Editor’s Note: This interview was completely off the cuff. The beauty of Vans Warped Tour was that I was prepared for two interviews, Makeout and Unearth, yet ended up interviewing a lot more bands. Reel Big Fish came back to interview with Madness To Creation. The legendary ska band certainly showed how much fun they were and even helped me get through my lack of preparation and awkwardness. Fans can find Reel Big Fish at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Johnny, how have you been? We talked in Des Moines last summer.
Johnny: Yes we did! DES Moines.
Madness To Creation: What was your biggest memory of Des Moines?
Billy: Zombie Burger!
Johnny: Yes, Zombie Burger! There was a hole in that stage and I was doing my best not to ram my face into it.
Billy: The 4th of July fireworks!
Johnny: Right! Fireworks were going off and Aaron stopped the band and said “everybody, look at the fireworks”, and then he points at me and says, “Play the National Anthem”, and fortunately I remembered it from high school and I played it while the bombs were bursting in the air
Madness To Creation: And you gave proof through the night?
Johnny: That our flag was still there. That was a lot of fun, how often do you get to do that?
Billy: It was on the river too.
Johnny: Bugs from hell though! Minnesota is probably like that too!
Madness To Creation: This is it for Warped Tour, what is one memory that sticks out for you guys?
Billy: I don’t really know, I don’t really have just one, they’re all so good.
Johnny: In 2013, our bus driver hit one of those garter rail things on accident, we had 200 miles and we needed a new tire, I finally because the bus driver apparently didn’t, went in there and looked and he had bent the tire rod by hitting that rail, so I’m like, “dude, you bent the tire rod, that’s why it’s blowing the tires”. We finally wind up going to a repair place on the same day that we had to play and we are like a state over from Georgia, we were supposed to be playing in Atlanta, and it’s like noon and we were supposed to be there at 7, and then 1, 2, 3, and I’m like, “what the hell”, and finally they get it fixed, and we high tail it, and we get to the Warped Tour backstage at the amphitheatre right before the last set time that we could actually do, and so this is when they were filming that Warped Tour Roadies TV show, and we run out and trying to get dressed, and there are people with cameras in our faces, and I’m like, “hey, I’m trying to put on my clothes here, do you want to get the thing out of my face”, and we ran out on stage and used all of Less Than Jake’s gear right before the end, and it went off great. It was a lot of fun and we made it. Safe!
Madness To Creation: That definitely sounds like a Reel Big Fish story.
Johnny: How big was your fish!
Madness To Creation: You guys are embarking on a big European tour with Less Than Jake, what is your biggest memory with them? What can people take away from the ska genre?
Johnny: Slobber! So much slobber! We go on stage every night with those guys, Billy, myself, and Matt, our saxophone player, and we get to play with them every night, and it is just a real privilege to play with those guys, we love them dearly, and it’s an honor to get to share the stage with them every night. They’re such a good band. And to refer to your ska question, it’s making people happy, we make people happy and put smiles on people’s faces, and Less Than Jake does the same thing, The Interrupters the same thing, it’s fun music that you can dance to, that you can throw your middle finger up to, and ska music is for drinking beer and dancing, a friend said that, and I said, “that’s perfect, I love that”.
Madness To Creation: I was visiting with Chris from Less Than Jake earlier and we were talking about the “Pick It Up: Ska in the 1990’s” documentary, I don’t know much about the project, is Reel Big Fish involved with the project at all?
Billy: We are involved with that project. We did an internet interview, we met Johnny for a session and an interview for it, the Kickstarter is doing well, I just know that Phil has been interviewing a lot of people with a lot of good cameras.
Johnny: Hopefully, it will turn out good, for me during ’96 and ’97, I was in music school and I had my head buried in all of those things that had to do with music school, so I knew it was happening, I saw The Aquabats in ’96 with Jeffrey’s Fan Club, cause I used to go see Jeffrey’s Fan Club cause Derrick, our bass player, used to play in that band, and I would go see them when they were local, and so I got to see The Aquabats, which I thought was the greatest thing ever, and I still think that The Aquabats are the greatest thing ever. My head was so buried that I didn’t have time to go out and enjoy the whole ska movement that was actually happening, and I got in the band in 2004, this ride for the past 15 years has been amazing.
Madness To Creation: After all these years, Reel Big Fish is still playing in front of packed houses and is one of the main attractions at the Warped Tour.
Johnny: It’s pretty humbling and it’s amazing. We play the best music in the world and get to play in front of hundreds of thousands of people every year, and I don’t take it for granted, this is really special, we had some guy come up to us a few days ago, and said, “your music saved my life”, and when you hear that more often, that’s a real special place to be, and when people have those thoughts, the first place that people should turn to is music, for whatever it is that makes you feel a certain way, and I get to do this as well, it’s a real honor, and I don’t take that lightly, and people enjoy coming out and having a good time, and that were helping people get through their days.
Madness To Creation: That’s what Reel Big Fish has been all about. What else is in the works, I saw a U.K. run.
Billy: We’re playing some shows in the United States after this.
Johnny: With Ballyhoo!!!!!
Madness To Creation: Do you think there will be another festival to follow Warped Tour?
Billy: I still think Warped Tour is going to happen. I just don’t think it’ll be a cross country tour, I think it’ll be a couple of shows here and there in the summer. But, it’s all speculation, I don’t have any inside scoop for the Warped Tour. They keep wording it like it’s “the last cross country run” for Warped Tour, then they’ll announce something and be like, “oh, surprise it’s not”, it’s not the last cross country run, it’s a weekend. Something that’s bigger and more regional
Johnny: It’ll be like Coachella or “It’s Not Dead” Fest.
Madness To Creation: I bet you all had a good time on the cruise last fall.
Johnny: We certainly did. Billy ate all of the ice cream.
Billy: There were soft serve machines and we were in the ocean, can’t get to the stores from the ocean.
Madness To Creation: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Johnny: There may or may not be a Reel Big Fish record that may or may not come out this fall, it’s super top secret, we may or may not have recorded it in January or February and March of this year, but I can’t talk about it, and it may or may not be called “Life Sucks Let’s Dance”, but I can’t talk about it, and this message may self-destruct.
And there you have it! Check Reel Big Fish out at Scallywag Fest and on The Tickle My Tiki TOURch Tour! Here are the dates below:
Sat. 9/15- The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts
Sat. 9/29- Scallywag Fest at White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Washington (w/Bad Religion, Pennywise, Less Than Jake, and The Interrupters)
Sun. 9/30- Scallywag Fest at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho
The Tickle My Tiki TOURch Tour! (w/Ballyhoo! and We Are The Union)
Thu. 10/4- The Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz, California
Fri. 10/5- House of Blues in San Diego, California
Sat. 10/6- Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show in Huntington Beach, California (w/Sammy Hagar, Tijuana Dogs, REO Speedwagon, and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers)
Sun. 10/7- Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno, Nevada
Tue. 10/9- The Complex in Salt Lake City, Utah
Wed. 10/10- The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Thu. 10/11- Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, Colorado
Fri. 10/12- Slowdown in Omaha, Nebraska
Sat. 10/13- The Castle Theatre in Bloomington, Illinois
Sun. 10/14- Majestic Madison in Madison, Wisconsin
Tue. 10/16- Durty Nellie’s in Palatine, Illinois
Wed. 10/17- The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Fri. 10/19- House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio
Sun. 10/21- Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Tue. 10/23- The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware
European Tour Dates:
Sun. 10/28- AntiFest in Schlachthof Wiesbaden in Wiesbaden, Germany (w/Anti-Flag, Silverstein, Less Than Jake, Cancer Bats, Black Peaks, Worriers, and Tusky)
Tue. 10/30- O2 Forum Kentish Town in London, UK
Wed. 10/31- O2 Forum Kentish Town in London, UK
Fri. 11/2- O2 Academy in Bournemouth, UK
Sat. 11/3- Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Sun. 11/4- O2 Academy in Bristol, UK
Tue. 11/6- O2 Academy in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Thu. 11/8- O2 Academy in Leicaster, UK
Fri. 11/9- O2 Academy in Liverpool, UK
Sat. 11/10- The Refectory in Leeds, UK
Sun. 11/11- O2 Academy in Birmingham, UK
Tue. 11/13- Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA in Norwich, UK
Wed. 11/14- O2 Ritz in Manchester, UK
Thu. 11/15- O2 Academy in Glasgow, UK
Sat. 11/17- Button Factory in Dublin, Ireland
Sun. 11/18- Button Factory in Dublin, Ireland
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here.
Check out the music video for “Sell Out”: