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Cab Rides: The Imagination Movers

Take a Cab Ride with us! NolaVie gets up-close and personal with local notables in this new series of back-seat video interviews sponsored by TaxiCabApp. Ride along and eavesdrop as New Orleanians talk about the city they love and reveal its secrets. Today, two of the four Imagination Movers -- Rich Collins and Scott "Smitty" Smith -- hop a cab to Domilise's Uptown poboy shop. Along the way, they give us a little insight into how four New Orleans dads took their inventive and energetic kids' rock show on the road.

Note: The Imagination Movers will perform a children's concert at Zephyr Field at noon Sunday, April 3; gates open at 11 and tickets are $20 here.

Excerpts from the interview with the Imagination Movers:

Why are we headed to Domelise's?

IM: The Movers are working hard on a new animated television show called Super Movers. And (song interlude here) we’ve got an executive from Pixar coming in a few days and we’re meeting to get organized.

You can’t go wrong moving anyone with an oyster poboy.

Give us the Imagination Movers, past and future, in brief.

We began in New Orleans more than a decade ago. We starting writing songs for our own kids and then turned it into this indie band and the next chapter for us is this TV show. We’ve signed a production deal to create Super Movers. … They play a power chord at exactly the right – or wrong – moment and gain superpowers.

(Smitty) I’m stretchy, but I get tangled up a lot.

(Rich) Dave is super strong but clumsy. Scott’s got super senses; his Mohawk can hear things when they’re in trouble. And I can fly but I’m afraid of heights.

Will New Orleans be a character in the show?

Actually, that’s one of the things we’re discussing. In one iteration of it we lived and worked in a place called Crescent City, but it has evolved some. But you can’t take New Orleans out of the Movers.

Insert Super Movers song … (they are always breaking into song, these guys).

You really are little boys living out your fantasies, right?

You’re not the first person to call us Peter Pan. Have you been talking to our wives?

It really is about kids, though -- and it started with your own?

They’ve been there from the beginning. They were the inspiration. Way back when, back in the infancy of the project (insert song here):

I need my mommy,
I need my daddy,
but I’m stuck here in my bed at night.

We wrote that when my now-driving-age, prom-attending son was like 2 years old. We wrote songs about the things we were dealing with.

And now?

When I finish this Domilise’s meeting, I have to go and pick up my son's tux for the prom.

We have a brand new record … it’s called Licensed to Move. Those songs deal with some of the topics we notice as our kids get older. Kind of serious stuff for us (insert song here):

Have you ever been in line to get a drink of water
Some guy walks by holding hands with his mother
He steps in front of you and becomes …. a line cutter.

That’s the worst problem you have with your kids?

The songs evolved, became more universal. We’ve always tried to write music that we like and then put an age-appropriate spin on it. One of our goals is to have music that families can listen to together.

It seems that parents like you as much as their kids do.

The truth in our business is that the majority of people at our concerts are grown-ups. It’s usually two parents to one child. We’re really proud of our show. … It’s the most interactive rock concert, for kids and parents to do together. Participation is required.

What's your favorite place to play in New Orleans?

Jass Fest. For sure.

Playing the zoo is a lot of fun, too.

And the days playing at the Louisiana Children’s Museum; those were some awesome shows.

Do you put the kids to bed and then sneak out and go to Frenchmen Street?

Of course we do.

I’ve got five kids. For 17 years I’ve been doing Movers. Every single day this guitar is with me. But the truth is, I don’t have the energy to be out much at night.

Put on your wobble goggles and look at New Orleans. What do you see?

Tons of potential and ageless grace and beauty. And a lot of soggy front yards.

Being here post-Katrina and seeing how bad we were knocked back, and then to be in the city and be part of its resurgence has been really awesome.

Where do you get your clothes?

I could go for an hour on our personal clothes. I want to give one plug to Vegas, the boutique on Magazine Street. My new personal favorite. And Jacques on Freret. And Massey’s.

As far as Movers’ clothes, here’s the true story. A few years back, when we started, two movers went down to the Superdome to Brown’s Uniforms on Galvez and picked out the most Beastie Boys thing they had, which was bright blue coveralls. We thought, this will be our look. We’ve gone through almost 15 years of Movers. Disney hired us and spent untold millions building the production ... and I always assumed they’d get some fancy seamstress. But we wore the same Brown’s uniforms we’d always worn. They’re like polyester, meltingly hot. We made a good choice, visually, but as far as playing in the hot summers in New Orleans we made a very poor choice. You’re sure to lose weight as an Imagination Mover. We both used to be like 250 pounds.

If you were the Three Stooges, who would be Moe? Curly? Joe?

There’s not necessarily a Moe, a Curly or a Larry. Curly Joe I do not consider to be a Three Stooges. But at any point any of us would be one of those characters. It just depends on whatever the project we’re working on. If one of us became really inspired and was really driving the boat, then maybe any one of us would be Moe.

You look at bands and say why did this band break up, and I look at the four of us and we’re going on 10 years and I think that it’s because we were all friends and because we are all very polite to each other. We’re all on the same team.

Do you have backyard family barbecues together?

We do. We will get together for food or drink or both and it’s a common occurrence. New Orleans is a small town, so we probably couldn’t escape each other if we wanted to.

How many kids are there among the four of you?

Ten.

Where do you like to take them?

City Park. You can’t go wrong with the Sculpture Garden or Storyland or riding the carousel and then going to pig out on beignets at Morning Call. It’s like a home run.

One really cool thing about this city is that we have great parks. It’s a city to be enjoyed outdoors.

You actually wrote something positive about summer in New Orleans. It’s the lead single of Licensed to Move.

The funny thing is we just did a couple of small tours through Canada and they had like 10-feet-high snow banks and we were playing this song and it was a hit.

We dedicate this song to a city where you have 91 degrees for six months of the year.

Who has the man cave, where you write your songs?

The sound stage out in Harahan where Disney had us set up, that was our man cave for sure. We had snacks. Lots of snacks. Now it’s a tour bus or a hotel. We get a lot of writing done during sound check before shows.

So it's a matter of spontaneous creation?

Yeah, that’s the way it’s gotta be. We carry the guitars with us, and inevitably the guy who lets you on the plane says, hey, you gonna play something?

Cab Rides is made possible by the generous sponsorship of TaxiCabApp, a smartphone app that connects riders with nearby taxis. Video production is by Jason Rhein and Blake Bertuccelli, and the guy at the wheel is Ethiopian taxi master Ammanuel Haddis.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]