Volume 92, Issue 40

Friday, November 13, 1998

listening or hearing


Hard rock and ska Big Fish are for Reel

By Myles DeRosse
Gazette Staff

When looking at the cover of Reel Big Fish's new release Why do they Rock so Hard? one question immediately comes to mind – why do they rock so hard?

"Well, when all you know how to do is rock, you got to do it hard," explains Reel Big Fish trumpeter, Travis Werts.

Rocking is what the band has been doing since 1996, the year of their first major release Turn the Radio Off. Since then, the band has endured many extravagant and exciting escapades ranging from appearing in the major motion picture Baseketball to opening for the legendary face-painted rockers Kiss.

In between the extremes of their exposure, Reel Big Fish has also been spotted at a few sporting events. Not only did they have one of their songs chosen as the theme song for the Flordia Marlins when en route to their World Series championship, but the band also had the pleasure of singing the American national anthem live at an National Football League game.

"We got to play the national anthem for 70,000 people at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, starting a Dolphins-Bills game," Werts recalls. "It was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever experienced. If you screw up the national anthem everyone is going to notice. But we must have played it okay. We had no death threats afterwards."

The exposure Reel Big Fish has received is astonishing, but how they got there is the impressive part of the story. The two main reasons this troop got noticed are for the music they make and the live show they perform, both of which are intense.

Reel Big Fish produces a sound which could easily be described as fast-paced third wave ska with the best horn section in the business. They put so much energy and enthusiasm into their songs they can rock a house even with the volume turned down low. "We are the rockingest thing since Blood, Sweat and Tears," Werks jokes.

Apart from amazing instrumentals, the band lyrics can be as funny as a Jerry Seinfield stand-up act. However, Werts takes a modest approach when describing the lyrics. "If you read the lyrics alone they're not all that funny, but if you put them with the upbeat lighthearted music we play, they do become pretty funny," Werts explains. Even without the music, the lyrics to songs like "I Want Your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend Too" and "Say Ten" are guaranteed a chuckle.

Listening to Reel Big Fish's CD is not the only way to find out the band is about fun – watching their live show really lets you know these guys like to party. "You know Tigger from Winnie the Pooh?" Werts asks. "Yeah, when we play live, we're like Tigger on crack."

The ska-pop movement is a trend which looks as if it will soon peak, with Reel Big Fish leading the pack. However, Werts thinks differently. "It's kind of passe now," Werts says on the trend. "It was very 1997. So we may be on our way out, but it was fun while it lasted."

With the new album and continuous touring schedule, Reel Big Fish is definitely not on their way to going belly up.

The Gazette is giving away two pairs of tickets to see Reel Big Fish tonight at The Embassy. Come up to Rm. 263 in the UCC between 12 and 1 p.m. to catch a real big prize!

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998