Long live The Cool Kids. The hip-hop lifers Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish have had a huge 2022 – releasing a triptych of albums, Before Shit Got Weird, Baby Oil Staircase, and CHILLOUT. To cap off the year in style, they’re taking their fans to Night School – a special night of food, comedy, and music coming to Chicago’s Thalia Hall on Saturday, September 24.
Night School represents the culmination of everything these hip-hop trendsetters have been involved in over the last 15 years. The entire event is divided into three periods – First Period: a dinner curated by Chuck Inglish; followed by Second Period: a LIVE Mystery School Podcast; and finishes with Third Period: a performance from The Cool Kids & Friends. Grab your tickets here
We recently talked with Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks about their music, their creative passions, and the genesis of Night School for this installment of That’s 5.
Where did the idea of Night School come from?
Chuck Inglish (CH): When we release an album – the way we release it, how it’s made – we’re just attracted to always doing things that would impress us or impress the child in us or the music fan in us. With shows finally coming back post-COVID, everything has gone up in price, but nothing has really returned in value. So we were thinking of the best way we could rebrand as the duo that we are – but always start with the music – and offer an experience that encompasses all we’ve been creating over the last 5 or 6 years – from cooking to streaming and media, and design and fashionwise. We want people to come away from our show saying, “Yo, I’d do that again. I’m going to tell my friends about that. That felt good.”
The Night School format feels familiar, but also brand new. Were there any models or inspo you all looked to when putting this together?
CH: You almost said it straight on, and that’s what the Cool Kids have been like – feels familiar, but it’s something that’s super new. That’s what we’ve been doing for almost 15 years. So it’s like, let’s not stop now. There’s not that much of an underground anymore; there’s not that much for people to even discover anymore – especially music. They made it so lazy for everybody that shit just comes to them. So it would have to be on us to find the people that are actually looking for us by building something that is kind of familiar and that’s what attracts you to it, but you’ve never seen it.
My whole inspiration behind that was a comedy experience. People who pay 200, $300 to go watch stand up, and I always wondered why that was the case, but it’s like, it’s very inviting, it’s very communal. You get to sit down, you get to have breaks. There might be a DJ in between, so if you’ve been to one, you know they have a high upside. So I was like, why don’t we try that in music?
Sir Michael Rocks (SMR): And from my experience too, what really made this idea familiar to me was the anime conventions, Comic Con, and stuff like that, because they would have obviously merch and vendors. And there’s food, there are live music acts playing, they’re having characters from some popular shows do panels, and they’re doing speaking engagements. You can meet some of the stars from some of your favorite shows, favorite animes, or comics. They’re also selling rare clothing and merchandise there.
It was an all-encompassing kind of experience that I wished for myself, too. I was like, man, I wish that we could have shows or events like this where it’s not just the actual live show, but there’s the world surrounding this thing that everybody is in on. Everybody is in on this same experience. Everybody knows what they’re coming there for and it’s just an environment that really breeds fun.
By including these other passions – Chuck your cooking, and Mikey your new media empire – in your concert, is there any worry that you’re moving too far away from your traditional Cool Kids persona and audience?
SMR: Oh no, man, I think with us, the more that people know us and the more sides of us that they can see, the better. That works a lot better for us. I know with some artists, it’s probably better for them to hide behind a shield or hide behind their persona. Especially being a rapper, sometimes it’s better for them to hide behind that and let the character do the talking. But with us, you like us more when you know us more because we don’t force ourselves on you ever. We have never been a group to be spoon-fed to you like that. If you found us, you found us through either positive word of mouth or you stumbled upon us in some way, and we made a good impression on you.
I think that this event will give us the opportunity to connect with the people that are interested in us in that way – through music – and build more of that close-knit family. Because I think that all in all, it’ll be a lot more impactful for us to build on a base of people that are genuinely family and friends with us, and interested in us, as opposed to trying to play the algorithm crap shoot right now. And I think that these types of events that we’re throwing will be a perfect opportunity for people to really see that emotion and connect with us in an authentic way.
We’ve already talked about the Night School experience for the audience, but what are you both hoping to take away from this new concert format?
CH: It’s to find the people. It’s to find them and let them know that this is the store that’s opening now. Y’all get to be the first customers. Because if we are able to sell this idea as a template, now we’re working with corporations and brands with our leverage. This is our idea – we’re giving them an opportunity to see our idea and buy into it. We can do Night Schools every year instead of tours. Every time we put out an album, let’s prepare for another Night School, and people will get excited about that. So it’s really a hard launch of what the Cool Kids brand is going forward.
How have you been able to transition to these new creative pursuits?
CH: Personality in general. I’m an artist first. Music is one of my art mediums. We’re both artists. We’ve been creating since the day we met. So it’s using the brand we built to show off more of our skills. We’ve always wanted to do this. We want to be multimedia giants, but we’re creating our own world for it. We don’t want nobody to give it to us, because if we create it on our own, then we’re giving the people the opportunity to walk through and experience it how we want it experienced – and now they’re our support system. We don’t got to go to a bank. We don’t got to go to a label. We literally just send a message out to the people that we’ve collected through these Night Schools. And now we don’t have to worry about shit no more. We can just keep on creating the way we want to.
Finally, why did you want to put out your own brand of hot sauce?
CH: We can collab with anybody, like how Eddie Bauer or Supreme does. The Cool Kids’ brand, as soon as you bring it to us, we going to flip it the way we would do it. So we want to start the narrative that every single thing you experience, we got a version of it. Cookware, furniture, bicycle tires, Hot Wheels cars, whatever. We might do a checkerboard; we might come up with a barbecue kit with ketchup and mustard. Everything is possible.
I’ve been making sauces. This is them reaching out and asking because they were influenced by the album. I had a couple ideas of what a three-pack of a hot sauce flavor should have been, and we designed the boxes. We offered a nice cool hot sauce. We got Hot Wheels, Mikey’s clothing line, dropping all at the same time. I got a recipe book with the hot sauce. We’re just flooding the Night School experience, making people happy they came out. We’re giving people a truly amazing experience. We want to really be in your world, hot sauce and all.
Make sure and purchase your tickets for The Cool Kids Present Night School at Thalia Hall in Chicago here.