It's hard to believe our favourite furry friends – Alvin, Simon and Theodore – have been around since 1958. The singing sensations have won over three generations with their well-meaning antics and impossibly catchy tunes.

This week marks the DVD release of their most recent feature film, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel.' In this installment, we are reunited with the Chipettes, the Chipmunks' sassy female counterparts. This time around, the girls are voiced by Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate. Jason Lee returns as Dave Seville, the Chipmunks' human guardian, while David Cross is back as the evil record industry villain.

The Blu-ray/ DVD combo pack includes bonus features like music videos, song trivia and a featurette called 'Munking History: 50 years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem and Music.'

We caught up with the Chipmunks' real-life human guardians, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman, to chat about the rich Chipmunks history. The two have been helming the Chipmunks franchise since 1972, after the untimely passing of Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who created the Chipmunks back in the late '50s. On top of their roles as producers, Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman have also been providing the voices or the Chipmunks and the Chipettes over the years in their TV shows, movies and albums (Bagdasarian Jr. does Alvin's singing voice in the most recent features, and Karman redesigned all of the CGI Chipmunks). The two fill us in on everything from how a facetious Philadelphia DJ and Justin Timberlake may have unwittingly saved the Chipmunks, to why the furry little 'munks still don't wear pants.

It's hard to believe our favourite furry friends – Alvin, Simon and Theodore – have been around since 1958. The singing sensations have won over three generations with their well-meaning antics and impossibly catchy tunes.

This week marks the DVD release of their most recent feature film, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel.' In this installment, we are reunited with the Chipettes, the Chipmunks' sassy female counterparts. This time around, the girls are voiced by Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate. Jason Lee returns as Dave Seville, the Chipmunks' human guardian, while David Cross is back as the evil record industry villain.

The Blu-ray/ DVD combo pack includes bonus features like music videos, song trivia and a featurette called 'Munking History: 50 years of Chipmunk Mischief, Mayhem and Music.'

We caught up with the Chipmunks' real-life human guardians, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman, to chat about the rich Chipmunks history. The two have been helming the Chipmunks franchise since 1972, after the untimely passing of Ross Bagdasarian Sr., who created the Chipmunks back in the late '50s. On top of their roles as producers, Bagdasarian Jr. and Karman have also been providing the voices or the Chipmunks and the Chipettes over the years in their TV shows, movies and albums (Bagdasarian Jr. does Alvin's singing voice in the most recent features, and Karman redesigned all of the CGI Chipmunks). The two fill us in on everything from how a facetious Philadelphia DJ and Justin Timberlake may have unwittingly saved the Chipmunks, to why the furry little 'munks still don't wear pants.

I've read that the Chipmunks are kind of like your children in a way, so what was the process of putting together a live action film like?


Janice: The first thing we had to do was design the characters and keep a look that people were familiar with, even though they were going to look very different. And we had to make them look like they belonged in a live-action world, that they didn't look too cartoony.

Ross:
We also thought about what Dave's house was going to look like. We had a would-be songwriter who wasn't successful, so we had to make his world look as soulful as possible.

Janice:
So what's the poster above his fireplace – is it this benign piece of art or is it Bob Dylan or John Lennon? You want to say something about the character. All of the things in the house meant something to us. We were probably some people's nightmare! [Laughs]

Ross: The fact is that the details matter. For us, if there's a rug that shouldn't be there, it bothers us. Dave wouldn't have that rug. We even changed the address of his house to 1958, the year the Chipmunks were created.

So did you drive everyone crazy?

Ross: Well, yeah. They're crazy until it's successful!

Did you ever consider giving them pants?

Janice:
Pants? Their bodies won't do pants well – they look like diapers. So yes, did we try, absolutely. They start off in the picture with no hoodie at all. So really we're considering their fur the clothes. But you wouldn't want them in pants. They look like big, bad diapers. [Laughs]

How has the technology behind the voices changed over the years? Do you still just speed up the playback?

Ross: There's actually a bit more to it than that. You slow down your delivery first, and then you speed up the playback.

Janice: It's exhausting!

Ross:
The singing is especially exhausting, because you then have to hold the note twice as long.

So how long can you last?

Ross: Well, Janice and I, since we've done it for so long, we can record for six or eight hours. Most folks generally last two or three hours.

Janice:
It's also tough on the throat. When Ross and I were doing the voices on Saturday morning, we had garlic and hot lemon every day.

Ross:
Stinky, but strong vocal cords.

What are some tidbits in the Chipmunks history that people might find surprising?

Janice: When Ross and I were first trying to get the Chipmunks back up [in the '70s], we spent years just knocking on doors and having them slammed in our face. Then, one night in Philadelphia a DJ at about 3am played a Blondie song, sped it up, and said that it was the latest song from Chipmunks punk. Just facetiously, he was bored. The switchboards lit up.

Everyone wanted to know where to get the album. We had been trying to get an album going for years. A company back east heard about this phenomenon and called us and said would you like to do an album called Chipmunk Punk. And we said yeah! It was mainly comprised of Linda Ronstadt and Billy Joel. It wasn't very punky, but it sold a million records overnight and then doors started creeping open for us. That was the serendipitous happening that allowed us to continue with these guys.

Ross: Fast forward to 2006. The movie was in development, and Fox was trying to decide whether to make it or not. That Christmas, 2006, Justin Timberlake, on 'Saturday Night Live', comes out and says I'd like to sing my favourite Christmas song. And White Christmas comes on. He says no, my favourite Christmas song. And the Chipmunks song comes on. He plays the part of Dave Seville, and Andy Samberg and the other SNL guys come in with their A sweatshirts and they perform the Chipmunks song, right down to Justin Timberlake yelling Alvin! Of course it goes viral, and the folks at Fox see it and say oh, it is in the Zeitgeist of pop culture, we should make this.

'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel' is out on DVD March 30. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: 3D' is set to hit theatres Christmas, 2011.