Reel Big Fish-Interview

| February 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

by Tim Wenger

photo credit: Richard Harbaugh

SoCal ska legends Reel Big Fish came through the Gothic Theatre on January 10, part of a world tour supporting their new record Candy Coated Fury.

Front man and guitarist Aaron Barrett’s quirky song writing, on top of the band’s humorous, if sometimes a bit over-the-top stage presence, have served to define the personality of the band, a very appropriate personality for the third-wave ska they are famous for. Their single “Sell-Out” helped project them into the ears of a mainstream audience in 1997, and they have since established themselves as one of the long-running staples of third wave ska.

Barrett and trombonist Dan Regan talked about their new album, tour life, and their favorite tour pastime, before the band took the stage at the Gothic.

“This is our first album in a long time that people actually say they liked it right away,” says Barrett. “Usually we put out an album and everyone hates it for the first couple years, then a few start to come around. This one they like right away, which worries me.”

Reel Big Fish have put out eight full-length albums, including the record Fame, Fortune, and Fornication, an album of cover songs. They have figured out what works for their band in the studio. “I think we’re working a lot faster, on this record especially,” says Regan.

“I think we’ve figured out the concentrated formula of how to make it work,” says Barrett. “I like the way we did it this time because we made some demos, and instead of going into the loud practice room, I went in with the guitar and played the skeleton of the song, and brought everybody in one at a time so they could concentrate on making their part to it. I was a little bit different than usual.”

Although ska music doesn’t have the mainstream popularity that it did in the late mid to late ’90s, Reel Big Fish have been able to stay at the forefront of their genre, and have not faded from the view of their longtime fans. “We’re very lucky, I would say, because it’s not that much different, [than in ’98)]” says Barrett. “Actually, we play more places now than we did in ’98. And everywhere we play, the shows are about the same size.”

“The scene is pretty strong everywhere, it’s kind of a united thing,” says Regan. “There was a lot of excitement and energy back in ’97,’98. Our music was on the radio and TV. Nowadays, we’ve been doing it so long, we don’t really look up.”

Many members have come and gone from the group over the years. The group has always replaced the player, even if they couldn’t replace the personality. “The last two people who left the band left because they had kids and they didn’t want to ever leave them,” says Barrett. “We’ve had subs play for different people a lot, so it’s never been like ‘Oh my god somebody left, what are we gonna do?’ You deal with it, you find somebody that can do the job. It might not be the same person or the same personality, but you make it work, cuz we don’t want to stop playing.”

Barrett’s lyrics are often pretty depressing and self-loathing. “That’s just how I am,” he says. “I have a bad attitude; very depressive. But at the same time I’m really silly, I like to joke around and laugh. That’s what comes out in the music–really silly, wacky songs with really depressing lyrics.”

“We’ve never had a bad show in Denver,” says Barrett. A reason for that may be that, like the title of their most popular song suggests, the guys love good beer and fit right in here in the Mile High City. Finding good brew is at the top of their priority list when they roll into a town. “We’re excited to have a couple good beers when we get to each town,” says Regan. “It’s an adventure. We go looking for beer, and drink a lot of beer.”

The group has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. “We’re just excited to have a job, and be able to go out on tour with our friends,” says Regan.

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Category: On The Scene

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