August 1 [7:55 EDT] -- For Reel Big Fish, a band whose members were ticketholders at the Warped Tour in years past, a main stage gig on this summer's tour is a headtrip to say the least. [Reel Big Fish live at the Warped Tour, 1.3MB QuickTime]
With a bouncing debut album, "Turn Off The Radio," and a suitably slick video for "Sell Out," [1MB QuickTime] the Southern California ska outfit now finds itself surrounded by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Descendents, Pennywise, and other groups that RBF have admired for years.
"This year is sooooo good," guitarist Aaron Barrett told MTV News Online. "There are so many good bands, and we get to watch them every single day."
RBF's trumpet-wielding vocalist Scott Klopfenstein observed, "You know when you're a little kid in elementary school and you get to hang out with your older cousins that are in high school, just for that one day, and they take you to run errands and stuff and you see your friends and they're all... 'What's up?' and you're like, 'Look who we're hanging out with. You know we're big college guys now.' But that's what it's like [1.3MB QuickTime] pretty much. We're all the elementary kids and they're all the high schoolers and all. We're feeling pretty cool. Not like, we're cooler than you, but like wow, this is really special."
Of course, as any number of fables teach us, you have to be careful what you wish for, because it just might come true. There are a few downsides to Reel Big Fish's life on the Warped Tour, chief among them is the intimidation factor.
"Its actually kind of frightening to be on stage and look over and notice that all these guys from bands that you've been listening to for the past five or 10 years are sitting there watching you," trumpeter Tavis Werts said.
"And they're way better than you are, that's the funny part," Klopfenstein added.
Above and beyond the challenge of playing for people you consider your musical superiors, RBF also have to contend with the usual hazards of the rock road. The seven band members and three crew members currently call a tour bus home, and have outfitted it with some 300 CDs and an extensive video collection to battle the monotony of the American highway system. Currently in heavy rotation in the band's VCR are pro wrestling videos, modern B-grade horror flicks like "Piranha" and "Carnosaur 3," and Corey Haim/Corey Feldman vehicles like "Dream A Little Dream."
"Corey and Corey movies always put us in a good mood," Barrett explained.
Ten people on one bus also means that the band has mastered the art of heavy sleeping in tiny, coffin-like bunks that the guys share with piles of dirty clothes, stickers from other Warped bands, and photos of the Spice Girls.
"I am claustrophobic actually," Klopfenstein said. "I have to leave that air thing blowing right on me so I can breathe, so it feels like there's a nice breeze from the outside."
So with all this hard living in cramped quarters, are there days when the band just can't muster the energy needed to crank out their high-energy set?
"Every damn day," Klopfenstein joked.
However, RBF are able to feed off the energy of the usually hyperactive Warped crowd to get their juices flowing.
"Nothing looks cooler than 10,000 people jumping up and down," Barrett explained. "It looks so rad."
Most, if not exactly all, is now well in the land of Reel Big Fish, but the band knows that the swelling popularity of the ska-punk scene that they've been a part of for years could be fleeting.
"They're going to grow up and go to college and leave us in the friggin' scene wherever we were," Barrett joked. "They want you to stay underground just so they can listen to you, and they grow up and they go to college and get married and go get jobs and they're sitting there and nobody's still heard of you." [1.3MB QuickTime]
Reel Big Fish will wrap up their Warped experience next week in Atlanta. After a brief rest, the band will be back on the bus for a tour of their own.