It’s not often you hear a superhero asking mere mortals like us for assistance. Fortunately the Aquabats are never too afraid to summon the power of their legion of righteous camarades, i.e. fans, to get something done right. Now more than ever, MC Bat Commander and the crew of spandex wearing, ska-punk saviors of humanity need a little saving if they’re ever going to bring back their Daytime Emmy Winning TV series The Aquabats! Supershow! The two-season series sadly went off the air in 2014 when it’s network The Hub went under and since then the band has been trying to figure out a way to get their weird, wacky world back on screen. That’s where you come in.
Recently, the OC-based band launched their very first Kickstarter campaign to bring the show back as well as record a new album. They’re even doing live events and special screenings of old episodes to drum up support from those who pledge their undying allegiance. So far they’ve raised over $400,000 with the goal of reaching $1 million by September 1. This Saturday August 18 at 10:30 a.m., MC Bat Commander and company will be at the Art Theatre in Long Beach screening three episodes followed by a Q&A, meet and greet and to take photos with fans. If you’re willing to help #BringBacktheAquabats, make sure your butt is in one of those seats! Before the Long Beach event, we spoke to the MC Bat Commander himself, Christian Jacobs, about the importance of the campaign and having the support of the fans, which includes the shows new producer Jack Black.
What inspired you to try crowd funding the revival of The Aquabats! Supershow!?
MC Bat Commander: Really this whole idea of the Kickstarter came from the fans. We haven’t made any shows since early 2014 but we’ve been playing a lot of shows and everytime we play shows people are like “When are you gonna bring the show back? We could crowdfund it!” So this is kinda based on the response we got from our fans so we decided to give ‘em what they want and join forces together. We tried to go all the traditional route and we realized we live in a new world where these things happen and if people want something, they can just ask for it and so we’re doing it with the fans and it’s been pretty cool.
Jack Black is signed on to produce it for you guys, how did that come about?
We met Jack Black and Weird Al and a bunch of other people through other productions and the, and their kids are fans of the Aquabats. The whole Jack Black thing came about because he’s a rad dad himself and he’s got kids and he’s in everything and it just made sense and I asked him “Hey would you be down to help us do this?” and he said “Let’s do this! I’ll come on board.” And it’s been really fun, Jack’s been super supportive, albeit really busy. Since we’ve started talking about it a few years ago, he’s done three movies, one of them being Jumanji. So we never knew exactly when it would happen, but we figured it was now or never so let’s just do this. We’ve always tried to find the right time in his schedule to make it happen so he said just go for it, you have my blessing let’s just make it work.
Did you feel like there was more stories to be developed based on past episodes that you’ll have a chance to complete if you make this happen?
Absolutely. The way it worked when we first started the show we got 13 episodes so we were super lucky to be able to do. When you have that many episodes there’s more characters you can create and story lines that tie into each other. We wanted to go even further with it in the second order of shows but the order for episodes got lower and lower so we saw the writing on the wall that we may not be on this network [The Hub] for very long and sure enough the network went under. So there’s a ton of stuff we wanted to do that we just weren’t able to do or even give any type of glimpse into it because we didn’t want to start developing things that were just gonna come to an end. So that’s why this crowdfund is really about getting people behind it because we’ve talked to the networks and studios and they’re interested but it’s been long enough now where they said “Show us how many people you guys can get interested in this and let’s talk.”
So that’s been a really big part of it just getting all of our fans together and anyone who liked the show or liked the Aquabats growing up let’s just show ’em there’s people out there who love it and want it and let’s keep it going. Because it is a weird quirky, strange funny kids show. It’s a show you can watch if you’re six years old getting scared when the rubber monsters show up and it’s a different experience and when you’re our age and watching it, it’s hilarious because it’s so ridiculous.
The first goal for donations is over a million dollars to make a new show and a new album. How did you guys arrive at that figure?
It sounds like we’re asking for a lot more than we need but one thing I didn’t understand about Kickstarter was that right of the top about 40 percent of what you make is spent on rewards and fulfillments so you only keep about 60% of what you raise so to make a whole new episode and a new record we had to shoot a bit higher. We’re not actually looking for a million dollars we need to make about $600,000 dollars. But if we don’t make a million dollars we don’t get to keep the $600,000. Also making TV shows nowadays is more expensive. Five or six years ago things were a lot cheaper but things have just gone up in price, especially in California. The second season of the show we moved production to Utah because it was so much cheaper to make stuff there. So we want to reach our goal and we want to show people there’s a lot of people out there that love the Aquabats. So rather than being one or two rich people paying the Kickstarter a million dollars, we’re looking for a million people to pay us one dollar. Imagine if you give us $20–just don’t go to Taco Bell for a few days and there you go, spare yourself a few Crunchwrap Supremes.
Talk about the campaign videos you made to get people excited about seeing the TV show again.
So the first campaign video had all these different guests in it, Jack Black, Blake Anderson from Workaholics, Oscar Nunez from The Office and Imagine Dragons, Weird Al, Kate Micucci, Felicia all these friends of the band that got one phone call and were like yes, what can we? Yes Commander we’re there! There’s more people popping up and not a lot of people know this but when you pledge not only do you get to watch the first video with Jack Black as we Wizard but there are ten more videos that are coming out throughout the month and if you’re a backer, the minute the video is uploaded you get first crack at viewing it. The Jack Black video is the first one and so far two have come out so and there’s more to come so there’s a story throughout the month. Almost like we pulled the band back together and the crew and said hey if we wanna do this, let’s just keep doing it. We almost shot a whole new episode but not really it’s just these 10 mini episodes.So if you’re a fan of the show and you pledge you’re gonna get some content through the month (watch ’em here).
What kinds of incentives are you guys using to get people excited about donating?
There’s a lot of fun rewards and there’s still more we’re gonna be adding on and that was the plan to keep adding things in. There’s custom songs, you can have us write a song for you, do a special video message for you, we’ll play a private show, we’ll come to your house and play your birthday party, whatever it takes. The band has been really cool about it, they’ve said “Yeah let’s go go karting with people or let’s take ‘em miniature golfing or even surf lessons with the Bat Commander. We’re gonna be adding some more as well but we wanted to do stuff where we could meet people. A lot of times that’s not something tangible you can take home but the memory will last and it’s fun for us, it’s fun for them.
What’s the biggest prize you’re offering to the most hardcore Aquabats fans?
The biggest prize is that we’ll buy an island together and call it Aquabania, we can hang out, pick a good spot in the ocean. We actually did some research and figured out how much you’d need to buy an island, there’s some cheaper islands that you probably wouldn’t wanna live on. So we’re trying to find one where you could actually live there and build some huts on the beach and stuff.
What are some other, uh, less expensive rewards for the rest of us?
There’s also rewards like being the first to see the new episodes, hear the new record, come to an exclusive record release party, but a lot of the things are about being present, here and now with our fans.
What do you think makes the Aquabats’ legion of righteous comrades so special?
For the Aquabats, we’ve been doing this so long that if it weren’t for the fans we wouldn’t still be doing it. The whole campaign “We Are the Aquabats” is an army, the legion of righteous comrades. The Aquabats may be five guys on stage but there’s a thousand people in the room and they’re all the Aquabats. The community, family vibe we have at shows now is really like a tribe, moms, dads, grandparents, little kids. That’s kinda strange for a punk rock concert, to have kids and parents and families, it’s definitely a unique thing to the Aquabats. It’s been pretty organic it’s not like when we started the band we pictured this happening but I think it’s pretty special.
These days the world can definitely use a dose of the Aquabats, why do you feel the show is even more important today than it was four years ago?
In the last four years things have changed so much. I don’t wanna get too political, but our world is so serious and it’s a perfect time for the Aquabats show because our kids are feeling the fallout of the crazy news, fires, death and World War III. Everyone needs to relax and watch these Aquabats. They definitely don’t take themselves very seriously and they got good hearts, they’re trying to do the right thing and it’s funny. So it’s a good time to take things a little less seriously. Our whole thing is we may not be that good at being superheroes but we’re gonna try. And that’s the kind of attitude we hope to pass onto our kids, we may not know how to do it perfectly, but we’re gonna try. You don’t have to take yourself so seriously, just give it a shot, just try.
Saturday Morning Live…With the Aquabats, Saturday, August 18 at The Art Theatre in Long Beach at 10:30 p.m. $15 for adults, $5 for kids (All proceeds go to fund the Kickstarter. For full details click here.
To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.