ENTERTAINMENT

'Beat Bugs': Kids Telly Rocks Out With Eddie Vedder, James Corden

Move over Nemo.

19/07/2016 12:03 PM AEST | Updated July 24, 2016 20:58
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Beat Bugs airs July 25 on Channel 7 TWO.

Josh Wakely, the Aussie creator behind Netflix's new animated children's show, "Beat Bugs", thought he was dying the night before he signed an agreement which would give him global rights to the Beatles catalog.

"I woke up in the middle of night and said to my wife 'I think I've been shot,'" Wakely told The Huffington Post Australia.

"She said 'you definitely haven't been' but the intense pain meant we immediately rushed to hospital."

The diagnosis? A kidney stone.

The doctors wanted to operate right away but he refused.

"I told them, 'I have to go and sign these rights -- I've worked for three years on this -- I'm going to have the rights to the Beatles'", Wakely said.

By this point, Wakely admits everybody in the hospital room bar his wife thought the pain had sent him officially crazy. Which was lucky, because his wife would be the one to co-sign the agreement on his behalf the following morning.

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Josh Wakely, the Aussie creator of Netflix Original Series, Beat Bugs.

Doused in painkillers the next afternoon, Wakely would inscribe his name alongside his wife's -- cementing what he describes as his "lifelong mission" to reinvent some of "arguably the best melodies of all time" in a completely different format -- for a new generation.

"Beat Bugs" is a Netflix Original show that hits Australian screens on Monday.

It takes the iconic melodies of John, Paul, George and Ringo and uses the famous lyrics to give birth to new stories with each song covered by the likes of Eddie Kedder, Pink, James Corden and Sia.

"All You Need Is Love -- I was passionate about bringing this idea to kids. It's so simple and elegant in what it says that it says so much more," Wakely said.

This all-encompassing message is threaded through the series as five friends -- Jay, Kumi, Crick, Buzz and Walter -- band together to explore and learn in an overgrown suburban backyard, which to them is their entire world.

"It's about friendship and ambition. Courage can take you places -- but also, you can get by with a little help from your friends," Wakely said.

In a way, this project was something Wakely has been preparing for since childhood.

One of four children, Wakely grew up in the working class, coastal city of Newcastle.

I remember as a young kid sitting in the car wondering, 'who is Eleanor Rigby' or my mum singing the melody of 'Getting Better' when I was sick. Or even wondering what it would be like to be underwater in the yellow submarine.

"The television was often broken in our house and it wasn't something that mum thought to get around to fixing, but we would listen to music all the time."

"I remember as a young kid sitting in the car wondering, 'who is Eleanor Rigby' or my mum singing the melody of 'Getting Better' when I was sick. Or even wondering what it would be like to be underwater in the yellow submarine."

"Turns out that I was doing a lot preparation for my adult job -- it was time well spent," Wakely said.

Whether daydreams of yellow submarines sent Wakely on the path to meeting one of his own idols, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, is uncertain, but what followed was the stuff of Hollywood dreams.

"I hand wrote Eddie a letter, telling him his music meant a lot to me and that I'd love him to bring his craft to the song," Wakely said.

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Kumi is a seven-year-old ladybug with a vivid imagination and zest for life.

What came next was a phone call from Vedder himself, telling Wakely he loved the idea.

"He has children himself and he said he wished he was watching this. He got what it was -- to put the very best songs and the amazing stories that live within the songs in front of children."

A few days later, Vedder recorded "Magical Mystery Tour."

In the week that followed, Wakely would arrive in his office to be greeted by his assistant who would tell him "Pink's manager has called" and "James Corden is on board -- he's going to record tomorrow."

Silverchair's Daniel Johns was enlisted as musical director (a childhood friend of Wakely's) and the job of creating fresh music, not only filled with energy but appropriate for children was perhaps made a little sweeter when Wakely's "wishlist" of artists actually eventuated.

I used to have a little whiteboard in my Los Angeles office that said 'Sia for Blackbird' and 'Eddie Vedder for Magical Mystery Tour'.

"I used to have a little whiteboard in my Los Angeles office that said 'Sia for Blackbird' and 'Eddie Vedder for Magical Mystery Tour,'" Wakely said.

Wakely's biggest critic though?

His three-year-old son, Ethan who was born during the time he was trying to secure the Beatles' rights.

"He's allowed to watch one hour of TV in the morning and I'm almost always woken up by him hitting me with a light saber and saying 'Beat Bugs please'," Wakely said.

It's probably after Wakely has stayed up all night working on the show, but he admits he's "happy to watch more of it."

"There's some really great children's entertainment out there but there's also some terrible stuff."

"In a way my son made me even more passionate about the project because I wanted to make sure that he had the very best stuff in front of him," Wakely said.

Beat Bugs will commence on Channel 7TWO on July 25 and Netflix for the ROW early August.

The Beat Bugs soundtrack will be out globally via Republic Records/Universal Music early August.

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