There is a lot of buzz around The BeatBuds and their upcoming animated show on Nickelodeon and we got the opportunity to speak to them in an exclusive interview. Both Jonny and Matty are super talented and this show is going to be a HUGE hit.
Beloved by a large and devoted fan-base of Los Angeles area families – including an impressive list of celebrities who have invited them into their homes for birthday parties and music classes – The BeatBuds look forward to starring in their own animated preschool series on Nickelodeon, with production set to begin this summer and a 2021 premiere planned.
BSKids: How did you both meet and did you both know you were destined for music at an early age?
Jonny: Matty and I met when we were 6 years old and became instant friends. Our initial bond had nothing to do with music. We were just two kids who had a lot of fun together. We lived nearby, and in those days, by the time we were 11 we were skating to each other’s houses and hanging out on our own. I found my instrument first, picking up guitar at an early age, around 6. Matty and I used to perform in school talent shows together, playing on tennis rackets instead of real instruments sometimes. We loved music. Both our families were big into music, from classical to rock. Matty chose drums at about 12 years old, and we found a spot in the basement to jam together. We probably played “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” for about 5 hours straight that first day without coming up for a drink or food. From there, we developed a musical bond separate from our bond as best friends, which just strengthened the friendship we already had and added a whole new level to it. Together, we accomplished so many of our musical goals together and got to fulfill dreams that so few ever get to experience with their best friends … touring relentlessly and seeing this great country together as we earned a career playing music. And here we are today, with families and kids of our own, still doing it, in a slightly different lane, and loving it all the same. We’re very lucky.
When did the idea for The BeatBuds happen and was it an idea you both agreed on right away?
Jonny: The idea came about organically but it wasn’t something that happened intentionally, either. Matty wasn’t touring with the band we had started together anymore because he was busy being a dad and husband and supporting his family in a more traditional career path in the work force, but he was still my most trusted musical confidant when it came to writing and recording for that band, regardless of the fact that he no longer played in it. He was also recovering from a severe back injury at that time and playing Mr. Mom to his then 6 month old daughter, and taking her to different classes like gym, music, etc. He’d stop by my home studio, sometimes with his daughter, where I’d be recording or hanging out with my nephews who were just a bit older than her at that time. We’d all play the instruments in the studio, record the kids’ voices, and just have fun with music. One day, Matty played me some of the music from the music class he was taking with his daughter. Sadly, I wasn’t very impressed. My sister then brought in the CD from the music class that her kids were involved in. Again, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about what I was hearing. Matty and I had a moment … we decided to make some music that the kids AND we adults could enjoy listening to AND creating, together. We had no intentions of birthing The BeatBuds at that time. All we set out to do was to have some fun and make some music with our families that we liked a little more than what was currently available to them. So we did. In the weeks that followed, my sister asked me to burn 10 CDs for her friends. Then Matt’s wife asked me to burn another 10 for their friends. Word started to spread, and Matty saw an opportunity. He asked me if I’d co-write and record some more songs, and I agreed. We still didn’t have a name or any real intentions, although I think Matt’s wheels were starting to turn. By this time we had 7 songs, and they were starting to circulate around the community. I remember leaving on tour for Europe with the band and coming home after 7 weeks away and having 20 messages from Matty. At that time, I used to just put my phone off until I got back to the States and catch up on messages when I returned home. All 20 messages were regarding a birthday party. I called Matty back from my layover at JFK and told him that I had just gotten done playing festivals throughout Europe for crowds of 5-10,000 people, and there was little chance I was interested in performing at a birthday party. After some coaxing from my best bud, he got me to agree. We played the party a few weeks later as a two-piece, after figuring out how to make these songs rock and what the approach would be to keep the kids entertained. We were a hit! Before we left the birthday party we had 3 more inquiries, but we still didn’t have a name! I wasn’t sure this was a career move for me because I was focused on rock ‘n roll, but Matty was ready for a transition. As I said, he was coming off of a pretty major back injury and needed to pivot his career. I’m not sure that he saw this as a new career, but I do know that he saw an opportunity outside of just creating some rockin’ songs that we could potentially make a few bucks on. One thing was undeniable, and that was the fact that there was a desire from the public for what we were doing. We wrote another 3 songs and came up with a name … The BeatBuds. We threw together a quick website selling the album and listing our birthday availability, and we were off to the races. Our weekends booked up pretty quickly, and before we knew it we had a full time business on our hands. Matty embraced it. I was a bit reluctant at first, but I was ready for a chang,e too. Plus, I got to make music and hang out with my best bud again every single day … what could be better?
When did you feel like this could be a real success story?
Jonny: Our story is still being written, and we’re excited to see what the next chapters have in store for us. But we can definitely say that we noticed things starting to take off when one birthday turned into two, then three, then four … and before we knew it we had more than we could handle for just the two of us. So we started to hire other musicians to help meet the demand. I’d go perform with a drummer, and Matty would go perform with a guitar player. We then brought on even more musicians to help meet the demand. Prior to the stay-home mandate due to the coronavirus, the business was fulfilling upwards of 100 shows each month. So we don’t know if that’s a success story or not, but we do know that people were/are connecting to the music. We get a lot of emails from parents that say, “After I drop the kids off at school I leave the BeatBuds music playing in the car on the way home.” That’s our favorite compliment because it shows us that we did what we set out to do, which was to make true family music that everyone in the family can enjoy, not just the kids. To us, that’s a success in itself.
How did you meet Scooter Braun and then get the pitch for the show on Nickelodeon?
Matty: We met Scooter because he and his kids were fans of the music. He approached us and told us how much he appreciated what we did, and told us that on many occasions our music helped soothe his son in difficult times. And he said, as a father, he really appreciated that, and it earned us some free advice if we ever wanted it. Well, the time came and we wanted it! Our relationship with him continued to develop over time because he was a client. We performed for his son’s birthday, and they were involved in one of our in-home jam session weekly classes. He knew we saw a bigger picture, and Scooter ALWAYS sees a bigger picture … our visions aligned, and he proposed a partnership. It all made sense and we went for it!
The Nickelodeon pitch is something we always saw as part of the brand’s bigger picture. We always saw an animated Jonny and Matty telling our story of friendship and music through our songs, using music as a vehicle to educate and entertain. Scooter and Nickelodeon are helping make that a reality. For us to be surrounded by such a fantastic team, makes us so happy! We can’t wait for everyone to see this show on Nickelodeon!
What has been your favorite fan interaction story?
Jonny: My favorite story is meeting Henry Winkler, “The Fonz.” We’ve been lucky and have performed for a lot of celebrity clientele, but I had no idea we were walking into The Fonz’s home for that particular ongoing weekly gig. We rang the bell, and when he opened it, I was so taken aback, the only thing that came to my mind to say was….. “Ayyyyyyyy!” I felt pretty foolish, but he was the most welcoming, kindest, sweetest man. He and his family were just so warm. It got to the point where, after a few weeks of our ongoing class there, we could go through their fridge for Cokes and candy without having to ask permission. What an amazing family!
Matty: One of my favorite stories is when we were getting ready to perform one of our many fun birthday parties, and we walked into the house to set up, and it’s literally dressed up like a top notch rock ‘n roll club inside. We are not just talkin’ a mini-stage and a backdrop, we‘re talking a full-on stage, BeatBuds banner, sound system, merch booth (homemade), backstage passes, craft services, and a totally rock ‘n roll, BeatBuds gear-decked-out mom, dad, and child. I’ve played some pretty nerve racking show scenarios in my past musical life but I’ve never been so nervous!! We all rocked out together, and it was killer! This is just one example that really stands out in my mind of our committed fans, but the point is that so many of our fans feel such a strong connection to us, as we do to them. Obviously, how far they can take it in a party planning sense is pretty amazing, but what’s really happening here is a true love and support of The BeatBuds. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
What are each of your favorite songs you have performed and why? What days theme do you enjoy the most?
Jonny: My favorite song to perform is “Get Outside and Rock” from our Vol. 3 album because it’s not far off from the style and sound of what we used to do in our rock band together. It brings me back to being on stage with Matty as a teenager at The House of Blues on the Sunset Strip playing for a sold-out crowd. My favorite day on our YouTube Live show is Fan Friday because I love the fan voting aspect where the fans decide what song we play, and we have to be on our toes and ready to play whatever song they choose.
Matty: I have to agree with Jonny on both. Fan Friday is the most interactive part of our show and interactivity has always been one of The BeatBuds’ most important characteristics.
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Matty: We’re both music students with music degrees and a background in music education. People may also be surprised to know that Jonny was an accomplished athlete and played professionally overseas just before hitting the road with Matty in the rock band and chasing that dream.
What has been the funniest mess up either live or while recording?
Matty: On our YouTube Live show our internet connection went out one time, and we just kept going for about 20 minutes, not knowing that nobody was watching. Hahahaha!
Would you say that The Wiggles were and influence at all and if so what song would you love to perform with them?
Jonny: To be completely honest, and this might be sacrilegious to say in the children’s space, we couldn’t tell you a single Wiggles song. And that’s not to be insulting or disrespectful of the hard work they put in or the talent they had, we simply never thought we’d find ourselves in this genre and landed here kind of by accident. We wrote music for our families, and we wrote the music we wanted to hear and perform for ourselves. We weren’t influenced by anyone or anything, we just kind of did what we wanted to do. That’s not to say that The Wiggles aren’t great, because they obviously have the track record to prove that they are, but I haven’t ever heard them. We’re just out here doing The BeatBuds thing, and now we’re at the point where I don’t want to focus on what anyone else is doing because I don’t want to be influenced. I feel like we have been able to carve our own path and for whatever reason, make a connection with kids and parents, and I want to continue doing that without any interference from outside influence. We’ve obviously had many influences musically that contribute to what we do. I grew up on Elvis Presley and a healthy dose of rock ‘n roll. Influence is a great thing. But from a children’s music standpoint, we haven’t been exposed to very much to have had any influence to begin with, which might be one of the reasons we’re unique in this space, so we want to try to continue on that path and blaze our own trail in this genre if we’re fortunate enough to do so.
We all know that Beatbuds toys will be coming soon, what will that mean to you and which sort of toy of your show are you looking forward to seeing?
Jonny: This is exciting, and for me, I can’t wait to see a mini Power Wheels car modeled after our song “Racer 1.” That would be awesome!
Why should we all be excited to see the animated television show from a parent end and the childrens side?
Jonny & Matty: Our show is going to educate, entertain, and be unique in so many ways, but it’s also going to be music-centric, based on our songs and music, and that’s what’s so exciting for BeatBuds fans, because that’s what they’ve connected with the most. Outside of that, we’re two best friends making new friends through the power of music. It’s a beautiful story in real life, and animated!
Big thanks to both Jonny and Matty for taking the time out of their schedule to talk to us about The BeatBuds.