If you were a kid in the 1980s and you were really lucky, you might have spent your birthday at Showbiz Pizza. For those too young to remember, Showbiz was kinda like Chuck E. Cheese — only much, much cooler. The stars at the pizza chain were the animals designed by animatronics wizard Aaron Fechter, master of robotics and instinctive kindler of childhood imagination. The Rock-afire Explosion, the all-animal band he created for Showbiz Pizza, was astonishingly lifelike: each “member” of the group came with a distinctive personality, a set of realistic facial expressions, and cartoonish, outsized electrical charisma. The animatronic outfit has long since passed into legend, but pop-rock duo WHOAA has brought them back in their playful, smart, nostalgic clip for their new single “Saturday Fun.”
It’s a perfect fit. Showbiz Pizza was an ’80s fixture, and WHOAA is, in the most wonderful way, an act out of time. Vocalists Ashley “Ring” and Dolla “Young Axlrose” have stepped straight out of the dayglo decade. Their fashions, attitude, lyrics, and sound are all indebted to the dazzling, carefree pop of the 1980s. “Saturday Fun” is quintessential WHOAA: gleaming synthesizers, rubbery bass, propulsive, danceable beats perfect for prom, and wry but impassioned performances from the two stars. Ring and Dolla crave the hedonistic release of the weekend but find themselves watching the clock at grueling jobs; they count down the days until they’re released from corporate servitude and celebrate Saturday when it arrives with the party-hungriness that fans have come to expect from the pair.
“Saturday Fun” serves as the first release from their upcoming LP “The Day It All Changed”. The track follows EPs Broke Hearts Avenue (2018) and The Journey (2019), which firmly established the WHOAA sound and retro chic. They also introduced Ring and Dolla as singers with personality to burn — fully-fledged pop characters with plenty to say and plenty of sharp words for those who’d stand in the way of their fun and fulfillment. In Aaron Fechter, they’ve recognized a fellow traveler: a born mischief-maker who was determined to do things his way. The “Saturday Fun” clip reintroduces viewers to the Rock-afire animals and makes the case that Fechter was far ahead of his time. He had the soul of a puppeteer and the smarts of a robotics designer, and his creation had genuine, if artificial, chemistry. Dolla and Ring are right at home with the animals since they’re impossibly expressive, too. On a dusty soundstage reclaimed from an era long ago, they sing right alongside the Rock-afire Explosion and provide a vibrant reminder of an enduring sound.
What is the story behind WHOAA’s formation as a duo? How did you both collectively decide to work together and pursue a career in music?
Looking back I always relate it to things happen in life like dominos right?
One event happens and it leads to the next.
We both were coming out of totally different situations in our careers and were introduced by a mutual music friend. Time went on and we did some music together and we were like WHOAA (literally lol) Hey we should be the next Black Eyed Peas haha! Both of us have very strong music backgrounds and similar stories within our pursuits. It seems like whatever worked out or didn’t work, that’s what led us to cross paths and well here we are now !!
How have both of your individual musical tastes and influences impacted WHOAA’s creations as a duo?
We both have very similar tastes and music and we both love and are completely inspired by the ’80s… I mean hair, fashion, the music what isn’t to love right? Especially when you did not live or experience that era! So from Rock, RNB, Funk and Pop music we both just love it all.
What was the process of creating the concept for “Saturday Fun”? Was there a moment or conversation that sparked the idea for the song’s message and music video?
I can’t say there was a specific aha moment as far as brainstorming concept. We have a deep connection musically with the music producer who made the track; Earegula. So it seems whenever he sends us music to write to that, of course, is in our lane it seems that the lyrics are as you would say truly god sent..the lyrics just come, the message just flows… it is all a very genuine almost out-of-body experience.
“This ain’t my life, this is just a drag, I can’t imagine real life if this is what they call real life” are such insightful lyrics. How did you anticipate listeners would react to the “Saturday Fun’s” message? Has the response so far been what you both expected?
The Lyrics “this ain’t my life, this is just a drag, I can’t imagine real life, if this , is what they call real life”, definitely have a lasting message- of not settling for the status quo, never being too comfortable where you are at in life, when you are pursuing your goals and dreams, don’t let your current situations or placement in life, dim your light! Or deter you from your path, and passion for something more.
We wrote “Saturday Fun” either on the way to our 9 to 5 job (Ashley Ring) or at the actual job “clocking in” (DoLLA), at a time when we felt like, we were not going to let our current job, allow us to remain complacent, and not go after our musical career. Being that every lyric of the song was a personal reflection of what we were currently going through, we hoped that the song would impact our relate to our listeners, and find comfort in knowing that, they can pursue their dreams, even in the midst of working 9 to 5 at your current job, or whatever that might be.
Can you explain the choice and process behind working with 80’s animatronic pioneer Aaron Fechter? Why was it important to incorporate that nostalgic sound?
When we were brainstorming the video treatment for Saturday Fun at first we were like ok cool.. an office video right?! Then we were like no…. wait…. we can’t do that we just can’t. OH MY GOODNESS! Do you remember the animatronic band? We need them, it NEEDS to be that !!! So we did our research and came across the genius known as Aaron Fechter !!! Let me just say this even when things don’t seem possible follow through because you never know what could become of something. This is the message with Saturday Fun even though things get rough… you feel down….you may not see a light at the end of the tunnel there is always that “Saturday”… there is always light behind the pain and the agony you may be experiencing. Always follow through, always follow your dreams! Never give up, that is a heavy message, right? This is why we exactly needed Rock-afire in this video, to create that juxtaposition. To create this childlike, dream-like state within a message that is sugar-coated with the sweet melodies of your favorite 80’s style bop.
How do you both hope fans feel after listening to this track? Is there a specific message you’d like them to leave with? Also, are there any anticipated future projects from WHOAA that they should look out for?
After listening to Saturday Fun we just want you to feel good, we want you to have a smile on your face. We want people to feel like they can do whatever they set their minds and heart to. You may have days that are not fun but always find your “Saturday” and always find that happy place within it all. We also want people to dance you know… Dance any troubles away :)-
The album which contains Saturday Fun, The Day It All Changed is almost finished and we cannot wait to share that with the world! We spent a lot of time crafting the album, it is ALMOST there.