When “Ghostbusters” had its Hollywood premiere last weekend, the expected celebrities and stars of the film were on hand. Also walking the red carpet: three elementary school teachers who, after years of leading double lives as a punk rock band, were ready for their close-up.
Sisters Lisa and Joanie Pimentel, with Nicola Berlinsky, constitute No Small Children. Their cover of the original “Ghostbusters” theme song can be heard in the closing credits and outtake reel in the new movie, which stars a female-dominated cast.
So how did a little-known, do-it-yourself band wind up in Hollywood blockbuster? It started with Halloween costumes.
In November, the band dressed as Ghostbusters for a holiday party. The group was encouraged to perform a cover of Ray Parker Jr.’s title track from the 1984 blockbuster. On a lark, they were prodded to send it to Theodore Shapiro, the composer of the score on the “Ghostbusters” remake.
The band, after all, had a connection with Shapiro. The three teach at the same San Fernando Valley elementary school, and Shapiro is a parent to one of their students.
“We did this all the time, always just throwing out these little things into the universe. You never know what’s going to catch,” says Lisa, a music teacher and the band’s singer and guitarist.
By the time the band sent the tune to Shapiro, the music for the film, he relayed, had already been chosen.
But six months later, No Small Children received exciting news.
“It got snuck in super last minute, and the music editor [Erica Weiss] told us they don’t just love the song — they love our story,” says Joanie — singer, bassist and music teacher.
“From the very beginning,” she adds, “it felt like they were rooting for us.”
Though the track is not found on the official “Ghostbusters” soundtrack, the act says the song will be available digitally.
“The No Small Children cover of ‘Ghostbusters’ is super fun and has a great energy to it, just like the members of this band,” says Weiss. “We were thrilled to find a place for it in the film, and I’m personally happy to now know their music.”
Added “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig via an emailed statement: “These awesome musicians completely sum up the spirit of our movie — smart, talented, subversive women kicking ass and taking names.”
After four years of doing everything — from writing to recording to rehearsing to booking — on their own terms, the band’s commitment has paid off.
“We have been totally DIY. We each play to our strengths, and we have been hustling,” says Nicola, drummer and fourth-grade teacher.
While at their day job, they focus, of course, on the students. But the three band members would be dishonest if they told you they didn’t also sneak in some impromptu band meetings. Think: recess and lunch breaks.
It was at midday break one Friday before Mother’s Day, for instance, when the then-solo musicians Lisa and Nicola came up with the idea to form a band.
“Nicola and I don’t have children and we were feeling kind of sad about it,” Lisa says. “In that sadness, we thought, ‘Let’s start a band and call it No Small Children.’ From there we started writing.”
A few months later in 2014, Lisa’s sister Joanie moved from Boston to Los Angeles. Thus, what Joanie describes as a “melodic, pop-y, vocal hook” trinity was completed.
Within six months the band released an EP and has since managed to squeeze in some national tours — during school breaks, of course. Through four albums, the band’s philosophy is simple: Say yes.
“It seems like successful people that I know just say yes to every opportunity,” Lisa says. “So we said yes to every gig, everything. It’s exhausting, but it really helped us.”
Although their job as teachers keeps them frequently busy, the three don’t view music as a side project. Their daytime and their gigs even influence each another.
“We’re in front of an audience, so to speak, all day,” Nicola says. “We have no shame in getting a room warmed up and lively. We started equating teaching to playing a gig, which is putting yourself in a place where you’re open and learning all the time.
“We put ourselves into new situations all the time, and it’s keeping us learning and empathetic to what our students go through,” she says.