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Friday, May 31 2013 19:47

THE ROCK FATHER vs. THE AQUABATS! Talking ROCK with RICKY FITNESS and JASON deVILLIERS

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With the Emmy-Nominated THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW! making a triumphant return to The Hub for Season Two (airing Saturdays at 1pm ET | 10am PT), THE ROCK FATHER caught up with Drummer RICKY FITNESS and Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Director JASON deVILLIERS to get the low-down on the Bats' latest and future adventures on the screen (and the stereo!), along with some rock-infused discussion about possible AQUABATS! Action Figures, secret weapons, and hidden rooms within the Battle Tram. And, with Father's Day fast-approaching, these three "Rock Fathers" have to show some love for their kids...

The Return of The Aquabats!

The Aquabats Super ShowWhen The Aquabats return from outer space, they are received as heroes who saved the world, but are quickly overwhelmed by all of the people needing their help and a super-powered enemy!

Having experienced a sneak-preview of the season premiere, I can tell you that THE AQUABATS! are back - bigger and crazier than ever before... with a new look at their secret origins.

James Zahn/The Rock Father: Ricky, as a drummer... if you were going into battle and could only take a Bass Drum or a Snare, which would you pick if you could only have one?

Ricky FitnessRicky Fitness: I'd take the Bass Drum, because it's the most powerful drum. It's so powerful... the one that you feel... you can feel it in your chest and it can send out sonic waves that would knock anyone down. The Snare's ok, but the Bass is big.

Zahn: Combined with your Super-Speed, the Bass Drum sounds like it would be quite a weapon.

Fitness: Definitely!

Jason deVilliers: It's hard to carry, though.

Zahn: Now, you guys are both parents, and with Father's Day coming up, how are you working to be Rock Fathers?

deVilliers: June is the Month of Dads!

Fitness: I'm looking forward to it. My daughter is at the age now where she's starting to recognize holidays for what they mean, and this year it's going to be great to just spend the day with her and hang out.

Zahn: Are you working to nurture the love of music with your kids, or do you just let them kinda roll with it and discover things on their own?

Fitness: With my daughter, Charlie, I have a studio set up in my house with a Drum Set and Keyboard, so it's all there for her to pick up and mess around with. She's gravitating toward singing, so I write songs for her and just let her go to town with them. I'm not really pushing her toward anything, but she enjoys it all and right now singing is her thing.

deVilliers: Music is awesome for kids, that's for sure. My son, Liam, is a little young, yet - he's only ten months - but I'm going to push him as hard as I can ::chuckles::

Zahn: My youngest will be a year old the day before Father's Day, and we're already seeing her moving toward the little First Act Piano at just eleven months.

Fitness: That's what I call the "gateway instrument." It's percussive, and it has a melody which is all you need to start teaching little kids about music. It's awesome that you have one around for her.

Zahn: My oldest will be four this year, and while she's shown some interest in guitar, we've got a five-piece Mapex Drum Kit in the garage that she certainly loves to play with and really gets into...

Fitness: That's awesome for you!

deVilliers: Definitely rad.

Aquabats in ConcertZahn: I think the instrumentation is one of the reasons why she likes THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW so much. In addition to the colorful adventures that you guys put forth, there's that musical element and occasional performance. On that note, will be see THE AQUABATS! performing in any of the episodes this season?

Fitness: Jason? Are we performing this season?

deVilliers: Actually... I don't think you guys perform instrumentally in any of the five episodes that we've done for this season so far. But, of the ones that we're writing right now, there's several episodes where THE AQUABATS! will be performing. If the story lends itself to the band being on tour or being in a venue to play, we'll use it... but we do have bands playing this season. In the episode titled "The Anti-Bats," which we co-wrote with GERARD WAY of MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE (he co-directed with me as well), we have a thrash band playing, and a singer-songwriter that's sort of like Fiona Apple. They're performing in a Battle of the Bands.

Fitness: I just thought of something, James. In that episode, you will see me performing. I'm not going to give it away, but you will see me performing! Also, there's a lot of new music that we're going to be working into some of the episodes.

Zahn: And Gerard's brother, Mikey is in that episode as well...

deVilliers: The thrash band in the episode is a fictional band called ASTHMA, and Mikey Way plays their lead singer. They become the villians of that episode with a vendetta against THE AQUABATS! and they want to take them down...

One area where you will see THE AQUABATS! performing is in one of the things that's different about this season. With the animated segments this year, we get to see how THE AQUABATS! got together. 

The Aquabats Super Show Group ShotZahn: I've actually seen the first episode with EagleBones' origin...

deVilliers: The other four will focus on the different AQUABATS!, and in Jimmy's story, you'll see the band performing in the garage.

Zahn: When you're approaching new ideas for the show, do you look at it as something with a underlying message for young kids, or as something to just have fun with for all ages?

Fitness: I think it's a little of both. We try to approach things in a funny way, with much of the message being to have fun - and not to take yourself to seriously. I mean, hey - look at us!

deVilliers: We're definitely poking fun at some things that are happening socially, and we love doing homages to shows that we grew up on. A lot of kids nowadays haven't seen the shows we grew up with, many of which are big influences on the show... like ULTRA MAN, and JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT. There's some things we pay homage to in this Season - some really obscure references, and some not-so-obscure. We homage MAD MAX, and John Carpenter's THE THING, the movie TREMORS...

Zahn: Very cool...

deVilliers: You'll see a lot of references that are a wink and a nudge to adults that kids won't get but might think are really rad. Then, as they get older they'll be watching things and think "That's like that AQUABATS! episode!" and recall their childhood with THE AQUABATS! being a part of it.

Zahn: I always enjoy kids programming that has grownup content sprinkled in.

On location and the production value of the show for Season Two:

deVilliers: In the first season, we shot all the episodes in Orange County, California and everything sorta started to look the same.

Zahn: Yeah, there was a park or something that I kept noticing all the time...

The Aquabats Super Show Desert GuitardeVilliers: ::laughs:: We literally shot almost every episode in that same area, and we just turned the camera around to an angle we hadn't seen. This year we shot in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they have a great tax incentive and the Film Commission has been very gracious to productions coming through. One thing we found that was awesome was the locale. We'd be shooting in Salt Lake City proper, which is a metropolitan area with skyscrapers, and then you drive an hour west and you've got the salt flats, which are incredible. There's mountains, there's deserts, there's forests and rivers all within about an hour of the city. It gave us a bigger scope this season.

We've also got some great Guest Stars this season. Aside from Gerard and Mikey Way, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH from DEVO plays Jimmy the Robot's Father in an episode, and then we've got MARTIN STARR from PARTY DOWN and FREAKS & GEEKS; LESLIE HALL, who's a celebrity; and you saw...

Zahn: TONY HAWK and ERIC KOSTON.

deVilliers: There are a lot of celebrities that are watching the show with their kids and we always hear that they love the show and watch the show and would like to be on the show, and I just said "show" about forty times... but with the episodes we'd like to shoot later this year, we'd like to get some of those people involved. That's a goal of ours.

abats-image-jams1 570x420Zahn: Any plans to make a toy version of The Battle Tram?

deVilliers: Dude, we would love to do some toys. We have some grand ideas of what would could do with a Battle Tram Toy. I mean, who wouldn't want to play with Action Figures of CobraMan, Space Monster M, THE AQUABATS!, ManAnt...

Fitness: I would want to play with those, too, dude!

deVilliers: I don't know if you remember THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN had this... van or something...

Zahn: Was it a red van for the 12-inch figures? (Note: I might be wrong - thinking of something else, but Kenner's SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN had a Command Center Playset).

deVilliers: Yes! Doing something like that with The Battle Tram where it opens up like a playset with all the rooms would be so cool. We would love to get that going.

Zahn: That would be completely sweet, but I was actually leaning toward something a bit simpler - like a diecast to kinda grease the wheels toward bigger things.

deVilliers: ::laughs:: Yeah, there is always those... and they would be simpler to do.

Fitness: ::chuckles:: How about both?

The Aquabats Super Show United NationsZahn: You know, Ricky - on the Action Figure note... if there were a Ricky Fitness Action Figure, what would be your battle accessories?

Fitness: That's a good one. I'd definitely have drumsticks... a Kick Drum, of course... is there any way I could have the Kick Drum and the Snare Drum?

Zahn: I'm sure there could be variant packages with different accessories to make collectors have to buy you twice to get the whole kit.

Fitness: Haha! I say give it to them all in one package.

deVilliers: You'd also need to have it so kids could press down on your head to make your feet run really fast.

Fitness: I'd also need an Ab Cruncher.

Zahn: Is that the secret for your gig as a Celebrity Trainer?

Fitness: Yep, the Ab Cruncher, and there's this thing called a BowFlex. Either of those would be fine. Or maybe a treadmill?

deVilliers: A treadmill would be cool. Actually, there's a few rooms in the Battle Tram that we have yet to disclose. I don't know if you've ever noticed the door on the far side by the computer wall, but we've never used it. There's also another door we've never used, so there's two rooms that have yet to be revealed, but I'm pretty sure that one of them is Ricky Fitness' Gymnasium.

[Note to my friends at Hasbro (who I know read The Rock Father): Can we get on this whole AQUABATS! toy situation? I mean, Hasbro is one of the owners of The Hub. Thanks - JZ/TRF]

Zahn: Before we all return to our respective adventures, I have to ask if there's anything happening as far as a new record from THE AQUABATS?

Fitness: We are talking with a record company right now about releasing an album of songs from the show, but we'd also like to include at least four all-new original songs as well. We'd go in and record full versions of the songs you've heard pieces of on the show, so that's in the fire right now and we're trying to make it happen as we speak.

hifisoupTo stay current on THE AQUABATS! latest adventures throughout all media - check out  http://www.theaquabats.com/ For the latest on THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW! check out The Hub. THE AQUABATS!' most recent musical adventure, HI-FIVE SOUP! is available now on iTunes from Fearless Records.

For more rock delivered daily, including the latest in great music, cool toys, and fun for the whole family - "like" The Rock Father on Facebook.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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