Why New Episodes of ‘The Aquabats! Super Show!’ Will Be Weirder Than Ever
The superhero ska band is back on the scene with a Kickstarter project to revive their Emmy-winning TV series.
The Aquabats are a superhero ska band on a mission. Their quest? To “vanquish the evil beasts of boredom and negativity.” Since their founding in 1994, they’ve recorded five studio albums, toured the world, and put out two seasons of their Emmy-winning TV show, a zany comedy-action-musical extravaganza featuring land sharks, cobra-men, insect robots, and pizza parties.
But even superheroes need a hand sometimes. The Aquabats! Super Show! was canceled when the network that aired it shut down. Now, four years later, The Aquabats are joining forces with their fans and friends on Kickstarter to “help the kids, and the world, and stuff” by creating brand-new episodes and recording a new album of rad tunes, their first since 2011.
Here, The Aquabats lead singer MC Bat Commander (Christian Jacobs), bassist Crash McLarson (Chad Larson), keyboardist Jimmy the Robot (James Briggs), and drummer Ricky Fitness (Richard Falomir) take us back in time to when they started the band, discuss the hardest parts of making an album and a TV show, and offer a sneak peek at what’s next for The Aquabats! Super Show! (hint: things are going to get even weirder). Read on, righteous comrades!
Kickstarter: What motivated you to start a superhero rock band?
MC Bat Commander: Well, we didn’t really start as a superhero band.
Crash McLarson: When it started, it wasn’t superheroes — actually, it wasn’t even really a band. We were just friends, and it was an excuse to hang out with each other. Some of us had been in bands, and we thought, “Let’s start one so that we can hang out more.” I don’t remember thinking we were a real band until we had been playing for about a year.
MCBC: There was no real plan. The music was kind of an amalgamation of sounds we were into. We like Devo, and ’60’s music, and surfing. Then, as it kept going, it became something goofier. And we thought, what’s more goofy than superheroes? So we went with it.
Why is now the right time to bring back The Aquabats! Super Show! and record a new album? Why do it on Kickstarter?
MCBC: We couldn’t do it until now because we had issues with getting back the rights to the show. Right after the show went off the air, people immediately started asking us, “When are we getting more Super Show!?” If it were up to us, we would have brought it back way sooner.
CM: The cool thing about doing it on Kickstarter is that it really turns control over to the people we’re making it for. We’re not trying to sell anyone on anything — so many people told us that they wanted us to crowdfund it. The fans deserve the chance to decide what happens. It’s not in the hands of a network guy who went to network school. It’s in the hands of people who want it.
“It’s not in the hands of a network guy who went to network school. It’s in the hands of people who want it.”
What’s your favorite episode of the show?
CM: The Anti-Bats! is mine, because it’s got everything from the goofiness of the MC Bat Commander squishing a brain to the Mad Max [visual] of someone getting clothes-lined off of a motorcycle. And what about the Drumcopter? I can’t think of any episode of television ever, except for this one, that has a Drumcopter!
What do you think has given The Aquabats its staying power? And why do you think you were able to create a TV show more than a decade after launching as a band?
MCBC: It’s got to be the fans. We go out and play, and people are really passionate about it, and we inadvertently created this special community. Honestly, the way our shows feel is different than any other concert I’ve been to. There’s so much love and silliness, and no one on stage or in the crowd is taking themselves too seriously. And that’s enough to make us want to keep doing it.
Can you give us a little sneak peek at what will be in the new show or on the new album?
MCBC: To be honest, we don’t exactly know where we’re going to go with the new album or the show, which is kind of fun. No one knows exactly what’s going to happen until we start making stuff, including us, and that’s exciting.
Now, for the show… There were a lot of things we couldn’t do when we were on the network, like make the show more serialized. We also wanted to be more meta and random, but a lot of the random stuff got edited out by executives. For example, there was an episode where we would all turn into donuts, and they would say, “But it doesn’t make sense!” And I would say, “None of this makes any sense! There’s a giant potato bug in the pineapple fields of Detroit!” So we’d love to be free to leave more weirdness in there.
“None of this makes any sense! There’s a giant potato bug in the pineapple fields of Detroit!”
You seem to freely embrace your inner child — and help lots of fans do that, too. What do you see as the relationship between your playfulness and your creativity?
MCBC: Punk rock has always been about staying young. With the punk rock scene, we felt like we were doing something different and weird and young, and maybe that made it even more punk, because we didn’t care.
But if you look at society now, everything that’s huge is all about prolonging childhood. People want to have hopes and dreams and not have them crushed. When we started, there was one Comic-Con, and now they’re in every city in every nation. And at every one of those cons, people are all thinking the same thing: “Where are The Aquabats in my life?”
CM: Actually, what they’re all thinking is, “Who are The Aquabats?
What’s the hardest part of making an album?
CM: Albums are always hard, because you always compare the new one to what you’ve done in the past, and you want to be better than that.
Ricky Fitness: Also, getting everyone on the same page can be difficult. It happens eventually, but that’s definitely part of the process.
Jimmy the Robot: Any time you’ve got five people putting their emotions and thoughts on the line, it can be tough to make everyone’s ideas meld together. But when it works, it’s pretty magical. We try not to be a band where somebody just says, “Here are the songs. Now let’s go into the studio.” We want everyone to be involved.
What’s the hardest part of making a TV show?
RF: The hardest part? Definitely the physical pain of falling on the floor over and over again to make it look right.
MCBC: Yeah! We don’t have our own stuntmen!
JTR: When we went to shoot our Kickstarter videos, I watched the Bat Commander fall on the ground, hard, five takes in a row! But the truth is, we really like making the TV show. Even when we’re sweating it out in the middle of the desert, it’s pretty rad that we get the chance to do this, and that families and kids enjoy watching it.