INTERVIEW: The Aquabats By: Alex Steininger
Alex: What are some of your musical influences?
The Aquabats: Aloha from Hawaii, 1972 or 1973? The Skeletones, Boy George, Areathra Franklin, Jackie Wilson, Jackie Chan...yeah, he can sing. Basically you can see we all have a wide variety of music that influences all of us. If you think about it, everyone influences you. Like if you turn on MTV Matchbox 20 could be on and make you not want to play that. Everything is an influence.
Alex: Is there any bands that are currently active that you like?
The Aquabats: Skeletones, that's the only band! Kip from the Skeletones solo project. Goldfinger...
Kip: That is my solo project (laughter.)
The Aquabats: (laughter), oh! Man?...Or Astroman? Radiohead, Hepcat, Spike Jones, Jump With Joey, Freakdaddy, Night Rider, there's a lot of them.
Alex: What are your goals for 1998?
The Aquabats: To conquer the web first! That's why we're doing this interview.
Alex: What do you do on the road for fun?
The Aquabats: Right now we play a lot of Game Boy. We have two Game Boys and we pass them around.
Alex: Is there any road experience that stands out in your mind?
The Aquabats: Our band got sucked into a twister....and that's right, every experience on the road is deadly and dangerous for The Aquabats, but we make it through to the other side, for the kids. Do you know what I mean? We are busting lose. We're busting the juice loose.
Alex: If you could tour with anyone, who would you tour with?
The Aquabats: The Wu-Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes, The Skeletones, Weird Al, Missy Elliot, Public Enemy Reunion tour, The Nickelodeon tour with the Good Burger crew, Doomsday Device, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Iron Maiden, and the list could just go on.
Alex: What's your favorite city to play?
The Aquabats: City? Portland for sure.
Alex: Seriously, or are you guys just trying to kiss ass?
The Aquabats: No we're not. La Luna is cool, and Portland kicks ass. And the Crystal Ballroom is also very nice! We like Portland it's great, but any town...any town, USA is also nice.
Alex: Is there any road experience that stands out in your mind?
The Aquabats: Jackson Hole. We went down into the hole and played with the moose. Walked under the antlers, and went to the circle of energy and passed it around.
Alex: What goes into good music making for you guys?
The Aquabats: We'll...start out in the morning with lots of sugar, it gives you that quick energy, and then you grab your rock 'n roll guitar, table, or pot and pan...whatever you want to rock on that day...it's all about the energy, and just play. Use a sandwich made with Iron like the Thing, and eat that. Then rock out on Ceramics. Get those combinations going together, and you have a great rock 'n roll fest. Then you have yourself some music. You need to get back to the roots of rock 'n roll each morning. Cocoa Puffs...
Alex: Fruity Pebbles!
The Aquabats: Yeah, Fruity Pebbles. Right on. Your right on the money with that one.
Alex: What made you guys want to be in a band?
The Aquabats: It wasn't our decision to be in a band, it was a choice that had to be made. It had nothing to do with our wants and desires. It had to do with something that an event that needed to happen, and we are the necessary tool to make it happen.
Alex: What do you enjoy and hate about the music industry?
The Aquabats: The money! We can't stand making money at all. We hate it so much, if you write us we'll send you lots of money!
Alex: I'll take it off your hands, just as a friend and all. If it's hurting you that much, give it to me. I'd love to help out and take it off your hands.
The Aquabats: Sure, I don't see why not. If you want some money, ok. It's getting so bad, we have blisters on our hands. Every show we need to carry a wheelbarrow to keep all our money in, and after awhile it's hurting our hands. We're really in it just for fun, and they keep giving us money, and it's really bumming us out. My room is full of uncashed checks for forty and fifty thousand dollars. I wish someone would just try to rip us off every once in awhile. Give someone else the chance.
Alex: As a band is there anything in your history you would change?
The Aquabats: There is a couple of key changes that happened. We play a lot in the key of A. And if we could play a B Sharp that would be nice. But I don't really like history, I like math better. Actually, everything is going as planned. There are a few guys who aren't with us today. We wish we could take the whole crew, but like I said, there is so much money that we get there is no more room in the van. The whole back row is all gold pieces and silver bricks. Solid gold bricks from all the money we make at the shows. I'm just going to go home and sit in my Roles-Royce and just think about all the money. I think the only thing we would change is that everyone could get in for free. Everyone, all the time.
Alex: So what are the highest and lowest points you've experienced as a band?
The Aquabats: The highest point would be when we conquered Ticket master with Pearl Jam. I think right now with the new record coming out we are at a high point for The Aquabats. But the low point would be this time last year when we didn't know where to put all the money, or maybe this time next year when our record flops on it's face. But "The Fury of The Aquabats" will be released and unleash it's fury, and we have nothing but high hopes and goals for the album, and that's why we're at a high point. A high point, metaphorically speaking, isn't when you reach the top, it's right before you reach the top. Even though we will never reach the top, the fact that we're rocking towards the top is a high point. We just did a video for our first single, "Super Rad," and it's pretty horrible...opps! I mean good! No, it's funny. There isn't enough mustaches in the video.
Alex: What inspires you guys to write songs? Humor? Life?
The Aquabats: Just political stuff like being under 21, Spam, Under 21, stuff like that.
Alex: What do you want the listener to get out of your music?
The Aquabats: A frolic off the shoulders. A frolic and a good time. Maybe sit down, read the lyrics, and get a good chuckle here and there. Maybe hear the music and go, "DAMN!" We also aspire to teach kids how to write Nursery Rhymes.
Alex: What made you guys want to cover "Knowledge" for the Operation Ivy Tribute Album?
The Aquabats: Operation Ivy gave us a call and told us to do this compilation. The Beastie Boys were out of town, so they said, "Aquabats unite!" We formed the shape of a purple monkey and a bucket of ice. And we did Knowledge.
Alex: Do you see your cover as an insult?
The Aquabats: Not at all! It just adds to it. We took Operation Ivy literally. We were afraid some people would take it as an insult, but those people need to lighten up. We all love Operation Ivy, but we felt stupid covering them. We were like, "who are we to cover Operation Ivy? Why are they doing this compilation?" Do you know what I mean? Why even do it? They're never going to make them better. So why even do it? Copying the song and making it more ska or being a swing band and making it more swing...sorry lost my thought. We just decided to lighten it up and do it for fun, because the compilation...there is so many bands that love Operation Ivy it wasn't even necessary to do this compilation. But it was fun to do. I hope nobody thinks we were making fun of Operation Ivy, because we love Operation Ivy. We just like it the way it is.
Alex: Did everyone play on that song or how did it work?
The Aquabats: It was all the Aquabats and their little brothers and sister. We were going to do it in the studio, but we thought doing it in front of a campfire would be better. So we took a camcorder and took the tape right from there and that is what the recording is. A high eight audio tape. It was all analog done. The Boy Scout troop #704 from Los Angeles, we want to give them a shout out!
Alex: Do you consider yourselves just a novelty act?
The Aquabats: Yes! Definitely! We don't take music seriously at all. We're all about fun, especially our drummer who sits around and makes jokes all day. We're all fake barf and whoppy cushions. We won't even be a one hit wonder. We're just like a pizza. It's great when you look at it, but once you eat it you forget about it.
Alex: Any plans for after The Aquabats?
The Aquabats: Yeah, get married and have some kids. But actually, The Aquabats are just to launch our modeling career. It's just a stepping stone.
Alex: What's with the on-stage uniforms and the story of needing to save Aquabania?
The Aquabats: Story? What do you mean? That's the truth. It's life. The whole point here is that we need to make enough money to return to Aquabania. That's why we're in a band. See, when we said earlier we are just a novelty band we were being sarcastic. We are on a mission. We're definitely on a mission to get the most from the least. Do you know what I mean? Eat a lot of jelly donuts and get back to Aquabania as quick as possible. You see to some Aquabania is just this little island to surf, but it is a state of mind and a place we all came from.
Alex: How did your deal with Goldenvoice Records come about?
The Aquabats: They talked us into it, because Horchata is are record label. There were a lot of companies interested: Capitol, MCA, RCA, Mojo, Virgin, Geffen, Epic, Warner Bros., Maverick, NBA, NAACP, Trent Reznor's label, ICP, everyone wanted a piece of The Aquabats. We met a man named Paul, and he said, "I'm going to lay it on the line for you guys. I want to make a game show for you guys, but first you need to record us a record." So we said, "where do we sign?" He broke out a quill pen and we signed.
Alex: What are your expectations for "The Fury of The Aquabats?"
The Aquabats: Kids are going to be running and screaming to get it. They'll be like King Kong, know what I mean? We'll be bigger than Oasis. We'll be twice as big as Oasis. We're going to go to England and fight Oasis. With broken beer bottles that they threw at us.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
The Aquabats: Yeah, track one through fifteen. All of them! Track nine is great...a great cut! Track eight and four are stand outs, and track one. Also, the bonus track. There's actually three bonus tracks. It's like a triple by-pass. A triple bonus by-pass to the influx.
Alex: What made you want to re-record songs off your first album and put them on the new album?
The Aquabats: Pressure from the police. They called us up and said, "your last record didn't do justice. Justice was not served. You need to do the songs justice. Show the kids what some of the songs would be like if you had them now, re-recorded good. So we basically did it because of the cops. And we make so much money, we had to to make less money. You see, the more old songs we have, the less money we will eventually make. What happens is the record company gives you a certain amount of money advanced on a certain amount of songs. They gave us an advance for eight songs, so we recorded almost twice that, sixteen, because we knew we would end up making no money, and we did it for the kids. We wanted to prove to the kids we aren't sell outs and we were doing it for them. We're still living at home, sitting in front of the TV mom and dad bought, we're just doing it for fun. Shaka-Rocka.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song of all-time that you guys have written?
The Aquabats: Pool Party, and the height of the Robot Theme Song...Prince Adam's theme song...we're working on theme songs for everyone. They're all turning out pretty good!
Alex: So a "Theme Song" 7"?
The Aquabats: Yes, we're actually working on one. What about our other hit, "Tubthumping?" I get knocked out, yeah, we wrote that. We wrote a lot of songs that have just been coming out on the radio and are big hits. We also wrote a bunch of songs awhile ago like "Today" by the Smashing Pumpkins. We wrote that. We're responsible for everyone on radio today, we'll admit it.
Alex: Yeah, a lot of people love you guys for bringing electronica to the front. You guys are the master minds behind the Chemical Brothers, right?
The Aquabats: Exactly! Daft Punk is all us. We just bought a bunch of sampling equipment and a synthesizer.
Alex: What are your current thoughts on the attention ska has been receiving from the media?
The Aquabats: Ska is pretty bad. That's why we have nothing to do with it. It all stinks because the media hypes it out and makes it sound and then these poor, innocent victims end up listening to horrible bands like The Aquabats, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and Dancehall Crashers and they realize how bad it is. Then there is the good ska bands like Stretch Armstrong who don't get any credit. Also, Jump With Joey, Hepcat, and the Skeletones are the ones that deserve the credit. They paved the highway and now are getting stuff all over them. None of this Buck-O-Nine, Jiz-Mack-Tracky stuff. Do you know what I mean?
Alex: Where do you think ska will be in a year? Back in the underground or all over MTV?
The Aquabats: Honestly, I hope that in a year people still want to have a good time. After the floodgates of ska have been open, I think everyone got into it for fun, so in a year I hope they want to have fun. That's what the Aquabats are all about, fun. You can have fun and not hear a serious message, because I don't think people want to hear a serious message. And that's why they got into The Aquabats in the first place. It's simple, rock 'n roll is here to stay! We just want to have fun.
Alex: Anything I left out that you would like to cover?
The Aquabats: We would like to cover that song "Some Day" by the Twenty Dolls. I would also like to cover my house with wallpaper. And maybe get a little cover for my bookback and shoes so I don't wear out my shoes. I would also like to live in a giant bubble. But once again, we need to apologize to the kids. We're trying our hardest to do what you want us to do, but we are very confused all the time. Someday, maybe everyone will know we are really trying to win at Game Boy pin ball. Thanks!
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