

00:04:08
The name of the band is Cheaper Than Therapy. We are actually quite cheaper than therapy.

SHEIR

00:04:13
Why therapy?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN

00:04:15
You don't have kids, do you?

CARDOZA

00:04:19
Harris and drummer Pippa Trench met running Janney's Parent Teacher Association.

MS. PIPPA TRENCH

00:04:24
It's D.C. Public School, so there's always a financial crisis of some sort.

CARDOZA

00:04:29
That means lots of meetings to organize fundraising events. But also, says Doug Harris...

MR. DOUG HARRIS

00:04:34
That's just the PTA stuff there. And on top of that we have soccer and baseball coaches. We run our kids to music lessons, theatre, musical, baseball, swimming, dance after school, language lessons and then homework as well.

CARDOZA

00:04:49
And so this band was formed purely as a stress-reducer say members Trench, Harris and guitarist David Boris.

HARRIS

00:04:57
It gives you a real relief. It's like this busy, busy life going on. Everybody's really kind of wrapped up in what they're doing and this just takes you away from all that.

MS. ELAINE EAGLE

00:05:07
We want to sing things that are sort of not all about kids, because that's what our lives are. And this is sort of an escape from that.

MR. DAVID BORIS

00:05:14
And I think what's cool about the band is that it isn't done to play kiddie music for the kids, it's totally our thing.

CARDOZA

00:05:21
Being part of a band also gives these parents some street cred with their children says Boris, Harris and backup vocalist Elaine Eagle.

HARRIS

00:05:33
My son thinks it's the greatest thing.

CARDOZA

00:05:33
For some reason, I thought that the kids would be kind of embarrassed.

BORIS

00:05:36
I would say they're not old enough yet to be embarrassed.

HARRIS

00:05:39
And we can't wait until it does embarrass them.

BORIS

00:05:42
There have one or two times when the kids have asked us to turn it down, because it's been too loud.

CARDOZA

00:05:49
In this crowded basement, the members of Cheaper Than Therapy are letting go of stress, meeting friends and banging on the drums.

CARDOZA

00:06:08
I'm Kavitha Cardoza.

SHEIR

00:06:22
DCPS parents are trying to organize another Schoolapalooza for this fall. For more information and to see photos and videos of the bands Princess and Cheaper Than Therapy, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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