Has success changed the Aquabats? The Emmy-nominated "The Aquabats! Super Show!" is back for a second season on The Hub, and band front man/series creator Christian Jacobs describes the positive response to the show as "surreal." "The Aquabats have always kind of been the nerd fraternity in the music scene, the Lambda Lambda Lambdas. We've always had a fanbase that's been loyal to us and we've been steadily growing over the last hundred years we've been a band."
Still, Jacobs says, he was worried that the live-action/animated series might not resonate with kids. "We all like it because it references things we grew up watching," he says, noting the mix of Saturday morning influences at the heart of "Super Show!" which ambitiously blended genres and formats in its first season (Jacobs will tell me later it was a little too ambitious, perhaps).
Fortunately, this colorful, kinetic, musical series did just that, earning another batch of episodes with the Hub, and allowing Jacobs and his band of misfit musicians and sometimes superheroes to have more adventures involving space, monsters, space monsters, and whatever other oddities Jacobs and the show's writers can throw at the domino mask-wearing heroes. "I go to my kid's soccer games and kids call me 'Bat Commander' and stuff," he says. "It's a show for kids, but really it's a show for all of us."
"A lot of things shifted," Jacobs tells me. While he says that season two allowed "The Aquabats" to expand in ways that they couldn't in season one, that freshman year involved a lot of "jumping off of ramps into walls." Jacobs promises that the new season's live-action segments will be filled with more pyrotechnics and car chases as the series expands its scope while the animated sequences will involve varied animation styles (he notes that the opening of season two has stop-motion, and rotoscoping, both time-intensive styles for a weekly animated show).
When I asked what were some of the challenges of the first season that the series' production needed to overcome, Jacobs laughs. "Oh man. The first season--it was kind of like, be careful what you wish for." It all comes down to the budget constraints of that first year--although Jacobs is quick to thank the network for giving him and his band the money to execute their oddball and exciting vision (he describes the show as "risky").
However, he says the production for season one was given a minimum in terms of financial support which led to cut corners in post-production and animation with the use of a small team to make big episodes--that final episode of the season had a crew of five for the big, climactic scene. By the time the production team had reached the last four episodes of the season, Jacobs says they had to rely on friends to come in and help, but it's clear that Jacobs doesn't really blame the network for the failure to execute some of the big ideas of "The Aquabats!" "The pressure was super high," he tells me, "And we were really naive going into it. But if we weren't, we probably wouldn't have done it [laughs]." But they got through that first season--Jacobs leaning on his director Jason deVilliers and the series producers to get through those trying first episodes.
"I think after this last season, we could do anything with the show," Jacobs says when I ask him about taking "The Aquabats!" to a longer format, perhaps a feature. He's keen on the idea of bringing the show to a film or any other type of format. He says at this point, he's fearless about the future of the show, which has been able to nab guests like My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way as a guest star. It doesn't come off as cockiness when you talk to him, though--it's clear that the first season left him and his team a little bruised, but the audience response seems to have enervated them.
I wanted to know who else he might want to get on the show as either a hero or villain. "Definitely Bill Murray," he chuckles. "I mean Bill Murray as a hero and a villain would be incredible." You can tell he's thought about it--describing Murray as "a hero," Jacobs says he'd love to have the actor and prankster on the show as a washed-up superhero in spandex. They've also approached bands like Rancid to be on the show, but timing hasn't worked out, and Jacobs says that they'd like to get groups that you wouldn't expect to make an appearance like Metallica.
The second season of "The Aquabats! Super Show!" made its return this past Saturday. You can look for new episodes every Saturday at 1 PM ET on The Hub TV.