Colorado Band Performs Alternative Disney Covers
The NoCo music scene is filled with great performers, but sometimes there are those acts that take you back to a totally different time in your life. How about that time when you were a kid, and loved prying open the plastic cover of your Aladdin VHS tape to watch it one more time, mom?
The Man Cubs is one of those acts, a five-piece supergroup who perform their own take on Disney favorites.
We hopped on the phone with Will, Cody, and Joe to talk about their music style, their Taste of Fort Collins upcoming performance (including a Disney medley), and which band members identify most with Disney Princesses.
SCRUGGS: You guys are a Disney cover band, is that right?
Will: Oh, yeah.
What made you and the rest of the Man Cubs decide to start this band?
Will: So we were both in separate bands. I’m in a band, and Cody and Joe are in a separate band as well. We played a show together years ago, and afterwards grabbed dinner and talked about doing some kind of supergroup cover show. We had a few ideas. We thought of the idea of doing an early 2000s boy band show—which we should still consider—but then we switched to Disney music and thought that might actually be even more fun, and then had a—just an insane summer working on that. It all just started with that one dinner, we discussed doing a group thing.
Joe: Yeah, so we just got that ball rolling, and we spent the whole summer rearranging Disney songs in the style of our two original bands. Then me and Cody’s band, Creature Canopy, we did a set of Disney songs, Will and Chris’s band—Compass & Cavern—did another half hour of Disney songs, and then we merged both bands together to do a big extravaganza of all the big classic ones , like Circle of Life, all the hits from our childhood. The venue was sold out, it was at Moe’s Barbecue and they literally ran out of food because people were buying so much. It was a really fun night; it was hot, really hot, we were all very sweaty at the end of it, but we just had a blast and we thought, “Hey, we should just keep this going because people love that Disney.”
That’s why we love doing it so much, because we get to relive our childhood every single time we get together and play. -Joe
Cody: Yeah, and I think ‘cover band’ is a good term for us but also, if anyone listens to our stuff on Spotify—they’re all re-imagined, really, ‘cause they’re so different from the originals. We like to think of ourselves as a cover band that’s also kind of a regular band. The Disney draws people in, and the way we’ve done things kind of keeps ‘em there to see what’s next. It’s just been a really fun project. At the beginning, it took us maybe six weeks to arrange all forty of the songs, ‘cause each of the songs—the forms are crazy, the rhythms are crazy, there’s key changes all over the place…
Will: And they’re, like, two minutes long so you need a set of, like, 20 of them.
SCRUGGS: And I’m sure, based on the nostalgia factor, these aren’t young kids coming to your shows. These are people in their 20’s and 30’s that love this music.
Joe: I would say it’s mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s. You know, we all grew up with Pocahontas playing 24/7 at our houses, so to finally hear that live gets us really excited. That’s why we love doing it so much, because we get to relive our childhood every single time we get together and play.
Cody: And I think, most of the fans in the millennial age group for sure, and then the kids who come are usually kids of that age group and they’ve brought them along with them and then we make sure there’s enough Moana, Coco, and stuff in it, and Frozen, so they get into it, too.
Will: And I also have to say, a lot of my students come to the shows, and they love it, and also my parents come to the shows, and they love it, so I really do think every age enjoys Disney music.
SCRUGGS: As far as live performances go, the pandemic has obviously affected your performances. How have you guys had to adapt or rely on social media because of COVID-19?
Will: Well, yeah, we had a couple cancelled shows. So yeah, it was unfortunate, obviously, for everyone. We were lucky enough that we had already recorded our second EP, which is coming out in about a month, so we had just finished up editing and mixing that and have been kinda promoting that. So we got to, luckily, got to do something—we had a project we could work on in our own homes. Besides that, we’re really thankful for this, this is a big deal for us, getting to focus on this and getting votes, have something to look forward to. Just trying to do what we can without meeting up and playing music.
SCRUGGS: You guys obviously love to pay tribute to these films, is there a certain movie that resonates with you the most?
Joe: For me, growing up, Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite Disney film, and just all those Renaissance films: Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, those four always do it for me. I can watch those anytime and still get the exact same feeling I had as a kid watching ‘em.
Will: Yeah. I agree. I also love Mulan. That one always sticks out to me.
Cody: My favorite is Mulan, too.
I’ve never heard Mulan as the favorite, so this is really refreshing.
Cody: Well it’s actually because—well, for me at least, and maybe as a band, too, the ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ is just always my favorite song in any Disney movie, so that really got me into it. I remember watching with my younger cousins growing up, and they would get psyched, and they would get dressed up, and do dances along to—I don’t know, there’s a lot of personal memories with that one.
Joe: I thought it was just because you guys are big Eddie Murphy fans.
Cody: [Laughter] I think for a lot of us—and you guys can weigh in on this, too—it’s a lot about the music, for each movie, that makes it our favorites.
Will: Yeah, everything that Joe listed, the Renaissance—is that what it is, Joe?
Joe: Yeah, they often refer to it as the Disney Renaissance films.
Will: Yeah. Really for me, it comes down to Alan Menken, who’s just a legendary Disney composer that wrote pretty much every song that everyone loves. Anything he has his name on, I love. That whole era is the best.
Gather ‘round the kids, gather round the adults, it’s gonna be a good time for everybody. If you like Disney and you like those nostalgic memories, it’s gonna be a good time. -Joe
SCRUGGS: Well, we’re excited to have you for Taste of Fort Collins’ virtual show, but what would you like the Fort Collins audience to know before you hit the virtual stage?
Cody: First of all, we’re gonna—we asked and we got permission, we’re gonna perform a medley, since we only get about ten minutes, so we’re gonna try to jam-pack as many favorites into ten minutes as possible.
Joe: Yeah, it’s gonna be family friendly, so gather ‘round the kids, gather round the adults, it’s gonna be a good time for everybody. If you like Disney and you like those nostalgic memories, it’s gonna be a good time.
Will: Yeah. And I guess I’d also add that we have our second EP coming out, should be the week before the performance, and we already have one EP out on Spotify/Apple Music right now, so if people want to get familiar with how we interpret these songs, they can go listen and be ready.
SCRUGGS: Last question, and just a little fun one to end on—can you pick a Disney princess that best describes each member of your band?
Will: That’s fantastic. [Laughs] I don’t know, though!
Joe: I’d say Chris is a lot like Jasmine. He’s very self-determined and he don’t need no man.
Will: That’s true.
Joe: I’d say Will is a lot like Anna from Frozen. Self-determined. He also don’t need no man.
Cody: He cares about the details.
Will: Has magical powers, etc. etc.
Joe: You’d [Cody] be Belle, ‘cause you’re just so good at everything. Putting on many hats.
Will: Bookish, absolutely.
Cody: That’s weirdly what I was going to say, what I was going to pick for myself.
Will: Maybe Colin’s Mulan, cause he works out a lot?
Cody: He is the most physically fit.
Will: He’s the warrior.
Cody: So, I guess, by the lyrics, he’s actually Gaston.
Joe: I mean, he is roughly the size of a barge.
Will: Wait, who’s Joe?
SCRUGGS: Sorry, did we forget about Joe?
Joe: Everyone forgets about me. [Laughs]
Will: Who’s the most forgettable princess?
Cody: It’s hard to think about because in our set, he’s the most dramatic, theatrical one, so he has all the villain songs.
Will: Ah, dude, he’s gotta be Ariel, though.
Cody: I was thinking Ariel, because of—yeah—agree, the high—the voice importance.
Joe: Yeah, I’m sixteen, I’m not a kid anymore, dad. That’s my favorite line from that movie.