Smash Mouth to bring back rock ‘n roll


Pfc. Eric Liesse

Bobby Shipman

As a young boy, I remember dancing up and down the aged asphalt of my driveway after school.

I would skip, twirl and bang my head, often staining my Catholic school khaki’s with dirt as I stumbled over.

I would belt out, “Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, get paid.”

I could never seem to get the lyrics to “All-Star” by Smash Mouth quite right.

This pastime skimmed my noggin as I prepared my questions for Steve Harwell, Smash Mouth’s front man.

The Shield interviews Smash Mouth.

Smash Mouth has come full circle.

“We are actually kind of going back to the original, first stuff,” Harwell said. “It’s come to where it’s like we’re getting requests for stuff I haven’t played in 10 years so its like, ‘OK, it’s time to rehearse.’”

The band is talking about touring off one record and just playing like when it first got signed, he said.

“All you have is 12 songs, so you played those songs,” he said. “It’s kind of making the full circle. We just talked about it two nights ago.”

Harwell was having a vodka cranberry in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day while he reminisced over two decades of Smash Mouth’s success.

“First of all, we made it through our 20s and our 30s,” he said. “There’s a lot of regrets along the way of just not giving or not caring.”

Smash Mouth’s shows and performances have evolved over the years, he said.

“We take (shows) so much more serious now. We have gotten older and smarter, you know, and less cocaine and less everything else,” he said. “I pride myself on great shows – even if it’s a free show, it’s a great show. I love playing with the guys. We all get along great and we still get nervous as hell before going on stage. And we still critique it when we get off.”

He said Stephen Tyler, of Aerosmith, taught him complacency and a lack of nerves are signs it’s time to “walk away.”

Harwell said many people will question the authenticity of Smash Mouth’s camaraderie on stage. Asking things like, “Did you guys fake that?”

“Nope. We actually really didn’t,” he said. “We really truly do enjoy each other’s company and we love to do what we do.”

Smash Mouth has a ritual it does before almost every performance where the four look each other in the eyes and pump their fists in the air twice.

“You get so used to doing it that when you don’t do it, and you’re missing one guy, it f*cks with your head,” he said. “It’s almost like the Wonder Twin powers – you’ve got to complete the circle.”

Since its success in 1997, Smash Mouth has released seven studio albums, two compilation albums, 17 singles and 13 music videos.

Although it released the album “Magic” in 2012, Harwell said he prefers to play the more off-the-wall, older songs, which never see radio daylight. (Side note: Harwell then considered his phrase, “radio daylight,” as a possible future album title).

“When we go to South America, it’s like we’re The Beatles. It’s like people are coming up with songs I have hardly ever played,” he said. “It’s kind of odd to get thrown those curve balls, but at the same time it’s kind of cool.”

The band’s greatest achievements have been proving doubters wrong and longevity in our music, he said.

“I see these kid-bands out here. You know, a few years ago everybody sounded the same, and it was all of this repetitive bullsh*t,” he said. “I can look at them and say, ‘You’re not going to make it past six months.’ Part of me feels bad for saying that but at the same time, I just know by the music that there’s no longevity.”

Harwell said he encourages everyone to come out to Springfest 2014 on Friday night because Smash Mouth puts on a great rock show.

“Our shows, you know, they are just super-fun. Always have been; always will be. It’s just a frickin’ rock show. It’s a party,” he said. “Come out and put your drinking shoes on and have fun. Let’s rock and roll.”

Harwell said performing for college crowds is mind-blowing because most college students were riding bikes or in the backs of minivans when Smash Mouth first made it big.

“It never gets boring. It never gets old. I enjoy it just as much today as I did 20 years ago,” he said. “People don’t ever forget the songs they grew up on.”