Ska-punk band Reel Big Fish have been trying to expand their horizons by emphasizing
guitars during their recent live shows and on their 1998 LP, Why Do They Rock So
The eight-member group had a top-40 hit with
Out"(RealAudio excerpt), from 1996's Turn the Radio Off.
Scott Klopfenstein, the trumpeter whose playing is an essential ingredient of Reel Big
Fish, was born on this day in 1977. He grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and came to
admire the Pixies and They Might Be Giants.
The seeds of Reel Big Fish were sown in Huntington Beach, Calif., where singer/guitarist
Aaron Barrett, bassist Matt Wong and drummer Andrew Gonzales (who left the group
early this year) formed a pop-metal band. Soon the trio became impressed with ska
music and added a horn section. Various brass musicians came and went before
Klopfenstein, fellow trumpeter Tavis Werts, and trombonists Dan Regan and Grant Barry
officially were added to the band.
In 1995 that lineup self-distributed its debut LP, Everything Sucks. The album
became a word-of-mouth hit among ska fans and on the college music scene. Reel Big
Fish signed with indie label Mojo and issued Turn the Radio Off, co-produced by
former Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila.
Reel Big Fish began to attract fans beyond underground circles when modern-rock radio
stations caught on to "Sell Out" in 1997. The ensemble was one of several Southern
California ska bands to emerge at the time, but Reel Big Fish's constant gigging ensured
their following would grow. The band's stage act was rowdy and often juvenile, which
was fine with fans.
Also in '97 came the EP Keep Your Receipt, which included outtakes, new songs
and live cuts. Reel Big Fish's "Trendy," featuring the chorus "Do the fish," became the
official anthem of World Series champions the Florida Marlins. The band also performed
a ska "Star-Spangled Banner" before a Miami Dolphins game on "Monday Night
Last year, the bandmembers played themselves in "BASEketball," a film by "South Park"
creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Reel Big Fish also contributed a cover of a-ha's
1985 hit "Take on Me" to the movie's soundtrack.
Why Do They Rock So Hard? featured melodic, guitar-heavy songs mixed with
Reel Big Fish's usual, sarcastic ska. Songs on the disc included "The Set-Up (You Need
This)," "I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend, Too," "She's Famous Now" and
"Everything Is Cool."
"I've always loved rock," Barrett said. "I was always into Poison and all that glam-metal
stuff, and punk rock, AC/DC, Van Halen. ... But I love ska, too. ... I love horns and reggae,
UB40, the Specials and English Beat. It all comes into play."
"People call us ska-punk or punk-ska or whatever and that's not our deal at all, like,
we're a pop band," Klopfenstein insisted.
Other birthdays: Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), 61; Augie Meyers (Texas
Tornados), 59; Wendy Smith (Prefab Sprout), 36; Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels (Run
D.M.C.), 35; and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), 1948-1980.