Members of the rock band The Aquabats were looking for a way to stand out when they formed in 1994 in Orange County, Calif. A love of Saturday-morning cartoons and a little sewing helped turn the ska band into a group of rocking superheroes.
Band members — wearing costumes inspired by the novel looks of groups like Devo and Oingo Boingo — not only play music but fight weird-looking creatures on stage. The heroes come to cable Saturday in the new Hub TV network series "The Aquabats! Super Show!"
The show features the same mix of music, madness and mania that has been a trademark of their road show. The series follows the band on their quest to right wrongs, destroy boredom and seek justice for all.
"We started pitching the show to a lot of different networks in late 1997 and shot a pilot in 1998 and another one in 1999. We had a couple of deals but nothing happened," says Christian Jacobs, the group's lead singer, who performs under the name The MC Bat Commander.
A reason The Aquabats went from TV footnote to series has a lot to do with Jacobs, who with Scott Schultz created the cable series "Yo Gabba Gabba!" The success of that series made network executives take a more serious look at the new music/action show.
The TV version of The Aquabats has to do with how Jacobs was raised.
"TV was my other parents. That's not a knock on my parents. It was just a time before parents groups and scientists started saying how bad Saturday-morning programming was. So I watched a lot of it," Jacobs says.
One can see influences from Japanese anime and the works of Sid and Marty Krofft in "The Aquabats" series. Jacobs knew the show needed to be big, colorful and full of energy to hold the attention of young viewers. He's borrowed a page from '60s live-action Saturday morning-series "The Banana Splits" to give the show a quick pace. He even includes an animated version of The Aquabats as one of the regular features.
These days, Jacobs could use some super powers as he works on the next season of "Yo Gabba Gabba" and produces the 13 episodes of "The Aquabats" ordered. The band continues to tour and record — going from satirical to a more serious music — releasing their fifth studio album last year. If time ever permits, the band will hit the road again.
There was a time when the band wondered if performing in outlandish costumes would hurt their credibility as musicians. They decided to just take fun seriously.
That they didn't change helped The Aquabats stick long enough to finally get a spot on Saturday morning TV.
"The Aquabats! Super Show!" airs at 6 a.m. Saturdays on The Hub.