The MC Bat Commander of The Aquabats Talks Alien Conspiracies, Homestar Runner, and Biz Markie

The Aquabats
It's been almost six years since the costume wearing pop-punk veterans The Aquabats put out a new album. That's a pretty big gap, but you can probably attribute a big portion of that to the fact that Aquabat's lead singer The MC Bat Commander is also Christian Jacobs, co-creator of the popular kids TV show Yo Gabba Gabba!

But fortunately for longtime Aquabats fans, Jacobs has managed to take a little bit of a break from teaching the kids the importance of not biting their friends to release the bands latest record Hi-Five Soup!  In addition to releasing their new record, the band is currently on tour, which will be making a stop in Mesa on Saturday, February 26th at the Nile Theater.

Up on the Sun
recently caught up with The MC Bat Commander (a.k.a. Christian Jacobs) to discuss the band's new album, alien conspiracies and Homestar Runner.

Up on the Sun: It's been almost six years in between albums for The Aquabats. Was there any one particular thing that caused the delay or a lot of little things?

MC Bat Commander: There are a lot of reasons really, but I am not sure if any of them are terribly interesting so I am going with we were involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the resident alien government in an underground city beneath a volcano and we were attacked by werewolves in sheep's clothing. It took us a while to achieve our objectives.

UOTS: With the band recently signing to Fearless Records do you think there will be another big gap in between records?

MBC: We are really happy to work with Fearless and we hope we can keep putting stuff out as long as people will be into it. I hope there are no more big gaps between records but you never know when it could happen. This could be our last record or the last gap or the last gasp.

UOTS: You had mentioned in a previous interview that Hi-Five Soup! is a bit of Yo Gabba Gabba! meets The Aquabats. How do you think the combination has gone over with longtime fans?

MBC: Overall, I think good. There are a few fans that complain that the record sounds too kiddie or that we've become a kiddie band. I don't know what band they've been listening too for the last 15 years but that is our thing. We are a kiddie band. It's satirical but that is the levels we play to. We have always been a campy kiddie act. It never changed. Maybe those kids just grew up. Oh well, sorry.

The Aquabats performing "Pool Party" on Yo Gabba Gabba!

UOTS: Was it difficult to balance your time between working on Yo Gabba Gabba! and recording a new Aquabats album?

MBC: Yeah, that had a lot to do with it. Yo Gabba Gabba! is a real time consumer. But a lot of the lag time between albums was with a lot of us being really lazy. Like, looking for excuses not to finish songs. You know like, 'well if so and so isn't going to make it to practice then I'm not going either' or 'why work on songs when they are just going to get changed and my feelings are going to get hurt?' There are a lot of big babies in our band and I am the biggest. Sadly, we are human babies, dog babies are so much cuter.

UOTS: Have there been younger kids showing up at your live shows because of the whole Yo Gabba Gabba! connection?

MBC: Yeah, for sure and that is really fun to see young kids at our shows. I like knowing that that is probably their first rock show, maybe even their first live music experience. I hope they go to shows later in life and think, 'yeah, this is cool but it's no Aquabats show.' We like to set the expectations high for the future.

UOTS: Do you find that working on new music is a good way for you to get away from the stresses of running a television show?

MBC: Actually, making this record was way more stressful than making a TV show. There are no guarantees in music. It is a real gamble. With a television show, you get an order to produce a certain number of episodes and that order is a guarantee. So even though it's hectic, you know you are going to be able to support your family and pay your bills during the production phase. The music industry is so different now. Internet downloading has made it so hard to make any money off songs and it's so easy to record an album in your car with a fisher price microphone that budgets are almost non-existent for new albums - on indie labels at least. So, it's like you have to find a lot of time to finish the album and find money for the producer and take a bunch of work off and stress out and then think, 'is this really worth it? Does anyone really want to hear these crazy songs?' You have to fight through it and just commit, it's like our career in a nutshell, just commit.

UOTS: For the song "Radio Down" you collaborated with fellow YGG! cohort Biz Markie.  What was it like collaborating with Biz?

MBC: Really cool. Biz is a cool cat. We love him a lot. He was on tour and we sent him the track. He recorded it in his hotel room in the shower. So it wasn't really collaborating, it was Biz just working his Biz-nez. We are just stoked to even talk to him, much the less have him on the album.

UOTS: Another guest on the record is Strong Bad from the popular internet cartoon series Homestar Runner. How did that collaboration come about?

MBC: Yeah, my brothers had met the Chapman brothers [creators of Homestar Runner] about 8 years ago and we had them do a cartoon for Yo Gabba Gabba! the first season. We are huge fans, of course. Last year, we started collaborating with Matt and Mike on some new projects for TV that we are still working towards and when we were almost done with the album, I was like, 'shoot, we should have Strong Bad or Homestar on the album.' So I called Matt and he was cool enough to do it, even though it probably would have been better to write a song and do a duet or something. Maybe next time.

UOTS: In a recent interview mentioned the possibility of an Aquabats TV show? Can you give us any details on that?

MBC: It has been in the works for 12 years now. We have developed it with several studios for years. From Disney, to Fox, to Cartoon Network. Now we may actually have a chance to do it on another network but we can't announce anything yet. Seriously, at this point I can't really say it's going to happen until we have episodes in the can and that is still a few months off. But this is seriously the closest we have been to it actually happening. Never give up on a good idea, I guess. At least we always believed in it.

UOTS: The Aquabats have a pretty impressive reputation for their live shows, what can fans expect at your show this time around?

MBC: You wouldn't believe me if I told you. You'll have to see it to believe it.

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Mike Escoto