Reel Big Fish

By bushy

MARK: Hi there. Can you introduce yourself and what you bring to the Reel Big Fish sound?

AARON: I’m Aaron Barrett, the mad scientist of music, the driving force, the insane visionary behind this disastrously beautiful train wreck of a band. I play guitar and sing and dream…well, I used to dream.

MARK: Firstly, congratulations on the new album. How pleased have you been with reactions to it?

AARON: We did the best we could on this album. I worked and worried day and night over it and did everything I could to make it everything it should be. I am proud but still disappointed because I refuse to look on the bright side of things.

MARK: With all the label difficulties you’ve had in recent years, did you ever think you would release another album?

AARON: I knew we would put out an album somehow, with or without a labels’ help.

MARK: How long did “Cheer Up!” take to record and was it an enjoyable process?

AARON: It took 2 years of on and off recording, moving from studio to studio, fighting for money and support from our label, fighting with a producer who did not understand our musical vision, it was absolute hell and probably the worst 2 years of my entire life.

MARK: Do you have a personal favourite track on the album?

AARON: I love all my songs equally. They are like my children, I brought them all into the world and watched them grow and develop. They all mean everything to me. But of the cover songs, I like boss DJ the best.

MARK: What led you to ditch the horn section for a couple of songs?

AARON: Not every song is a horn song. Just like when you make a painting, you don’t always use green. It’s what is right for the song that matters.

MARK: Do you still consider yourselves to be a ska band?

AARON: We are definitely a ska band that are also masters of all musical styles. I am still proud to be associated with, and a part of the ska scene.

MARK: What made you decide to cover the Frank Sinatra classic “New York, New York”?

AARON: We did it for a tribute album that never came out. They absolutely hated what we did with the song. They said it didn’t sound like “what reel big fish does.” we can’t help it if we’re creative.

MARK: “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Bitchin’”. Why?

AARON: Because we said so!

MARK: How has the departure of Tavis and the subsequent arrival of Tyler affected the band?

AARON: Our horn section is much tighter now and our live show is that much more exciting. Also the band has never gotten along so well.

MARK: You were recently forced to cancel an appearance at Leeds festival at the last minute. A lot of your UK fans didn’t know why, so can you give us the full story?

AARON: Carlos had to fly home for a funeral and our replacement drummer’s flight was delayed and none of the other bands on our stage would switch set times with us. I didn’t appreciate that the mc just told people we “weren’t playing” it made us sound like assholes. We were looking forward to the Leeds festival for months! We were just as disappointed as everyone who came to see us.

MARK: Do you have any plans to make it up to the fans that missed you?

AARON: We are definitely in the process of setting up show to make up for Leeds.

MARK: You’ve been to the UK quite a bit in recent times. What do you think of the UK punk/ska scene and do you have any favourite UK bands?

AARON: We’ve played with a lot of great bands and it seems like the scene over in the UK is really happening. It’s very exciting to come over and be a part of it.

MARK: Have you heard of an English town called Grimsby? If you realised it was the fish capital of the UK would you play a show there?

AARON: Is that a reel big fish joke?

MARK: Yeah, sorry! Ever since the success of “Sell Out” in the US, people accusing you of just that have plagued you. Does that abuse still bother you, or have you learned to ignore it?

AARON: Oh, we never let it bother us. That’s the best part of the joke…the fact that most people don’t get it.

MARK: Why do you think the ska scene has declined so rapidly in your home country?

AARON: Radio and MTV are always jumping on the next big thing so ska just got chewed up and spit out by the mainstream but the underground ska scene is still very much alive. Maybe even more than ever.

MARK: On “Turn the Radio off” Monique Powell of Save Ferris provided vocals for “She has a girlfriend now”. How did that collaboration come about?

AARON: She was just a friend of ours from Orange County. I wrote that song for us to sing way back when she was in a band called ‘Larry’.

MARK: What are your own musical influences?

AARON: I love all kinds of music and too many bands to name but I think the Orange County ska scene and the hair metal of the late 80’s has had the biggest influence on our music.

MARK: What is the most outrageous shirt that you have worn at a live performance?

AARON: I wore a shirt made out of live bees one time!

MARK: Have you managed to use your label contacts to meet Britney Spears yet? Have you considered asking her to guest on your next album?

AARON: Heck yea! We gotta get something out of this deal! I met Britney Spears at the shoot for her video “Boys”. I don’t think her “people” would let her do a guest appearance on a little ska bands album.

MARK: What can we expect from Reel Big Fish over the next 12 months?

AARON: We will rock you and then we will roll you and then we will light you and smoke you!

MARK: Thanks very much for your time. Do you have anything you’d like to say to the readers of punktastic?

AARON: See you in January! Keep the ska alive!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]