Interview: Reel Big Fish @ Warped Tour

By Ben Tipple

We sent Lauren Novik to the Ventura leg of the US Warped Tour. She got to hang out with Ryland Steen of Reel Big Fish who told us a little bit about what it’s like to be a member of the cool upper classmen of this year’s Vans Warped Tour! And about what the lounge in the back of the bus is for…

LN: Alright we’re here hanging with Ryland Steen of Reel Big Fish! Ryland, you guys are Warped veterans- how’s this new one going so far?
RS: I think we kind of went into this with a really good feeling. We feel like we’re kind of like the Senior class- but we want to be like the cool seniors that are nice to the younger bands. I think doing Warped for us- it kind of revalidates us and lets us know that we’re still relevant with a younger audience.
LN: Yeah dude, we all need a little more ska in our lives- so thanks for hooking it up!
RS: Ha! We kind of look at ourselves as like the palate cleanser inbetween a lot of the pop/punk and hard-rocking, double kick drumming, put your hands in the air kind of bands. I mean we just love it – and I think it’s fun for us because we’ve done it so many times we kind of know what to expect, we know how to like pace ourselves.

LN: Are you guys like doling out advice to the newer bands on the tour?
RS: Surprisingly, yeah! You really don’t realize how much you know until you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know. It’s like “you mean you didn’t know you were supposed to this or that?! You didn’t know you were supposed to wake up early so you could hit the port-a-potties before anyone else does?!”

LN: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on this Warped Tour so far?
RS: This isn’t THAT crazy but I suppose the weirdest thing was during an autograph signing there was a girl who I guess had broken her foot like the night before – luckily not AT Warped Tour- and apparently her doctor had like prescribed her Dilaudid which is basically like, prescribed heroin.
RS: Yeah, it’s like a crazy pain killer! She was really, really out of it- and she like flung her cast onto our merch tent and the whole tent just goes crashing down on top of her! We were like “oh my god- we’ve just killed this girl.” Luckily, everything was ok- I mean it only weighs about ten pounds.
LN: Did you all end up signing her cast?!
RS: We DID end up signing her cast- so it all worked out.

LN: Warped is heading back over to the UK this Fall- how important do you think it is to expand it there, to bring it to Europe, where else would you like to see it?
RS: I mean hopefully one day it’ll just be like world domination. Each country has their own fair share of festivals, but I think the brand of the Vans Warped Tour has created this reputation for just having really good vibes and I think it really does cater to a younger audience – whereas other festivals don’t necessarily think in those terms. One thing that’s really blown me away is seeing a lot of these younger bands who seem to be really popular – but they don’t necessarily seem to be on the radio, or on TV – which I think is something that RBF can really relate to, because that’s kind of how we started. We’ve lived off of like the few college radio plays or the 90s flashback lunch. A tour like this really seems to cater towards a different youth culture that other tours don’t – so I think it’s great it’s expanding its brand across the world!
LN: If it could just go to one other country, where would you like to see it?
RS: I’d love to see it in Japan! I’ve never been there!

LN: You’ve toured with a lot of stellar bands- if you had to be stuck on a deserted island with one other band from THIS year’s lineup- who would it be?
RS: I guess I’d have to say either Big D and the Kids Table- because we’re already friends with them, or…. This is an important question- it’s got to be good. Or…I guess whoever the band is with the biggest meatiest dudes because eventually you’re going to run out of food and you’re going to need some. I’m not sure who that band is – but whoever it is.
LN: Alright, this just took a dark Donner party type turn. I can dig it.

LN: Confession time- back in the day I found out about you guys because my younger brother’s AOL screen name was ReelBigFishGuy9 (you guys were popular, the other numbers were all taken)- how do you feel about that?
RS: You know what- that’s something I don’t normally hear! It’s usually the older brother/sister that’s telling the younger what to listen to.
LN: He was cooler than me from a very young age. MUSIC-WISE.
RS: See, now that warms my heart to know that an older sibling would actually listen to a younger and admit that the recommendation was pretty cool!

LN: Anything you all had to bring on tour with you?
LN: Okay, that’s something you don’t hear very often!
RS: See another great thing about this tour is the sense of friendship and comaraderie so in the parking lots you’ll end up seeing a lot of bands just chilling on these picnic lawn chairs, some even have portable bbqs, and everyone’s just kind of there drinking a cold one. It’s great because everyone inevitably will get to know each other. We’re always in our own worlds and off doing our own headlining tours so it’s nice to be like “oh hey – wait – there are other cool bands here!”

LN: That’s right you guys are VIP – you have your own bus and everything! Who controls the music onboard?
RS: You know, we’re usually pretty good about headphones and stuff but I guess the back of the bus would be like the easy-listening hip hop lounge.
LN: A little slow jamming
RS: Definitely a little bit of slow jamming in the back. Usually the front lounge is reserved for shows like Portlandia and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

LN: Any closing remarks to friends and fans?
RS: Please always make sure you stay up-to-date on our touring dates via Facebook and stuff because we’re always touring, we’re always around! We literally never, ever stop touring. EVERRRRRRRR!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]