Christian Jacobs Talks The Aquabats! Super Show! Series Premiere on the Hub
Battling evil with music and superhero powers unlike any seen before, The Aquabats invade their first-ever network television series starting this Saturday morning, March 3rd, with The Aquabats! Super Show! Only on The Hub!
In a ridiculously fun experience for kids of all ages, The Aquabats embark on a never-ending quest to right wrongs, destroy boredom and seek justice for all. They're the greatest crime-fighting kids rock band ever assembled! And we managed to catch up with M.C. Bat Commander himself, Christian Jacobs, to find out what we can expect to encounter on Episode 1.01: Manant!, and in the weeks ahead.
Get ready for the greatest Saturday morning kids show ever as we converse with M.C. Bat Commander!
Are you guys still shooting episodes for Season 1?
Christian Jacobs: We're just shooting pick-ups right now. Every couple of days we will go back out and shoot stuff we missed the first time around. On a show like this, there is always stuff that you don't have time to get that first time around. Some of it is crucial. Some of it is not so crucial. So, we are in the mix of doing that. The main thing is editing. That's what we are most concerned with right now.
How many episodes are we getting in Season 1?
Christian Jacobs: 13! The wonderful lucky number that it is. (Laughs) That is a wonderful number. I'll take it. It wouldn't be the Aquabats if it were good luck. If it were 11, or 7 episodes. It had to be 13, for sure. I think it's just the fate of our band to inherit the lucky number of 13 episodes.
Are you going to play with that in the finale episode? Is the superstitious nature of the number 13 going to be a part of the plot in some way? Maybe it's a black cat episode? The black cat with two heads...
Christian Jacobs: (Laughs) The final episode is definitely a cliffhanger. We're not getting a rosy ending for the season. I don't want to spoil too much. But the last episode is probably the most epic episode of the season. That is one of the ones we haven't completely finished shooting yet. It is definitely a bad luck episode.
In the early days of the Aquabats, there were a lot of band members that came and went. Are you not at all hesitant to kill of one of the guys here in this final episode?
Christian Jacobs: (Laughs) Hopefully, I will kill myself off at the end of this episode. It's funny. We have been trying to make this show for so long. Back in the 90s, we had a lot of guys in the band. When we got our first deal to develop the show, that's one of the first things the network said...You need to lose four guys. You need to lose half of your band. There are too many guys. It's going to be too hard for kids and viewers to follow all of these storylines. I was fiercely opposed to that idea. I was like, "This is our band!" I wanted it to retain its credibility, as far as...We were not going to sell out to the man. We were not going to cut our band down, no way! That wouldn't mix well with our punk rock ethics. We said, "No!" Low and behold, here we are ten years later, talking about the show. It just naturally selected itself down to five guys. Now it's working. I don't know if that had anything to do with the show finally getting made. But naturally, the Aquabats began to eliminate themselves. It's like the law of the jungle. (Laughs) At the beginning of next season, if we are lucky enough to get one, we might be down to three guys. It could be a three-piece...Who knows?
What was the largest amount of people you had in the group at one time? Didn't you, at one point, have thirteen guys in the band? Going back to the lucky number thirteen...
Christian Jacobs: Yes. There we go. We are back at the number 13. I think, at one point, there were twelve or thirteen guys on stage playing in the band at one time. There should be an astirx next to that, because it could have been just a few shows were we had that many guys. Look, here's the deal...I hate to be a spoiler again, but, you know...This is TVweb, so I can let it fly. We...Were kind of a joke. We really love music, and we loved the local music scene. As we developed this band, and it had a bunch of people in it, we started opening shows for Sublime, and bigger bands, and we all wanted to go. Our friends all wanted to go. Being the opening band, you don't get a lot of guests on the guest list. We'd say, "We'll make you a Crash helmet, and you will come on stage and just hold a saxophone." Or they would play the pots and pans, or whatever...I think the number of thirteen or fourteen people in the band is a little bit of a myth. It would grow and shrink at any point. I think the most solid lineup was eight or nine guys at one time. We a horn section and two guitar players, and a keyboard player. Eight or nine was the solid number. But it would fluctuate between who we were opening up for, and how many guests we wanted to get in. That's where the monster battles on stage began. Because we could get guests in by telling them it was part of our stage show. We'd get all of our friends dressed like Luchadores, or we would wrap them in carpet so that they were supposed to be monsters. That way, we could all get into the shows. That is just a little tricky insight I will only share with TVweb.
You bring up the old horn section. When you no longer have a horn section, you're no longer considered a Ska band, right? I don't see the word Ska anywhere in the press material. Is this a sore subject with you guys?
Christian Jacobs: The idea of us being a Ska band isn't a touchy subject at all. Here's the deal. All of us were in punk bands. I was in a very different kind of band...I was in an indie rock band at the time we started. Chad and Corey were in different bands. Our original drummer was in a punk band. Travis Barker was in our band for a couple of years. We never ever really considered ourselves a Ska band. Because we were more satirical. We were goofing on it a little bit. There was this huge Ska scene in Orange County. I would go to these punk shows in the 80s. The punk scene got increasingly dangerous and more violent, especially towards the late 80s. It became more like Thunderdome, going to shows. There were battles, and fights, and gangs. In the early 90s, I started going to these Ska shows with my brothers...I know this isn't the question you asked, but I am giving you a little back story...The Ska shows were a lot of fun, and everyone was having a good time. No one was trying to hurt you or stab you with a knife. People were just dancing. And there were girls there, too. We were like, "This is awesome. This isn't Thunderdome!" So we said, "Let's start a Ska band just for fun. Everyone will play different instruments." That is where the Aquabats were born. At some point, we said, "Let's try to sound good." So we did recruit some horn players. We played Ska. But even on those early records, I feel like every song wasn't Ska, but gradually, more and more, we started to play with this, that, and the other thing. Even with moving the horns, it wasn't a conscious decision to take those guys out. Those guys just left. They moved on and did other things. When you are in a band for seventeen years, people get over it. Jimmy the Robot, who is still in the band, started when he was in high school. He plays the saxophone. So there is still a horn section. It's just a one-horn section. (Laughs) But I don't think we ever considered ourselves a Ska band. We were just the Aquabats. And some of the songs we happened to play were Ska. You look at Rancid, and you think, they're definitely a punk band. But not all of their songs are punk. They play Ska. On that one record Life Won't Wait, they have all of these weird songs, and they have a lot of rock songs, too. Its like punk inspired rock. We were never totally Ska. You look at us, and you could consider us that way. But you are totally right...I think you are right.
I was never sure why you dropped the horns. I love horns in pretty much any band, but I wouldn't consider myself part of the Ska scene. I like horns mixed with any style of music...
Christian Jacobs: Chicago! I like Chicago!
As soon as I say I like horns, my boss is like, "You're a Ska kid, go be with the Ska kids!" I'm like, "I don't know what you're talking about!"
Christian Jacobs: There are all kinds of ways you can incorporate horns into music. Ska is definitely one way. Horns are jazzy. Rocket From the Crypt, they have a horn section. They are the furthest thing from a Ska band.
Kenny G is not Ska...
Christian Jacobs: Kenny G is not Ska! No!
Now, I have been waiting for the Aquabats show for a very long time...
Christian Jacobs: Yes!
This is in all honesty...After so many years of being disappointed by other things in life, I had no expectations for the show...I sat down and watched it, and I am now so excited about this! I think this is the greatest Saturday morning show I've seen since at least the 80s. I have been telling everyone they need to watch it. You guys really knocked it out of the park.
Christian Jacobs: That is so rad to hear! I am so stoked. And honestly, they get better! When you do your first season of anything, or your first album, if you want to compare it to music...You try to figure out who you are and what you are doing. With this first couple of episodes, we are still trying to figure out the show. Every episode gets better and better, as it gets weirder and weirder. As you get into the Aquabats personalities more...That was something that was always hard to define. Who are the Aquabats? I think the Bat Commander...His personality is easier to define. Because when we play live, I'm the one that is always talking. I like to talk. It was easy to find him. But the other guys in the band? Who are these guys and what do they do? That has been a really fun part of making the show, finding those little idiosyncrasies in these characters that are actually things we do ourselves. They are a lot more exaggerated in the show. Its fun to make fun of ourselves on a really big scale with this TV show.
I've only seen episodes 1 and 2, but talking about improvements as the series moves forward, there is a noticeable improvement in the acting. I know you guys are musicians, so that aspect must be a little hard. I think it works for, not against, the show...
Christian Jacobs: That was always the biggest thing. I'd say, "Guys, I had a meeting with this studio today, and it looks like they are going to do the show." After hearing that for ten years at band rehearsals or while we were on tour...I think everyone in the band was like, rolling their eyes, "Yeah...Sure..." The band was like, "Right, pal." The show got greenlit, and we were a couple of weeks away from rehearsals. The band started to panic. And I started to panic, too...We had written these really funny scripts, but comedy is tricky to pull off. If you don't know what you are doing in terms of acting, it's going to make a crappy show. So, we panicked a little bit. We had some help come in. We had Matt Walsh from The Upright Citizens Brigade come in and give us a three day crash course in comedic timing and acting. I think it helped a little bit...No, wait...I'm sorry...It helped a lot. It just didn't manifest itself until the second batch of episodes. These first couple of episodes are a little rough. That's what I mean by these episodes getting better and better. The guys are getting better at acting. They are relaxing a little bit more. They are having fun. We did have to hit that panic button, though. When the show got greenlit, everyone was like, "Oh, no...I'm going to have to act. I can play the drums, but hold on a second...I have to emote on camera? Time out!"
I think the acting style adds to the show. It works for what you guys are doing.
Christian Jacobs: Yeah, I think so, too. This show is definitely a Roger Corman B movie kids show. At the same time, some of that stiff acting works towards the comedy. It makes it funnier. I think that's always going to be there, because that's the nature of the show. It's the way we write things. Its superhero banter, which is supposed to be funny and stiff anyway. Maybe the not such high caliber acting adds to it. I don't think any of the guys are that excited to watch themselves. I know that...(Laughs)...Our bellies hanging out over our costumes is something that adds to the aesthetic of our show. Its funny to everyone else but the guys in the band. You know what I mean?
Yes. Definitely. They sent out the press kit for the show, and it had the blue shirt and the mask. After watching the first two episodes, I was like, "I gotta get my shirt and mask on when I watch these on Saturday morning!" It really brought out the kid in me. That excitement to be a part of it all. But the shirt is a size too small. And my gut is hanging out like nobody's business. But its so much fun! Is there going to be a way for the kids to get the shirt and the mask so they can wear them on Saturday morning, when the show comes on?
Christian Jacobs: I hope so. I know we are working on that now. That is one thing...We have never provided kids' sizes for our Aquabats gear. The smaller sizes are for teenagers or smaller people. But it's not for kids, so that is something we are definitely working on right now. We are trying to revamp our merchandise. We have made ones for our own kids. So definitely, that is something in the works. Again, we haven't really been thinking about that stuff too much, because we've been running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to get this show off the ground. But that stuff is on the way, and we are stoked. It makes me stoked to image you watching the show with your costume on! (Laughs) Its great.
I'm around your age. And you must know this already...But when I go over to a friend's house, and their kid is watching Yo Gabba Gabba, the dad is just as into it as the three year old. How did that help tailor what you wanted this show to be? Because it is definitely going to appeal to the Dad demographic.
Christian Jacobs: For sure. That idea is there intentionally. But it is also there organically. I think its natural, because I am a dad. Crash, our bass player, is a dad. And Ricky, our drummer, is a dad. We are all dads anyway. It just naturally goes there, because we are comfortable doing the things I'd want to watch. And I'm a dad. Also, just look at our generation. We grew up watching TV and cartoons. Our parents were coming out of World War II in the 50s and the 60s. It was a different thing. My dad never watched cartoons with me as a kid. He just wasn't interested. But I watched War movies with him. And I watched Clint Eastwood movies with him. That was cool. That was my bonding experience with him. And I will always remember that experience. But I don't remember him bonding with me over something I liked. We are going to bond over stuff, now, that our kids are into, and they are going to bond over stuff we're into. That is the unique thing about our generation. We are big kids. We are cartoon kids. We grew up watching cartoons, and we still watch SpongeBob SquarePants. I do, with my kids, and we laugh at the same jokes. I think that is naturally going to happen with this show. I hope. I think dads and moms will be watching the show with their kids...I know my wife rolls her eyes at the Aquabats quite a bit. But...We are watching it all together, and we are laughing, and its fun. That's cool. We definitely intended for that, but I also think it happens naturally.
I don't have kids yet...But I am going to be in front of the TV every single Saturday morning watching this show...So...
Christian Jacobs: (Laughs) I'm sure if you had kids, you'd be watching it with them...
I'd be like, "You are watching this show or else!"
Christian Jacobs: Yes! "You are watching the Aquabats or you're grounded!"
The attention to detail in the show is amazing. I watched it on the projector, and it plays on a big screen so well...
Christian Jacobs: That is something that comes out of the references for the show. There is a big Japanese influence on the show. Like, Japanese monster movies. Ultraman, and all of that stuff. Even the Hammer movies. That is a huge influence on me personally. But their attention to detail is really big. In the details is the style of the show. That style, of those monster movies, you look at the cities they built, and the miniature tanks that shot at Godzilla, and all that detail is so intense. Then Godzilla just walks up and steps on it. I always thought that was awesome as a kid. There was a room that you knew existed that housed all of these incredibly detailed models that you knew they were just going to blow up. (Laughs) That is something I wanted to do with this show. Spend tons of time and energy making these really detailed scenes, with these things we are just going to push off a cliff and blow up. You know what I mean? I appreciate that you notice, because that is something we are all down to get. The more detail, the better. At one point, it felt like Francis Ford Coppola trying to get more of a budget for Apocalypse Now. They're like, "You are making a freaking kids show! Relax!" I'm like, "No, no! We need more explosions! We need more stuff!" That's one of those things. We are into that!
One last question. Watching the egg episode, there is a scene where the band's van is driving through the park, and this thing runs behind the van. We never see it again, except in that quick glimpse. And it doesn't look like a gaffe or an accident. What is that thing?
Christian Jacobs: Yes. Something runs behind the van. If you watch the first two episodes, that same thing is also in episode one. It could be in all of the episodes. I don't know if it is too early to announce that, or not. There are things in every episode that are little Easter eggs. Those are part of the detail. And we will just leave it at that.
I didn't catch that in the first episode. And it took me off guard in the second episode. It was almost like spotting Big Foot. I thought the thing was going to circle back, but it never did...
Christian Jacobs: Exactly. That is part of the rad thing about making this show. You can mess with people a little bit. You can pay so much attention to detail that you set a standard for the viewer. They need to pay attention. So when something happens that seems like a mistake, you are left thinking about it. "Wait, what was that?" We wanted to put that stuff in there for the kids. The kids aren't stupid, and they are going to catch this stuff really quickly. You know? I am glad you caught that. Out of all the people I have been doing interviews with, you are the first person to bring that up. So...You win!