Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish
Contributed by William_David, Posted by Ska and Reggae Interviews

William_David sat down with Reel Big Fish ringmaster (fishmaster?) Aaron Barrett and shot the breeze for a bit. The two talked about being labeless, their new live CD and why exactly they keep recording cover songs.

The band released We're Not Happy 'Till You're Not Happy in 2005 on their former label, Jive.

After departing Jive, is Reel Big Fish still label-less right now?
Yes, we’re still label-less and we love it. We love it!

I think the music scene is awesome now.

So do you have any plans for who is putting out your new CD/DVD combo?
We’ve got it all set up already. We’ve got all the distribution worked out and we are ready to roll. We’ve got a new live album coming out, and we’re putting it out ourselves. We’re very excited.

You described the last album as a ‘fuck you, we quit’ kind of attitude. Did you have your departure from Jive basically planned already when you wrote this album?
We’ve been trying to get off Jive since 2000, before Cheer Up came out. They wouldn’t let us go; we had some members of the band who were making everyone’s life hell. People weren’t getting along and it was a bad time for us, but we’ve got it all worked out now. We’ve got some nice people in the band and we’re free, so it’s all good now.

You addressed the fact on your website that a lot people were questioning your choice to do another live DVD so soon? For the record, why are you?
Well, it’s three years later.

But only one album.
We got a new drummer, and a new trumpet player, and we’re a better band now. We had a whole new album since then. And that one really sucks [Show Must Go Off!] and it sounded really terrible. So, we wanted to do something we’re proud of, instead of something that makes us embarrassed anytime someone brings it up. You know what I mean?

Jonathan London, who directed your "Don’t Start a Band" video, also filmed the DVD, right?
Yeah, he’s directing it. It’s a live CD too, which we’ve never done.

Can you give me any details on the split CD you will be doing with Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer?
I don’t really know much about it yet—still finalizing everything, but I believe it’s going to be duets. Famous duets from history…I don’t know.

Will all of Reel Big Fish be involved?
Oh yeah. Reel Big Fish will do a few songs, and Zolof will do a few songs, and we’ll sing on their songs, and they’ll sing on our songs.

How did this all come about?
The record company that put out their EP or their album or something wanted to do a split CD, and we said ‘sure. We can do whatever we want, because we’re not on Jive records, woo hoo!’

A lot of your negativity is presented in a comic way, but underneath it all, how jaded are you guys, really, about the music scene right now?
The music scene or the music business?

How about both?
I think the music scene is awesome now. There are a lot of good bands out there right now. I was just talking with my manager the other day about how good of a time it was for music right now. The music business is just crumbling. It’s over. It’s in the hands of the kids, and the bands now. Exciting times. So, we’re jaded, but we’re also excited, because the revolution’s happening.

So you’re excited bands are taking over?
I think it’s a good thing. Things could always go terribly wrong, but for now, things are heading in a good direction.

But do you think at all that we’re entering a day and age where everyone thinks they can have a band, and everyone thinks they have the talent to make music?
I don’t know. Everybody can. Everyone can have a band and label and do whatever they want. It’s up to the bands to be really good and catch people’s attention.

Are there any new bands you’re really into that you see as being ‘deserving’ of more attention in the near future?
Shit. I don’t know. I can’t keep track. I listen to lots of good music all the time, but you put me on the spot, so I don’t know. I don’t know who I want to plug. So, instead, I won’t plug anybody.

Do you plan to do anymore with Forces of Evil in the future?
I don’t know; we’re kind of on hiatus right now. I’m really busy with Reel Big Fish. I’m either in the studio or on tour, so…

I have a million songs I want to cover.

This is not meant as an insult to him, but why doesn’t Matt Wong ever do much at your shows?
Why doesn’t he do much? He plays the bass.

But opposed to you guys jumping around and doing silly crap, he just kind of hangs out in the back corner most of the time.
He’s just not a jump around kind of guy. He doesn’t want to get hit in the face with a horn or guitar flying through the air. That’s just what he does, but he never messes up, so that’s pretty awesome.

Not long ago, you guys did another tour with Zebrahead and Goldfinger, which is a tour that’s been rehashed a few times now. Do you all still maintain a close relationship?
Yeah. We’re still friends—good friends. We’ve done that same tour almost everywhere in the world. I think it’s time to get some other bands to tour with.

You guys always do a few covers on every album, how do you figure out which covers you’re going to do?
That’s a good question…I have a million songs I want to cover. A lot of times it’s for comps and different things, or tribute albums. So, they kind of give us a theme. Otherwise, I have a million-billion songs I want to do. Whatever I want to cover at the time. It’s pretty random how it comes out.

Are you guys working on any new music right now for anything besides the live album?
Yeah. We’re always thinking about new stuff and coming up with bits of songs—throw ‘em on the pile and eventually they’ll turn into whole songs and we’ll have a new album out. It’ll happen. Maybe next year?

And is there any tour support planned for the live stuff?
Yeah, we’re going to do a big summer tour with MXPX and Streetlight Manifesto.