If you’re a parent of young children, chances are you have rocked to the beat of a little show called Yo Gabba Gabba! Yo Gabba Gabba is the brainchild of Christian Jacobs, who also is the frontman of the band The Aquabats! Now Christian, aka M.C. Bat Commander, and his Aquabat bandmates are being featured in their own show called The Aquabats! Super Show! airing at 11 am EST/8 am PST starting this Saturday, March 3 only on The Hub!
I got a chance to interview Christian about the upcoming show, and also a bit about his own inspirations for it and Yo Gabba Gabba. Enjoy and share with your friends!
Jeff Jackson: First of all, since we love superheroes at Comicattack.net, tell us your own origin story.
Christian Jacobs: My own personal one??? Uh.. ok… Well, I was born in the middle of the perfect snowstorm in a small town in Idaho. I moved to California when I was 3 years old. At 6 I got into a horrible motorcycle accident with my father. I was in a coma for several weeks and wasn’t expected to recover. When finally I awoke, I had super powers and survival skills beyond that of normal 6 year olds!! From that moment forward I made a commitment to the world to do something… uh… good!
JJ: Well, we’re grateful that you survived. I shudder to think of a world without Yo Gabba Gabba! Speaking of Yo Gabba Gabba, it has become a worldwide sensation. Now you’re taking on the superhero set with The Aquabats! Super Show! Tell us about the new show.
CJ: Wow! Where do I begin? It’s really different from Gabba. I dont know, It’s pretty crazy. It’s more cinematic, shot on locations with a single camera etc. It’s far more Ultraman meets Batman 1966. But it’s pretty silly too. I can’t describe it super well but you can count on monsters and explosions, cartoons and fake commercials. Best of all, tubby guys in spandex!
JJ: Sounds really fun! Who are the characters?
CJ: Well, there is my character, the M.C. BAT COMMANDER… he is like Captain Kirk meets Bill Murray’s Middle Aged Hercules. He is the singer of the band and keeper of the sacred pot belly. There is Crash Mc Larson, the Bass Player. He is like the Incredible Hulk meets Apache Chief. He is like a bull in a china shop. But he has mad respect for Chyna! (the former wrestler… ha!) Ricky Fitness, the drummer, is well.. fit and just a joy to be around. He can run fast. Like not Super Hero fast, just …fast. Jimmy the Robot is like the Inspector Gadget/swiss army keyboard playing Android. He is pretty dope. I’m not going to lie. Then there is EagleBones FalconHawk the guitar shredder and spiritual guide through the show. He has a guitar that shoots lasers and an invisible spirit animal named “The Dude.” So it’s like pretty conventional type stuff.
JJ: Where did the idea of the Aquabats as superheroes come from? And how did that translate into a children’s show?
CJ: Well.. we always like superhero stuff and at the same time, always appreciated the ridiculousness of it all. I think we’ve always been spoofing superheroes from the very beginning of the band and thought … this could be a really funny show. For kids of all ages! I think because we’re such big kids ourselves. I think it translates pretty well. But that is me… I have a japanese toy collection — so what do I know about life??!
CJ: I read comics so much as a youngster but I was attracted to the stuff that you couldn’t get on TV. Like I could watch all the Super Friends so… I wasn’t into collecting a lot of DC stuff. And I could watch Spider-Man and Batman so those comics weren’t as desirable. When I got older those popular titles became cooler but as a kid I looked for stuff that was more obscure and interesting… like weird stuff … Fist of Kung-Fu, X-Men, Ghost Rider, Power Man and Iron Fist, Marvel Star Wars, Conan and stuff like that. World’s Finest and like Teen Titans and stuff like that.. Also Horror comics Creepy, Creepshow etc. Later I tried to collect stuff but my head exploded and I started getting into Japanese comics etc. Like early imports in the 80’s. Akira was pretty epic in the late 80’s.
JJ: Wow, you’d fit in really well with most of the staff at ComicAttack.net, since we love all those things! But with juggling your music, this love of the superhero genre, and your success in kids’ programming, why do those things work so well together?
CJ: I think beyond the obvious, everyone wants to have super powers and be a hero…or a villain. It could be because maybe they unlock so many colors and flavors to the mind. It’s like sound and vision breakfast cereal. Super bright eye and ear candy. It’s mesmerizing and creates these fantasy landscapes in your mind that you carry around with you forever. It’s pretty funky!
JJ: Anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s can tell some of your influences on Yo Gabba Gabba, including Sesame Street and the Sid & Marty Krofft shows. Can you talk about how these shows influenced you and helped develop Yo Gabba Gabba and the upcoming Aquabats show?
CJ: Yeah for sure. I think Sesame Street is obviously the most important children’s show ever. I think that the magazine format is a perfect format for the short attention spans of younger kids. The variety show explosion happened there at the end of the 60’s and ended in the early 80’s so my golden years, so to speak, of freetime to watch TV and be totally warped was during this variety show heyday. In the 80’s things started to shift toward more of the music video era and children’s shows experienced a more “let’s sell toys” kind of mentality not “let’s entertain and educate.” It was more like let’s hypnotize and create half hour commercials for cheap. You can feel the difference. ANYWAY, enough soap boxing, I loved shows that were really trying to entertain everyone, on multiple levels. Sid and Marty Krofft were pretty intense entertainers and they made shows to entertain on multiple levels. Land of the Lost is like almost Star Trek complicated in many ways but it was for ‘kids’. Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Muppet Show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, a lot of the Japanese import cartoons, Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Shows that actually cared about their audience… at least it felt that way. That’s what really influenced these shows I’m working on.
JJ: I think even more so than these influential shows, you’ve done a good job of creating a niche in the entertainment world bridging the kids demographic and the parent demographic. Can this be done in the world of comics and superheroes? Could the Aquabats translate to comic book form?
CJ: Sure! I think there could be an Aquabats Cartoon. I think there already are comics that adults and kids are already into. All the bigs…Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, etc. you know. I think that sometimes the classics try to get too ‘edgy’ to attract new readers etc. but.. in essence it just turns off the loyal fan base. If I want edgy I can get that on the news.. you know?
JJ: Yeah, making them edgy closes off the whole kids’ audience, where what you do brings those demographics together. Many of our readers on ComicAttack.net have kids and are wanting to introduce them to media without having to worry about stuff that is too sexualized or violent. Is this why you’ve done so much to create shows that are fun for both parents and kids?
CJ: Hey! That’s a great refreshing question. I am a Dad myself and I worry about that stuff a lot. I think when you become a parent, you change your attitudes toward life and the sacredness of life etc. To just trivialize sexuality, death and violence like it doesn’t matter is not really that cool. In fact, I had all these old school Punk tee shirts and stuff with Skulls on them and I just got rid of them all! I guess i’m OLD! But seriously, it’s like… we’re walking around in the comforts of Western Civilization pounding out our chests with skulls and bones on our tee shirts and being all crass about stuff. While people in other parts of the world are really being killed in wars and sexually brutalized etc. etc. Like real horror stuff going on and it’s super embarrassing to see how callous our society can become about it at times. Anyway, I think there is no greater cause than to create fun and positive influences on the younger generation. Create real creators, not real monsters, you know? By creating something for parents and kids, the hope is to create a bridge that can successfully navigate the future of our world. Like a bond of trust and common ground to build on. What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?? HA! Ok.. I’m a hippy.
JJ: Hippies are cool! Tell us what’s coming up in the world of Yo Gabba Gabba. What can we expect in upcoming episodes?
CJ: Season four is pretty much more of the craziness that is Yo Gabba Gabba. We are going to get a look into the life and world of Gooble the crying ghost which I am pretty exicted about. Also, Lance takes us to his super cool music and toy room, which I am also pretty excited about. Lots of cool bands and great guests. I can’t wait.
JJ: In addition to being a fan of Yo Gabba Gabba, I am the host of a superhero fight podcast called Contest of Champions. I’ve always wanted to know who would win in a fight between Muno, Plex, Brobee, Toodee, and Foofa? My money’s on Plex.
CJ: Yeah…that is easy money. Plex is not only solid metal but he is also solid magic. He could do some major damage and without even throwing a punch he could teleport beam all the character’s into like… a snake pit…. or even worse…a CHUCK-E-CHEESE!! HAHA!!
Many thanks to Christian for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us! Be sure to check out The Aquabats! Super Show! on The Hub on Saturday mornings at 11 am EST/8 am PST! If you’re looking for a cool show to watch with your kids, this is it!