Reel Big Fish Interview

Interview By: Alan Oaks
Photo Credit: Damion Demeter

Interview with Scott Klopfenstein and John Christianson – 8.2.09 – @The Grove in Anaheim, Ca.

AO: Let me get my notes out…

Scott: And those are notes you used for Static-X?

AO: Yes, same questions. I’m just recycling everything. What’s it like being in Static- X?

Scott: It’s great. We mastered the black art long ago!

Jon: Sacrifice a chicken before we go on stage.

Scott: Chicken McNuggets!

AO: So, is this a full tour you’re on or just a couple of dates?

Scott: No, this has been a full month-and-a-half. That doesn’t even feel like a full tour anymore, a month-and-a-half. We did two-and-a-half months straight at the beginning of this year. 3 weeks we were in the US and the rest of it was in Europe and the UK. That was brutal.

We started the tour in CA, two and a half months later, we ended in Russia. And we did everything in between.

AO: How much of the year, when you’re not in the studio, is spent on the road?

John: Normally a lot. About six to eight months.

Scott: We actually haven’t spent too much of this year touring. This year will probably be about 5 months worth of touring which is like a “Vacation.” An unpaid vacation (laughs). A stressed out how-am-i-gonna-pay-my-mortgage… “Vacation!”

AO: Your latest studio project was Fame, Fortune and Fornication. Where did you guys come up with the concept of a cover album?

Scott: We’ve always talked about doing a covers album. The songs were kind of a surprise.

John: Yeah, originally Aaron wanted to do an entire Poison cover record entitled, “Open Up and Say… Ska.” But then we thought about putting some other songs on there and he picked some great tunes that he’d always wanted to do. Thought they’d make good ska songs.

AO: Did you collectively decided on all the songs?

Scott: It was just Aaron, but you know, I feel there’s something on there for everyone. I personally love the Tom Petty tune. “The Long Run” is pretty good too.

John: Although, the kids don’t really know what to do. They clap at the end, I mean, I think they enjoy it but they don’t know if they should dance.

Scott: There’s a lack of grabbing a girl and dancing. Back when I was coming up in the ska world, when I was a young lad, you would dance with the girls at the shows. You would skank your way over and you would skank together. There was romance. There was courting involved in the whole thing. That seems to be gone, that seems to have vanished.

AO: Do you think much has changed since your coming of age?

Scott: Probably not. It’s probably just perception and individual goals.

AO: Because you’re so much older and wiser now?

Scott: So much more! No… Things obviously do change. We like to look back in our lives and romanticize the way we were, but it was probably just as lame. I was just as stupid as the other kids. And it’s not that we’re stupid, it’s just that we were kids and didn’t know anything. And thought we knew everything.

Now I realize that I know nothing and as I get older, I realize how much more nothing I know. So there, I become wiser.

AO: You guys have a new live DVD out?

Scott: This is actually something we did in January here (@ The Grove). We turn it out, it doesn’t have to be good, we just turn it out as quickly as we can. I haven’t haven’t even seen it. (laughs) Is it any good?

John: Yeah, it’s great.

AO: Was there something you were trying to capture on the live DVD?

Scott: People’s money! OH, you mean on the DVD? Just the excitement of aging…horribly. We’re a live band. We kind of always have been. We make studio records. It’s fun and it’s great and it’s an experience all in it’s own, but it’s so sterile. Everything tends to vibrate more when it’s done live and because it’s not perfect and there’s not magnifying glass on every note.

AO: Is there a big difference between the festival circuit and playing venues?

John: Oh yeah.

AO: Do you prefer one to the other?

John: No, I like having it mixed. Cause the variety makes everything.

Scott: Festivals are great but you usually only get about a half hour. What am I doing with my day if I’m only playing for half hour? I’m a lazy individual. If you give me too much time to just be me, I will do nothing. I’ll just sit and read or I’ll just sit and stare into space.

John: Or beat “Ghostbusters.”

AO: How do you kill all the downtime?

Scott: A lot of reading. We’re a reading machine. We blow through 3 or 4 books a tour.

AO: Are there any bands out there right now that you would recommend? Any new music?

Scott: The Dirty Projectors! Love that band. They’re from Brooklyn.

AO: You guys have obviously been keeping the ska scene alive for well over a decade now, are there any good ska bands that you’ve come across?

John: One Pin Short. Great band, great guys. Super talented and they’re from Las Vegas.

Scott: The new R(x) Bandits. They lost the horns (AWW) I love that band with all of my heart, seriously. I listen to “And The Battle Begun” often. That record record drives me crazy. It’s what I always wished the Mars Volta had been. The horns were never superiorly upfront but they were a very important texture so it took me a good 3 or 4 listens. It’s still great. It’s still them.

AO: Growing up where there any artists that you emulated or that inspired you?

John: I wanted to be the Eddie Van Halen of the trumpet.

AO: Anything you’re looking forward to in the future?

Scott: Musically, you mean? I was thinking more like seeing the destruction of the world in 2012.

AO: Yeah, that’s coming up. You looking forward to that?

Scott: It’s gonna be crazy. It’s the kind of thing you wanna take pictures of but then you realize what’s the point? We’re working on a secret project. I would throw it into the category of Ginormous.

John: If Aaron were here, he would shut us down right now.

Scott: Let me put it this way, I haven’t even seen it. I haven’t done one ounce of recording on it yet. and we’ve been working on it for over a year.

AO: Any idea when to expect this “secret project?”

Scott: next year, maybe? but then also, I hear these things on Facebook. This is where I get my information cause nobody tells me anything.

John: To look up our tour schedule we have to go on Myspace.

Scott: I heard through the internet that we’re possibly doing an album of originals later this year. This is what I read on the internet, so I trust it. If it were said to me in person, I wouldn’t believe it.

AO: You guys have had a long and memorable career, is there a secret to longevity?

Scott: To longevity in a band, the secret is: If they’re not in the room, they’re fair game. And sometimes you gotta just let shit go. Cause they’re not changing for you and you are sure as hell not gonna change for them.

John: It’s definitely interesting me coming into this a little later, I’ve been in the band 5 years now. Learning how to live with other men within a small confinement, a tour bus, so much of the year. Knowing when to give a guy space. There’s definitely a learning curve.

Scott: Some of us have randomly explosive tempers. I mean I’m not saying that I do. Some of us are a little on the irrational side of everything. Speaking of bands fighting, what kind of fight breaks up a band? That’s petty. We have been in fists fights, verbal fights. We have said some of the most horrible awful things to each other and I’m mainly speaking for myself, Dan and Aaron.

Luckily, for Jonny, Derek and Ryland they’ve come into a place where the guys left in the band are the guys who have learned how important it is to co-exist. There are a lot of things that go on behind closed doors when other people aren’t around. You gotta vent sometimes but regardless of those things I don’t think anyone would question the fact that we love each other.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, pick up a copy of Reel Big Fish’s live DVD. This DVD is just as intense as seeing them in person, and contains a few cool bonus features.

Check out all of Damion’s pics of RBF here.

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