My Chemical Romance Alums Join Forces With ‘Aquabats!’ (Exclusive Video)
The band’s former frontman, Gerard Way, and series star/creator Christian Jacobs talk to THR about collaborating on the upcoming episode in which the singer’s bass-player brother Mikey guest-stars.
The Aquabats! Super Show! gets some real-life rock infusion in its upcoming second season.
Hub Network’s live-action kids series — which centers on a crime-fighting rock band on a never-ending quest to right wrongs, destroy boredom and seek justice for all — will feature a forthcoming episode that was co-written and co-directed by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way.
The collaboration with Aquabats! creator/executive producer/star Christian Jacobs came about after MCR — which announced its split in March — appeared in another Jacobs-created series, Nickelodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba, in December 2011. Way and Jacobs kept in touch and decided to partner up again for an episode of his newest show, which is based on the real-life rock band that Jacobs (aka “The M.C. Bat Commander”) co-founded in 1994 with fellow Aquabat Chad Larson (aka “Crash McLarson”). (Incidentally, the series just received a Daytime Emmy nomination for outstanding children’s series.)
Their episode — which is titled “Anti-bats!” and airs June 29 — finds two competing bands who are seeking revenge on The Aquabats! uniting with evil Silver Skull to become the Anti-bats! Way’s brother and former MCR bandmate, bass player Mikey Way, guest-stars as one of the Anti-bats!
Ahead of the show’s season two premiere, Way and Jacobs talked to The Hollywood Reporter about their upcoming episode, their working relationship and what’s next.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did this collaboration come about?
Gerard Way: I had done an interview at San Diego Comic-Con — we were doing comics for the band — and they asked me what I wanted to do next. I had had Bandit, my daughter, and naturally I wanted to be on Yo Gabba Gabba, so I threw it out there. The universe works in awesome ways. Christian was on a flight with Frank [Iero, guitarist for My Chemical Romance]. … And then next thing I know, Christian and I are on the phone and collaborating on a musical segment. I realized how incredibly involved he is and how much he cared about every single segment. We hit it off and met on the set and stayed in touch, and he kindly offered me the opportunity to write for Aquabats!
Christian Jacobs: I saw that interview with Gerard. I thought, “That guy likes my show? Oh my gosh. That guy’s really famous and talented.” It was cool he was into our show, and it made an impression on me. And then organically I met Frank on an airplane, and we exchanged information and eventually scheduled a segment for My Chemical Romance to be on Gabba. Gerard was really the creative mind behind it; he really had a vision for what he wanted to do, and it just seemed like we hit it off. We became friends because we had so many things in common, not just influences and references but the way we are about things we like and our likes and dislikes. So a few months later, I asked if Gerard would be interested in doing [Aquabats!]. We collaborated on a few different ideas, and one script rose to the top and got shot.
THR: It sounds like you have a pretty easy working relationship.
Way: It was super easy, and when you find people who are inspiring, generally the smart thing to do is [continue working with them]. It’s hard work, but it’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to have the illusion of being easy, and it is, but it’s also long hours. Christian and I are the type of people who are very lucky to have people who want to support us and give us resources.
THR: Where did the inspiration for the episode come from?
Way: It’s not a tribute per se, but there are things [from my childhood] like Mad Max orSuperman 2. It’s the stuff that wouldn’t be so obvious to people — like the guy with the beard in Superman 2.
Jacobs: And we have homages to that in this episode. We put a lot of what’s called meta humor in the stuff that we do, it’s kind of a phenomenon going on right now. People are using references to tell different stories, and I think it works seamlessly in the episode we did together. It’s fun to create stuff like that; it takes real effort, but it feels effortless, and the end result is also very smooth and effortless.
THR: Gerard, your brother Mikey also guest-stars in the episode. How did that happen?
Way: It was super amazing and very organic. When we were trying to cast the episode, I knew that one of the most fun things, even though it would be challenging, would be to cast the Anti-bats! One of the things I’ve always loved is stunt casting. One of my favorite [Aquabats!] cameos is the Eagle Claw! spiritual mentor played in season one by Lou Diamond Phillips. And then Rip Taylor, that was a big one for me because I used to watch The Gong Show when I was a kid. So it was like, “Let’s get a musician to play this guy.” Christian thought of Mikey, and we thought it would be perfect. He said yeah right away. It’s cool because I know he always wanted to do something like that.
THR: Gerard, what’s your directing style like?
Way: Because I’m so detail oriented, I’ve always collaborated [on videos he’s directed]. I get so hung up on detail and would stand there and do a shot like 10 times. Sometimes that’s a benefit and sometimes that’s a hindrance.
THR: Do you want to pursue directing more projects?
Way: Any opportunity I get to do that and work with amazing people, I’ll take it. My music is — I don’t want to say my main focus, but it’s what comes most naturally to me. At this stage in my life, if somebody gave me $10 million to make an indie, and it’s just me, I don’t think I would do that. I like working in groups.
Jacobs: Take the money, I’ll help you.
THR: Gerard, are you working on new music now?
Way: I am working on music. I don’t quite know how to describe it or what to call it or how to put a name on it, if it’s a band or solo thing. I’m not even dealing with that. Right now, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do and what the universe needs me to do. What I’m doing is super organic and completely pure, and I’m positive the longer I continue doing it, it will stay that way. It’s connected deeply to what I was before I started My Chemical Romance and had that adventure. It’s more connected to who I really am, because who I really was in My Chemical Romance, that changed and reverted back to — I don’t know, I turned back into a pumpkin.
THR: Do the two of you have any plans to collaborate again?
Jacobs: Absolutely. We plan to. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to do some more episodes [of Aquabats!]. But beyond that as well, I’d love to keep working together and get more things going.
The Aquabats!, from Awesome Forces Productions, returns with new episodes at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Saturday on Hub Network. (The season one two-disc DVD was released May 21.) The second-season premiere includes a special appearance from pro skateboarder Tony Hawk. Watch a clip, which is exclusive to THR, below.
Coming up, The Aquabats! are set to perform July 18 during Comic-Con at San Diego’s House of Blues.