Brony Blog Interview: Patrick O’Connor and Steve Hinckley From The Shake Ups!

gggg talks with Patrick O’Connor and Steve Hinckley of the band The Shake Ups. Their latest EP ‘The Shake Ups In Ponyville’ is a must have if you consider yourself a true brony.  What was your first exposure to My Little Pony?

Patrick: I remember the show from the first time around when I was very young, but I wasn’t into it at the time. I vaguely recall seeing the Seapony song, so that’s been a fun one to cover! My first exposure to MLP: Friendship Is Magic was through my fiance, who was fond of the show. She showed me the Parasprite episode, and that got me hooked…I think I’m a bigger fan now than she is.

Steve: For me, it was also most likely in the 80’s. But my beautiful wife collects them, and I collect Masters of the Universe. We discovered our love of toys when we first started dating and both toy lines were being launched at the same time. How’s THAT for fate?! Who’s your favorite character in the My Little Pony universe and why?

Patrick: Of the Mane Six, my favorite is Fluttershy. She’s friendly, cute, and kind, and she’s an animal lover. I would say Pinkie Pie is a close second since she’s the most musical of the Mane Six, and of course very entertaining. Being a lover of sci-fi, I also enjoy Discord and the mystique surrounding Doctor Hooves.

Steve: I’m probably most partial to Rainbow Dash. Your new CD EP is out now: ‘The Shake Ups In Ponyville’. How long did it take you to write the songs and record it?

1002950_465694746857899_2046732675_nSteve: It came together pretty smoothly start to finish from what I recall.

Patrick: It just kind of hit me one day that the sound and style of our band would work well with this show and its characters. I think I wrote lyrics to one of the songs straight away when I had the idea, and suddenly it became a real project! We already had the music for these songs recorded when I was working out the lyrics, so we did the whole thing very quickly. I find having a concept to work with really helps creativity, and the newer songs written since the EP release have been similarly short and sweet to write. Our favorite song on the EP is “Secret Crush,” about Rarity. Why do you think so many Bronies love Rarity and her love life?

Steve: It’s a great story, for sure.

Patrick: Well, there really aren’t very many romantic relationships to explore in the show, and I think that Spike/Rarity subplot is kind of a universal one that a lot of people can relate to. I suppose I relate more with Spike, but it’s nice to see a nuanced relationship in there amidst some of the more traditional cartoon stories. Rarity is very style-conscious and has a lot of class, so I can see why fans would aspire to be like her, aka fabulous. Do you have any expectations for the upcoming Season 4 of the show? What do you expect personally as a fan?

Patrick: I prefer not to go into it with too many expectations, but I will say that it seems as if there’s been a trend in the show where Hasbro’s toy releases have dictated more and more of the plot lines in the series (the Crystal Empire, the Royal Wedding, etc.). There have certainly been some good plots brought about in this way, but I will say that I prefer the more freewheeling spirit of some of the earlier episodes. I would like to see some of that quirkiness come back, and I would love to see them flesh out a few more of the background characters, Derpy and Doctor Hooves, for instance.

Steve: Lots of humor. And an appearance of Big Mac! Yuuuuuuuup!  You’re planning on releasing a full length album of Pony songs in the near future, will that feature these songs from the EP or will it be an entire set of new Pony related songs and what can we expect from it song wise, and character wise?

Patrick: We hit upon the idea of releasing our debut Shake Ups In Ponyville album on the same day that season four of the show starts, November 23rd, and for a band that often takes a year or two to work up songs and record them, this three-month window has been kind of a challenge for us. We’re discussing which, if any, songs from the EP we want to include on the full-length, and it appears we may include “Pink Butterflies” or “Secret Crush” since the fans have responded to them so strongly. But it’s also nice to have tracks that can only be found on an EP release; it makes them more rare and a little special for those who seek them out. As far as what to expect from the new songs, we’re trying to cast our net pretty wide to include as many of our favorite characters and situations from the series as we can. I can tell you there will be songs for all of the Mane Six, as well as many of the background characters, including a song campaigning to make Derpy a princess, plus themes for Mare-do-well and Doctor Hooves.  You’ve also put out a few non-Pony-related albums and EPs in the past. What are some of your musical influences and how have they influenced your music or style of songwriting?

Steve: Ah, the influences question. I would say Pixies and Weezer for sure. 

theshakeupsPatrick: We had been a band for quite sometime before deciding to take up the reins of this project, and we have a pretty wide stylistic range of influences as a group, from punk to pop to country, and beyond. We are all involved in other musical projects as well; I play in an instrumental surf band called The Madeira as well as a Star Trek-themed indie rock band called Five Year Mission. My original idea for the Shake Ups was to be a power-pop group: big guitars, big melodies, lots of vocal harmonies and songs that get stuck in your head. As far as bands making the sort of music we make, I think it probably all goes back to the Beatles. Some of the more recent bands to do the type of music we play include Weezer and Fountains of Wayne. I’m also a longtime fan of They Might Be Giants, and their playful approach to making music has been ingrained in me for such a long time I think that’s probably partially responsible for the idea to start this project in the first place. You’ve been playing around at various conventions…What has been the response to the Pony music at the various Pony cons you’ve played from Bronies?

Patrick: I’ve played at several conventions with different bands, and it’s a little bit of a curiosity for people. You aren’t quite a vendor and you aren’t quite a guest, you’re something in between. That said, the response from fans is almost always instant and fun and extremely positive. For any sci-fi fans in your readership, through playing conventions I’ve opened for William Shatner and Wil Wheaton and sang a song to Adam Baldwin from Firefly. I’m very grateful for those opportunities. It’s difficult for us to get out and play cons very often because the band is separated geographically, with three of us in different parts of Indiana and one of us in Pennsylvania. We had a good time at the MLP Fair & Convention this year, and we’ve heard we’ll probably be back next year. II’d love to do more pony cons, so if you’re involved with you, feel free to contact us about playing! Why do you think My Little Pony has developed the massive brony following that it has today?

Patrick: It’s a very cute, fun show, with great animation and colorful characters that a broad audience can connect with. The writing is also very clever, which is the thing that keeps me interested.

Steve: Because humor is infectious. The show is actually very well written and the humor appeals to all ages.  What is your favorite episode from Season 3, and why?

Patrick: Picking a single favorite of anything is always very difficult for me…I like “Keep Calm and Flutter on,” of course because it features Fluttershy, but also Discord, always an entertaining character. From the series as a whole, a few standouts that I really enjoy include “The Return of Harmony,” “Party of One,” “It’s About Time,” “Green Isn’t Your Color,” and “Feeling Pinkie Keen.” Did you see Equestria Girls, and what did you think of it? Is the fan outcry against it something that Bronies should be doing in general?

Patrick: I finally just had the chance to see it. I’d heard good and bad things about the film, and I understand there was some backlash from fans, much of which probably had to do with transforming the ponies into human form, something that the fans have been doing for years. I would say if there is a general problem with the movie or series, it stems from what I mentioned earlier about the toyline driving the show, rather than the other way around.  As we do with all of our interviews…We do a free association….What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say the following names: Rarity?

Steve: Diamonds.

Patrick: “Secret Crush” since we just talked about it Princess Luna?

Steve: Yellow.

Patrick: The dark side.  Applejack?

Steve: Cereal…Yum!

Patrick: “The Apple Song,” a new one I just wrote the lyrics to that we’ve been recording. Pinkie Pie?

Steve: Mmmm. Pie…

Patrick: Oatmeal. Rainbow Dash?

Patrick: Purple.

Steve: Colors.  Mayor Mare?

Patrick: Mare-do-well.

Steve: Mustache. Fluttershy?

Steve: Cuteness.

Patrick: A butterfly.


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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    August 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks so much for doing the interview with us! 😀