Over the last 12 years and counting, Bryan Atchison and Neil Olstad have entertained audiences of all ages with the goofy, wholesome, and undeniably fun music they make as Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Since its unassuming start as a project initially intended for a college talent show, the duo has performed at venues of all sizes and scope all around the world, spent a summer on the Warped Tour, shared the stage with acts like Frank Turner and The Aquabats, and made videos that have been viewed millions upon millions of times. Before they were a favorite among educators, children, and anyone looking for catchy anthems about anything from pizza to fanny packs to Panera Bread, Atchison and Olstad were in a music fraternity and playing together in a folk-rock band.
Recently, the Koo Koo Kanga Roo guys spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about the project’s origin, its unexpected rise in popularity, and the importance of maintaining an independent approach to releasing their music. Over the course of the upbeat hour-long discussion, Atchison and Olstad talked about working with Lazerbeak on their forthcoming album (Slow Clap, out May 21!), the ways remote learning has changed how they reach people, the process of releasing a record with Mike Park on Asian Man Records, and many of the notable experiences they’ve had along the way. Of course, the conversation also touched on Neil’s punk rock past in Hometown Zeros, Bryan’s sordid show choir history, their years as college roommates, and much more.
My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Koo Koo Kanga Roo (“Ice Cold Lemonade” featuring Murs).