NR Interview: The Aquabats’ Christian Jacobs, AKA The MC Bat CommanderPosted 4:14 pm on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 by John 'Spartan' Nguyen
If you’re looking for a campy and silly superhero show that stars a rock band fighting monsters and villains, then The Aquabats! Super Show! is your show.
We had a chance to talk to The Aquabats frontman Christian Jacobs, AKA The MC Bat Commander, about how he started out in the ska band from OC, creating Yo Gabba Gabba!, and creating a show starring his band.
Christian Jacobs: Sure. We started a band with a group of friends pretty much as a joke. The whole Orange County ska explosion happened. We thought it was fun, but we also realized it was silly too. So we were like, “Let’s make a silly band. We’ll play ska, be silly, play different instruments, wear some costumes and make it look ridiculous.” That’s basically how The Aquabats were born. It was a joke, but we also knew it was fun.
We’ve been playing in the punk and rock scene in Orange County. The punk scene in the mid 80s was mixed with testosterone, beer, and people fighting. Going to the ska scene was fun because people were having a good time and dancing.
So the testosterone, beer and fighting were too much for The Aquabats?
No, not really. In fact, we started playing punk rock shows with the hardest bands in Orange County on purpose. We knew the promoters of those shows and asked them to put our new band on. Then we come on and instantly people would get mad and call us names. Isn’t that what punk is all about? Cause and reaction?
We could then figure out crowd reaction if it was going to be negative or positive. Even in the ska scene, there were bands and kids that didn’t like us because we weren’t taking it seriously. We were goofing around. If anything, regardless of the genre, it was always a polarizing thing. To people, it’s either you love it or hate it. Either way we were having fun.
How did you go from being in The Aquabats to creating TV shows for kids?
I grew up in L.A. and worked as a kid actor. I was always a big fan of TV, pop culture, cartoons and kid’s stuff. Early on in The Aquabats, we were wearing costumes, fighting lobsters on stage and just being ridiculous and thought it would be a fun kids show.
We started probably around 1997 trying to make people in the industry to turn The Aquabats idea into a kids show. We thought it was a big cartoon already, we just needed to keep it going. We had a few deals that didn’t work out.
In 2001/2002, we started to think about other ideas for a kids show. At that time I had a daughter of my own, about 2-years old, and we were watching pre-school shows. I thought maybe we should just do a little kids preschool show. And that’s when the idea for Yo Gabba Gabba! came around. A couple of years later, it got picked up by Nickelodeon, and then people started to talk about The Aquabats again.
What cartoon show inspired you for Yo Gabba Gabba!
There’s a bunch like Sesame Street, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sid and Marty Krofft, Land of the Lost, and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. But then there’s also Japanese influence.
How was it like creating a show for a different audience for The Aquabats! Super Show!?
We targeted the 6 to 12 demographic. There are things in the show that wouldn’t be necessarily appropriate for a preschooler, since we have monsters and giant ants.
It looks like there are a lot of comic book and sci-fi influences on the show. What were some of the influences?
Yeah, we got influences from B movies like Ray Harryhausen’s 7th Voyage of Sinbad, all those stop-motion animations, classic monster movies like Godzilla and all that stuff. Other influences include weird sci-fi stuff and superheroes. That’s easily a big influence on the show for sure.
What can we expect from future episodes?
Expect the unexpected. It’s pretty crazy. I think the episodes are getting better and crazier. We’re already getting some polarizing reactions from the show. People really love it or really hate it. Right now it’s about 10 to one, so that’s good.
Well, I love the show with the zany comedy and the music, especially the song about it never ending from episode 1.
Yep, “We Don’t Stop” and then “Burger Lane.” We hope to have music in every episode, and hopefully we’ll be able to put out a record by the end of the year with all the songs from the TV show, or at least from Season 1.
Thanks a lot for being a part of the interview, and best of luck on the show!
The Aquabats! Super Show! is currently airing on The Hub Saturdays at 11am ET | 8am PT.
John “Spartan” Nguyen is the editor-in-chief at Nerd Reactor and is based in Orange County, CA. He is a graphic designer and illustrator.