Interview: Loren Hoskins / Kevin Hendrickson

125246_D_0152_Loren_Kevin_guitar_small.JPGWhen many of us last saw Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, they were tearing it up as the leaders of the Portland-based pirate rock band Captain Bogg and Salty.

So when I heard that they'd been tapped to write the music for (and appear in) Disney Junior's animated show Jake and the Never Land Pirates, I figured it'd be an excellent fit. And if you've heard the music (a soundtrack was recently released), you'll know that it doesn't sound that much different from their work in Captain Bogg & Salty.

There's a new "pirate rock" episode airing tomorrow, Thursday, November 10th as part of a big Jake and the Never Land Pirates marathon highlighting the music from the series, including sing-along versions of the live-action videos from the show. (Airs 6 - 11 AM, but, as they say, check your local listings.) So I thought this was an excellent time to catch up with the pair. They talked last week from the studio (where they're working on music for Season 2 of the show) about their musical influences growing up, the good and not-so-good parts of songwriting for TV, and why you should check your spam inbox every once in a while.

126534_0120_Jake_Band_small.JPGZooglobble: What are your musical memories growing up?
Kevin Hendrickson: Listening to Credence Clearwater Revival and the Bee Gees on my mom's stereo. Taking piano lessons.
Loren Hoskins: We listened to Marty Robbins' Gunfighter Ballads, Disneyland albums, Elvis -- I grew up in a fairly conversative household, but my parents said, "Elvis is OK."

Given your work as Captain Bogg & Salty (and otherwise), it's obvious why Disney picked you for this job, but were there any interesting stories about how it came about?
Hoskins: Actually, there is one interesting thing... I was working on a musical adaptation of Treasure Island, and Kevin was about to become a father again, and I happened to randomly check my spam e-mail filter. In there I found an e-mail from a VP of music at Disney saying they were interested in working with us. I re-read it 4 times and send it to Kevin, asking, "Do you think this is legit?"

I talked with Steve Roslonek, AKA Mr. Steve on PBS, once, and he said that he'd learned a lot about songwriting, especially with TV's very short time limits on songs... what have you learned about songwriting in writing for Jake?
Hoskins: He's correct -- before this, we were writing songs however long they needed to be. Now it's a 30 or 60 seconds. We have a tendency to write 2:33-long songs. It's a challenge to write an entire arc of a song in a short time period.
Hendrickson: Another challenge is writing so many songs in so little time. You have to find different ways to get to the heart of [the theme].

125246_D_0273_Loren_Kevin_small.JPGWhat have you been pleasantly surprised by in working on the show? What was more difficult than you anticipated?
Hoskins: We anticipated that we'd have to change our writing style, but that's not been the case. In fact, they told us that, "if you're writing it as a 'Disney song,' you're doing it wrong."
Hendrickson: Yeah, it's been amazing.
Hoskins: We're introducing new characters in our songs, obviously, but there hasn't been a shift in musical styles.

In terms of a challenge, I guess maybe the deadlines, the constant pressures of a TV schedule. Can be hard to keep up and feel good about it. But sometimes it's nice to have deadlines, opportunities to do something in a compressed time period.

126534_0051_Full_Band_small.JPGWhat are some of your favorite songs from the series?
Hoskins: Well, this might sound like PR, but I really do like the "The Never Land Pirate Band" from this upcoming episode. It's a stadium band pirate rocker -- sort of like "We're Not Gonna Take It," but with a positive spin.

I like the way it starts out, with Jake and the band just singing on the deck, and as the episode progresses, it gets filled out to a full band arrangement. It's like how a song is written, from "la la la" to demos to a hootenanny rock concert.

Hendrickson: It's basically the invention of pirate rock.

What's next for you?
Hoskins: We just finished a Christmas song for the Walt Disney World Christmas parade -- that's looking like it'll turn out cool. We were recording the Christmas song on Halloween, which was a little strange.
Hendrickson: We're settling in to doing Season 2 -- a lot more pirate rock songs.

Photos/stills courtesy and copyright Disney Junior