By Luke Voogt
With a YouTube channel approaching a billion views and 1.3 million subscribers, kids’ band the Mik Maks could break a live-streaming record at Geelong Arts Centre.
The Geelong band’s channel has had more than 853 million views to date, according to guitarist Alan ‘Al’ McInnes.
“In about a month and a half we should reach over a billion – it really has taken off, especially over past 12 months,” the Marshall father-of-three said.
Tens of thousands tuned into Taylor Henderson’s recent live-stream concert at Geelong Arts Centre, but the Mik Maks might get even more watching with their international following.
“We have a big audience in the US, the UK and parts of Asia, but we also have a fantastic Geelong supporter base that have supported us through thick and thin.
“Without them we wouldn’t exist.”
The views have also gone up amid the COVID-19 pandemic with the band now considering a Netflix deal, according to Al.
“It’s definitely a different world for kids and how they consume content,” he said.
Al and brothers Joel, Dean and Brian grew up in a vastly different world “isolated” on a farm in the small town of Wickliffe, he said.
The only children’s shows they watched were Sesame Street and Play School, he said.
“Most of our days were spent out on the farm.”
The Mik Maks will recreate that childhood magic of building billy carts from old prams and catching yabbies in their live-streamed show Working on Farm.
The free online concert comes to Geelong Arts Centre at 1pm on June 27.
“A lot of kids don’t get that experience growing up on a farm and if we can tell that story, it takes them to a magical wonderland,” Al said.
But an empty theatre would be very different to playing in front of thousands of screaming kids in one of their, on average, 150 shows a year, Al said.
“Like any musician, we feed off the reactions of the audience.
“Kids will give you an honest opinion of what they’re feeling during a show pretty quickly. If they’re not enjoying something, they get distracted quite easily.”
But Drums the panda was ready to smash out new solos to keep the kids entertained, Al said.
The enigmatic bamboo-loving drummer also designed the Mik Maks’ backdrops and online animation, he said.
“He’s a bit of a mystery but he’s an incredibly talented panda.”
Al hoped to give a shout-out to everyone who logged onto the live-stream, he said.
“But if there’s 10,000 kids on there it might be a little bit difficult.”
The Mik Maks grew out of a single song on a family camping trip after the brothers moved to Geelong, Al remembered.
The brothers had long been into music and Al played in local cover band Good Faces for Radio while working as a teacher.
Joel wrote a song when the brothers took their families to Port Fairy and all “the kids loved it”, Al said.
They first played as the Mik Maks at Anglesea Music Festival and their following grew from there.
Tragically, they lost their brother Dean in 2018 to complications from a blood condition.
“I’d never lost anyone close to me,” Al said.
“It took a lot of courage getting back into production knowing that his voice isn’t going to be there.”
But now Al thinks of ‘Deano’s’ work with the band as an everlasting tribute to his brother.
“I still look at his face every day in the CDs we’ve got out and hear his voice through all the recording that we’ve done.”
For information: geelongartscentre.org.au.