THE AQUABATS TALK KICKSTARTER SUCCESS & BIG PLANS FOR 2019 0 15

With a career already spanning close to 25 years, The Aquabats are certainly no strangers to the music industry and thanks to their recent – and hugely successful – Kickstarter campaign, fans of the group can rest easy knowing they won’t be going away anytime soon. While the group were on tour, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with member Christian Jacobs AKA MC Bat Commander to delve a little deeper into the Kickstarter campaigns’ success and what fans and backers can expect as a result and also to gauge his thoughts on the business he and his band-mates have been a part of for so long.

TITL: As a group, you’ve been around since 1994 and have outlasted many of your artistic counterparts. What do you think has been the key, or the secret, to your longevity?

Christian Jacobs: Wow! Ha! I guess we have been around for a little while. I don’t want to guess why people decide to keep listening to us, or watching the show we made, but I think one reason we’ve kept going for so long is because one of our goals has always been fun first! We’ve been having fun for a long time, and it’s still a ton of fun. Also, I think anytime we’ve had strain on the prime directive (fun) or when things got hard, we’ve pulled back and took care of what really mattered, and that was our friendships and our families. Life first, band second.

TITL: Your line-up has undergone a number of changes over the years, including one which saw renowned Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker join you for a time. What impact did those changes have on you as a group and do you foresee any further line-up changes occurring in the coming years?

CJ: Yeah, we’ve had quite a few amazing people come and go over the year.  Sometimes we knew it was going to happen, and other times life just sort of happens, and you don’t have any control over it. In those moments of change, we just tried to roll with the punches and not get too stressed out about it. After all, this is a fun project… it’s not life and death! So we’ve had a bit of a revolving door policy, and we’ve mostly remained friends with our former band mates, including Travis! That’s also been great. because sometimes we’ll have past members come back to play shows and songs, and it’s always been super fun. In fact, we’re hoping a few of them will also join us for a few new tracks next year, since we’ll be working on two new albums… and we know that a lot of our fans would be psyched if we had our horn section back for at least a few songs! And we don’t have any specific plans for the band to change in the immediate future, but like I said, life happens… so if something comes up, we’ll figure it out then!

TITL: Which of your releases, both as singles and albums/EP’s are you most proud of and why? How would you say each one charts your musical and artistic evolution?

CJ: Man, that’s a tough one. I think we’re especially proud of “The Fury of the Aquabats,” for the obvious reasons – it’s kind of the “big” record from our past. I guess when I look at a lot of our past albums, there are things now that I wish we’d done differently… but at the time, we all thought that they were pretty good. I also like “Charge”, released in 2005, a lot, because it was kind of the record that kept things going for us. We were gonna hang it up before that record, but making it and touring it really changed things — it showed us that there was still an audience for The Aquabats, and some kind of magic left in what we were doing. And I think “Hi-Five Soup” is probably the best example of how our musical direction has grown. It’s all over the place – which I think is good. We have that luxury, as a band of weirdos: We can go in any old direction… as long as it’s fun!

TITL: In the past two plus decades, how has the industry changed in your eyes, and have those changes been good or bad?

CJ: It’s so different. The big shift is really just that more of the power keeps moving into the hands of the artists. If you’re motivated enough, we’re kind of in a time where you can be super successful without “the industry.” You don’t need a label. You don’t need an A&R team or radio support. You can do it all yourself, and you can market it yourself on the internet. It’s pretty awesome, actually, because we were never really understood by the “expert executives” anyway. We’ve survived through being connected to our fans through the web, which we think is a big reason that our Kickstarter worked out so well.

TITL: You recently wrapped a Kickstarter campaign to bring back your hugely fan-popular music comedy action show The Aquabats! Super Show! For those who never saw it upon its debut in 2012, how would you sum it up?

CJ: Well… I guess if you’re over the age of 35, I would describe it as Batman meets The Monkees. If you’re under the age of 35, I would say it’s Power Rangers meets Flight Of The Conchords. And if you’re in your twenties or a teenager, I’d say, “It’s like these totally random chubby dudes fighting way random monsters and like…trying to win and stuff!” And if you’re a kid, I would say, it’s the newest, funniest superhero TV show ever!

TITL: Can you tell me a bit more about the campaign?

CJ: Wow. Yeah. It’s been a lot to process…but mostly, it’s been a blast. It’s also been a ton of work! I think really connecting with the fans and finding out what they want and expect from us was really important to us! It’s been so humbling, and amazing, to realize how much our fans wanted to do to support the group, and to make sure we keep going. That’s why so much of our Kickstarter campaign was focused on bringing all of our fans together, and forming a group that we called “The Legion of Righteous Comrades” — which is basically anyone and everyone who believes that the world’s better off with a group like The Aquabats out there, making people laugh and fighting the forces of boredom and negativity.

But for anyone who didn’t hear about it while it was running: we ran this huge Kickstarter, and raised enough that we’ll be able to get back to work over the next few months, so that we’ll have a ton of new stuff to share in 2019, including two brand new albums, a 12 episode web-series and a private livestream concert for everyone who supported the Kickstarter. And if anyone missed it but still wants to jump in, we’re still accepting pledges, and will use whatever we raise to make even more stuff next year. So, it’s not too late to be part of the team… you can still join at bringbacktheaquabats.com.

TITL: Ultimately you’ve been and are relying on technology, especially social media, to hopefully bring the show back, but do you think it would be AT ALL possible to have done or organized a campaign like this even five, ten years ago? With that in mind, even away from the show, how big is and has been the impact of social media on your careers? 

CJ: Man, I really can’t say, but… probably not? I mean, it’s been almost five years since they did that Kickstarter campaign for Veronica Mars, which was sort of the first time I think it occurred to us that fans could raise enough money to make entire movies or television shows. But ten years ago, probably not.

And either way, social media has DEFINITELY saved The Aquabats from extinction, period! We haven’t had a new album out in almost 7 years, or new episodes of our show since 2014… so there’s absolutely NO WAY we’d still have so many friends and fans ready to help us, if we hadn’t been able to keep in touch with them on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. It’s been really great for us, just keeping the connection alive, and realizing there are still people out there who want us to do more, and who make sure we know it… a lot!

TITL: Away from the campaign, what are the future plans for the group? Do you have any plans to return to the studio or hit the road and engage once more with your die-hard, almost cult-like following of fans?

CJ: YES! Thanks to the huge success of our Kickstarter, we’ve got a ton of plans for the next year… and beyond! And you know, the way it worked was that the more we raised, the more we promised we’d do. So, just from what we’ve already raised, we’ve promised our backers that we’ll make two new albums, plus release our long-overdue soundtrack album and a live concert album of our “Fury Of The Aquabats” 20th anniversary show back in April. And, of course, we’ll be making a new “online season” of Super Show, and we’re definitely planning to hit the road and see as many people as we can next year.

If we’re able to raise a little more over the next few months, there’s even more we’d love to keep doing…including music videos for some of our old songs and some of our new songs. I think that was one of our big mistakes in the past — not making more music videos. And now we can fix it and go all out! WOO!!!

TITL: Finally then, in the twenty plus years you’ve been together, you’ve seen and done a lot, but are there any plans or goals you still have left to tick off your personal and/or professional bucket lists?  Which one, as yet unfulfilled objective, do you most want to complete and why?

CJ: I think we really just want to reach all of the people that we – or you – would THINK would be Aquabats fans, but never discovered us yet! We go to comic conventions – including San Diego Comic-Con – pretty much every year, and we see thousands of people who are SO hardcore about superheroes and pop culture and all of this stuff that the Aquabats have been heralding for 20+ years… And it just always makes us think. “Look at all these people who are so ready to discover the Aquabats!” I mean, when I was in grade school reading Marvel comics, I would have never imagined the entertainment world would be so totally conquered by the MCU… it was just unfathomable! Did you see Ant-Man and The Wasp? It was so ridiculous… it totally could have been an episode of The Aquabats Super Show! So, I really think the Aquabats’ time is still coming… and based on the response to the Kickstarter, our plan is TOTALLY WORKING!

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THE LAFONTAINES TALK NEW TOUR & GETTING BACK IN THE STUDIO 0 47

Following the release of their new single “Up” and as the band prepare to embark on a tour of the UK and Europe later this month, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with The LaFontaines guitarist Darren McCaughey to talk live fan favourites, the venues he’s most excited to play and post-tour plans.

TITL: You’ve just released your new track “Up.” What is it about the song that made you decide it was a good fit for your next single, and is there a particular story behind it?

Darren McCaughey: We had a slight line-up change at the beginning of the year and this was the first track that we wrote following that. It felt like a new chapter for the band and a positive uplifting track to come back with. It’s maybe my favorite song we have ever written.

TITL: You’ve just completed a UK and European tour supporting Don Broco, and are gearing up to head out on your own headline tour of the UK and Europe this month. Are you ever NOT on the road, and what do you miss most about home when you’re away for long periods? 

DM: We relish every opportunity to get out there and play our music to as many people as possible so apart from the obvious things like friends & family etc. there’s nothing else we would rather be doing. The weather here can be pretty grim so it’s nice to get away sometimes.

TITL: How do your support slot shows differ, if at all, to your headline ones?

DM: With the support shows you want to get out there and make an impression and win over the audience. I’d say the majority of our fan-base have heard about us by seeing us support someone else. With the headline shows, we have already won the audience over so we just have to focus on giving them a night to remember. If you were to compare the two side by side there would be no difference in the actual performance just what’s going through my head.

TITL: For fans who are seeing you for the first time on this tour, what can they expect from your performance?

DM: A unique, entertaining and energetic performance.

TITL: Which of your songs do you find go down best with live audiences? Is there one that stands out or can it differ from place to place?

DM: We have a song on our latest album called “Torture” which has been going down really well. It’s a lot slower and mellow than the rest of the set but gets a great reaction and brings a different type of energy.

TITL: Is there one particular venue you’re most excited to play on this tour and if so, which is it and why?

DM: I’m excited to play in Milan & Warsaw as we have never been to either of those cities before and both look like great places to visit.

TITL: You’ve amassed quite a following since first bursting onto the scene, but how much of that might you say is down to the power of social media, and how have the likes of Twitter and Facebook helped get your name and your music out to a wider audience?

DM: We have always gained fans from supporting other acts and people seeing us live at shows and festivals. Social media has allowed us to promote our music to them and helps existing fans stay up to date with what we are up to.

TITL: Do you think, as a band, there’s such a thing as too much ‘reliance’ on social media? Do you think you could have drummed up the support you have over the years like you have without it – if you had to go ‘old school’ like in the 80’s and earlier? Is it possible for bands to succeed today without that online connection? 

DM: I think for us personally we could have drummed up the support we have without social media as we have always gained fans through live performance. Although I think now it is such an important tool and such an ingrained part of the culture that it would be very hard to get by without an online presence.

TITL: Finally then, with this new tour taking you through to early October, what does the remainder of the year have in store for you? Are there any plans or projects you can tell me about? 

DM: We’ll be heading back to the studio as soon as we come off of tour and in December we have a big festival appearance in India, then we round off the year on the 23rd of December for a homecoming show in our hometown of Motherwell.

The LaFontaines UK & European tour kicks off on September 12 in Perth, Scotland. Tickets for all shows are available now.

BLISSBLISS UNVEIL THE VIDEO FOR NEW SINGLE “I’M COMING THROUGH” 0 132

Following on from the huge success of previous single “No Apology”, which reached number 15 on the Billboard Dance Chart at the end of last year and was remixed by no fewer than 8 DJ’s, BlissBliss are back and once again ready and raring to share their hypnotic sound and story-telling capabilities with the world via new track “I’m Coming Through”, the video for which ThisIsTheLatest are delighted to premiere.

The duo, made up of Renee Bliss and Lang Bliss, have considerably varied tastes in music between them, but have successfully merged the many genres they like, including rock, pop, jazz and R&B, to create a sound that really is unique to who they are, both as individuals and as artists. Nowhere is this perhaps more apparent than on their new single; a second taster as to what fans can expect from their upcoming EP “3” which is out in November.

Asked about the video for “I’m Coming Through”, the duo said:

“We’re thrilled to be releasing our concept video for I’m Coming Through with This Is The Latest! It’s a throwback to old spy movie motifs in the look and feel and the director captured so well, what we had written in the lyric. We recorded the music in one take with the guys in the recording session and they captured perfectly as well, what we had envisioned for it. We love the way it turned out in the recording as well as the video!” 

Check out the video for “I’m Coming Through” below and for more information on BlissBliss, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Header photo credit: Jose Guzman Colon.