CENTERVILLE, Ohio - An unlikely love song gained media attention and landed four Centerville natives a spot on The Ellen Degeneres Show Jan. 22.
The Cream Pies --Stevie Brock, Dan Burtenshaw, Dan Cox and Bill Reilich--are a parody hip-hop quartet whose YouTube video, “We Love You, Ellen,” intrigued the daytime talk show host so much she invited them onto her show.
“We honestly didn’t think it would get this big, whatsoever,” Cox said.
How it started
Brock, Burtenshaw, Cox and Reilich met in middle and high school. As they got to know each other through classes and sports, the four young men realized they had similar interests and began hanging out.
“We all just sort of meshed, I suppose,” Reilich said.
The group began recording raps for fun in their teens, but in 2009 they graduated from Centerville High School and embarked on college degrees and careers.
Brock moved to Los Angeles to pursue a singing career. Burtenshaw, Cox and Reilich live in Ohio and Indiana. Burtenshaw is a camp guide, Cox works in minor league sports and Reilich is an assistant college basketball coach.
Although they kept in touch, it was not until 2013 that they began to get more--or less--serious about producing and posting videos on YouTube, Burtenshaw said.
Making a name for themselves
The Cream Pies began their rise to fame in December with their first YouTube release, “An Ode to Bill’s Donuts.” The song pays tribute to Bill’s Donut Shop , a popular 24-hour doughnut joint in Centerville.
“We thought if we were going to continue making songs, we needed a name,” Cox said.
WATCH: "An Ode to Bill's Donuts"
As the four brainstormed for a name--while actually sitting in Bill’s Donut Shop--they looked at the menu for inspiration. They settled on The Cream Pies, thinking it would give people a laugh.
Although the group has been dubbed a parody “boy band” by some, The Cream Pies are trying to get away from that title.
“We’re cool with being called a boy ban, but we prefer hip-hop quartet. We’re just a group of four devilishly handsome guys who like to have fun together,” Reilich said.
If they were to compare themselves to another group, their music might best be described as “Lonely Island-esque,” Cox said, referencing the comedy group whose work has been featured on Saturday Night Live.
The Cream Pies released their first "official" single “My Sweater,” when they were all home for the holidays in December.
The video features Brock, Burtenshaw, Cox and Reilich decked out in festive and awesomely ugly holiday sweaters as they sing to and dance with four striking young women. Brock’s stepmother, Lydia Brock, shot and edited the video.
“They don’t storyboard or anything. We just roll with the punches,” she said.
While the video has a high-quality appearance, Lydia Brock said it cost nothing to produce. She began shooting video of The Cream Pies for fun and edits with Final Cut, using techniques she was familiar with from Photoshop.
She also is a professional cosmetologist, which enabled her to act as hair and make up stylist for the video.
Stevie Brock, who has recording equipment on his computer, recorded the song with Burtenshaw, Cox and Reilich in about five minutes, Lydia Brock said.
Finding inspiration in Ellen
After posting “An Ode to Bill’s Donuts” and “My Sweater,” The Cream Pies were contemplating what to write their next song about. While brainstorming, they saw Ellen Degeneres on television and found their inspiration.
“She’s just so sincere and so genuine,” Reilich said. So, they recorded “We Love You, Ellen.”
While the video may seem like an attention grab, Reilich said they “didn’t expect any reaction.” The group posted the video on their YouTube channel, expecting to get some laughs from friends and about 20,000 views, similar to their “My Sweater” video.
“We honestly didn’t expect any reaction,” Reilich said.
Unlike the other videos, though, “We Love You, Ellen” got more than 150,000 views and caught the attention of representatives for The Ellen Degeneres Show.
‘Quite an experience’
Going the show was unlike anything the members of The Cream Pies had ever done, Cox said.
“It was quite the experience. She’s everybody’s friend. She’s such a sweetheart. It was just unreal getting to meet her,” he added.
Although The Cream Pies did not get to meet Degeneres in person until they were onstage, Reilich said she was “genuine,” and it was “humbling knowing someone actually cares about what’s going on.”
Lydia Brock attributes their success partially to the profile boost The Cream Pies got from local media attention. WCPO was the first media outlet to cover the group after she posted a link to “My Sweater” on the WCPO - 9 On Your Side Facebook page. (The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs on 9 On Your Side weekdays at 4:00 p.m.)
Although they have a couple things in the works, including new songs and videos, Cox said he doesn’t want to give any spoilers about The Cream Pies upcoming projects. For now, they’re just trying to promote their social media