THE AQUABATS TALK KICKSTARTER SUCCESS & BIG PLANS FOR 2019 0 314

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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GEORGIA VANNEWKIRK TALKS “BLUE VELVET”, FUTURE PLANS & ARTISTIC INSPIRATIONS 0 60

Earlier this year, Georgia VanNewkirk dropped a surprise debut single “Wish You Well” – without so much as telling her family – and immediately caught the attention of music fans everywhere. Since then, she’s seen both her streaming numbers and fan-base grow considerably and has had a very good year indeed. While currently working on more new music, Georgia spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about the artists she’s most inspired by, her views on social media and her thoughts about her future.

TITL: Has music always been the ultimate career goal for you or have there been times when you’ve considered other paths? 

I have always enjoyed writing music, but never really saw it as a possible career path until recently. I am actually a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design studying Advertising, and for a while, I thought I would graduate and go work at an advertising agency. My mother was a costume designer for 20 years and this summer I followed in her footsteps working as a costume assistant on a movie, so that is also something I was considering pursuing. I feel like I was destined for some type of creative career and I feel so incredibly lucky that I am able to do music in a professional capacity because ultimately it’s what I enjoy doing the most. 

TITL: Ultimately, what made you decide to make the leap and put yourself and your music out in the world?

I have been writing, singing and playing for years, but I never really took myself seriously as a musician. When I met my producer, Noah Taylor, we started writing and recording, and I became so enamored with the process. I was having so much fun doing it I thought the logical next step was to release it, if anything to show family and friends this cool project I was working on. 

TITL: Which bands or artists might you say most influence the music you make? Is there, in particular, you’ve been inspired by over the years?

Growing up my parents played Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles exclusively. We didn’t have a TV or radio, so I didn’t even know that other music even existed.  All three of them have had a huge impact on the music I make subconsciously, and they are all legends I admire so much. Recently though, I have been finding a lot of inspiration in iconic female artists like Lana Del Ray, Kimbra, King Princess, and Maggie Rogers. 

TITL: When it came to your debut single, “Wish You Well” what made you decide not to tell anyone, even those closest to you, that you were releasing it, and what was their reaction when you did?

One of the worst things an artist can do is take themselves too seriously, and the second-worst thing they can do is sell themselves short. I am constantly trying to fight the latter of the two. I wanted to put my music out there and let it speak for itself with no expectations. When the song came out the people closest to me expected it, but pretty much everyone else was shocked. My phone died the night of the release and I didn’t charge it until the next afternoon, so when it came back to life it was going crazy and I thought that someone had died or that there was a zombie apocalypse. It was really cool to see so much support from people for a project that was so personal. 

Is there a story behind the song? 

“Wish You Well“ was my reaction to the end of a relationship. I was so sad and my heart was broken so writing the song was super therapeutic. I held the experience so close to me for so long, and releasing the song helped me let the pain go. It was a way to bookend that time of my life and move on to new love and adventures.

TITL: The track has so far achieved 100,000 streams on Spotify – did you ever anticipate the track would go down so well with music fans? 

Not even a little bit, I thought my mom and grandma would listen and maybe an aunt or an uncle if I shared it with our family Facebook group. 

TITL: Tell me a little about your new track “Blue Velvet.”

“Blue Velvet” tells the story of how I fell for a boy with blue eyes. It showcases how we met when he asked me to be with him, and eventually, the day I knew I loved him. The song follows my emotional journey through doubt and fear and my fall into the blue velvet abyss.

TITL: The video drops on December 4th. How did you come up with concept for it and do you enjoy being creative in that way?

My original idea for the video was to get together with one of my best friends, Liam Haehnle and prance around Savannah GA in blue dresses with his super 8 camera. Luckily, he decided to bring Calvin Herbst in as director and within a week we had a crew of thirteen, five locations – including a soap factory and a synagogue – and a four-day shoot planned. Executing my vision was one of the most exhilarating feelings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. I’ve always enjoyed visual art, and creating a piece that tells the story of my music was something I really loved doing, and can’t wait to do again. 

TITL: Is there an EP or album in the works? 

Yes, there is I have been in the studio all week and am SO excited for everyone to heat what I have been working on.

TITL: Who or what most influences your song-writing and is song-writing something that comes easy to you? 

Personal experiences influence my song-writing the most. When I started writing it wasn’t to complete a song, it was just to get out what I was feeling in a way that made sense. I am not really able to sit down and say, “Ok I am going to write about love today,” I more just start playing piano and see what comes out. 

TITL: What, in your opinion, makes a song truly great and which would you say is the greatest ever written? 

A song that is truly great takes you to a different place. It’s a song you can feel in your bones and is universally understood. I think we all have great songs within us. The greatest song ever written… wow. There are so many songs and so many songwriters, I feel like there is so much room for greatness and creativity for each artist that picking one would be unfathomable.

TITL: Given that you achieved a huge response on Spotify without not telling anyone about the release of your first single, what are your thoughts on social media? Do you think there are any downsides to society and the music industry appearing to be so reliant on technology and the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or is it just the way the world is now? 

I think social media is such an amazing tool, of course, it has its downsides, but being able to connect with people across the globe is such a unique experience to my generation. I have heard from so many people through Instagram about how Wish You Well has helped them through their breakup, helped them find closure from their relationships, or helped them get over their ex. This was something I never expected, so I am grateful to social media for connecting me to people with shared experiences. 

TITL: Moving away from music slightly, you were Mila Kunis’ costume assistant on the set of her latest film. Is that side of the entertainment business something you also have an interest in, and how if at all does that side influence or affect the music side of things?  

The really cool thing about working on this film as a costume assistant was that I was following in my mom’s footsteps. She was a costume designer in LA for 20 years and worked on the entire run of That 70’s Show with Mila for eight years. During the pre-production phase of the film, I was with my mom and we saw Mila for the first time in ten years. It was so amazing to see them reunite after so long and to be able to work with someone I had grown up around. That side of the entertainment business is so fascinating to me, and it influences me overall as an artist. I learned so much about what goes into a giant production and the process behind making large scale art and it has really helped me to see and curate the bigger picture within my music. 

TITL: Would you like to do more work on film sets etc. or are the coming months set to be more focussed on your music?

I am definitely more focused on my music at this point in my life, but I don’t think I am done with film sets quite yet. There are so many variables in life, who knows, maybe in ten years, I’ll be living in Australia in my tiny home with a charcuterie restaurant. 

TITL: Finally then, as a fairly new artist, what would you like to see the industry achieve and where would you like it to go in terms of growth and development in the coming years? What mark are you hoping to leave on it as your legacy many years from now?

As a new artist, I am just going to keep working hard and hope for the best. I don’t like to get too caught up in the future, as long as I am writing music that I love, I will always be happy. 

Give “Blue Velvet” a listen below and for more information on Georgia VanNewkirk, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

CEO FIELDS UNVEILS THE VIDEO FOR NEW SINGLE “DIVIDENDS” 0 50

Ambition is a powerful thing and perhaps no-one in the music industry knows this better than CEO Fields. As he struggled to find his path in life, he endured several months of hardship that including having to live out of his car, but he never once stopped believing that he would get to where he wanted to go.

Fast forward a few years later and Fields had launched his own business and made several wise investments meaning he had the positive and comfortable life he had strived for, but he wasn’t done. Wanting to combine his financial knowledge with his passion for music, he embarked on a music career which continues to go from strength to strength. Following hot on the heels of his previous single “Yours”, Fields has now dropped “Dividends”, and ThisIsTheLatest are delighted to premiere its video.

Asked about the creative process regarding the video, Fields says:

“Dividends was another high energy shoot with my bros. I rented out the office building of a tech company down in the OC for this one, where the vibe is a bit different from the one in LA, a little more relaxed. I hired two of the most beautiful IG models I could connect with and made it a super vibe when the drinks and snacks came through. It was definitely one of my more favorite shots, really just homies being silly and enjoying the moment.”

Check out “Dividends” below and for more information on CEO Fields, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.