Smash Mouth ready to open Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts on June 30
June 23, 2015
Southern California surf-rock band Smash Mouth is celebrating its 20th anniversary — sort of.
"Our anniversary is spanning a few years," explained bassist Paul DeLisle during a telephone interview from the band’s office in San Jose, California. "We formed as a band in late 1994, but things didn’t start to take off until 1997. So our official start date could be any time in between."
Regardless, the band known for the Top-5 hits "Walking on the Sun," "All Star" and the remake of the Monkees’ "I’m a Believer" for the 2001 DreamWorks film "Shrek," will make more musical memories when it opens the Park City Institute’s 2015 Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on June 30.
The night’s line-up will also include Tonic and Toad the Wet Sprocket.
"I’m a huge fan for both Tonic and Toad the Wet Sprocket," DeLisle said. "I’m going to be on the side of the stage the whole time watching them."
Thinking about the past two decades, DeLisle said the most surprising thing is that he’s still playing the same instrument in the same band.
Recommended Stories For You
"I remember when we released our first hit song ("Walking on the Sun"), he said. "I told my boss ‘We’re a one-hit wonder. So, I’ll see you in six months.’ Even now, I ask my parents all the time, ‘Is this weird?’ and they say, ‘No, you’re doing fine.’"
Smash Mouth came together when DeLisle and his friend, guitarist Greg Camp, teamed up with vocalist Steve Harwell and drummer Kevin Coleman.
"Greg and I were already musical partners and had already been in a couple of bands together," DeLisle said. "Around then, Greg told me about this crazed local mechanic who was a rapper that somehow got a record deal."
The rapper turned out to be Harwell.
"Steve knew Kevin, so when all of us got together, it was like two teams joining forces," DeLisle said.
Right away, the musicians knew there was something special about the band.
"I mean, Steve scared me," DeLisle said laughing. "He’s not much to look at because he looks like a criminal. He looked dangerous and scary and I was sure I saw a gun somewhere. But he was fun to hang around with."
After the release of "Walking on the Sun" and the debut album "Fush Yu Mang," the music business embraced the band.
Throughout the 1990s, Smash Mouth’s videos hit heavy rotation on MTV and the band appeared as itself in the 2001 comedy film "Rat Race" and recorded "I’m a Believer."
Those doors opened because the band elected to make family-oriented music.
"Our first album had an Explicit Lyrics sticker on it, and I think it was because there was, like, one swear word on one song," DeLisle said. "At that time, Greg’s wife was just about to have their first child, so we decided to make sure our records were clean after that.
"That was a smart thing for us to do, because that led us to do projects like ‘Shrek,’" he said. "I know we’ve become known as a ‘Shrek’ band, but we still feel like that was a good move, especially because I have a 5-year-old daughter."
Throughout the years, the band has gone through lineup changes, but that’s expected.
"Greg has left a couple of times and has come back and he may come back again," DeLisle said with a chuckle. "Steve and I have been doing this for such a long time and after all of these years, of course, we’re going to get on each others’ nerves after a while."
Still, the two have continued to perform regardless of personality clashes.
"We’re really like brothers and we’re so different from one another, but people can tell that we have known each other for such a long time," DeLisle said. "It’s a wonderful thing that people still come to see us. We’re still selling out concerts."
Just as new generations are discovering "Shrek," new generations are attending Smash Mouth concerts.
"We have balding men telling us that we were the first band they bought an album for and they bring their kids to the shows," DeLisle said. "It’s funny because even my daughter is just figuring out what daddy does for a living."
Making music for a living is a great career for the bassist.
"We are always working on new songs," he said. "We’re not making albums as much as we are making singles. We’re lucky because our office is close to where Steve and I both live and there is a full-functioning studio with an engineer here at our disposal."
In addition to writing songs, DeLisle wrote Smash Mouth’s official biography, "Walking on the Sun: The Story of Smash Mouth," which will be released in a few weeks.
"I wrote it myself, every word, the hard way, without any help, and it was painstaking," he laughed. "I don’t know if you’ve ever written a book, but it takes a long, long time. But it was pretty neat to look at old pictures and it would spark a lot of memories."
DeLisle came up with a timeline and included important events such as the recording of each of the band’s seven albums, TV appearances and film projects.
"I would write it in sections, and whomever I showed it to would say, ‘You left this out’ or ‘What about this?’ and I would say, ‘If I put everything that has happened to us the past 20 years, the book would be 2,000 pages," he said. "However, I do know that I could write a whole new book with completely different events."
The Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series will kick off on Tuesday, June 30, with Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tonic at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $75 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or visiting the box office at the Mega Genius Supply Store and I.Q. H.Q., 435 Swede Alley. Tickets can also be purchased online by visiting http://www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.