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Reel Big Fish play the Cheese and Grain, Frome

By Dan_Biggane  |  Posted: February 20, 2013

Reel big Fish

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All the way from Huntington Beach California, Reel Big Fish return to  Frome's Cheese and Grain  on Saturday.

One of the most consistently successful bands to emerge during the third wave of ska in the '90s,  RBF last played Frome in 2006.

Best known for the  single Sell Out, RBF have enjoyed cult hits with and without brass and helped develop a style which although still steeped in the feel-good party ska vibe of their early years, also has a more mature rock direction to fill out their sound and make them more relevant to a crossover audience.

Your Time's Dan Biggane spoke to lead singer and song writer Aaron Barrett to find out more:

Your Time: First of all can you tell me how you got into music and what you hoped to achieve when you first started out on your musical journey from sunny California?

Aaron: I saw a music video on MTV in the late '80s for Talk Dirty To Me by the band Poison andI saw the big hair, the bright colours, all the crazy looking guitars and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, be in a band!

I started growing my hair   and learnt to play shredding metal guitar, and not long after started jamming with some friends in my garage.

The next year when I was 17, I discovered the Orange County ska scene and my mind was blown! It was the most fun exciting music, and all the sweaty, joyous dancing just stole my heart andI never looked back.

What was it like back then?

It was incredible back in the mid-'90s in Southern California.

You could just tell that something special was happening, that something magical and rare was going on.

There were so many great ska influenced bands playing and there was a show every night of the week somewhere and all of the shows were packed with a new kind of ska kid, not snobby, hipster, too cool people, but just regular kids who wanted to dance and have fun and dress silly.

I swear every ska show from 1994-1996 had at least 800 - 1,000 people there, for local, unsigned ska bands - pretty amazing!

Then No Doubt put out Tragic Kingdom and that was it, the word "ska" was on the whole worlds lips!

So our band was just right there in the middle of it, the three guys who had been jamming on metal and classic rock soon started going to ska shows and met some guys who played horns and a new ska band was born.

We were completely immersed in the ska scene, we were so incredibly inspired by the scene and our love for this music and you can really tell that on Turn The Radio Off.

It's been 17 years since Turn The Radio Off. They still sounds so fresh contemporary and fun – why do you think that is?

I think the reason is that because there is so much energy and joy in the music and the lyrics are so humorous yet meaningful and relatable and the music really came from an honest place in our hearts that it just still grabs people listening today as much as it did back then, it still touches people and moves them. That's what really good music does, timeless music.

You've influenced so many punk rock bands - but which vocalists and musicians do you admire and how have they influenced your style and approach to music?

 I have so many bands and artists that I love, I have tens of thousands of songs on my ipod and I'm constantly listening to all kinds of music but ska really did touch me somewhere that no other music could and is definitely the love of my life.

When we started playing as "ska band reel big fish" in the early '90s I was constantly  listening to the Specials, The English Beat, Madness, The Selecter, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Operation Ivy, *****in' Pickle, Dance Hall Crashers, and so many more, the list goes on and on.

I think those band have definitely influenced Reel Big Fish's sound the most but like I said, I like all kinds of music from metal to bluegrass to rockabilly to techno to classical and I think if you really pay attention, you can hear those other influences in our music,

Not really in the style of music so much but I think it gives me an awareness and keeps my songs from being just the same old generic ska punk songs influenced by all the same old ska punk bands everyone listens to.

I think that's what being a good musician is about, exploring all the music and sounds the world has to offer so you can see all the possibilities and then take what you want from that when you make your own music and decide what choices you want to make with your sound because you know all the options and possibilities there are.

If you could go back to those early days, what advice would you give yourselves?

Oh wow, I don't know, it was a lot of fun back then and I really did enjoy every second of that Cali ska scene ... I think the advice I would give myself is maybe just technique things like, learn how to sing so you don't have a sore throat for the next 10 years, practice your instrument more and stop writing songs where you whine about being in a band! haha but I'm very happy with where I am now and very lucky so I really wouldn't change a thing or try to steer my old self into any other direction because it all worked out for me pretty well!

Last year you released studio album number seven, Candy Coated Fury. Was it good to be back in the studio?

I hate recording so much - being in the studio is the worst torture I can imagine! haha but it was good to finally make a new album of new songs and I feel like we really have perfected the Reel Big Fish sound now and everything about this album is just amazing and inspired and fun and there is so much energy in the music and with the lyrics I really feel like I had something to say soI think a lot of people are really relating to that as well.

We did things a little differently this time, usually I will write the songs on my own and bring them to the band at a rehearsal,  but this time I recorded a demo of my vocals and guitar to a click and then had each member of the band come in and work on their parts individually so they could really concentrate and hear what was going on and come up with something that really made the song great.

How would you compare Candy Coated Fury  Reel Big Fish  2013 to Everything Sucks Reel Big Fish 1995? Any regrets?

My only regrets are how bad Everything Sucks sounds! haha we were still developing at that time, still learning to play our instruments, still trying to figure out our sound and solidify a line-up of musicians and just figure out how we were going to make music. Everything Sucks had some of the earliest versions of some of our best songs though like Beer, Trendy, I'll Never Be  and a lot of others that were re-recorded for Turn The Radio Off.

Now it's almost 18 years later and it feels like we finally know how to play our instruments, how to write great songs that move people and touch people's hearts or funny bones and finally have a solid line-up of awesome musicians who love making this music.

I only wish we had been such an amazing band of musicians back then, who knows how much more we could have accomplished by now! Anyway, Candy Coated Fury is amazing, maybe our greatest masterpiece!

This is the first album since Turn The Radio Off that fans have wholeheartedly embraced and just loved from the get go!

I saw you at last year's Groezrock Festival and it was an utter blast. How would you describe a Reel Big Fish live show?

A Reel Big Fish show is just pure entertainment and non-stop fun! We make people laugh, make them dance and give them a work-out and a party all at the same time!

All the new songs are really fun to play live but don't worry kids, we'll be playing all the old favourites too!

But we do our best to make sure that everybody at our shows has the time of their life!

What's been the band's biggest highlight so far and what advice would give to an aspiring band just starting out?

We've had a lot of amazing opportunities and a lot of incredible adventures over the years but I think the most amazing thing that ever happened to us was that we lasted so long!

We started in 1991 and here we are in 2013 still touring the world, still packing venues with fans and still making music! We are some of the luckiest people on Earth!

 What does the rest of 2013 have in store for Reel Big Fish?

After this Europe tour we have the Warped Tour all summer in the USA and then it's off to South America and hopefully Japan for the first time in eight years, we never stop touring and playing shows and we wouldn't have it any other way!

And finally? ...

I'd just like to say a huge thank you to all the fans who support us and allow us to play music for a living!

We appreciate it so much that anyone gives a s**t about us or some silly little songs we wrote enough to buy an album or come to a gig, we just can't express how grateful we are to all those people out there who enjoy our music and come and see us play again and again!


 Make sure you don't miss out on the first reel big catch of 2013. Tickets cost £14.50.

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