Racket Magazine had a chance to hang out with the Aquabats’ MC Bat Commander and Robot on the way to Guitar Center on Sunset. We talked to them about grappling, the Spice Girls, and even the new record.
Racket: So, the new release is on Nitro… How’s that working out for you?
MC Bat Commander: It’s magic!
R: Insert basic question about the recording process here.
MCBC: Well, we finished the record, and the songs are somewhat good!
Robot: Yeah, we actually got good songs out!
R: You don’t think any of your other albums are any good?
MCBC: As bad as this might sound, we’re always had a lot of people in our band, ’cause we’re all friends; our band has always been a bunch of friends hanging out and we decided to start a band and, of course, we were terrible.
Robot: I think what happened is that we got less people… Does that make sense? People quit. Guys wanted to go do their own thing and go their separate ways. I think we’ve got a solid core of three or four people writing songs; it’s better. It’s that old saying, "too many chefs spoil the soup," or something.
MCBC: Not to sound cliché, but that’s what we’re all about!
R: What happened to everyone else?
Robot: Well, ten years is a long time for anybody, and people have different things on the agenda that they want to check off before they’re done. They figured that "being in the Aquabats" box has been checked long enough.
MCBC: That is a great answer. From now on, you’re answering all the questions.
R: Well, getting back to the serious questions, are you down with O.P.P?
MCBC: Well, that depends on what you’re talking about. You know what I’m saying, dawg?
R: No, I think it’s a pretty straightforward question.
MCBC: Well, I don’t know. Like, a lot of people are more hip than I am, so they know what O.P.P. stands for, but I could never put it together. I never understood what Treach was preaching to me. I think it has something to do with… Well, I’m about as white as it gets and I don’t understand very much of the hip lingo the kids are using these days. So, I guess I’m down for O.P.P., whatever it is, but I don’t know if I’m down with O.P.P. So I can’t really say. Robot?
Robot: Yeah, I’ll just have to second that. That’s as close to the nail as you’re going to get.
MCBC: Yeah, it stands for…
Robot: It stands for justice.
MCBC: Yeah, there you go. If O.P.P. stands for justice, we’re into it.
MCBC: Like, if it’s saving the environment, okay, we’ll do it.
Robot: It doesn’t stand for All American Burger, because that’s A.A.B.
MCBC: Yeah, that is A.A.B. O.P.P. is more like Octagon… People… Party. Octagon Party People! Octagon Party People!!! If that’s what it is, then we’re in. ‘Cause we like to party in the octagon.
Robot: Where do I sign up?
MCBC: We love to grapple! Grappling!
Robot: I’m more of a punch thrower than a grappler.
MCBC: Have you ever had a Crapple?
R: No, I took a crapple earlier.
MCBC: It was when they made those caramel circles that you wrap on apples. They called them "Crapples" at first, and then they realized what a dumb name that was, calling something "Crapple." So, they changed it. Anyways, it’s like Acid Cola; it just never caught on.
Robot: Crapple! Dapple! Like that movie "Cliffhanger."
R: Do you know what a Grapple is?
MCBC: To wrestle someone.
Robot: Some sort of grape and apple hybrid fruit.
R: Yeah! That freaks me out. It’s the epitome of genetic engineering, in your produce section.
(At this point, I somehow made my way into a dead-end parking lot three feet from where I wanted to be.)
R: I want to be over there, in that parking lot.
MCBC: (singing) "I wanna beeeee… Over there!"
Robot: Is that all you want to be?
MCBC: I want to be all that I can be!
R: Going back to this Grapple, does that freak you out?
MCBC: Umm, it seems like a natural progression. If man doesn’t do it first, nature will get around to it.
Robot: Just a brief interjection: See this little place here, The Horn Connection, that’s where I bought all my saxophones.
MCBC: That’s right! That’s a nice place. See this school yard right here? This is where I used to slash on my skateboard, right there.
Robot: Yeah, well I used to dunk over those five year olds.
MCBC: What did you do, just kick them in the face and take it to the hole?
Robot: Didn’t have to, just jumped all the way over them.
R: Do you have any idea what "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls is about? Like, if you want to be with one, you have to be down with three-ways or what?
Robot: (sings the damned song)
MCBC: I think it’s suggestive to the point where they’re trying to sell records, but I think what the lyrics had in mind was "Look, if you want to be with me, you have to let me have my friends." But I think they realized that it could have a double meaning, ’cause kids today are tricky like that. I think the Spice Girls are very clever, and the fact that these girls came out the same times as The Aquabats proves that those girls were way smart. They were very smart and made billions of dollars. We may be making minimum wage as a band…
Robot: But band minimum wage is better than busing tables minimum wage. It’s a different scale.
MCBC: I’d rather be in a band making minimum wage than working on a chain gang.
R: Do you guys do both? Do you guys have day jobs, too?
MCBC: Oh, yeah! Well, the Robot here sells rare coins and antiquities, gold and bullion.
Robot: True dat.
MCBC: Roman coins.
Robot: Ancient Greeks, Romans, whatever you need.
MCBC: If you need some money from an ancient civilization…
Robot: Byzantine Empire. (At this point, Robot trails off with more dead cultures)
MCBC: Robot is your man.
Robot: We even have some yap stone money, the earliest form of currency.
MCBC: As for myself, I just quit my job as a marketing executive of a giant, huge clothing company. DKNY, ever heard of it? I was the sole proprietor in the beginning, even though Donna Karen CLAIMS that it’s her company. It was MCBCNY.
Robot: But there were too many letters, so Donna came to the table and was like, "I think we’re going to change it to my name."
MCBC: It seems like I just needed to close the gap between "n" and "y."
Robot: Basically, he just didn’t want to get with her friends.
MCBC: Okay, what’s Chainsaw? Hint! It’s in his name!
R: Obviously, he’s a lumberjack.
MCBC: He works with lumber, that’s right. He’s one step past chopping it down. He takes chopped down trees and cuts them into fine looking mantles and dresser drawers. Crash has nothing to do with cars. Crash is an electrician. He drives around in his little truck and plugs stuff in and gets sick with it. And then there’s Ricky, who’s a fitness guru, who doesn’t seem to have a following yet, but he’s working on it.
Robot: Yeah, he’s working on it, working on those fitness bars, trying to get that going, get that off the ground.
MCBC: And his sports drink: Rickyade.
R: What do you feel is the best movie of all time?
MCBC: Best movie of ALL TIME?
MCBC: Fletch is pretty good.
Robot: That’s tough. It’s easier to have a top five than to have a top one.
R: Okay, fine… What’s your top five, then?
MCBC: Star Wars would be up there. Episodes four and five are in my top five.
R: What about six, what’s the deal?
Robot: It was good, but it got a little silly.
MCBC: The ewoks wrecked it for me. I was at that age where it just wasn’t cool. The ewoks to me were like borderline Jar Jar Binks.
Robot: Until Jar Jar came out and stole the prize.
MCBC: And then when I saw Jar Jar, I was like, "I’ll take a hundred ewoks over that!" The fact that he was from like this liquid planet and he had a Jamaican accent was just wrong. It was wrong wrong wrong wrong Bad move! Shame on you, Mr. Lucas! In the words of Michael Moore, "Shame on you, Mr. President of Show Business!"
R: Okay, we’ve got two movies down.
MCBC: I don’t know, man. I’d have to say my favorite movies go along with what movies you watch the most… Wouldn’t you gauge it that way?
MCBC: I’ve watched UHF probably more than any other movie.
Robot: That’s funny, I’ve watched it many times as well.
MCBC: Weird Al made a damn good movie; it’s really underrated. And I really liked Raising Arizona. Most of the Cohen Bros. movies are super good.
Robot: The Big Lebowski.
MCBC: That movie’s great. I loved Raising Arizona. I liked Repro Men a lot. I’ve watched it a lot. Like, thirty times, forty times, over and over again. What’s another movie I can watch over and over again? Robot?
Robot: (National Lampoon’s) Christmas Vacation.
MCBC: That was good… That’s kind of a weak top five.
Robot: Just say Schindler’s List and everyone will go "Ohh, ahhh! He’s deep." That movie’s fantastic, but it doesn’t play as very funny in an Aquabats interview.
R: Do you get upset or happy when people on the street ignore you when you’re in costume?
MCBC: It’s a totally natural reaction I’d expect most people to do. That I’d hope they do, because I’m embarrassed. The funniest thing, The Aquabats, in reality is really funny because it’s so awkward
R: Is that the reasoning behind the costumes?
MCBC: In the beginning, definitely. We were reacting to the punk scene in Orange County and LA. It was so tough guy macho. Everyone was all pushing and fighting the minute the music started. We wanted to do something to make them less angry. We’re down with upsetting the balance of power, so we gained a lot of smart-kid fans. The really didn’t have the power to go into the pit and FSU (F*ck S*it Up.) They weren’t going to be throwing a lot of muscle around at concerts. It seemed like the early 90’s was a moshpit jockfest, so the costumes definitely began as something dorky to get the kids upset, but now, well, they’re still dorky after all these years.
R: Are you planning on following in Kiss’ horrible footsteps of an Unmasked tour?
MCBC: We don’t wear the masks, except when we play. We used to think it was so cool to not let people know our identities.
R: Are the costumes Dry Clean Only?
MCBC: If we wash them at all, we just toss them into the washing machine. But our shorts are getting a bit long. I want to get higher shorts, because long shorts are a little “yo”, you know what I mean? I think bringing back the short old man pants is best. Let a man’s legs be seen, it’s a beautiful thing.
R: So, the new record…
MCBC: It’s not that bad!
Robot: I was surprised, but I knew we had it in us.
MCBC: I knew we had it in us, I’m surprised we pulled it out of us. It’s kind of like a tumor, you have it growing inside of you. it’s probably got a finger or an eye growing out of it, but you can’t just grab a kitchen knife and cut it out, you need professional help. And that’s why we hired a producer to help us. Ourselves! And Cameron Webb, he helped a lot, too.
R: It’s been fun, gentlemen. I’ll catch you guys later.
MCBC: Peace out!
By Jonathan Yost
Pictures by Casey Curry