eFestivals interviewed the brass section of Reel Big Fish before their headline appearance on Y-Not's Quarry Stage.
How are the festivals going this Summer? Do you have many left?
Matt: I think we're about hallway through festivals. They've been good, the biggest one was Sonisphere and it was just insane. What a way to start off the tour; we were all jet lagged and all feeling weird and then all of a sudden... I didn't look at the crowd before we went onstage and then ran out on stage for our first show over here and you see all those people out there, the most people I have played to in my life, 50,000 people all watching, it was insane, quite a feeling. We had a good time in Germany at some festival I can't remember the name of...
Billy: We didn't play a festival in Germany, it was Austria. It was a hardcore festival, so all hardcore bands then Reel Big Fish.
Matt: Ah yes. Did we do any other UK festivals already?
Billy and John: NASS!
Matt: NAAAASS. Yeah, they had guys on dirt bikers. On ecstasy. Dirt bikers on ecstasy.
Billy: The skateboarding and the dirt biking was definitely the highlight of NASS. For sure. The music...
Matt: SOMEBODY MAKE SOME FUCKING NOISE!!
Billy: SOMEBODY SCREEEEEAM!!
John: At the NASS festival we got to play after Skindred, what a great band. We love those guys.
Matt: And a highlight of Sonisphere watching Metallica from front of house. Tom knows the mixer for Metallica so we were standing right behind the mixing board watching Metallica, like, "Oh my gosh!” They played all the hits.
Did they have a load of people standing at the back on stage? They did at Glastonbury.
Matt: Yeah, they had that.
Billy: I like that, there's a lot of bands at festivals, and you'll be able to go on and even if you play on the main stage you can go on it all day long, and then the last two bands will go on and they're like "No no no no!" so it's cool to have a band as big as those guys saying "fuck you guys, everybody come on stage"
What is your favourite festival memory?
Matt: I'm gonna change my mind and say when we played Novarock for the first time, and I went out on the front of the stage and made everybody clap, and there was 20,000 people there. Making all those people do what I wanted them to do and have a good time was surreal. Just experiencing that for the first time was awesome. That and Sonisphere. Doing that at Sonisphere to twice as many people is also surreal. We are so lucky to be able to do that, it's amazing.
Is there a festival you haven't played that you would like to?
Matt: Yeah, yeah!
John: Isle Of Wight.
Billy: I wanna play any or all of the Riot Fests, cos it seems like our band would be perfect there, and they are always awesome.
Matt: I'd like to play Bonnaroo.
Billy: Bonnaroo is good too.
Matt: And Coachella. I know it's in LA and fancy people shit but it would still be a lot of fun to play it, and it's right near my house, so... that's good too. And to play South By South West. Like to play on a roof at South By South West, that would be awesome.
You have just toured with Zebrahead. How did that go?
Matt: Oh great. We love being with those guys. Their drummer makes all of our road cases, and we're good friends with them. Just getting to tour with your friends is fun first of all, you know people that you have known for years and years and years. It's fun to meet new bands too but to show up on tour and have all the bands be friends already so you already know their names... and they're an awesome band.
Billy: The three of us as the horn section got to play their song 'Anthem' with them every night as their closer, so every night we get to go on stage and play their last song which... it's cool when a band asks you to sit in but it's even cooler when they ask you to sit in on their last song, ya know. There's a lot to be said for that; a lot of bands would never do that.
You do a lot of covers and latest album 'Candy Coated Fury' has the Wonderstuff song 'Don't Let Me Down Gently' on there. Excellent choice. How do you choose songs to do?
Matt: It's always Aaron's choice. Its things that get stuck in his head that he can't get out. He's a big fan of 80's pop music, I know The Wonderstuff aren't an 80's band. He tries to pick songs that one wouldn't think would be a ska bands cover song. 'Take On Me' is a pretty obvious cover song but as far as the rest of the covers go they seem to be pretty random and songs one wouldn't expect to be in a ska band. I think he does a good job picking obscure songs and turning them into Reel Big Fish songs, so a lot of people end up hearing them and don't know the original band or the original song and just think it's a Reel Big Fish song and I think he does a good job selecting them and then the arrangements work out really well, so we make them our own for sure.
Your shows are very energetic. When first learning your instruments did you practice dancing with them, as it's no easy task!
Matt: I can say I have never practised dancing with my instrument... One thing we did all do was marching band.
Billy: No, I played football.
Matt: Oh, right. Wow.
John: Well, Matt and I played in a marching band in high school, as did Derek, our bass player, and our drummer Ryland. Billy's the only one who played football. At our school it was either you could play in the bands or you could play football. It was either or, our band rector was kind of a dick.
Billy: Mine was too.
John: American football...
Billy: Yeah, American football, not that other shit [laughs].
Billy: Not that diving, dancing, acting shit. My band director; we had a really small band. I played the trombone, and I was the best one, even early on, which was hard as everyone else fucking sucked! I mean, they didn't suck...
Billy: No! Listen, there wasn't that many people, and three trombones, so...
John: Oh my gosh that's small. Even smaller than at our school.
Billy: We had no marching band, we had a pet band, so everyone dressed in street clothes and sat in the bleachers and played.
John: Oh so you couldn't do that?
Billy: There was absolutely no way. But then also I was supposed to do pet band for basketball games but I was a really big dickhead in high school and I just didn't do that. I was like "What are you gonna do, kick me out?" and then he was like "No."
Matt: What's the question?
John: Is Billy a dick?
Matt: Oh, dancing around. For me, I have to have this rubber pad in the top of my mouthpiece and to have to press my saxophone up against the top of my cheek to hold it there, so it doesn't fall out of my mouth and bust my teeth of bust my lip when I'm playing. So it's the rubber pad on the mouthpiece for me, and other than that it's a matter of breath control. I was always really super impressed with N-SYNC, speaking of dancing around and doing stuff.
John, Matt, eFestivals: [Giggles]
Matt: A lot of those boy bands have tracks playing and they're not really singing while they're dancing, but those N-SYNC guys can dance like, they're fucking great dancers, and they're singing great too live. You can hear the shakiness in their voices from time to time but they're running around and jumping and doing these crazy dance moves with each other, and still singing. It's amazing.
Do you have a pre gig ritual?
Matt: [Laughs] I think you're looking at right here. [They all point to the empty beer bottles on the table]. On days where I'm particularly sleepy I'll play Call Of Duty. Me and Derek the bass player, who's still in bed because he had too many of these last night..
John: He had all the whiskey.
Billy: Literally all the whiskey.
Matt: We usually sit in the back lounge and drink some whiskey and scotch and play Call Of Duty cos it gets my heart all racing and makes me all anxious. I do sit ups.
John: I have to warm up because the trumpet takes a long time to work right, so that's what I do.
Billy: I drink pretty... no, I drink more before the show than after the show usually. It's weird, not that I can't play a show sober, but whenever I play shows without having at least a drink beforehand I'm always talking to myself the whole time. "Hey what's going on?" and if I'm drinking I'm like "Ok, cool! Play the show!" It sounds the same but I'm talking to myself differently. I'm over analyzing everything when I'm not drinking.
John: Where am I? Who am I?
Billy: Are you my Dad? Sorry!
Who are your ska influences? Which bands have called you influences do you know?
John: I think it's everybody. As the band started it was really the Orange County ska scene, bands like Sublime, No Doubt, the Aquabats and Suburban Rhythm, all those bands that really started that in that community. But a you get older you hear influences that are spread out. We are huge fans of Jamaican ska, we are huge fans of The Wailers, huge fans of the Skatalites, we're huge fans of Desmond Dekker, as well as Madness and The Specials and The Beat, The Selector. We got to tour with Dave Wakeling of The Beat (English Beat). It was so awesome, like hit after hit after hit after hit. It was so much fun.
Billy: I'm newer in the band and younger... I'm from the East Coast so I listened to different bands; and the same bands but bands like Westbound Train, The Slackers...
John: I always liked the Toasters.
Billy: Yeah, The Toasters too. And Reggae bands too, like the John Browns Body from Boston and Thunderbody from Rochester, New York. Those are the core bands that got my gears going.
There's a Reel Big Fish ASG guitar, how did that come about?
John: I think it's just one of those things where a company approaches you and says it's going to make guitars for people and getting some artwork approved. We have one, I think we have at least one, we've toured with it before; it's awesome, sounds great. It's just a lucky thing where someone approaches you and goes "Hey! I'm gonna make a guitar with your name on it!" and you say that's a good idea, can we approve the artwork so it looks like us and not like something from Cradle Of Filth.
Matt: It would be okay though, Cradle Of Filth... that's alright.
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