INTERVIEW: Reel Big Fish

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On the cusp of a looming world tour, and currently in full swing for Australia’s Warped Tour, it is sure the Californian lords of ska, Reel Big Fish are showing no signs of slowing down. With 2013 marking their 22nd year as a band, after releasing eight studio albums and touring the world relentlessly, the ever-charismatic trumpet extraordinaire John Christianson, better known as Johnny Christmas takes some time off to reflect on all things Warped and the recent departure of fellow fish, Dan Regan.

It’s been a long time coming for the return of Warped Tour to Australian shores. Many will remember the last in 2002 – but it has been fifteen years since Reel Big Fish graced the stage at the very first Warped where Christmas remembers ‘When the bands slept in tents with snakes and spiders and all the other things that can kill you!’ While things may have changed since then, still, nothing seems to compare to a rowdy Australian Warped Tour crowd.

“We have done US Warped 6 times, but we have really looking forward to going back to Australia – it is one of our most favourite places to play, the crowds are always great, and you’re always down to have a beer, always! Nobody can have a drink quite like an Australian crowd – you really go for it.”
While Australians have missed out on Warped since 2002, the birth of Soundwave has also eased the pain of the impressive line-ups American Warped sports year by year. Reel Big Fish have the advantage of knowing what both Warped and Soundwave compare to American summer festivals, and regardless of where you are, Christmas explains the main issue will always be the heat.

“We are hoping Australian dates will have less heat stroke. When we were in the states doing the US Warped Tour dates; it was so crazy hot when we played in Las Vegas they took 200 kids to the hospital for heat stroke. We hope everyone will be hydrated, wearing sunscreen and having a good time (and beers).”

Prior to returning to Australia and starting their world tour, the band also said goodbye to their long-time trombone player, Dan who after 19 years in the band has decided to understandably spend more time with his family.

“We played our last show with Dan at the Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare show. We had a party at my house which was really cool, and was great to see him off, but it was sad, we all had a bit of a cry and shed tears for him, especially me, I am so emotional.” He admits.

“It’s very difficult saying goodbye to your best friend who you’ve been hanging out, sharing memories around the world and making music for so long together. He was the guy who was always down for what I like to call serving the greater good of Reel Big Fish. We, all in the band exist to serve the entity that is Reel Big Fish and make that go on. Anytime, anywhere, we will be there to play and have a great time, and to lose somebody who is down for that cause is really sad.”

While Dan’s departure will leave a hole in the bands aura, aside from spending more time as a family man, he will also be living out his dream of opening his very own brewery, a career choice that cannot be more suited for a member of a band that lives and breathes all things carbonated.

“We are all beer snobs, or beer connoisseur as we like to call it! We have been all around the world and visited as many breweries as possible, we’ve been to XXXX in Australia, Heineken in Amsterdam, New Belgium Brewery in Colorado – so we are really lucky to drink all of these great beers and it’s been Dan’s passion to start his own brewery in his home town of Long Beach, California and we are really rooting it all works out for him.”

Be sure to catch Reel Big Fish with a beer in hand on the rest of their Australian dates for Warped, alongside The Offspring, The Used, Pennywise and Millencolin. Tickets for Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide dates are still available through the official webpage.

Lover of punk rock, and anything with a hint of angst. Aside from writing for XXIV, I also co-ordinate music festivals on-board the Rhapsody of the Seas. When I’m not abroad, you can find me gallivanting around my hometown of Adelaide, dreaming of Manhattan. My home is wherever my suitcase takes me.

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