DON’T SIT UNDER THE POO TREE
Why ever not, you ask?
It seems as good a place to sit as any…
The POO TREE song came about when I was talking to my flatmate about a particular tree in Taranaki St, Wellington, where birds choose to roost of an evening. Forsaking all other trees, this and only this tree has a white poo stained circle underneath, and, although nice and chirpy, it’s worth avoiding if you don’t want to cop it on the head. “Oh,” he said. “You mean the Poo Tree.”
I was astounded because I had no idea others shared this descriptive title.
Kids particularly like this song. I would like to think it’s because of the innate musicality, country swing and quality of singing, but it is mainly because the word Poo features in every chorus. There are even sound effects.
The first line gives away the irreverent tone:
“You can fart in a jar, you can spit at a star, but don’t sit under the Poo Tree…”
In a piece of casting brilliance, Shannon Williams (aka Thrill Collins) came and recorded the voice of Granny up in my little tree house studio, and the song came to life.
DON’T SIT UNDER THE POO TREE was the obvious choice when thinking of an animated music clip for the CIRCUS OF FLEAS album. Every mother, uncle and grandmother reported it was the hit song…and the weary way they said it told me that it had been on high rotate on the latest long car trip.
I always pictured a hillbilly family band playing the song on their ramshackle porch, along with the animals who lived unhealthily close to them. Then my friend reported that her indomitable mother, aged 82, had painted the roof of her Kelburn house the previous summer bylashing herself to the chimney with rope. That led to the idea of Granny doing all the physical work around the place, while the rest of her good for nothing family whiled away the day strumming and singing.
Stephen Templer drew the hillbilly family in a cartoon style using ink and brush, and false background colours (browns and purple) so the characters stand out. The undoubted star of the show is workaholic Granny, with her saggy little breasts tucked under her belt as she single handedly paints the house, pumps water from the well, ploughs the fields (with a chicken), and chops firewood.
Stephen was keen to bring in Ross Payne as the animator…they share a studio in Wellington (Honey Badgers, in Victoria St). Ross is an animator by trade, and is particularly fond of the old fashioned 2D Warner Brothers technique involving hand drawing each image…which is fine when you have a whole studio on a good wage but very time consuming when it’s just oneperson working at night under a naked bulb. So yes, it took a while, but Ross is a craftsman, the quality of movement is seamless, and Ross added lots of humour and charm to the story.
Sorry to tease, but we can’t show the clip to you just yet… we recently made the NZ International Film festival deadline with just seconds to go, and are sworn to secrecy until it debuts around the country (July/August). The animation programmer (Malcolm Turner) liked POO TREE so much that he wants toscreen it at the Melbourne and London film festivals.
He gave us some good advice…never mind the word‘poo’, the childish sound effects, the whiff of bestiality or granny’s shrunken breasts. The thing that big American film festivals will object to is the harmless old goatsitting on the porch in the rocking chair…because he’s SMOKING. And that’s the funniest thing of all!
PS: The goat is no longer inhaling