Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Interview: Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish are living legends. They've been rocking their brand of ska for over ten years, and the band is still going strong with the recent release of Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free. Read my interview with frontman Aaron Barrett to see what it's like to be in such a longstanding, respected band.

PPJ: Tell us your name and what you do in the band.

Aaron Barrett: My name is Aaron Barrett, I sing, play guitar and write songs for Reel Big Fish.

PPJ: What drew you to begin playing ska music?

Aaron: I started going to local shows at small clubs when I was in high school and I always liked the ska and reggae influenced bands the best, I loved the horns and the energy and the unique sound. after I found out what "ska" was, I realized I had been listening to it for years because some of my favorite bands were The English Beat, The Specials and Madness. I had been taking guitar lessons for a few years and messing around with playing music and forming a band but once I tried playing ska, I knew that it was for me.

PPJ: You've just released your sixth studio album. Did you ever think your band would make it that far?

Aaron: I have always had my doubts and I know how hard it is to make it in the music business but I always knew, from the very beginning that I would keep trying as hard as I could to make it no matter what. So I'm not surprised that I'm still playing in this band...I do feel very lucky to have so many people listening to my band and coming to see us play though!

PPJ: What prompted the change to having more happy songs on the record than you're usually known for?

Aaron: I think the band has just been in better spirits now since we got off Jive Records and got through our mid-life identity crisis so it was easier to make more fun, upbeat songs.

PPJ: How have you managed to keep Reel Big Fish relevant over the years, even when ska falls in and out of favor?

Aaron: We are constantly on the road playing shows and winning more and more fans and I think we have good songs, and that never goes out of style!

PPJ: What do you do to keep your live show fresh and entertaining?

Aaron: We put a lot of spontaneous humor in our live set and we try to get the crowd involved and just make the whole thing a party.

PPJ: Do you ever get tired of playing your older songs?

Aaron: No way, we love playing the old songs and the fan favorites and the hits! We love to please the crowd! And it just never gets old to see a crowd go wild when you play a song they all know and love!

PPJ: You've done a lot of cover songs over the years. Which ones are your favorites?

Aaron: I love "Kiss Me Deadly", "It's Not Easy", and "We Close Our Eyes" the best. I love to do covers!

PPJ: Several of Reel Big Fish's members also have side projects. How do those get balanced with Reel Big Fish?

Aaron: They don't. Scott and I tried to have side bands for a while but there is just no time. We're on the road with RBF 9 months out of the year and we really can't put the time needed into other bands. Dan does some dj-ing and makes electronic music with a project he calls "Black Casper" but that's just him doing it himself.

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Aaron: Cannibal Corpse, Toots and the Maytals, Say Anything.

Make sure to pick up Reel Big Fish's new album, Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free, in stores now, and to catch them on their current tour with Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, and Against All Authority.

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