All posts by Brian

Interview: Shanti Wintergate & Gregory Attonito

It is not often you hear about couple who happen to both be musicians/artist create a book together. I Went For A Walk is a children’s story book full of great illustrations by one of the cutest couples ever, Shanti Wintergate and Bouncing Souls lead singer Gregory Attonito. The book digs deep into your imagination and takes you on a wild journey for both kids and adults of all ages.

Recently I was able to interview the punk rock couple about the book via email and they were more than happy to reply to me. I asked a few questions pertaining to the book as well as personal life inquiries.

Shanti & Greg
Shanti & Greg

Musicians have done a lot of projects on the side but writing children’s books is not something you hear about a lot. Did you two ever think that you would be creating a children’s book?

Greg: I don’t think we talked about it at all before Shanti wrote the story but we always enjoy exploring creative things together. It was just a matter of what might take off for us. We make short films, have comedy skit ideas and write songs together all the time.

I am curious as Google only allows me to find so much — do you guys have children of your own? How long have the two of you been married?

Greg: We have been married for six years and we have no children.

I Went For A Walk is a great story that intrigues the imagination. Is this story about anyone in particular?

Greg: That’s a good question! In my perception the story is about all of us and it’s for all of us. You, the reader, are on the journey as you turn the pages of the book.

Do you guys have certain parts of the book that you like the most?

Greg: The part where the character is picked up in a cloud of dust and ends up shrinking down to the size of a tiny little atom. From this vantage point we see another amazing universe to explore just inside the space of a tiny little atom. I love the way that part shifts my perception and the way I see the world. It helps me remember there is so much that makes up the tiniest little thing.

Shanti: I love so many parts of the book but I think my favorite is waking up from what might be a dream and pancakes are waiting for you! Maybe it’s just because I’m really hungry right now.

Shanti, when you wrote the first bit of this story did you anticipate it turning into a children’s book? Did it take very long for the entire story to be written?

Shanti: As soon as the first few lines were written, some part of me knew it was going to turn into something more. Thinking back now, after those first few lines were written I remember looking at them and thinking, “This would be a fun children’s book!” It only took a few more weeks for the story to be “mostly” completed. I say “mostly” because I continued making slight adjustments throughout and up until the project was sent to press.

Greg, can you tell me how you came up with some of the illustrations for the book? I heard you like to draw a lot on the road. What did you use to draw them? Were the illustrations created before the novel or after Shanti told you she was writing the book?

Greg: Shanti wrote the story first and I brought it with me on tour, along with a sketchpad and a bag full of paint pens. I used paint pens and markers but mostly paint pens because I love the bright colors and the convenience of them. Some visual pictures came into my mind and translated to the page very easily and some did not. There are a lot of pages of art that did not make the book. Developing a look and a style to the book took a lot of trial and error for me. I’ve learned so much.

Your slogan is “Creating Something From Nothing Since 1997.” Can you tell me why you came up with this slogan?

Greg: Shanti and I have known each other since ’97 so you could say that was the start of our creative collaboration together. We came up with the slogan to go with our company name “Hollywood Jersey.” It can be pretty fun to see one of your ideas come to life and bring some positive energy into the world. We are celebrating and exercising our ability to manifest love and all the rad stuff that comes with it. We created this book by using our love and our minds, two things that aren’t necessarily tangible — essentially “nothing”

Making something from nothing is definitely our favorite pastime.

On average how much time do the two of you get to spend together during the year?

Greg: In the past six years the Bouncing Souls have been on tour for six to ten months out of every year, give or take. There has been some pretty long stretches of time apart. Last year I was away from home for 250 days. Long time.

You have been touring together a lot in support of the book. How are the readings going? To my understanding Shanti reads while Greg plays acoustic music. Is that correct?

Greg: The readings have been a blast. The kindergarten kids are so much fun because they have no social filters. They just say what they are thinking and share their feelings. We have had some amazing off the wall comments during our readings. For example: Shanti asked a class if they understood what the future is. One of the responses was, “It’s where cars fly.” I love that. Shanti and I have been trading off with the reading but she ends up reading most of the story. We both stop to talk to the kids and ask them questions during the reading. The music comes after the reading and we both play acoustic guitars and sing new children’s songs that we’ve written.

When was the last time the two of you toured together? I imagine that this tour is a lot less stressful than that of a punk rock tour.

Greg: Shanti was on the Warped tour for a month in 2006. I was on with the Souls so it was great to be together for that time. I even had the opportunity to play guitar in her band. Yes it is less stressful than a punk rock tour. It’s a lot simpler.

Have you two ever thought of putting out an album together? How about a children’s album?

Greg: Yes! We have loads of ideas for all kinds of music! We have a handful of children’s songs that we will probably start recording in the next few months. Everybody who heard the songs on our tour wanted to know where to get the CD, so we better get busy. We have a great numbers song!

What plans do the two of you have once you are finished touring? Can we expect to see another adventure by the both of you?

Greg: Yes. We a have a few more book ideas already and we want to start printing up bilingual versions of I Went For A Walk. There is always another adventure around the corner.

You two seem to have a lot of love and happiness in your relationship. Any tips for the rest of us?

Greg: Well you have to like being together. It sounds kind of silly but I don’t know if some couples do sometimes. Honest communication about everything! We always have to look into ourselves and be honest about what we really want out of a situation and go from there. Without that real honesty issues will arise. Through love and honest communication we can all achieve things that seem really difficult and maybe even have a good time with each other along the way.

Shanti: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh and of course… I’m always right! Wait, I will add one more thing — don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is hard no matter how you slice it, so appreciate what’s good about living, loving and laughing.

I Went For A Walk is available for purchase on their Myspace page. You can also check it out now via a narrated video of the book: