A ska punk band in the United States. Along with groups such as No Doubt and Sublime it is one of the big successes of the Orange County ska scene in The Nineties. The group began as a standard Hard Rock trio featuring Aaron Barrett on guitar and vocals, Matt "Mattwong" Wong on bass and Andrew Gonzales on drums, before going through a fluctuating roster of additional guitarists, singers and - after the fledgling band switched from straightforward rock to Ska Punk - horn sections. By the time they got around to recording their first album, Reel Big Fish consisted of Barrett, Wong and Gonzales with Grant Barry and Dan Regan on trombones and Tavis Werts and Scott Klopfenstein on trumpets.This line-up had a hit single on the Modern Rock Chart with "Sell Out" and recorded two well-received albums; Turn the Radio Off and Why Do They Rock So Hard?. However, after the recording of the second album Tavis Werts and Grant Barry were both sacked and Andrew Gonzales decided to leave. For a second time, the band went through several line-up changes, went independent and continued to record and perform live, at which point Matt Wong left to spend more time with his family. In 2011, Scott left much the same way Matt Wong did, and left to spend time with his family.The memberhip appears to have settled for now, with Aaron as the remaining founding member along with Dan, John "Little Johnny Christmas" Christianson on trumpet, Ryland "the Rabbit" Steen on drums, Derek Gibbs on bass guitar and newcomer Matt Appleton (formerly of Goldfinger) on sax. While not as mainstream as they were ten years ago, they remain very popular and consistently awesome.Notable songs include:
Our Live Album is Better than Your Live Album (2006)
Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free (2007)
Fame, Fortune and Fornication (2009)
Candy Coated Fury (2012)
Album Title Drop: Aaron has stated that he wanted each album to have a song with the same title as the album that preceded it, hence "Everything Sucks" on Turn The Radio Off. It didn't quite work out, although a song called "Turn the Radio Off" shows up three albums later on We're Not Happy 'til You're Not Happy.
Anti-Love Song: Where Have You Been is a poignantly brutal one, while All I Want Is More is more upbeat. A lot of the other songs will often bring up similar themes in passing.
"I Dare You To Break My Heart" is another one and, like "All I Want Is More", is surprisingly upbeat as it's more about being content single than risk heartbreak again.
Artist Disillusionment: Judging from older interviews Aaron Barrett became a bit annoyed with the notoriety of "Sell Out" as well as the Executive Meddling that obliged the band to record the Cheer Up! album. Since leaving their label, he seems to have gotten better.
Their 2009 cd, "Fame, Fortune and Fornication" is all covers
Dissimile: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the meanest song I ever wrote." "You mean mean like Michael Jackson's mean?" "When I wrote this song, I was in a bad mood, and it wouldn't stop." "You mean 'bad' like Michael Jackson's bad?" "No, I mean pissed off!" "Like Michael Jackson is pissed off?"
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Averted with Don't Start A Band, which vitriolically points out the reasons it sucks. The music video plays it straight and averts it - the scene may shift from the band sitting in a hot tub with champagne and models to their van breaking down and having to hitchhike.
Evil Is Petty: In the Don't Start A Band video, when their contract is cancelled, the execs back out of the room, but quickly come back in to take back Ryland's can of cola.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free. The original songs on the album are under the heading "monkeys" and the ones re-recorded from early records are under "chimps".
Executive Meddling: Part of the reason they're so happy to be on an independent label now.
Full-Name Basis: Aaron Barrett always referred to former bassist Matt Wong by his full name in concerts.
Genre Shift: Live performances of "Suburban Rhythm" feature the band performing the song in multiple genres, including: punk rock, blues, country, disco, death metal, and emo.
"And now for this next song, which is, in fact, the same song..."
Not to mention "Party Down," with its multi-genre breakdowns. (ska, disco-ish, country, reggae, hip hop, and death metal while the majority of the song is straight up rock n' roll but with a horn section.
One-Hit Wonder: They did a song about it called "One-Hit Wonderful," which is used in the page quote. While "Sell Out" was their one song that actually charted, they're almost as well known for their cover of "Take On Me" by a-ha.
Revolving Door Band: The band has cycled through over a dozen members at this point, with only two albums (Why Do They Rock So Hard, Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album) having the same line-up as their predecessor.
Rockstar Song: "Sell Out" and "Don't Start a Band." The titles should let you know where they stand on the Sliding Scale.
While touring, they'll use different female vocalists (For example, during the 2010 Warped Tour they got the lead from Tip The Van to do it).
Stage Names: Ryland "The Rabbit" Steen and John "Little Johnny Christmas" Christianson.
Step Up to the Microphone: In concert, Aaron will urge a different member of the band each time to sing the final line of Where Have You Been. Additionally, Cheer Up features Drunk Again, a slow ballad sung by Scott. Some editions of the disc even have a lead-in where, again, Aaron tells him to get up and sing.
Story Arc: Turn the Radio Off, Why Do They Rock So Hard and We're Not Happy 'Till You're Not Happy are about a band getting into the music business, being famous and being older and jaded respectively.
Surprisingly Gentle Song: Candy Coated Fury, an album loaded with hatred and bile-filled songs, ends with The Promise, wherein the character of the song pledges to be the best person he can for the love of his life.
Take That: "Your Guts (I Hate 'Em)" is the most obvious one. "We Care" and "You Don't Know" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? are all about how annoying the band though their Fan Dumb was.
Unplugged Version: A Best Of Us For The Rest Of Us is their official 2-disc greatest hits album; the second disc is ALL acoustic re-recordings.