This Band of Puppets Will Rock Your Socks Off

Chadwick Smith’s love for puppets started at a young age. As he got better at puppeteering, he started making his own puppets by hand — and eventually got recruited for the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a rock band. And not just any band. Fragile Rock is made up of musicians and puppeteers that bring their puppets to life with music.

Chadwick shares, “I’m a gray-haired, balding man that plays with puppets. But you know what? It makes people happy, makes people smile, and that makes me happy.”

Video Transcript

(Puppet band Fragile Rock on stage)

Lead Singer of Fragile Rock: We’re Fragile Rock. Thank you very much.

(Kyle, the puppet guitarist being interviewed)

Kyle: I saw an ad in the paper that said, “Guitarist needed. But it doesn’t really matter what you are or who you are. Just a guitar — really, we just need a guitar.”

(Chadwick being interviewed)

Chadwick: I had my first puppet when I was probably four or five years old. My parents, they told me that they would get creeped out because I got so good at it, even at a very young age. And then 2007, I just had the idea of like, “I wonder if I could make a puppet?” And so I had no idea how to do it, and I couldn’t sew.

(Chadwick puts on his first puppet, Hank)

So I hand-sewed it and made my first puppet, Hank. He’s kind of beat up, but it’s Hank. He’s like an old friend. And then from there, I started making more puppets, creating characters. Yeah, he’s a little bit like, “Ah.” Sometimes he’s quite — he’s European.

(Chadwick showing all of his puppets that he’s made)

“I don’t like talking to people.”

Which leads me to being asked to work a puppet guitarist for the band, Fragile Rock. The Fragile Rock project started as a joke. A friend of mine, she knew that I did puppeteering, and so she asked me — “Do you want to come stand in with this puppet?” And met Kyle, the puppet I puppeteer with, and so we’ve been together for seven years now.

(Fragile Rock on performing on Stage)

When the pandemic hit, it was right before South By. So we went on hiatus for a while. It was less nervousness about doing another, show that we hadn’t done in two years, and more excitement. It was very refreshing to get back in the rehearsal space with the band. And play the songs again, they’re fun.

(Chadwick shows the materials he uses to make puppets)

If you want to get into puppeteering, watch lots of puppet shows. And there’s some of the videos that are on YouTube. And so YouTube, YouTube, YouTube, YouTube. As far as building goes, become familiar with the crafting stores and the different materials. Really anything can be turned into a puppet. You’re basically just giving an inanimate object life. And if it’s got googly eyes, then it’s got googly eyes.

Get creative. Don’t be afraid of what people are going to say. I’m a gray-haired, balding man that plays with puppets, but you know what? It makes people happy, makes people smile, and that makes me happy.

Chadwick: I’ll check it, 1. Check it, 2. A microphone, check, check, microphone checkout. A 1, 2… What is this?

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