Q&A: Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish

Part of the Southern California ska band scene, Reel Big Fish has been together in some form since the early 1990s.

Aaron Barrett is the only remaining member of the original band and his vision helped define what Reel Big Fish has become, encouraging the five other current members to join him in the group that has toured internationally.

Reel Big Fish will make a stop in Grand Junction at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at Mesa Theater and Lounge, 538 Main St.

Tickets cost $18 to the all ages show and are available at the Mesa Theater box office.

Local band Bad Karma Kings will open the show.

Band member John Christianson recently spoke in a phone interview about Reel Big Fish’s style of “hyperkinetic ska” and its newest album, “Candy Coated Fury,” that came out July 31.

Christianson: Good morning.

Mawdsley: Good morning? You must be in California. It’s afternoon here.

Christianson: I am, but it’s always better to say, “Good morning” no matter what time it is because who knows when someone woke up.

Mawdsley: A review of your new album on your website, http://www.reel-big-fish.com, labeled it “a return to hyperkinetic ska.” What in the world does that mean?

Christianson: Ska comes in many forms going all the way back to Jamaica. That music was combining island rhythms with R&B and jazz. That would be the initial first wave. When the English guys picked up on it they put more rock ‘n’ roll into it. By the time our wave took off (in the mid-1990s) the tempos were much, much faster. It’s our version of ska punk. Ska is where reggae came from. Those first Bob Marley records were all ska tunes.

Mawdsley: Is Orange County where ska was born in this country?

Christianson: There’s a bi-coastal thing. There are bands from New York City area like Mustard Plug then the California ska thing started with Fishbone and Oingo Boingo.

Mawdsley: Sounds like you guys are really excited about this new ska album.

Christianson: Aaron has gotten really good at the process of recording records. He wrote most of the songs and produced the record and almost completely engineered the record. We recorded demos for this record then went away to Europe and played all these songs and worked through them. We kind of hashed out songs before a little more (than on a few previous albums), and I think that worked out really well.

Mawdsley: Your website said the album was mostly bitter, angry, hateful, love songs. Yikes. Did someone in the band date and breakup with Taylor Swift? That’s kind of her wheelhouse.

Christianson: (Laughing) Good songs come out of emotional turmoil sometimes. Maybe, it had been the right time in Aaron’s life to write songs that were meaningful to him but not so specific that people couldn’t take their own meaning out of it.

Mawdsley: You are aren’t bitter and jaded about love are you?

Christianson: The only one of us that is divorced is Aaron. I think going through that process gave him some ammo. The title of this record, “Candy Coated Fury” came from what Aaron has always said about this band’s music. He finally used that for the title of this record.

Mawdsley: Do you guys perform in Colorado quite a bit?

Christianson: Yeah, we do. Colorado is beautiful. It’s one of my favorite places.


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