This interview with Reel Big Fish was done in the summer of 2001 in St. Pete, Florida while on the "Crouching Fish Hidden Finger Tour".
An interview with Scott (and Dan) of Reel Big Fish...
Along with bands like Less Than Jake, Catch 22 and Voodoo Glow Skulls, Reel Big Fish are proudly carrying the Ska-punk flag into the 21st century. They take the flag all around world and wave it proudly as they tour almost the whole year round. The road took them to St. Petersburg, Florida, this July and that is where I met them and interviewed them for the 1st time. I set the interview up in advance and arranged to meet up with them early afternoon. My friend Richard and I got there about 1 o'clock. The roadies were still setting things up on stage for the soundcheck. We checked in and decided we would wait until after soundcheck to do the interview. We found a shady spot and watched them tune up. What a treat! They rolled through 3 complete songs to an audience made up of myself, Richard, 2 sound guys, their manager and guitar tech. I'm not really used to seeing bands with such extravagant preparations, but that was pretty neat. It seemed even neater later in the night when they announced a new song and said they were playing it for the first time live and we had heard it just hours earlier. Anyway, with their business taken care of, we were anxious to get the interview out of the way. Scott, the bands trumpet player and second vocalist was elected representative and he led us to their posh tour bus where we spent an hour beating the intense afternoon heat and learning all about being a rock star...
Reel Big Fish is:Aaron=guitar and vocals, Scott=trumpet and vocals, Matt=bass, Carlos=drums, Dan=trombone, Tavis=trumpet
SHZ-How about a Reel Big Fish history lesson? I mean I assume you guys were doing something before "Turn The Radio Off" came out like 5 years ago...
Scott-Yeah, the bands been together for 10 years. The first 5 years I guess were quiet on the national front, but they were playing a lot of shows, working on the sound and the style. Bringing in band members, kicking out band members. There has been quite an array of people in the band. There are 6 of us now, we have about a dozen ex-members. We're really happy with things now. We have been the same for 2 years, ever since Carlos joined on drums.
SHZ-Were you a founding member?
Scott-No, I wasn't. Actually, I was a fan of the band when they started back in 1991. I've been in the band for about 6 years. I joined right around the time we recorded the first album. Early 1995 and "TTRO" came out in 1996. It wasn't like we formed a band, and just put out a record. We'd been working at it for awhile.
SHZ-What was your first ever exposure to Ska music?
Scott-I think I was in 6th grade... My best friend at the time was Tyler Jacobs, his older brother was Christian Jacobs who was the singer for The Aquabats. I grew up with those guys...Anyway, I can remember sitting in his room when he put on the first Fishbone album. I went nuts, I was crazy about it. I asked him what it was, and he said "It's Ska!". I loved it. I went out and I bought that album, I got "Truth And Soul". Before long I was listening to The Specials, Madness. I got into the OC Ska scene, going to No Doubt shows (in the early 90's) and it just snowballed.
SHZ-According to everything I've read, the so-called 3rd wave of Ska-punk is dead. Do you buy into that, and what keeps you wanting to do it?
Scott-It's simple. It's just really fun music to play. Our fans like it, you can't get moving that way to any other kind of music.
SHZ-Now your pretty well-traveled band wise, what bands have you
toured with or been in?
Scott-The Nuckle Bros., Goldfinger, The OC Scholars, Green Day and
The Goodwin Club...Oh yeah, Reel Big Fish.
SHZ-Now is it that your just always looking for a band to play in, or are
there no other trumpet players in the State of California?
Scott-I like to play. People don't seem to mind having me in their bands.
If I'm not busy with RBF, then what the hell.
SHZ-Is there a sense of unity amongst the Ska bands in California?
Scott-I like to think so. We're from Orange County and we try to
support all the bands there. Whenever we go out on tour we try to
take an OC band with us. We've had some success, so we kind of
have a responsibility to give back to the scene and try and help other
bands get started.
SHZ- So I've noticed No Doubt and Green Day both got done on
VH1 "Behind The Music", are you guys next?
Scott-(laughing near hysterically) I think you need to sell a lot
more records than we've sold to do that. Maybe "Where Are
They Now", but never "Behind The Music."
SHZ-So, where are you now?
Scott-On the road, on tour like we always are.
SHZ-How much time do you spend on the road?
Scott-10 months out of the year. We've been overseas twice and we go back once more before the year is up. When this tour is over, we get 2 days off, then we fly to Hawaii for a couple days, then to Japan, then to Greece and then all over Europe.
SHZ-How are you received in places like Greece and Japan?
Scott-We've never been to Greece before, but we do well in Japan. My favorite place and where we do the best right now is Europe. We do real well in the UK.
SHZ-Personally, what are the influences that have shaped your sound?
Scott-A lot of things, man. Like I said before, there was Fishbone and Madness and local Ska bands. Growing up my parents listened to a lot of folk. I listened to Stevie Wonder. Man, he's the fucking king. Doesn't get any better than Stevie.
SHZ-I know you guys do a ton of interviews, what are some of the most annoying questions you get asked?
Scott-I usually put that shit out of mind, I guess. I mean because of the song-people ask our definition of the words "sell-out" a lot. I guess, in the environment I was raised, I was taught that no question is a bad question.
SHZ-Well, conversely, what are some questions you wish people would ask you?
Scott-I wish people would ask me if I would like for them to give me a million dollars.
SHZ-Have you ever been stalked by a fan before?
Scott-Uhh...There are a few people who follow us all around the country. They aren't really frightening stalkers. I guess it is kind of creepy that they want to follow us. They sit outside our bus waiting for us to come out, then they just say "Hi!". A lot of them ask if they could hang out on the bus and shit, but that's our private home, so no. (it should be noted that this interview was done on the Reel Big Fish tour bus). I guess beyond that there have been a few more creepy incidences. Once, in Rochester, NY, there was a girl outside the bus. She walked up behind me and grabbed my arm. I really don't like being touched by strangers, so I screamed a little. She was like "don't you remember me, don't you miss me?" I didn't know who the hell she was. I said "bye" and tried to make my way on the bus. There was a bunch of kids around and we were signing autographs and shit. Well, when I went to get on the bus she followed me. She wouldn't leave the bus, I tried to grab her to push her out. She started yelling "I'll sue you, I'll say you raped me!" I had to lock myself in the back. Our manager finally had to carry her out over her shoulder fire man style and she was screaming all the way. Then, the fucked up thing. Our old trombone player, Grant, brought her back on the bus because he wanted a fucking back massage. I had a stalker at home, but I don't think that was because of the band. She stalked both me and my roommate. She lived like 2 hours away and she'd show up at our house for no reason. It didn't come to restraining orders, though.
SHZ-Could you guys tour this much without a big bus like this having so many members and so much equipment? And did you special order the bus with mirrors on the ceiling?
Scott-No. The bus came that way, I don't know why they are there. We still do the van thing if we're at home and we play in California. Now, we've been doing it so long and there are a lot of us. It even seems crowded on the bus... Seriously, we probably couldn't tour as much as we do now in a van. We did that for years though.
SHZ-I've always wondered why you guys take credit for the Florida Marlins winning the World Series in 1997.
Scott-They used our song, "Trendy" as their fight song and that's what put them over the top. I mean they had the good luck of the Reel Big Fish behind them-of course they won.
SHZ-So are you guys pretty big sports fans?
Scott-No, not at all. Well, not me at least. We've done a couple of things for sports. The Marlins song and we played on Monday Night Football. I really don't know how we ended up getting those gigs, but it was cool. For Monday Night they got us a skybox to watch the game in. We sang, got really drunk-it was fun.
SHZ-You guys have sold a whole bunch of records, you have fans all over the world...What goals do you have left and how much longer do you plan on doing this?
Scott-Pheeww...I don't know. We all have separate goals. Basically, we'll do it as long as it's fun and we'll see where it takes us.
SHZ-What's the origin of the "I Hate Reel Big Fish" tee shirts and stickers and shit?
Scott-Well,we came up with it. Kind of like, "Primus Sucks" or "Death To The Pixies". Ya know, it's like, if you like the band you've got a tee-shirt, if you hate the band-you've got a tee-shirt. We made them up to give to our friends at home who were getting kind of bitter.
SHZ-When will the next RBF album be out?
Scott-We're shooting for February of 2002. It's almost all recorded.
SHZ-Who is going to put it out?
Scott-Uhh,,,thats a good question. That's one thing we have to work on.
SHZ-So what are you listening to on this tour?
Scott-Geez...lots of shit. Ween, Frank Zappa, lots of random shit. If local bands give us demos, we listen to those.(Dan and Tavis entered the bus a couple of minutes ago. Dan spilled water on me and claimed it was accident. He immediately made himself comfortable and jumped right into the interview)
SHZ-So if you could bring in any one person, dead or alive to play in the band with you?
Dan-James Valentine! He's the greatest guitar player to ever live, and I would love to have him play in this band.
Scott- He was the guy who filled in for Aaron on guitar when he broke his hand. Two days ago Aaron hurt his elbow (falling down stairs at The Roxy in Atlanta) and we brought him in to play one show. He is such a marvelous addition to this band, but he has his own band, Maroon, which is his priority.
Dan-They used to be called "Kara's Flowers" and we toured with them when they were Flowers, they're all friends of the band.We'd also like to steal Mr. Tim Wu, the saxophone player from Long Beach Dub All Stars. We think he'd be a good addition to the band.
SHZ-Why don't you have a sax player?
Dan-Well, there is the old joke...But, we used to have a sax player for a while. He left us to go to college and we've been bitter about sax players ever since. I mean, working with a trumpet player's ego is hard enough. A sax player-forget about it.
SHZ-Its kind of weird, I mean 2 trumpets, 1 guitar,1 trombone and no sax.
Scott-We're a little weird...
SHZ-So are there any bands left out there that you haven't played with but would like to?
Scott-Sure, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles, Frank Zappa's 88 band.
Dan-The original Mouseketteers.
SHZ-Are you working on any of those?
(no one acknowledged this with an actual response)
SHZ-Could you sum yourself up in 5 words?
Scott-Good Funky, Sexy, Chicken Fingers.
With that, it was over. We slowly trudged off the air-conditioned tour bus back into the hot sun. About 6 hours later the Fish took the stage and made the wait worthwhile. I don't tend to enjoy anything this poppy, but their sound is a guilty pleasure I couldn't resist. I tried as hard as I could, but when they covered "Take On Me" by A-Ha in full Ska style, I lost all traces of resistance (and kicked back to enjoy an incredible show).