Like Madonna and Prince before him, Andy is a star known by millions by just his first name. Millions of Brits under the age of six, that is, and probably another few million Mums and Dads. For Andy is the man who takes trips back to prehistoric times, who reads toddlers their bedtime story, and who melts the hearts of small people everywhere when he regales them with his knowledge of baby animals. In our house, Andy’s popularity is on a par with Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny. But unlike the latter two entities, we know Andy actually exists. We know we love him, we welcome him into our front room every day as he presents our favourite kids’ TV programmes, and we kinda wish he lived with us.
For those who don’t know (who are you?) Andy, who actually does have a surname (Day) has been a children’s TV presenter for more than ten years. He has hosted spin-off shows and turned his hand to acting. But one dream had so far gone unfulfilled… the dream of being in real life band. Until now, that is.
So when Mummy got an invite to go and watch Andy and his new band, The Odd Socks, there was no way she was going to miss out, and there was no way she would be allowed to leave the house without her two small people. Excitement levels reached fever pitch and squeals of delight filled the air as we got ready to go and see real life Andy. And that was just Mummy…
Andy, whose belief that all children (and adults!) should celebrate their individuality, has fulfilled a lifelong dream to take this message wider by signing a record deal with Universal Music. Joining the likes of Take That, The Killers and Florence + The Machine, Andy and The Odd Socks – the band he created to embrace non-conformity in a fun way – release their debut album at the end of the month.
What was the inspiration behind Andy and the Odd Socks?
Well, I’ve always loved music, and I’ve always wanted to be in a band. So I headed into the studio and wrote an album, and then set about finding fellow actor-musicians, and brilliant characters, who would join the band with me. Th idea of the band stemmed from my love of music, and then every song we wrote had a character who was a little bit different, maybe had a little bit of a struggle, but it was all good in the end, so we decided on the Odd Socks idea.
So what does the name The Odd Socks represent?
It’s all about embracing people’s individuality. Nobody is the same, and we need kids to realise that being different is a good thing. Every child has the right to feel happy with who they are, and not be bullied. I feel very strongly about this and that’s why we joined forces with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, so we can help children who are being bullied, and educate others not to become bullies. We’ve now
Were you bullied at school then?
No, I wasn’t. Of course I had the usual name calling, but nothing serious. But I saw a lot of bullying, and I hated it. My mum is a massive advocate of being fair, and that’s where it all comes from I think. I’ve always hated people being treated unfairly. I don’t like seeing someone being picked on just because they’re smaller, or a bit different. As adults, we see someone slip up and we’re down on them like a ton of bricks. Bullying is learned behaviour and we’re as guilty as anyone. The idea of The Odd Socks is to challenge this, and change it. The message from the charity is All Different, All Equal, and it’s just about accepting that.
What is Odd Sock Day?
That has come about as part of our collaboration with the Anti-Bullying Alliance. We are asking schools to get on board and encourage kids to wear odd socks to school, pay a pound, and the money all goes to the charity. We’re hoping that this can help raise awareness of bullying. At primary school age, I don’t know if you can even call it bullying a lot of the time, but it’s about raising awareness of how your actions can affect someone else. How what you say might upset someone. It’s also about encouraging kids to be more confident in who they are. The love yourself for who you are idea. I believe very strongly that kids should be able to do this.
Is it strange for you that parents are as much fans of you as their children are?
The thing is, I’ve been on kids TV for ten years now, and when kids watch TV, especially young kids, parents watch with them. It’ not like other shows where people like to have a go. Kids love CBeebies and parents do too. I think they often like the fact that we keep the little ones entertained while they can have a cup of tea! People do come up and say hello if they recognise me, but I don’t mind that at all. I’ve always liked to talk to people, I’m pretty much like that anyway. It’s great that people come up and say how much their kids enjoy the shows or the songs. I work for a lovely channel, the people are lovely, I think most people just want to be nice to you.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always loved music, and I loved re-enacting films like Karate Kid and Back to the Future with my brother – we still know all the words! – but I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything specific, like a train driver or an astronaut. I’m sure I did at some point, but I’m not really that sort of person. I don’t have a five year plan. It’s hard enough to think about the here and now sometimes, life is so busy for everyone. I try not to think about the future too much, and it seems to have served me well so far. I just try to do the things I enjoy and I get a lot out of., and I’ve been blessed to be in situations where I’ve been able to do that.
But although it looks fun, you work very hard, don’t you?
I’ve always had a strong work ethic but I know how fortunate I am to be in this position. I’m just lucky I can work hard doing things I enjoy, like playing music, writing, and entertaining people.
And when you’re not playing music, what music do you listen to?
I know it’s a really naff answer, but all kinds. I love Motown and Soul, I like Jason Mraz, and I love a good power ballad! All kinds. I’m really into the Foo Fighters again at the moment. I love the music and the whole ethic around them. I think they’re a fantastic band and they’re great role models. They really inspire me. If you listen to Dave Grohl he’s constantly creating, and that’s really what it’s all about. It’s about creating what you enjoy and other people enjoy. Isn’t that what we all want?
Are you the boy who never wants to grow up?
I think everyone is a child at heart. People might say ‘oh you’re being a kid’ but I think being a kid is not being able to take responsibility, and I can take responsibility for myself and my actions. But engaging with your childlike self, that’s just playing. Some people have the stresses of life on their hands and aren’t lucky enough to be able to that, but I can, and I enjoy it. In this day and age, there’s so much going on, so many stresses, it’s good to take a step back and a deep breath and just try to enjoy yourself. It’s good mentally to be able to take a step back. It sounds a cliché but I think it’s so important to appreciate what you’ve got, not materially but just in life. That’s how I try to live.
- Odd Sock Day will take place on Monday 13 November and continue throughout Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 November).
- Andy and The Odd Socks’ debut album ‘Who Invited This Lot?’ will be released on 24 November on Universal and is available to pre-order here.
- For more information and to watch videos, see www.andyandtheoddsocks.com, follow on social media at @andyoddsocks and search for hashtag #oddsockday