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Interview with Reel Big Fish

Interview, Ska Summit, Las Vegas, 3/29/03
Carlos De La Garza: drums
Matt Wong: bass

Why do you think ska music appeals to younger fans?
MATT: Because it’s fun. You can dance to it. It’s great. Originally it was about reggae and politics. It appeals to everyone, really, because it is fun.
CARLOS: And you can dance to it!

When did you decide that, “hey, being a musician would be a cool way to make a living?”
M: When I was nineteen. We started playing shows and I quit my job. I thought being a musician would be all right.

What ingredients make a good ska song?
AARON (from deeper in the bus): Garlic.
C: Rosemary.
M: Salt. What goes into any song? Horns, beats…
C: Killer melody. Drums.
M: A good song doesn’t necessarily need good beats or horns.
A: Fills, break beats.
C: A good hip-hop breakdown.
M: A ska-song isn’t a good ska song unless it has a hip-hop breakdown.
C: A cowbell.
M: It’s really so relative to the individual.

Is it true your tour bus caught fire?
M: Yeah, it caught fire and burned down. But it’s under investigation. We had some things on our web site that people took seriously.
C: Like the crack pipe jokes?
M: Yeah. It’s a big insurance claim, so they take a look at everything we say…we were woken up, and got out of the bus. Then we sat out on the curb in our skivvies.

Do you do anything in Vegas beyond ska shows?
M: I like Vegas. The fact that you can eat for cheap. And it’s like Disneyland for vices. And you got Celine Dion.

What’s the coolest city you’ve played?
M: There’s been a lot. I love London. Tokyo was incredible. A bunch of places. That’s a tough question. It’s like asking me what liquor I like the best. Depends on the day.

Do you write songs on tour? Is it collaboration?
C: We write songs everywhere.
C: Everywhere.
M: Most of the time Aaron comes up with something and we add our two cents. That’s what we get paid per song too, two cents. Probably less.

Who’s your biggest fan?
(Carlos points to a friend hunkered five feet from him on the sofa.)
C: You?
FRIEND: Not me.
C: I guess we don’t have one then.
M: Lots of fans follow us around. What’s her name? This one girl. We don’t now her name. She’s probably our biggest fan. She goes everywhere. She’s harmless though.

Must ska music always be happy?
M: In the beginning it was really about social change. Now a days a lot of ska bands focus on fun. And an escape is nice. You can get away from all the crap that’s going on.

Well, thanks a lot.
M: No problem.

Do you get tired of interviews?
M: Yeah, definitely. No man, they’re not that bad. I just sit here and talk. Sorry if I come off as impersonal.
Not at all. Thanks again.
M: Sure.

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