Reel Big Fish created a Ska lovers paradise on January 19th in Austin, TX at the Parish. The band reminded us that the best times are had listening to raging ska covers of songs like Brown Eyed Girl and Take On Me. What amazed me the most about the show was the energy and joyfulness that the entire band played with throughout the entire show. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. Before the show, trumpet player Jonny Christmas told me “when we’re having fun, everyone is having fun.” That was certainly the case! Check out what else the band had to say as we sat down with Johnny “Christmas” and sax man Matt Appleton of Reel Big Fish.
Q: How did the band become named “Reel Big Fish”
Matt: We were originally called the Fisher Kings. Which was named after the Robin Williams movie from the early 90’s and Jeff Bridges. The first cassette was called the Fisher Kings Reel Big Fish. Everyone started calling it the Reel Big Fish cassette. That caught, and was simply a lot better than “The Fisher Kings.” So we became the Reel Big Fish.
Q: What Are The Three Most Important Elements to having a good show?
1) You gotta play well, everyone has got to know their parts
2) Crowd interaction
3) How we act on stage. If we’re having fun, everyone’s having fun. You’ve gotta put on a show You can’t just stand there and act like a bump on the log. But that is for our kind of music. The other night I was watching Taylor Swift playing on SNL in 2009, and she was playing some country song. The band just looked ridiculous because the bass player was trying to rock out and I was like this a laid back song, “chill out.”
1) If you can’t hear what you’re doing, it makes it a miserable experience
2) The crowd has to be uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable they are, the rowdier the crowd. Smashed and Hot. Cold is not usually a good thing.
3) Having the crowd a little liqueured up is probably a good thing. But if there are too many people with drinks in their hand they don’t dance. So you need a combination of both people drinking and not drinking so the crowd can go crazy.
Q: So you need shots?
Johnny: Yes! The more shots, the better.
Matt: There is a song I like by Apollo Sunshine called “The Hotter The Wetter The Better.” That’s very appropriate for this.
Q: What Are your favorite parts about playing in Austin?
Matt: Crowds are always really great. Last time we played here some girl wanted to have my baby. She was really really intense and for some reason somebody brought that girl on the bus and I hid in my bunk. I am married and my wife would have been very pissed off if I had a baby with this women. I had to hide, she wouldn’t take no for an answer. But yeah people are great in Austin.
(Note: It was Johnny’s first time playing in Austin)
Q: Are there any special upcoming plans or albums we can look forward to?
Matt: We might have something in the works soon. Our engineer lost his studio, but now he’s got a space back. After he’s ready to go we’ll probably start doing some new stuff again.
Q: Where do you get inspiration for songs like “Fuck Yourself” and “Everyone Else Is An Asshole”
Johnny: I think there is always inspiration for songs like that just from dealing with other human beings. Our charm of our band is finding the lighter side of things that make you angry. That is some of the magic that Aaron (Reel Big Fish front man) has. You are either gonna cry and cut your arm off or you can laugh and tell people to fuck off.
Matt: That’s why we have that album Candy Coated Furry. Life is hard and everyone has stuff they have to deal with but what Aaron does is very therapeutic. He allows you to just get it all out there. I don’t know if there is anyone that does this quite as effectively as Reel Big Fish.
Q: You cover a wide variety of songs from Brown Eyed Girl to Lonely Like A Wolf. How do you choose what songs you are going to cover?
Matt: Aaron tries to pick more obscure songs. Aaron seems to try. Sometimes there are just songs Aaron hears. Like “Another Day In Paradise” by Phill Collins, Aaron heard it at a grocery store. I think Aaron has a knack for picking out songs that can be made more exciting.
Q: What is your favorite Trey Parker and Matt Stone Movie & Why Would you say it’s Hannibal The Musical?
Matt: Hannibal is one of their more random movies. I actually haven’t seen the whole thing. I think it was straight to video. My brother really likes that movie though!
Q: But why would you say it’s your favorite?
Matt: Yes it is my favorite. I guess that’s the right answer.
Johnny: My favorite Matt Parker and Try Stone movie is Orgasmo. Saw it in college and it’s been rare that I have laughed so hard. Seeing a rubber dick really got me.
Q: Rapid Fire Word Association (One Word Answers ONLY)
Matt: It’s Fun
Johnny: The Best
Matt: ahhhh my life
Matt: Silver lake Old school, isn’t it over now
Johnny: Definitely not, I have a wife
Matt: I have a girlfriend, oh shit it’s supposed to be one word rapid fire
Johnny: Nothing but trouble
Matt: ahhhhh…. Lots
Johnny: Totally fucking awesome
Matt: I miss him
Matt: I saw these two African American kids on 6th street with Fuck Obama signs
For a delicious ska filled evening make sure you go see Reel Big Fish when they come to your city. Check their Tour Dates Here!