The Aquabats won’t take credit for the whole super-hero fantasy cosplay thing, even if they have been doing it since the 1990s.
“We’ve been like a rock and roll comic con for the last 20 years,” says Christian Jacobs, who performs under the name MC Bat Commander in blue spandex jump suit shorts, a face mask and penciled-in mustache. He’s the band’s singer/leader.
“From way back we’ve been trying to do this silly superhero thing,” he says.
And it’s worked out well. The group has created a following with its music – a new wave ska punk hybrid – and also a live-action musical comedy series that aired for two seasons on the Hub Network. In July, the band kicked off a Kickstarter campaign with a sold-out concert that featured guest spots from Weird Al Yankovic, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal), CJ Ramone (The Ramones), Tom Lennon (Reno 911) and Bobcat Goldthwait.
The campaign runs through Sept. 29 and the band is doing a set of concert dates to get the word out, even though it’s already fully funded (and then some). They play 6 p.m. Friday at Strummer’s.
Having this kind of multimedia platform has always been in the cards, Jacobs says. The Aquatbats were obviously a band, but they were also a brand, with the superhero identities and the matching costumes. And they always wanted to do a TV show; they even had interest from a network as far back as 1998, though it didn’t go anywhere, Jacobs says.
It took the explosion of online content and a surge in the popularity of superheros for the band to really find its niche. In 2012, “The Aquabats! Super Show!” debuted.
“That really helped expand the audience,” Jacobs says.
The audience now spans generations.
When the Aquabats play an all-age shows, it’s a fairly literal thing.. They welcome parents and their children and have been known to invite the little ones on to the stage for a singalong.
“We’re a little older. All of us are dads,” Jacobs says.
But unlike their own parents, who were serious adults with no interest in “kids stuff,” Jacobs’ generation remains a fan of pop culture. They are driving their kids to the comic conventions (and sometimes tagging along in costume). They are as eager as their children to see the latest Marvel superhero movie.
Or, an Aquabats concert.
It’s not that his generation is any less responsible as adults, Jacobs says. They just maybe don’t take themselves as serious.
We could use more of that, he says.
“It’s the spirit of being young. You never have to stop having fun.”