Imagination Movers fuse rock, learning

In his former life, Rich Collins was a New Orleans-based journalist who took pleasure in interviewing entertainment idols such as Chris Rock.

Today, as member of kiddie rock act and Disney Channel stars Imagination Movers, Collins finds celebs such as Rock coming backstage after Movers shows to meet him. It’s a definite change of pace Collins has been enjoying since 2008, when the act took the leap from family-friendly indie band to bona fide Disney icons.

As the Imagination Movers ready for an Atlanta appearance, multi-instrumentalist Collins picked up the phone and talked about what it’s like being the hot topic on the kindergarten playground.

Q: When I describe the “Imagination Movers” show to folks who haven’t seen it, I call it “The Monkees” for preschoolers.

A: That’s really accurate. Shows like “The Monkees” or “Monty Python” and other things from that era were so inspirational to us. We consider ourselves sort of a hybrid of Mr. Rogers and the Beastie Boys or Captain Kangaroo and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We’re fusing rock ’n’ roll energy with that old-fashioned sort of live-action kids television of yesterday.

Q: Before your show launched on Disney Channel, Imagination Movers was a successful indie music act. How have things changed?

A: Our original vision of the show about four guys making music and solving problems is amazingly unchanged from our first couple of conversations. The awesome part about partnering with Disney is they have all these resources. They have a budget, obviously, and they have the ability to bring a lot of talented people into our world to help us bring that whole vision to life in a way that we couldn’t have otherwise. So we’re very grateful that we were able to get 75 episodes of this show made in the pop culture canon. The whole scope of the project just sort of grew. We started as an indie rock band, and now we’re on TV in different countries, and we’re finishing up our second U.S. tour, and we have an Emmy. It’s all bigger, but in a lot ways it’s exactly the same.

Q: Describe a typical “Imagination Movers” live show.

A: It’s all about the passion of taking three chords and a cool idea and trying to make an emotion in a concert hall. ... Basically during the entire concert we encourage people to participate during the songs. Whether it’s a call and response or a chorus they have to sing with us or if it’s a certain dance, there are always ways for people to participate. I kind of consider it the closest thing to a U2 concert experience that’s totally in line with the preschooler. ... When we get to the climax to the show, we pretty much have the entire building standing, dancing and singing along with us in unison. The lights and confetti are going off. We’ve got one 18-wheeler and two tour buses. U2 has 103 18-wheelers. But I tell you, at the end of our show it feels as emotional as when U2 is playing “Where The Streets Have No Name” or something. The place is electric, and it’s very satisfying.