Interview: Smash Mouth – The Quintessential 90s Band With A New Lease Of Life

(This exclusive interview was originally published in December 2016)

SMASH MOUTH will forever be remembered as a quintessential nineties band. In recent years, the band have found a new lease of life thanks to memes poking fun at their ties to ‘Shrek’ – a film which turned ‘All Star’ and ‘I’m A Believer’ into smash hits. The Californian band have released seven albums, including their most recent titled ‘Magic’ (2012).  After several years away from the spotlight, I wanted to find out about Smash Mouth’s plans for the future.

“We definitely want to do this forever”

AC: Between your first and second album, you music began to have more of a pop sound. What inspired that change?

STEVE HARWELL: We’ve always been a band in evolution because we all have different influences and it’s constantly in a blender. We were straight up punk rock before ska sounds entered the picture. ‘Walkin On The Sun’ went to number one, so that put us on a much higher importance level at our record label and raised the bar big time. We also supported U2 on a tour early-on and we quickly learned we needed bigger songs with more elements to stand up with those type of cats and those size arenas.

You’ve created so many hits, which song do you still enjoy performing more than the rest?

Probably our Van Halen covers, that’s fun because the crowd never expects it and it always works. That’s one band we all agree on and all were fans of.

With the emergence of platforms like iTunes and Spotify, how much easier is it for you to put your music out there, compared to 18 years ago?

It should be easier, we just need to embrace it better. We can just release songs and videos all the time without restraints like this one. No labels, no publishing companies, no lawyers – just creation and release.

What is yet to come for Smash Mouth?

Our twenty-year anniversary is next year so we are releasing a surprise album to celebrate our first album ‘Fush Yu Mang’. Can’t say much about it yet but it’s super cool. We’re working on it right now. We will also keep performing live including a killer tour next summer. We performed on ‘The Today Show’ on Halloween in front of 45 Million TV viewers and there’s currently a Geico commercial mentioning us and that’s rad and a nice springboard into 2017. We definitely want to do this forever!

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: Jamie N Commons on Paper Dreams & Los Angeles

JAMIE N COMMONS has just released his brand-new single ‘Paper Dreams’. The 80s synth pop-inspired track is the first release from Jamie since ‘Skyscraper’, which he wrote for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s most recent blockbuster-hit of the same name.

‘Paper Dreams’ is a far cry from what fans might expect from Jamie N Commons. Having moved to LA to pursue his now hugely successful songwriting career and therefore spending the majority of his time
writing for and with others, he found this new situation and environment having a profound impact on his personal creative output.

AC: Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, what kind of artists were you drawn to at a young age?

JAMIE: Well I moved to Chicago just at the peak of Britpop so got to grow up during the great Blur versus Oasis war which was amazing. When I reached the U.S. everyone was still listening to grunge so went straight into that. So I got to experience both in a way which was cool.

Many of your songs have been attached to trailers for films, games and events. Do you think your music has a cinematic quality?

Yeah! I’ll often stick on a great visual film with the sound off when writing, so I’m always thinking visually as well. Helps me tell a story somehow. 99% of songs take place in a single moment… a thought you have for one second… that takes 3 minutes to explain with lyrics and music… so a single frame in a film can get you there writing wise sometimes.

Your new single ‘Paper Dreams’ is very different from your prior work. What inspired this progression in your sound?

Honestly doing a lot of writing for other people and other projects, having to write modern pop and dance music. Once I got into I realised there was a big cross over with this 80s music I’d always loved like Steve Winwood, Peter Gabriel etc. I’d always wanted to do something in that world, and thought where sounds are at in current pop, now must be the time.

How has moving to LA influenced your music?

It’s an intensely lonely place. A quote most people say is “When you move to LA you won’t have any friends for the first year, but it gets better after that”. Everyone’s so ambitious it’s hard to find people to relax with and be human. So if you can bare it, this is a fantastic place to write.

Can you tell us about the meaning behind the song?

‘Paper dreams’ is just a simple metaphor I thought up ages ago, maybe after watching ‘Blade Runner’ – from that line “lost, like tears in the rain”. Paper dreams fly away easily, maybe I’ll do a sister song ‘(something heavy) dreams’.

Do these themes continue on your upcoming debut album?

Yeah there’s a lot about ambition, dreams, life and most importantly romance – which is a pretty good summation of my life actually saying it out loud.

At this point, what can you say about the debut album?

We have an insane amount of songs written for it, so hopefully I can keep a steady vision and choose the right ones. It’s a good problem to have though I suppose!

QUICK QUESTIONS WITH JAMIE N COMMONS

Last show you binge-watched?

‘The Haunting Of Hill house’ – got a bit iffy when they started doing the Shakespeare quotes – but good overall.

Strangest food combo you’ve ever had?

Was thinking about this the other day – Black Pudding is pretty weird isn’t it?

Your five go-to tunes right now?

Oliver Tree – ‘Alien Boy’

Steve Winwood – ‘Back in The High Life Again’

Rainbow Kitten Surprise – ‘Fever Pitch’

Laura jean Anderson – ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’

Ida Mae – ‘My Girl Is A Heartbreak’

Everyone has a cool app idea, what’s yours?

I want Shazam to have a “I shazamed this song because I want to know who created this piece of shit so I never listen to them again” button. I reckon fifty-percent of some of these Shazam numbers are people going “what is this crap?”.

Would you rather be at a mountain hideaway or a beach house?

Beach house

What is the furthest you’ve been from home?

Every day in LA [laughs].

Last book you read?

Just re-read ‘The First Law’, which is a series by Joe Abercrombie – he’s incredible.

One thing you’re excited about for the future?

New music finally coming out and getting to play the new songs live.

Advice to your younger self?

Super baggy jeans are not fucking cool.

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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What’s On Your Playlist, You Me At Six?

YOU ME AT SIX are back with their new album ‘VI’ – a record that switches moods and styles with breathless confidence, from devastatingly defiant rock to joyously uplifting pop. It all but drips with melodies and moods. ‘VI’ is the kind of record a band makes when they are in love with all the possibilities of music. You Me At Six needed something unbelievable to happen with ‘VI’, because by their own admission it didn’t happen with their last album, ‘Night People’, released in February 2017. ‘VI’ has already generated hits in ‘Back Again’, ‘3AM’ and ‘IOU’ – with each track standing its own, partly through the way in which they contrast eachother. Read the full interview here.

YOU ME AT SIX’S SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

You Me At Six
You Me At Six’s new album ‘VI’ is out now via Underdog Records – youmeatsix.co.uk. Their sold out UK headline tour begins this November at the following dates – youmeatsix.co.uk/#tour

PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDAN CURTIS HUGHES

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Interview: You Me At Six on their new album ‘VI’

YOU ME AT SIX are back with their new album ‘VI’ – a record that switches moods and styles with breathless confidence, from devastatingly defiant rock to joyously uplifting pop. It all but drips with melodies and moods. ‘VI’ is the kind of record a band makes when they are in love with all the possibilities of music. You Me At Six needed something unbelievable to happen with ‘VI’, because by their own admission it didn’t happen with their last album, ‘Night People’, released in February 2017. ‘VI’ has already generated hits in ‘Back Again’, ‘3AM’ and ‘IOU’ – with each track standing its own, partly through the way in which they contrast eachother. The drummer Dan Flint answers our questions about the new release.

AC: You’re now six albums in and it sounds like you have more energy than ever. How have you kept that ambition?

DAN FLINT: Ever since the band started we have constantly set ourselves goals. We have also, like other bands, had our speed bumps along the way which has only made us hungrier. Coupled with the fact that we love what we do.

The album switches styles frequently, with each track standing on its own. Are there any underlying themes that run through the record?

We wanted it to have a high, positive energy throughout. With some songs, like ‘3AM’ and ‘Back Again’, we had the idea of that “Friday night feeling”, whilst with others like ‘IOU’ we wanted sexy, hard-hitting rock.

What is your favourite track on the album?

My personal favourite is Straight to my Head. This also is going to be amazing to play live as it’s already creeping through as a fan favourite.

I really enjoyed your last album ‘Night People’ – how would you describe the progression in your sound on this album? Were there any particular influences from other bands?

We were influenced by a lot of different types of music from hip-hop to electronic dance but no specific artist. The progression came easy as we have been diving into production ourselves. This gave us so some scope to express ourselves. We were able to create the sounds in our heads ourselves rather than relying on others to try and understand what we wanted.

You Me At Six

Why did you decide to get back into the recording studio as quick as you did?

We have been really enjoying writing and creating. We had so many ideas and touring had stopped so we just went straight into it!

You’ve got a new label, new management – how have they helped the band push forward?

They have been great. They understand us, allow us to express ourselves without trying to turn us into something we are not. They are fair, hardworking and honest which is everything you need. I see us having a long career with them.

 

YOU ME AT SIX’S SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

You Me At Six’s new album ‘VI’ is out now via Underdog Records – youmeatsix.co.uk. Their sold out UK headline tour begins this November at the following dates – youmeatsix.co.uk/#tour

PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDAN CURTIS HUGHES

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

Send a Letter to the Editor about this Article

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Video Q&A: Troy Doherty on TNT’s ‘The Last Ship’

TROY DOHERTY sat down to answer our questions about his role in the final season of TNT’s ‘The Last Ship’. Alongside acting, Troy is writing, producing and recording music. His debut EP ‘Citizen’s Arrest’ is currently available on iTunes, and features a mix of blues and pop-rock tunes with a twist of country.



PHOTOGRAPHY: BRETT ERICKSON

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

GROOMING: HELEN ROBERTSON

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