I was lucky enough to see The Aquabats at Riot Fest Denver in 2016. I am very excited they will be playing in Denver tonight at the Gothic Theatre, and was excited to get on the phone with their fearless leader, MC Bat Commander, to talk about the past, their current very successful Kickstarter campaign and their next steps.
For those who don’t know the Aquabats, describe your band.
We’re basically a bunch of kind-of superheroes that spaz out and play punky rock ‘n’ roll. It’s dork rock, I guess. Lots of fun. Hard to explain.
And what are your concerts like?
At a show, there is lots of dancing and visuals behind us – kid cartoons and schlocky movies and clips of Japanese TV. Pretty much a pop culture explosion. We have kids fighting monsters and just about anything you could imagine to make it a fun time. Every show is different and you never know what’s gonna happen. That’s pretty much by design because if you do it all the same, that can get pretty monotonous. Every city deserves their own performance, in our opinion. And we feed off the energy of what’s going on so special things that happen everywhere we go!
I’m sure everyone asks you this, but what are your superpowers?
Well, our drummer, Ricky Fitness – he can run really fast. EagleBones FalconHawk is a power bird and plays guitar. Jimmy the Robot is pretty much a Swiss Army robot on keyboards. Our bassest Crash McLarson gets very large and emotional. And me, MC Bat Commander, well, I really haven’t figured that out yet.
How has the band evolved over the years?
So, we started as a band in the early 90s. For a long time we wanted to make a TV show and in 2011 to 2012, we had The Aquabats Supershow on the Hub, which was in network for kids. The show did very well there but unfortunately the network did not. So, we were left in limbo. People kept asking, “how are we going to bring the show back?” We tried to find a new network but the show was a bit weird and we weren’t really a great fit anywhere. Fans kept pushing and they wanted to be part of it, so we started our Kickstarter and that went great. We have 10 new episodes that will be on our YouTube channel. They’ll be a bit shorter because we have a smaller budget but we’re excited to be able to share them with our fans directly.
I saw you had an appearance on Those Who Can’t (a show created by local comedian group The Grawlix)?
Yes! Adam Cayton-Holland’s character was getting married, so of course they needed a ska band to play at the wedding. Ben Roy’s character had “SKAfirmative Action” play, which was us. All those guys are hilarious.
I know you were a child actor and also did children’s television with Yo Gabba Gabba – how has that informed Aquabats and Super Show?
So, yeah, I was doing the band and then got married, had kids and then I was thinking about making a change but a friend and I came up with the idea for Yo Gabba Gabba and it snowballed into a big hit. It pretty much helped the band stay alive in that in that people who knew us from that world started saying, “OK, what else you got?”
I think a lot of bands draw inspiration from bands like yours – who were your inspirations?
So many bands. Devo clearly. But when we were starting out, there all these punk bands, who we love, but everything was so negative and their attitude was “let’s set the world on fire.” We more took a satirical view on society and were pushing against the norms. We just wanted to have fun. And then people got on board with our take finally – because I tell you what – there was a pretty negative reaction to watching superheroes talking about brushing their teeth and all those types of things. We would get spit on in the beginning but now it’s turned into more of an interactive family event and that’s fine for us as we have grown up and had families. It keeps coming back to that “we just want to have fun” attitude. I mean who else has a show with an inflatable pizza and then will put a three-year-old on it? I trust our fans to take care of everyone around them but still get rowdy and have a blast.
You guys have a lot on your media empire resume, but what would you add next if you could?
We talked about a full-length comic book and and if we had all the money in the world I think it would be great to go back and do decent videos for old songs that people love. That’s a pipe dream but some great songs never really got real videos, so that would be fun to do.
What’s next for The Aquabats?
We have a new record coming in December of this year and are writing for a new record in 2020. Will be doing a tour and making videos for the new album for sure. We are definitely a DIY band now, but we like it that way because we can be slower and more intentional and connect with the fans.
What should fans take away from the Aquabats show?
We’re really happy to come back to Denver and looking forward to tonight!
See more of my posts from Gothic Theatre!