Reel Big Fish

By paul

Sitting on the Reel Big Fish tour bus with Aaron Barrett, Scott Klopfenstein, John Christianson, with the occasional appearance from Ryland Steen and Tom Ames.

So guys, first off, how’s the tour going?

Scott: The tour’s going fantastic! We’re having a splendid time. We’re playing Rock ‘n’ Roll/Ska music every night…pretty much. The shows have been going well. There have been no altercations (which is always good!) either internally or externally.

*Aaron joins*

So you played the Slam Dunk festival this past weekend, the crowed lapped it up..

Aaron: Well they were really tired by the time we got on…

But as a show, how did it go would you say?

Scott: Well we’re pretty much always fantastic, so for us to judge if it was a good show, a bad show – it was definitely a good show…
Aaron: It was OUR show
Scott: Let’s just basically say we did it.

I hear that Hayley from Paramore was having a little dance around..

Aaron: She attacked me onstage and knocked over my mic stand.

Enjoy that?

Aaron: That was awesome!
Scott: She’s cute, so she was allowed!
Aaron: She’s allowed to do whatever she wants…
Scott: Behind every man is a mean, iron-fisted woman… that DON’T TAKE NO SHIT!

You’ve been away for a while from the UK but you keep on coming back. What is it about the UK that keeps on calling your name?

Scott: The Kebabs…And the… I mean the people who make the kebabs. The fans! Do we have fans that work in kebab shops?
Aaron: No.
Scott: We mainly come for the fans…..and the chipper weather.
Aaron: They seem to like us here. We got to Europe… and not so much…
Scott: Yeah we seem to ruffle some feathers…
Aaron: They don’t think we’re that funny.

So do we think you’re funny then?

Scott: Don’t really give a damn. (Sarcastically) We feel funnier here than we do in other places, I think.
Aaron: You guys like our cool accents. We’ve got bitchin’ accents!

So you’ve got a new album due out soon, “Monkeys for nothin’, chimps for free”… Dire Straits fans are we?

Aaron: We just thought it sounded funny and it was really long and it would be harder to make an acronym of.
Tom (Tour manager): Mark Knopfler’s got a law suit as we speak…
Aaron: We just like long album titles and random nonsense.

So when’s it coming out?

Scott: The international release is July10th.
Aaron: July 10th, yep. They’re actually manufacturing it here in England for you guys.
Scott: So it might actually be a little cheaper to get your hands on!!
Aaron: Unlike our live album which we had to make in America and ship over here, so that’s why you have to pay, like, quadruple for it.

So is this a happy or aggressive Reel Big Fish album? Can we expect anything different this time around? Anything special to it?

Scott: I’d say it’s more ‘ass-kickery’.
Aaron: We kinda move forwards and backwards at the same time…

How do you mean?

Scott: Well have you ever seen someone drawn and quartered?

Not personally…

Scott: Well what you do it, you take ropes and tie them to all four limbs, (if you have four limbs – because some people don’t and I don’t want to exclude them from the festivities) then you get wild horses to YANK as hard as they possibly can until the person is ripped into pieces… That’s kinda how we make records…
Aaron: There’s a bunch of new songs… Some of them are a little more in the older style of Reel Big Fish. There’s some new, weird songs that are totally different.
Scott: There are some songs on there that… we have a song I wrote in 1992. People are always asking us “Play the old stuff! Play the old stuff!” so we’re like, “You want some old stuff!? here’s some fuckin’ old stuff!”
Aaron: “You’ll be sorry.”
Scott: “You’ll be so sad you asked for this!”
Aaron: Anyone want a Snakebite and black?

There’s a song I believe called “Another FU Song”. What’s the bands obsession with the word ‘Fuck’? What’s wrong with ‘Shit’? Shit’s a good word!!

Aaron: Well it is, but everyone loves the ‘Fuck you’ songs.
Scott: It is the most powerful expletive in the world.

I disagree… There is a particular word in England that we find a little bit more offensive and abusive..

Scott: (Interrupting) CUNT?!? I don’t think it carries the weight!
Aaron: Here’s the mustard you cunt (passes John a pot of Colman’s mustard).
Scott: Right… now… Watch, like watch…. Try it again, now use the word fuck..
Scott: See! And you can’t say like, “oh you cunter!”

Aaron: I have an important question – would anyone like an alcoholic drink, because we have SO MUCH ALCOHOL!

Drinks were drunk… the interview continues…

So do you guys reckon there will be a Ska revival?

Aaron: What are you talking about? It’s here to stay!!

Well yeah, you know it’s never gone away but…

Aaron: yeah, back in the mainstream… on the radio and stuff.
Scott: God willing! God willing there will be! If everyone in the world dreams hard enough, then perhaps the devil will go back into his cave, and the sun will shine again on the land of Ska.

We can hope!
So apart from playing Download in a couple of weeks, are you planning on doing any more UK festivals?

Scott: Well, see, we raise a lot of hell. We’re just a bunch of rough and tumble mother fuckers
Aaron: What’s the question?
Scott: Are we doing Reading and Leeds?
Aaron: No.
Scott: Are we going to do Glastonbury?
Aaron: Download!

By why not Reading and Leeds?

Aaron: They did want us to play…
John: We did it this past year.
Aaron: We kicked too much ass last time! They said, “Hey, too many people like you, we need to put you on the main stage”.
Scott: But we don’t want the fuckin’ Arctic Monkeys cryin’!

At the risk of bringing up a touchy subject guys… Ex-Record label… Give us the lowdown on what happened with that…

Scott: We did not see eye to eye on the operations and functions of making music and putting it out for the public, so we went our separate ways. They seemed to have a great idea of how they’re supposed to make money in the music business, we have a good idea of how to make music in the money business, and it just never came together and made babies.

So you’ve funded and produced this album yourself?

Scott: Our little Aaron Barrett, God bless his tiny black heart, he sweat and slaved and made the record a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful little lamb.
Aaron: Yeah it was really cheap.
Scott: Inexpensive!
Aaron: And we made it in 3 weeks. We started on March 1st.
Scott: It was kind of a necessity thing; it was the only time that we had off.
Aaron: Yeah we should have a new album out for the summertime with our Less Than Jake tour.

And what are your views on the Less Than Jake, 6 albums in 6 nights at the Astoria?

Scott: More power to ‘em!!!!
Aaron: See, the thing about them is, DON’T TAKE THIS IN A BAD WAY, because I love Less Than Jake, they’re one of my favourite bands, but every night is going to be the same because all their songs are very similar. If WE did that, everyone would be there on one night and then nobody would be there because ours are drastically different… I don’t know what I’m saying!!
Scott: He’s high on Goofballs!

They’ve got Sonic Boom Six supporting a couple of those shows..

Aaron: They’re good!

I was going ask you, because didn’t Leila do a duet with you?

Aaron: Yeah, she sang on ‘She has a Girlfriend’

So you’ve said you like Sonic Boom Six, are there any other British bands you like, are keeping an eye on etc?

Aaron: There a band on tour with us at the moment called Beat Union and they’re pretty cool. I like that new ‘Clash-y’ sound thing that’s kinda going on here with The Ordinary Boys and The Dead 60s and all that shit.

So this tour, did you hand pick the support or was it not up to you?

Aaron: A lot of times, we don’t have much choice, but sometimes we’ll get one band we get to choose, but that’s usually not the case. We try to push for Ska bands, because that’s what people want to see when they come to see us, but it’s hard to get that through to people.

Do you have any influence when you say you want to take a particular band on tour, or one American band and one British band etc?

Scott: Well a lot of the time what happened is, our tours get booked last minute. So, we’re busy doing one thing, and then they’re like, “By the way, this just finally got planned, you’re leaving tomorrow and this is who you’re playing with”. So we’re like, “OK”.
Aaron: But also there’s lots of bands that we try to play with but it just doesn’t work out. Like Less Than Jake, but that took about 10 years to happen.
Scott: Finally.

*Noticing the on-screen menu of cartoons, movies and music*
So what have you watched today?

Aaron: We watched Pirates of the Caribbean today.

First or Second?

Aaron: Third one… It’s not so good… I couldn’t believe how bad it was!
Scott: They decided not to take the millions, 800 quadrillion dollars that they spend on the movie and put it into… a story.
So what have you guys got planned for after the show? You’re here tomorrow so not travelling. We noticed a Spearmint Rhinos round the corner…?

Aaron: Ooh… Strip clubs and us… we’re just awkward.
Scott: Yeah, and they want you to pay?!

Aaron: Here’s something that never comes up, are you guys circumcised?

*All round no’s*

So let’s hear the dirt, any in band fights on this tour?

Scott: You know what, we don’t really fight. We’ve been together for so long that we know how to talk shit behind each others’ back properly. We also have this rule, that if you’re not in the room, it’s fair gain. And so you can’t really get mad, even if you walk into the room and it all of a sudden goes dead silent, you weren’t there, so you can’t really get upset.
We also take pride in heckling people that are no longer with us. Not dead people!!!!

So ex-band members and stuff?

Scott: Ex band members, ex-girlfriends, celebrities maybe.

Anything else that goes on?

Scott: We tend to write on people with Sharpies. We have a rule that if you pass out from drinking with your shoes on, you’re fair fucking gain.

So playing much new stuff tonight?

Aaron: Just sneaking in a tiny bit of new stuff right now, because nobody likes to hear songs they don’t know. (Laughs)
It’s hard enough to hear the filler songs and the songs from the bad album, but then to hear songs you don’t even know at all!! OH GOD!

So you also played the Full Ponty in Wales last weekend!

Scott: Yeah, that was awesome!

I noticed that Matt Wong wasn’t playing. What’s the deal? He’s not here!

Scott: He’s not here, he’s having a baby.

Him personally?

Scott: Yeah him personally, he had the operation done, the Arnold Schwarzeneggar operation, and he is having a baby! His wife is just there for moral support…

Well when you do speak to him, wish him the best of luck to him and his family from everyone at Punktastic!

So the replacement. How’s he doing?

Scott: Fucking great! We’ve known deryk for a long time, he’s a great guy and a great bass player…
Aaron: He’s filled in for Matt Wong before.
Scott: Yeah, we enjoy his company.

So was he just a personal friend of the band?

Scott: He’s a personal friend. He was in Jeffrey’s Fan Club (a Ska band from Southern California), then he was in forces of evil with Aaron Barrett. He also runs an underground porn syndicate. It’s actually really highbrow porn.

Well guys, thanks for giving us the time to speak to you! Best of luck tonight!

All: Thanks a lot!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]