Punks on a Play Date 

Frontman of Bouncing Souls Makes a Kids Album

Shanti Wintergate and Greg Attonito know the key to a lasting relationship: creative collaboration.

Andrew Crisp

Shanti Wintergate and Greg Attonito know the key to a lasting relationship: creative collaboration.

Just outside of McCall, a remote cabin sits on four acres overlooking the vast forests. Next to the home rests a guest house and an old barn, which recently underwent a major renovation.

"At one point, we were taking care of retired race horses," said Shanti Wintergate, whose parents built the cabin when she was a teenager. "Seeing these horses come out of the trailer, they wouldn't even know how to walk on uneven ground."

Over the years, the Wintergates had many horses. But one in particular had a lasting influence on the peaceful mountain retreat. When a beloved horse named Puloma passed away recently, Wintergate and her husband, Greg Attonito, decided to convert the barn into a recording studio. The couple named the studio Puloma Studios in its honor.

"The horse lives on through the music," Wintergate said.

But the music that often pours from Puloma Studios into the crisp mountain air doesn't invoke images of galloping mares. Rather, it inspires sweaty dudes to crash into each other amid a sea of fist pumps. Attonito's band, The Bouncing Souls, has been making pop punk since 1989 and has sold more than 20 million records worldwide.

The band has released most of its albums on its own label, Chunksaah Records, but for the new album, Comet, the group signed with Rise Records and producer Bill Stevenson.

"It took 10 days to record," Attonito said. "Just like an old-school Bouncing Souls record."

For Comet, band members holed themselves up in Fort Collins, Colo., to record the album and were all pleased with the outcome.

"It has an energy that was in their earlier records and has that emergency and urgency of youth," Attonito said. "The same sense of urgency that is in these classic recordings that we love."

The new-old direction paid off. After it dropped June 12, the album landed at No. 110 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Attonito first met Wintergate in 1997. Both had embarked to India at the same time, Wintergate as a recent high school grad and the band to meet with a spiritual teacher.

"All of them were like brothers almost immediately," she remembered. "So we kept in touch."

Shortly after, Attonito and Wintergate were both living in Los Angeles and crossed paths again. Attonito said one night they were standing outside the Capitol Records building and he just knew she was the one.

"It was like fireworks, for me, anyway," he said.

Shortly after that night, Wintergate started receiving drawings from Attonito in the mail.

"When he was first making it known that he liked me, he would draw me pictures from the road," she remembered. "That was almost 15 years ago."

Years later, and still madly in love, Attonito decided to put his illustration skills to use once again. In 2007, the couple released an illustrated children's book, I Went For a Walk. Wintergate wrote the story, which follows an unnamed narrator through a journey of self-discovery while on a search for food. He travels all over the world and into space, as well as two mysterious worlds. One of the worlds tries to feed him with music and the other tries to feed him with "moments which are abundantly good." Attonito did all the drawings for the book.

"Six to nine months a year, I am on tour," Attonito said. "So I would bring it on the road and when I had the time, I would draw. Shanti would choose the pieces when I came home."

The book consists of 40 whimsical illustrations and took about five years to complete.

"Our idea for doing kids music started then and it's just coming out now," Attonito said.

The couple is also making original children's music under the moniker Play Date. In their home studio, a white board sits on a desk scrawled with the track listing from Play Date's first album, Imagination, which comes out Tuesday, Oct. 9, on Fun Fun Records.

"It's nice having all the music stuff in one space where you can just walk through the door and start being creative," said Attonito.

The project makes fun, upbeat music that is also educational. Some song titles include "Days of the Week," "Flat Stanley," "The Number Song" and the title track, "Imagination," which has lyrics such as: "We could climb a tree or two / kick off our shoes / brush off those blues / I hear the sun might miss us / if we don't send him kisses."

Play Date has performed at some of the same festivals as the Bouncing Souls, and since many of the group's early fans now have their own kids, it has been an easy transition to play for a new generation.

Imagination is the only album that has been recorded in Puloma Studios thus far, but it's not outside the realm of possibility to record a Bouncing Souls album there in the future, or at least parts of one.

While Attonito's band is constantly on tour, especially following the release of a new record, both he and Wintergate say they're happiest staying at home.

"The lack of accessibility here is what keeps its mountain-town vibe," Attonito said. "I don't want that energy to change."

"Being able to make some toast ... can be magic," he added.

Though Attonito and Wintergate don't have kids of their own, they say they hope to expand on their children's efforts. The next Play Date project will include turning each song on an album into its own mini-book.

"We have three nephews and a niece from our siblings," said Wintergate. "Although so many of our friends have kids now, we are Auntie Shanti and Uncle Greg to many more nieces and nephews."

Attonito is preparing to leave the country with the Bouncing Souls in August, a tour Wintergate will be joining him on. The couple plans to continue making music for America's youth, of all ages.

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