Recently I was able to talk to actor, artist, musician, designer, and author Parker Jacobs. Jacobs is best known for his role as the art director on the hit children’s television show “Yo Gabba Gabba”, he has been nominated for 4 Daytime Emmys for this. He is also known for his part in his band GOGO13 and his involvement in the band The Aquabats! and his work on The Aquabats! Super Show!
Growing up, did your parents have any influence on your creativity? Who inspired creatively when growing up?
My parents absolutely inspired my creativity. My mom would give us blank pieces of paper instead of coloring books. She encouraged us to make the black lines for others to color in. She was a theatre major and former costumer so she had an enormous trunk full of costumes. My brothers and sisters and I were always digging in that costume trunk, playing pretend and making up plays. My Dad was also an actor and I inherited his chronic doodling tick. Our parents took our love for performing from Utah to Hollywood where we were raised as professional child actors.
You have had your band GOGO13 since 1993 and still do shows to this day! What has it been like playing music for this long?
It’s fun! It’s probably more fun for us on stage than to hear us in the crowd. It’s a great workout.
With your band GOGO13’s first album I Like It! being out for two years now, do you have any future plans for the band ?
We have some new songs demoed and still have a bunch of songs we’d love to record. We have no real plans right now other than the thrill of performing live. Recently, one of our songs was licensed for an upcoming show on CBS. Stay tuned!
Do you believe that GOGO13 was the inspiration behind the creation of your younger brother’s band The Aquabats!
GOGO13 was started in St. George, Utah with my younger brother Tyler. I fronted, Tyler played keyboards. Shortly after seeing us practice, our older brother Christian in California formed The Aquabats! playing the same type of music. Because of that there might be some truth to GOGO13 inspiring The Aquabats… I even came up with the name “the Aquabats” at a GOGO13 practice, told Christian about it later, and he ran with the title. We shared some of the same band members; Tommy Everett, Creed Watkins, Boyd Terry, Ben Bergeson and I played with both bands. After the first incarnation of GOGO13 disbanded, The Aquabats absorbed G13 bookings and used our demo tape as the “reformed GOGO13”. They also played several GOGO13 songs including “Idiot Box” and “Horchata”.
What was it like working with The Aquabats! Being the Professor, providing background vocals, designing album artwork, etc.
It was like running away with the circus. I did what I loved: art and performing. The Aquabats weren’t just a band but a live show with superheros fighting bad guys on stage!
Behind the scenes, I was organizing the fan club, designing merchandise and helping write music. Then on stage, I sang with the band as the Professor then would quickly run off stage for costume changes, then back on as a villain or other character. Sometimes I was the “Magic Chicken” where we’d have dance-offs and share the gift of fried chicken with the audience. Then I was the “Powdered Milk Man” and the band would throw lighter fluid on me, shoot fireworks at me and set me on fire. Other times I would improvise the villain and they didn’t know who they were fighting. We made many monsters and characters performing each show like it was an episode of a TV program. Brobee and Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba! were both derived from monster costumes I portrayed onstage as Aquabat villains. It was quite a unique job.
I see you were also on The Sandflea’s album Four Songs Four Jerks, what was it like creating and doing an album like that?
The Sandfleas (or Mel and Friends) were a rock band of Aquabat-villains. The album was a pet project of mine. I was inspired by the Strangeloves (of, “I Want Candy”) who faked their identities in the 60’s. We as the Sandfleas created a controversy against the Aquabats. It created more hype having another costumed band that would protest the Aquabats at their concerts. I sang, Christian played drums, Chad played Guitar, Corey played bass (with only 1 string) and Tyler sang back-ups. We wrote the album the night before we recorded it. They were mean, PG rated “bad-guy songs”. We sang about dead frogs, poopy diapers, insulting women and insulting our fans. We took that album on tour as we (The Aquabats) were our own opening band (The Sandfleas). It was great!
Since we’re on the subject of The Aquabats!, what was it like working on the Super Show? Is there any news of it returning?
It took about 15 years to get the The Aquabats’ show on TV. I had many roles in those years producing, writing, art directing and acting in different capacities and incarnations and for different production companies. By the time The Aquabats Super Show was finally picked up by the Hub, I was busy art directing season 4 over at Yo Gabba Gabba! It was very tough splitting the crew. Christian was doing 2 different shows at the same time. Much of the Yo Gabba Gabba crew wanted to be on Aquabats Super Show and I was one of them. My involvement was a lot less than I wanted and my character, the Professor, was reduced to an animated cameo for one episode. However, I’m glad to have the involvement I did.
For a while you also worked with Paul Frank Industries. What was that like?
Paul Frank was our friend. He was also in a band, The Moseleys that played shows with the Aquabats. He independently designed the original Aquabat power belts as gifts. I loved Paul. When our record label, Goldenvoice lost money on this investment (the Coachella music festival), they had to stop as a label. This put us out of work. I went to Paul Frank for some temporary work. I was thinking it would be 2 weeks or so. It spanned 7 years. I left the company 2 years after Paul did. I was a senior art director.
I find it ironic that my first project with the company was an Aquabats collaboration wallet and my last project was a Yo Gabba Gabba collaboration wallet.
You also co-created Horchata Records. What was it like running your own record label?
Horchata was my vision since before GOGO13, but it ultimately became the property of The Aquabats. I wanted to do what we did with Sandfleas album but with more bands. We put out the “Rice Capades” compilation and Digital Unicorn (an Aquabat side project of Adam Diebert). We had plans for The Moon Monkeys, The Moseleys, The Immortals, Le Pigbat and GOGO13. I thought we were on the verge of being like 2-Tone or Hellcat records, fronting a new genre. It wasn’t a specific sound but a movement of fun, theatrical bands like unto the Aquabats & Sandfleas. It got to a point where my expanded vision didn’t line up with the Aquabats’ actual means. They were a struggling band themselves and didn’t really want to take Horchata much further. Having to let that dream go was very hard for me.
You do a lot of work on the amazingly popular children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba, what’s it been like working on that show, especially since you can work along side your brother Christian who co-created it.
Yo Gabba Gabba has been a dream come true. Working with my family is fun too! Christian is the mega boss, my sister Emma is “Foofa”, and Tyler is a brilliant creative, writer and director as well. It’s not too different from playing in our mom’s costume trunk as children. I’m involved with the overall aesthetic; animated character design, puppet design, set design, prop design, costume design. I do animated segments, contribute music , performed as myself, costumed characters and provided voices. Off season I’m involved in the branding, designed the logo, and develop merchandise. It’s been very rewarding. So far, I’ve been nominated for 4 daytime Emmy Awards. We’ve been on hiatus too long and I would love to get back to work!
One of my favorite works of yours is the Goon Holler universe, your book, the Goon Holler Guide Book is incredible! With so many characters that are so detailed, how long have you been working on this amazing and creative universe?
Thank you so much. I created the Goon Holler characters independently nearly ten years ago for my children. When we first started developing Yo Gabba Gabba, Christian & Scott Schultz asked me to provide an animated segment using the Goon Holler characters. Since I’ve had my ideas exploited in the past, I made sure that this time I legally kept the rights to Goon Holler. We did three Goon Holler segments on Yo Gabba Gabba, but now I can take it elsewhere.
Speaking of Goon Holler, I’ve heard rumors that it might be turned into a television show. Do you have any updates about that?
We would love to do that. Until then, we are currently working on a series of four more Goon Holler Books through Little Brown Publishing. I’m illustrating the third book now and Christian is helping co-author these with the specific intention of developing Goon Holler as one of our next shows. He’s been really busy trying to get The Aquabats Super Show and Yo Gabba Gabba back into production.
Lastly, is there anything you’re currently working on or plan to start that you would like to share?
Our first book in this new series, “Welcome to Goon Holler” comes out a week from today (November 18th). I hope you like it!