STANDOUT TRACK: No. 3, “United States of America,” a Chuck Berry–esque recitation of the lower 48 plus Alaska and Hawaii (sorry, D.C.). “Rhode Island, Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, Alabama,” sings the trio of David “Coach” Cotton, Patrick “WillieBob” Williams, and Mark “Boogie Woogie Bennie” Capponi. “California, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North Dakota.”
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: Inspired by an Animaniacs song featuring the countries of the world, the Northern Virginia band set out to create a tune accessible to kids “without nauseating their parents,” explains Cotton. “We don’t feel the need to dumb down the musicality or complexity of the songs,” says the 36-year-old father of two. Avoiding the obvious alphabetic strategy, the band arranged the states “to maximize the rhymes and to make them fit rhythmically.”
A MORE PERFECT UNION: “Each state is said once, and then the song changes key and the whole list is repeated,” Cotton says. To avoid tedium, Hawaii’s mention launches a brief slack-guitar solo. At a mere 1:51, “United States of America” is also the second-shortest song on Rocknoceros.
Cotton and Williams know about holding an audience’s attention—or not. Their “Zappa-esque” “adult band” is sometimes “greeted by open-mouthed, blank stares.” Grown-ups want musicians “to either be singing about your love or your car—your neuroses, right?” says Cotton. “With a kids’ show, you can sing about the color red, you can sing about the United States, you can sing about whatever. There’s a lot more freedom there. Kids won’t dismiss you as uncool.” —Dave Nuttycombe