Reel Big Fish

author TL date 14/02/08

Rule of thumb: If Reel Big Fish play a show near you, you go and see it. There's really no excuse for missing out on the party these ska-dudes usually bring to town, so of course we had to sit down and have a funny chat with them for God knows what time. I met up with three of the guys at Loppen in Copenhagen in the middle of the afternoon and here's a write up of our conversation (In case you're looking for a review of the show they played later that evening, all you have to do is click here):

RF.net: First off, welcome back to Denmark once again, how's the current tour treating you?
Aaron: How's the tour been Johnny?

John: It's been fantastic! It's been really great! Cold - but people have been very warm and inviting..

Aaron: It's probably one of our very best tours in this part of the world. The whole thing is awesome.

RF.net: Oh why do you reckon it's better this time around?

Aaron: Erhh.. You know, Streetlight is with us..

Derek: And I'm here!

Aaron: Yeah, Derek's here.. Erhm, I don't know, it's just that a lot of the shows have been a little bigger and people really like the new album, so it's been fun.

John: Yeah seeing everybody sing along to the new stuff has been really cool.

For a while now you've been back on your own indie label after the troubles you had with Jive Records. How's that working out at the moment?
Aaron: Well.. We got off Jive and we were hapy about that. Then we recorded a live album and we put that out all by ourselves.. And that was a whole lot of work and we learned about what being a label was, and it's very difficult..

John: And expensive!

Aaron: Yeah so we got our friends at Rock Ridge to help us put out the new album so we could concentrate on the creative side of things. Now we don't have to worry about getting a new pressing or how we're gonna' do that or how we're gonna pay for this.. All the stuff that doesn't really have anything to do with the music and which no band really wants to deal with.. So it's going really well so far.

RF.net: Your first show here in Denmark was right here in Loppen and then the next one was in the slightly larger Pumpehuset. Now you're back in Loppen and that might seem like a step down to some. How do you feel about being back here?
Aaron: We don't mind. Our agent must have some plan with it..

John: Or it could be an availability issue..

Aaron: Yeah like where we are at what time and who's playing where and who's playing where.. I don't know, we're not really sure why we're here.

RF.net: Well I don't think anyone's going to complain since I think most people prefer this place to Pumpehuset.

Aaron: Do they really?

RF.net: Yeah like it's smaller and more intimate and I think the bar is cheaper as well..

John: Ahahaha! That's really why they like it!

RF.net: When you're a new band starting out, playing ska seems to be really difficult considering the bigger amount of musicians you need in a ska band. How did you know that you had to defy this and be a ska band instead of just being a regular rock/punk band?
Aaron: Erhm.. I don't know really, I just started going to ska shows in Orange County when I was just out of high school. The music just grabbed me because it was so awesome! I always loved horns and I guess I didn't know that kids could start a band with horns. I didn't even know it existed but then when I found out it was just like "Yes! That's what I'm gonna' do!".. Because we were already a band, we've been playing for a couple of years doing covers and such we just didn't have any direction or anything and then I discovered ska and I just knew that you know "Yes! That's it!". But it is hard because you need a bunch of guys to come together for it..

RF.net: Yeah I remember you told PP in London that the reason you had so many people in the band was because you just took along whoever was available at the times you needed them.

Aaron: Yep, that's it.

RF.net: The new album has a pretty strange title ("Monkey's For Nothing And The Chimps For Free"), can you tell us what the story behind that is?
Aaron: I don't know.. I just thought of it one day..

John: It was divine inspiration!

Aaron: Yeah I just always liked the long titles because.. They're really annoying to people.. It's just something that grabs your attention and makes you go "WHAT?!".. It's like that Dire Straits song but different!

Derek: It's that feeling of "OHHHHHH!"

Aaron: It's funny and random and.. confusing.. and that's what I like.

RF.net: Compared to your previous album it sounds like you're having a lot more fun on the new one. How come?
Aaron: Yeah the "We're Not Happy Till You're Not Happy"-album definetely was the low, low, sad point of the band and we had a lot of bad stuff going on. This one is like the total opposite of that. We're free, we're happy and everybody's just getting along very well. We just have a good time. We did it for fun and it shows I think.

RF.net: On the new record you have "Another F.U. Song" where you swear about 40 times during the song - How did that idea come up?
John: Did you count them?

RF.net: No but I think our editor did.

all laugh

Aaron: Erhm, I don't know.. We always write F.U. songs because people like them..

RF.net: It seems that you also write a lot about partying. Don't you ever feel like you have the subject covered?
Aaron: You know, we don't really write that many songs about partying.

John: Yeah I'm trying to think about another one that involves partying..

Aaron: Mostly we just write about being in a band.. or fucking! But yeah there's a couple on the new album and I guess it's all about having a good time..

John: That's really what people come to a Reel Big Fish show to do - to have a good time.. ALL the time! Hahaha..

RF.net: Recently you did a split EP with Zolof The Rock'N'Roll Destroyer. How did this come about, and will we see more splits in the future?
Aaron: They were on tour with us some years ago and we became friends and then when we didn't have a label, their label was like "Hey! You guys wanna' do a split cd?" and we were like "Yeah, let's do it!".. And then we had to think of a theme because they didn't just want three songs from each band and we decided to do duets..

RF.net: So how do you feel about the outcome?

Aaron: I love it! I actually think that the three songs we did were, mix-wise and so, my finest recordings! Although the new album's good too.. There's just too many songs to concentrate on.

RF.net: One of our fans wants to know: Do you ever have any regrets connected to your hit song "Sell Out", seeing how a lot of fans didn't realize it's connection to Jive records..?
Aaron: Erhh, we weren't on Jive Records when we wrote Sell Out. We didn't have a record label. We wrote that song in 1995 before we ever got signed. We were just kind of poking fun at people being oh so hardcore, when bands they liked suddenly had some success and had good things happen to them, they'd be all "Arhg, fuck them, they're sellouts!".. So I wanted to write a song called "Sell out with me" or something. But then I don't know, I don't have any regrets - It's just awesome! We had a hit song! It's what every band dreams of!

RF.net: Okay I'll tell our reader he was "WROOONG" then!

Aaron: Yeah it had nothing to do with Jive records, it was just nice because it helped us get to a level where we could get to have music as our job for the next 12 years.

RF.net: Okay imagine you've been appointed to participate in a jury having to decide the winner of the "Best band noone's ever heard about" award. Who'd it go to?
John: Wauw! .. Erhmm

Aaron: Hmm.. My favourite band that noone's ever heard of is called "Kara's Flowers". They're now Maroon 5 which is AWFUL! (thumbs down), but they used to be this awesome band called Kara's Flowers. I have about 40 of their demos aaaand.. They did put out an album which is pretty good and.. I have almost all their songs and I don't think they even have them anymore. They're like "You have that song? No way!", so yeah I have all their songs and I'm like their _only_ fan!

all laugh

Aaron: I think that doesn't count though, because people have heard about them now. Maybeeee.. Beat Union? People are going to hear about them though.

RF.net: We sometimes ask bands to tell us about any crazy stories they might have from touring, and it seems that you guys would be the kind of band that would have a lot of stories, so we were wondering if you could share one?
John: Hahahaha.. Yeah we would seem like that wouldn't we?

Aaron: You'd think that we'd be up to all kinds of crazyness.

John: There's something about being a band for the past 15 years that makes it so, that if you have crazyness every night then you can't stay a band..

Aaron: There was this one tour.. The last tour before we made our second album, we had a dance party every night in the bus. We had like a hiphop dance party where we'd invite around 50 people to come on the tour bus and they'd be dancing, drinking, smoking and whatever, and we did that for the whole tour! .. And our trombone player lost his mind. He disappeared for two days and then came back wearing a devils tail and some plastic marks or something. We were.. Riding high on our fame from our hit song "Sell Out"

all laugh

Aaron: Yeah we've done a lot of drinking..

John: I remember getting lost once at a frat party when we played at some college.

Aaron: Yeah a lot of times we get invited to all kinds of frat parties when we play at random colleges.

John: Yeah I got too drunk to use my phone once and I stumbled into a cab and the driver took me to the police station aaand.. Eventually the bus came and picked me up there while I was puking in a trash can.

Aaron: Yeah.. Any stories more graphic than that are confidential!

RF.net: Okay, what does the future have in store for Reel Big Fish, long and short term?
Aaron: Well touring.. We continue this tour and then we have the Warped Tour and after that who knows? More albums I guess.. We just keep doing what we do..

John: We'll do "Reel Big Fish The Rock Opera" !!

Aaron: Yes! And Reel Bigh Fish the movie.. And the mini series.. And the comedy sketches..

RF.net: How about the comics? We heard about some Reel Big Fish comics in the making at some point, what became of them?

Aaron: Oh yeah at one time this kid said he wanted to do Reel Big Fish comics and we said "Sure, go ahead!" and everybody seems to know about it and everybody wants to talk about it but we never heard anything about it again.

RF.net: Oh so we can consider that pretty dead?

John: Yeah that's safe..

Aaron: It's funny because we get asked this in almost every single interview.

RF.net: Okay, since you all seem to be having such a good time at the moment, maybe you could tell us what is sometimes the worst discouragement about being in a band, just to contrast things a little?
John: A lot of time to kill..

Aaron: Yeah there's a lot of boredom when you're on the road.

John: That's why so many bands get turned on to drugs. To pass the time..

RF.net: So what do you guys do now to pass the time, if you don't do drugs?

Aaron: Well everywhere has internet now so actually there isn't that much boredom anymore. I don't know, we just do.. Nothing.. And it's awesome! It's pretty cool right now because we can go around and play every night, but we're not super famous so we don't have all kinds of freaky stuff happening around us all the time..

John: Not that we wouldn't like being super famous though!

Aaron: Yeah but right now it's really okay.. Derek, anything discouraging so far? During your six months as an actual bandmember or during your six years as..

Derek: ... The.. guy? Erhm, nope?

John: Sometimes not getting paid can be kind of a drag..

RF.net: Does that happen a lot?

John: We don't really talk about that..

Derek: Being away from family and friends obviously.. Every tour seems to get longer. Like.. We already have 3½ weeks under our belts right now and..

Aaron: You'll get used to it after 12 years! It'll be like nothing every time!

all laugh

Derek: Yeah well it's not really that bad.. The hangovers can be pretty bad though.

RF.net: I hope the parties are worth the hangovers then!

Derek: Yeah from what I remember they are..

more laughter

RF.net: Well that's pretty much all I had for you guys, so if you have anything you want to shout out to all the RBF fans or anyone else, feel free to do it now.
Aaron: We have a new merch store on our myspace and it's going to have international shipping as of tomorrow (Ed: last thursday). That's pretty cool because we haven't had a merch store for a long time, so now you can have your Reel Big Fish tshirts from there.

John: We had a merchandise crisis.

Aaron: Yeah we were selling preorders of our new album last summer and we had like 2000 preorders aaaand.. I don't know what happened but the cd's never got to the people who preordered them so..

John: The cd's just disappeared..

Aaron: Yeah so every day for the past six months we've just had loads of email and messages going "Where's my cd!?" .. But we're catching up to that now.

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