Thursday , April 18 2024
"There's no telling where the melody comes from. It just kind of magically appears. Songs really do have their own personalities."

Interview: Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America is one of the most intelligent but fun children's music groups around.

Take, for example, their clever lyrics.
I admit, in the interview below, to stealing the chorus of this song:

My hair had a party last night,
It musta got into a terrible fight,
Cause when my head hit the pillow it was lookin' all right,
My hair had a party last night.
My hair had a party last night,
When I lay down everything was all right,
It started out friendly but there must have been a fight,
My hair had a party last night.

Their new release, My Best Day, is a CD and DVD of a live concert. In the concert they call "Sailing" the stupidest song they wrote. But I love some of the lyrics, like this verse:

There was a ship with a cargo of red paint,
To a tragic fate everyone was doomed.
It rammed a ship with a cargo of brown paint,
The ships sank and the sailors were marooned.

It’s corny but great. Plus they even play a round of "Simon Says" (a personal favorite game of mine) during the concert.

Needless to say I was delighted at the chance to interview the two members of the band: Ezra Idelt and Keith Grimwood.

What made you decide to base your operations out of Arkansas , not exactly a common home for popular musicians?

Trout Fishing in America: First of all, Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful part of the country. We used to live in Houston. Arkansas is more centrally located in the US. When we moved here we were doing a lot of touring by driving and it really made sense to be here.

I want your absolution for something. I confess to having borrowed the line/song title “My Hair Had A Party Last Night” to describe hair problems while working as a journalist and a teacher without giving proper attribution. Do you forgive me?

Yes. If you feel further guilt you can send the royalties to Trout Fishing in America world headquarters.

How have your guys stayed together for 30 years, which is like a
century in regular people’s time?

We live fast and hard and listen to books on tape. Seriously, because we're such different people we don't end up competing with each other.

What’s the best part about writing and performing music for children? The worst part?

The best part is the immediate response to our music.

The worst part is the immediate response to our music. When you play music for kids, you have the chance to play many different styles of music. This also helps with (the prior question.) We don't do the same show every night. We don't play to the same crowd every night.

How have you two changed as musicians over time?

We've both gotten handsomer and more modest. We've also learned a lot more about songwriting.

What question do you secretly wish people would ask you in interviews that they never do?

How did it feel to win your first Grammy? (we've been nominated twice but haven't won one yet)

What question are you most tired of being asked, besides the source of the group’s name? (Note: The band’s name comes from a famous novel, as is well explained in the interview on the concert DVD)

Actually, you hit the nail on the head. "How did you get your name?" is the quickest way to get a stock answer.

Can you tell me about the workshops you do?

We could, but then we'd have to make you disappear. Actually, we play a couple of songs that we've written and discuss them. Why we wrote them, how we wrote them and we talk about form and how lyrics fit with music. We stress how everything starts with an idea.

We ask the students for their ideas and start organizing them into song form. Keith works with the kids with the lyrics while Ezra works on the music. It's very much the way we write. There's no telling where the melody comes from. It just kind of magically appears. Songs really do have their own personalities.

What grades do you work with?

Any grades. 4th through 6th are especially fun because of their developing language skills and their "can do" attitude.

Some of your song ideas came from those workshops right?

Yes. "Alien In My Nose" and "I've Got A Friend And He Won't Be Quiet" both came from songwriting workshops.

How much trout would Trout Fishing in America fish if Trout Fishing in America could fish trout? (Say that five times fast before responding.)

Ezra would fish often. Keith would only fish if they were biting. Even then, he might prefer to read.


To hear streaming MP3s, do some kids activities, and find out more about the band visit their official website.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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