- Interview by Annette Ovanessian
- Photo by Jimbo Gray
- The Aquabats are, by far, the most outrageous band featured in this O.C. issue. Their fashion is beyond compare, and their performance is downright comical. Believing that they were rescued from a secluded island somewhere off the coast, they now co-exist on Earth for the purpose of rule and domination. The "Bat Commander" is the key leader of the bunch and directs his cadets to produce good music. Whether there's a touch of ska, a touch of punk, or a hint of a resemblance to Devo, The Aquabats have truly initiated their own signature sound. With overly-confident characters, they are still Toys "R" Us kids, and have no problems making light of situations that call for some humorous attention. Singing songs about play dough, falling asleep on your arm, and getting your CDs jacked proves that they're getting old and long for a second childhood. But I do have to admit: I miss a lot of things, too, like the first Super Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt combo pack!
- Not only are their songs amusing, but their DVD, SERIOUS AWESOMENESS, is an extremely hilarious collection of infomercials and outtakes uniquely compiled by The Aquabats themselves. It's truly entertaining, as well as an accurate portrayal of their extreme sense of being. Although The Aquabats do not have a new album out at the moment, they do practice at their own studio in Santa Ana, CA, every Tuesday and Thursday night. Apparently, for quite some time now The Aquabats have been working towards creating their own Saturday morning TV show dedicated to laughter. To become an aquabat is a challenge, but to be an aquabat is easy. Hundreds of make-believers come dressed up as aquabats at shows—and even go to school as them, too.
- I got a chance to sit down with The Aquabats at their studio and ask them about their purpose and pleasures. I'm not sure if any questions I asked were actually answered, but I guarantee you will laugh at their hare-brained sense of humor.
The Aquabats interviewed: CHRISTIAN: Bat Commander/vocals CRASH: bass/security/larger member of the group PRINCE ADAM: fill-in guy for guitar, keyboards, etc.
SKRATCH: What exactly is an aquabat? Are you guys "water bats" that fly through the sea? CHRISTIAN: That's an age-old question that needs to be answered! It's kind of a hybrid animal, like a bat toy. It's not really an animal or anything; it's just kind of like the name of our group, like The Clash—and they actually matched sometimes! See, our dads were in this gang in New York City back in the '50s called the Aquabats, so we were like, "Our dads are cool. Let's start a gang like them."
SKRATCH: Are their any female aquabats that exist? CHRISTIAN: Yeah, our moms!
SKRATCH: Christian, you are the Bat Commander. Is your job to command over your cadets? CRASH: It's more like the president of the United States. You think he's the guy in charge, but he really doesn't have anything to do with anything; it's all the other guys that do all the work. CHRISTIAN: It's kind of symbolic to what were doing here. It's like geese flying in a triangle: there's one in the front, but it doesn't mean that he's more important than the tips or the wings of the formation. CRASH: It doesn't necessarily mean he knows where he's going, either. The other guys are just following him.
SKRATCH: Since you guys were rescued from a secluded island and were all once leaders of your own tribe, what makes you (Christian) the commander here on Earth? CHRISTIAN: [Clueless of the question] PRINCE ADAM: She's trying to figure out the hierarchy level here. CRASH: Yeah, why are you in charge? CHRISTIAN: I don't know. I guess I just signed up first. What do you think guys? If you want me to step down…Is that what you're saying? ALL: [Arguing back and forth] CHRISTIAN: What I'm feeling right now is a lot of negative energy towards the commander, so if you want to take a vote, it's up to you guys. CRASH: I mean, I've always thought that the singer should be the commander. Why would the guy playing drums be the commander? CHRISTIAN: What I'm saying to you guys is that I care about you guys enough that I would let that go. I mean, I'm easy. I could be Dickie Fitness or Johnny the Prince—I don't mind; but if you guys are down, I wouldn't mind. I'll stay being the commander. What do you say? PRINCE ADAM: I really enjoy you being the commander, so I really want us to continue this way and have this relationship continue to be a fulfilling, positive circle. CHRISTIAN: We are the champions!
SKRATCH: What is The Aquabats phenomenon? CHRISTIAN: It's crazy wherever we go. Like, we can be at Moe's Burger, and people could be coming in and talking about The Aquabats. We put it out there and we give people a choice—kind of like soft drinks: you get a choice, you can pick whichever one you want. You could pick us, or you could pick… CRASH: I like Diet Coke. CHRISTIAN: Yeah, I can tell. CRASH: I think the phenomenon has to do with the fact that there weren't any Aquabats to begin with. We were the first! CHRISTIAN: Well, besides our dads.
SKRATCH: Do you guys often think about your long lost island? CHRISTIAN: Okay, it's kind of like this: they took Tarzan out of the jungle and taught him how to eat with a spoon, alright? He longed to be back with the apes—suckling, eating bananas, and swinging from vines. On our island, there were no Armenian pastries, so I'm not in a big rush to get back there right this minute. We're just a band…or are we?
SKRATCH: You have been called the "musical superheroes." What are some of your special powers, who are your enemies, and who are your love interests? CHRISTIAN: It's kind of like this: politics is a dirty game, rock 'n' roll is a dirty game, and if you see someone in your pathway and you want to get to the top, take 'em out! That's what my sword's for. Have you seen any other superhero bands around out now? No. We're on top of the heap of corpses. And do we mind? No. Do thousands of happy children care that we kill other men to get where we are? Maybe not. Some might say they deserve a choice. PRINCE ADAM: However, I tend to disagree with that. I believe that we are the chose. [All are laughing at his made-up word] CRASH: I understand exactly what he's saying. He's trying to say "chosen" and "choice" at the same time. CHRISTIAN: That's the name of the next record: THE CHOSE!
SKRATCH: What is the creative process like for The Aquabats? Do you usually have the lyrics down first, or does the music come before the lyrics? CRASH: A song is kind of like a piece of clay: you have the clay, and you sculpt it. You look at the clay, and you say, What is the clay going to be? Is it going to be a naked person, or is it going to be like… PRINCE ADAM: Michelangelo's DAVID. CRASH: We just kind of like slice off the pieces until we realize what the art is inside the clay. CHRISTIAN: Okay: we write the songs first, and then the lyrics come later. He's trying to say this: songs are realized, they just kind of happen. There are some songs we've been realizing for many years now, and we don't feel that they're at a point where other people can hear them yet. That's why we haven't made a record in four or five years. PRINCE ADAM: I'm just saying it's like making a sculpture out of smoke: you get the details, and you try to visualize it.
SKRATCH: A lot of your songs are about reminiscing about the olden days, like, "What happened to all my lost toys?" and remembering elementary-school lunch menus Monday thru Friday. Is writing songs about these things a way to keep a hold of the memories so that you will never forget them? And what are some other things you often reminisce about when looking back on your childhood? CHRISTIAN: Probably doing the robot. I don't have to reminisce, because I can still do it! CRASH: It's actually a really good question, though. CHRISTIAN: Sorry, I didn't mean to make a light of the question. I'm being the commander jerk again. Hold on, let me scoot back. CRASH: You always reminisce to the past, because sometimes the past is always prettier than the present. But then the future always looks good, too. I think you need to reminisce to realize that for it to be good now, it was better then. PRINCE ADAM: We're basically really hard-core reactionaries. We really want to bring it back to about 1640. CHRISTIAN: No, 420. See that's what happened: you grew up, and it sucks because you have to pay bills, and you wish you were a kid again. It's a common thing, and we only really write songs that are common among all men. One day you wake up and you realize all the good stuff's gone. All I have now is Norah Jones to hang on to.
SKRATCH: From the first album THE FURY OF THE AQUABATS to your most recent, MYTHS AND LEGENDS VOL. 1 & 2, what are some of the most significant changes? CHRISTIAN: I've peeped a lot of yo! CRASH: I think we've definitely matured. We were in a band called Immature. PRINCE ADAM: There's actually a funny story about that, because when we recorded THE FURY OF THE AQUABATS, the band Immature was also there recording at the same time. CHRISTIAN: Can you imagine what it was like: The Aquabats in one studio and Immature in the other studio? CRASH: I thought it was the guy who wore his pants backwards? CHRISTIAN: No, that's Kris Kross. The Kris Kross guy was producing that record, wasn't he? All I saw was a guy with backwards pants, and people were screaming. PRINCE ADAM: Maybe we can draw a little parallel. Perhaps, Immature: THE FURY OF THE AQUABATS; Kobe Bryant: THE FLOATING EYE OF DEATH; but on MYTHS AND LEGENDS…How do we cut that one? CHRISTIAN: Well, we did borrow Mike Ness's guitar to play on some of the songs. He didn't know we borrowed it, but now it's out. SHOOT! PRINCE ADAM: I mean, it was only his '59 Gibson. CHRISTIAN: When we were recording the record, he left his guitar at the studio, and the guy we were recording with was gloating, like, "Check out that '59 Gibson, dude. That's Mike Ness's with the fat strings." And we were like, "Okay, sure." Next song we recorded with that guitar. Sorry, Mike. PRINCE ADAM: It was the song "Why Rock".
SKRATCH: On the MYTHS AND LEGENDS album, you guys have a bunch of B-sides and rarities. How many other B-sides and rarities do you currently have that did not make it on the album? Do you guys always record you sessions in hopes of inspiring a new idea or just a song for your own personal collection? CHRISTIAN: These questions are getting harder and harder. PRINCE ADAM: Well, for MYTHS AND LEGENDS, we had more myths and legendies that are only available on our Website. CHRISTIAN: We've kind of made it a habit now to record all of our songs, no matter how retarded they are—and they get pretty gnarly. That way, we can go back and listen to them and go, "Whoa!" PRINCE ADAM: I mean, there's "The Return of the British Knights", there's "Lonely Horseman". They're songs that were just put out there, man! CHRISTIAN: "Inner City Samurai". There's so many songs that we didn't actually want anyone to hear because they were so terrible. We record a lot of our songs now, but we don't actually record our jam sessions, because those would be a waste of tape.
SKRATCH: What is this talk about an Aquabats TV show on Saturday mornings? Is this still an idea, or is that old news? CHRISTIAN: It's always been an idea that is old news. It's kind of like the book GO, DOG. GO! No matter how many times you read it, it's always going to be GO, DOG. GO! The reason I say that is because Crash looks like the dog in GO, DOG. GO! right now. We've been working on it for a long, long time, and it could still happen. We're getting more mature as we get older. PRINCE ADAM: We've reached a combined maturity of about 15 years old at this point—and that's up from six in 1997.
SKRATCH: I went to your show a few weeks ago, and you guys were playing some skits from your DVD on the screen. They were very funny. Who wrote these comical skits? CRASH: They're commercials that are made to sell products. PRINCE ADAM: There's the pudding belt. CHRISTIAN: ...Where you dispense pudding out of your belt. Why wouldn't you want to dispense pudding out of your belt? We've been pitching our ideas to a lot of corporations. We're trying to get corporate sponsorship. We would like Lysol to buy into our band, or, like, WD40.
SKRATCH: Who makes your outfits? CHRISTIAN: I guess the Professor claims he made our outfits. It was kind of like a sweatshop type of situation, where we were not only making our own outfits, but we were making Nike's, we were making overalls for OshKosh, and we were making Buster Brown shoes.
SKRATCH: How does it make you feel when you see all these kids (or "cadets," as you call them) that come to your shows dressed up like an aquabat? CHRISTIAN: Those kids rip! PRINCE ADAM: That's what we call 100% effort. CHRISTIAN: Even though I don't think it's too unique, I think our fans are the bravest fans in the world, because you go to our show and there are kids dressed up like Armenian pastries, churros, and pumpkins. I'm just saying that our kids not only dress like that at our shows, but they go to school like that. Do they get pummeled? Yes. That's what punk rock is—not the Luke Skywalker hobbit hair that seems to be everywhere these days. GOSH! Can't kids just get strap-on butterfly wings or something? Why do they have to bring back some '70s haircut? Not that it's not cool...I'm just saying....
SKRATCH: What does the serious side of The Aquabats consist of? What things in life happen that you have to drop all the jokes and be totally serious? CRASH: Battles. You can joke around all you want, but, you know. CHRISTIAN: We fight monsters. [A beast monster walks in.]
SKRATCH: Okay, so, Humpty had his own dance, and MC Hammer had his own dance, but what does The Aquabats march look like? Can you please demonstrate? [They all get up and demonstrate.] CHRISTIAN: It's kind of like a free for all…like jazz. It's like doing the cabbage patch with a sword. Corey Feldman was good at the Aquabat march. PRINCE ADAM: There's a hitch in it. CHRISTIAN: [Completely out of breath] Anyway, kids at home, remember: