THE GEEKLY INTERVIEW: Christian Jacobs – The M.C. Bat Commander Himself – Talks ‘The Aquabats! Super Show!’

Christian Jacobs may very well be responsible for bringing the hit series Yo Gabba Gabba! into our lives, but, far before that children’s television sensation transcended the genre and entertained millions of kids of all ages, Jacobs was behind another property that did the same…

The Aquabats! have been rocking out while protecting the world from evil since 1994 and now, after a long quest to go from the stage to the small screen, the time has finally come… The Aquabats! Super Show! has been airing on The Hub network for the past few Saturdays, making the world a truly better place indeed.

The series revolves around the adventures of the superheroes/spandex-wearing band who battle evil in various forms, but mainly retro-cool Sid & Marty Krofft-era monsters. We sat down with Jacobs, the band’s fearless frontman as well as the series’ creator and writer, as the long-awaited show made its debut a few weeks ago. Read the full interview after the jump!

On what made the good folks at THE HUB believe in the concept of an Aquabats TV Show…

Christian Jacobs: I really feel like this is the show we always wanted to make and we didn’t have to compromise outside of standard budget issues. In previous attempts we would be working with a studio or production company and we’d have to compromise (creative aspects of the show), and I think that’s what makes The Hub great.

They have a team of people that are really creative over there that trust the creators and I think that’s because they all come out of production themselves. One of the early meetings we had with Margaret Loesch, she was asking how we would make the series different than the pilot and I was giving answers like I was in a job interview, saying things like, “…well, this is what we would do to make sure kids would like it…” and she said, “I’m not worried about kids liking it — do you guys like it?” I said yes and she said, “Well then we will be fine because you guys are like big kids.”

She basically said for us to go with our gut and I’ve been in this business for a while and I’ve never heard that before — you don’t hear that from anybody. So I have to give credit where credit is due to her for recognizing that we were all basically very immature.

The way the show came into The Hub was from vice president Ted Biaselli. He was at another network when we were pitching Yo Gabba Gabba! and he was a fan of The Aqaubats previously. A couple of years later he was at The Hub and we had our Aquabats pilot circulating around and other networks were unsure. We were a project that had made the rounds with networks, we were like the black plague with executives, like, “Here’s a project that’s been around for a while — that must mean it’s terrible!” So with Gabba it was something that we did quick and it got picked up quick and it was successful relatively fast… when Ted landed at The Hub he showed the other execs there and they pretty much greenlit (The Aquabats) right away. We were floored.


On The Aquabats’ music writing process…

Our song writing process as a band has been different over the years but ultimately it just comes down to time. If we have the time to dedicate ourselves to an album full time we feel we can bust one out. But every time we try it it takes several years for an album to come out. We’re all busy with our day jobs and we’ve never been able to be The Aquabats full time ever, even when we’re touring during the day we’re calling our bosses or looking for work we can start when we get home, so there’s a lot of things that, from the outside, people don’t realize about being The Aquabats, or being in a band period – it’s hard to juggle. So our songwriting process has been where we’ll work on some parts and gradually they become songs overtime. That’s one of the more awesome things about making this TV show — we’re full time Aquabats!

On how visions such as theBurger Rainsequence come to life…

I think there are situations where you’ll just be driving and you’ll just start humming something. For a while I had a tape recorder in my car but that didn’t work very long so I think definitely stuff like that happens but a lot of the ideas for our songs and for the TV show just come from riffing with friends. We’re all friends in the band (and we collaborate with) some other friends we’ve known for years… rather than casting a net out in Hollywood to get writers we just pull our friends in and we all just sit around come up with fun ideas. Things like “Burger Rain” just snowball from spitball sessions where we’re all just sitting around trying to make each other laugh with the most ridiculous things we can think of.

On the next Aquabats! album…

Right now I don’t see when we’re going to work in time for a new album… but the songs off the show, there are so many songs in each episode. For the first season there will be more or less thirty songs… where many we had full length versions of them and had to cut them down for the show, like “Burger Rain” there’s a full version but it got cut down to like 45 seconds or something, so it would be amazing to put out an album of full-length versions of the songs from the shows. I’d love to be able to do that, I have my fingers crossed. I’d love to go out on tour and play a bunch of these songs. “Burger Rain” on tour would be awesome.

On the various creatures seen in the show…

We write the episode and we come up with an initial design, we brought in Brandon Bird – he’s an incredible artist. Brandon would come in and we’d talk about what we want this or that monster to look like, he would come up with some conceptual designs and then we’d take that design to Scott Johnson and Alex ‘Jurgen’ Ferguson, who we worked with on Yo Gabba Gabba!, those guys would build the costume off our design. And those guys have an incredible design system themselves. Those guys would always come back with something better than we could have ever imagined. Those guys stay up all night and work all day and night and come up with these incredible designs and costumes.

Jurgen and Scott are amazing, those guys are animals. I will sing their praises ’til my dying day. They do so much to make (the creatures) believable, where on Gabba they’re making these unbelievable costumes that are like living toys walking around and for The Aqaubats show we wanted the costumes a little more believable – like maybe they could be real, but at the same time not so incredibly lifelike that they’re too scary. Somewhere between reality and Yo Gabba Gabba! are the monsters of The Aquabats! Super Show!

There was also a case when my ten year-old son gave me a design and I gave his drawing to Scott and Jurgan and asked if they could make it, and it turned out so good it’s one of our favorite monsters on this show… the one in our “Mysterious Egg” episode — the strange hairy monster with giant lips that looks kind of like a frog, we fight it in the very beginning. Only a kid could think of the illogical radness of that monster, ya know?

On cameos in the series…

There’s a number of cameos, we have Rip Taylor in the first episode, Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals, Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite, Lou Diamond Phillips, and we’ve got Weird Al making a couple cameos.. the list goes on and on. We have cameos from people we liked growing up as well as underground comedians and up-and-coming people or guys in bands, we have a good mix of both.

On Aquabats toys filling up shelves at Toys ‘R Us anytime soon…

Not yet. I think with The Hub being so close to Hasbro, there could be talk of toys. I think everyone is just anxious to see how well the show does. My fingers are crossed, I’m a toy collector and I’d love to be able to do that.

On the likelihood of a second season…

We’re actually still posting the remaining of the thirteen episodes of season one, it’s been a breakneck pace trying to get all the episodes done. My Little Pony does good numbers for The Hub each week, I think if we can do numbers similar to that I’d think we have a decent shot at a second season. You never know, it’s one of those things where I think we’re even lucky to have just one season. But of course we’d love to do a second season.

On the possibility of a Yo Gabba Gabba! Feature Film…

We’re finishing season 4 in these next few weeks and at the same time as finishing The Aquabats! Super Show! The film hasn’t been put on the backburner but we’re trying to get the pilot lit if that makes sense, we’re trying to get that fire started. It’s something that’s been an up and down battle. It’s hard to raise money for an indie film, I think it’s harder to raise money for something like Yo Gabba Gabba! where it’s a pre-school movie… but is it a pre-school movie? Ya know? That’s been the trick — trying to convince people there’s an audience that’s not just pre-school, there are college fans, there’s been some hesitation there just because of the way things are in the industry… if Brad Pitt isn’t attached it makes it tough to do things. Hopefully this year we can do it. It’s going to happen at some point. I can’t wait.

On the perfect way to describe The Aquabats! Super Show! to someone who has never heard of The Aquabats…

It’s always been hard in developing this show to describe it to execs or to adults who may ask things like, “Why are The Aquabats driving around in this van? Why are they superheroes?” It’s always been “why?” and we’re always trying to explain to adults why… why is this happening or why is that happening, whereas with kids they just accept it. “There’s five guys. This is what each of the five guys does. There are monsters. They’re gonna try to fight them.” It’s so simple. And I think that’s why it’s so awesome with kids — they just take it and run with it.

So you just have to watch it — it’s weird and it’s different and its not like anything else. Kudos to The Hub for taking a risk – its not like anything you’re expecting and its not like anything thats on TV. You can compare it to things, you can try to explain it — you have to just watch it. Thats what I want to watch — the things that you can’t descibe. That’s what I want to make and hope we can keep producing, the things that are exciting because you can’t really describe them. You’ve just gotta watch it!

And there you have it. You’ve just gotta watch it! You can listen to Christian Jacob’s great advice and just watch it each Saturday at 11am ET / 8am PT on THE HUB. After all, it IS the “MOST AWESOMELY RADICAL BADICAL SUPER TV SHOW OF ALL TIME!”

Check if your cable provider has The Hub Network HERE!

Also, be sure TO LIKE the official The Aquabats! Super Show! page for updates, exclusive video and links!

And last but not least — for those of you who would rather tune in on your various iDevices, grab Season 1 of The Aquabats! Super Show! on iTunes!

That’s all from us for now, gotta run… it’s about to RAIN…

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