Words by Brian Koscho and Todd Jacops | Intro by David C. Obenour
Celebrating 15 years, the collective that make up the Aquabear Legion have been championing Ohio music of all sorts and from all corners of the state. With their heart based in the foothills of Appalachia in Athens, Ohio, they have worked with over 250 bands and a number of artists, filmmakers and other creatives.
Their latest endeavor is a pair of releases, Aquabear Legion Volume 7, a vinyl compilation of exciting new artists pressed at Columbus’s Musicol and Mother of Presidents, an archival cassette release featuring music spanning from 1974 to 2004. Both are nearly halfway funded with three weeks still remaining on the Indiegogo campaign.
With a back catalogue of 13 releases both digital and physical, we asked Aquabear Legion’s Brian Koscho and Todd Jacops to share just a few of their favorite songs from the past 15 years.
The Franchise – “Bottles Blue Blackout” – The Moose Is Loose
The Moose Is Loose was the first compilation I put together back in 2003 when I was a Junior at Ohio University. It was a pre-Aquabear project, but is a direct line to all of the work that would come after it. It was my first attempt at asking people to do something like this, and while it was a lot of work, it was awesome to see it come together. Definitely inspired the thoughts that led to us forming Aquabear Legion in 2004. We re-released it online in 2009. The Franchise were an incredible, short lived band from Cleveland of friends and rock and roll mainstays. This song has everything a great rock and roll song needs. It is so good. And still so good even 16 years later. Brian Koscho
We March – “Darken My Door” – Aquabear Legion Volume 1
Hearing these guys when I first moved to Athens had a lasting impact me. This band is one of the reasons we started these connections. They definitely round out one corner of Ohio punk. Todd Jacops
Adam Torres – “Breakneck Jane’s Fifteen Minute Escape” – Aquabear Legion Volume 2
Volume 2 was on a CD, which was a big deal for us, we mostly made things ourselves but we splurged to get some discs printed from a friend who had a printer. These compilations are wonderful because they exist as both a moment captured in time, but also are designed to archive and keep this music alive. Volume 2 is a perfect capsule of my 2006 Athens experience, I had just graduated from college and spent my summer making pizzas at Avalanche and being a seasonal city worker who was in charge of keeping up the oldest cemetery in Athens. So much good music (Men of Gentle Birth, Silo Circuit, Southeast Engine, Arch Villians, etc) to pick from on this compilation… but Adam Torres and his beautiful and haunting “Breakneck Jane’s Fifteen Minute Escape” takes the prize. I love this song so much. I was even a wizard in the video for it (made by life-long Aquabear Brian Wiebe and starring my now wife Sherri Oliver). I was very happy when Adam started making music again, now he plays a lot of it, go listen to Pearls To Swine and everything else he has done. BK
This song takes me back to a time when Weedghost and Southeast Engine could share a bill. I am so happy this person is making art. I love this album and what came after. TJ
Dragline Brothers – “Julie in July” – Aquabear Legion Volume 2
That garage sound that I so loved back in the day but no one’s done well since, because the Dragline Brothers already did. TJ
The Makebelieves – “I Got Beat Up” – Aquabear Legion Volume 3
This one is in the running for best song ever (so is the next one) and I think anyone who frequented The Union Bar and Grill in the 00’s would know it from 1 second in. The Makebelieves are one of the most epic live bands I have ever seen, even as I type this I realize it has been way too long since I have seen them. Hearing this band live when I first came to Athens (along with We March, Geraldine, Red Tails, and so on) was this moment where I instantly felt at home. Been that way since. BK
Super Desserts – “Ibiza” – Aquabear Legion Volume 4
Over the years my favorite moment in putting together Aquabear Legion compilations is when you know you have such an incredible song to put on there. It’s what I do this for. I can’t help but think “even if one more person hears this one it is worth it”. Super Desserts are a former Columbus supergroup of sorts who put out a couple great albums, but “Ibiza” might be one of my favorite songs we’ve ever had on something. Such an earworm. Treat yourself, even if you have never heard of Aquabear or Ohio or whatever, just listen to this for 2 minutes. You spend time on way stupider things on the internet. BK
Supernobody – “Quicker Than The Eye” – Aquabear Legion Volume 5
Supernobody is one of the greatest rock and roll bands. Another collection of incredible musicians forming together to make magical things happen (this time it is people who have played in everything from Appalachian Death Ride to Southeast Engine) all behind the shared vision of Athens’ best songwriter around, Mike Elliott. The easiest way to describe the music of Mike Elliott is that he is literally one of the first things I will try to play for someone who hasn’t heard him. Every time. I am a believer, and I want others to hear it. Mike’s solo recordings are second to none, but Supernobody formed some years back as a full fledged rock band and went to work putting out albums at a Pollard-like pace. Their newest You Can’t Go Back is just out on vinyl. Get it. Listen to this perfect little song about New York City from our first record, Aquabear Legion Volume 5.
R. Ring – “Cough/Cool” – Aquabear Legion Volume 6
I love that R. Ring sent us a Misfits Song. I think it’s hilarious that we had to pay Glenn Danzig to put it on the comp. TJ
I’ve been listening to their new album a lot. Every song reminds me of another band, yet they’re all really good, and I’m good with that. This will be on the new Aquabear comp. TJ