In this 4 on 1 interview. Mitch sits down with Matt Appleton, Johnny Christmas, Derek Gibbs, and Billy Kottage of Reel Big Fish to talk music, touring, concerts, man buns, and condiments backstage at the House of Blues San Diego on the second day of their tour with Suburban Legends and our buddies The Maxies.
As you may have heard it’s now 2016. It’s been about 2 weeks which means that people are starting to give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. Did any of you guys have any resolutions for 2016?
Matt: Absolutely not.
Billy: We don’t like to limit ourselves.
Johnny: The world is our oyster and we shall seize it in our clutches
Derek: < Says nothing >
Matt: We are doing everything perfectly already, why change perfection?
Obviously being in a band you get to play shows all of the time, but what’s the best live show you’ve seen recently where you guys weren’t playing?
Matt: Oh god, I don’t get to go to any shows…
Billy: I’ve seen Rancid recently, well it was The Interrupters, H20, and Rancid and it was pretty epic. That was probably the most recent show I’ve been too and it was definitely sick.
Matt: I went to John Brion at Largo a few weeks ago and it was awesome, and Zach Galifianakis opened up with a surprise stand-up routine which was also awesome, and Sarah and Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek came out and played a bunch of songs with him. So that was pretty fantastic… I had heard of all these people before, but I didn’t know the Watkins and Zach Galifianakis were going to be there… and I got to meet him (Zach) before the show! I saw him at the restaurant next door and I was all nervous and I said (in little voice) “Hey, I really like your stuff. I’m a big fan”…So that’s my story.
Johnny: I saw Huey Lewis & the News and that was Fucking. Epic. It was great…They played SO well… Ah! They sounded so good!
Derek: < Says nothing >
As sort of a follow up question to that, what’s the best album you’ve heard recently? It could be a new album, or just something you’ve never heard before.
Matt: I’m going to give a shout out to my good friend Amy Regan who passed away last week. She has a fantastic new record out called “Pretty Little Baby” and it’s, fantastic. It’s been out for a little while already, but most people don’t know about it. We just lost her on Wednesday (exactly 1 week before) Um, so check out “Pretty Little Baby” it’s awesome.
< Our condolences from all of us here at San Diego Punk to Amy’s family and friends >
Johnny: I think I have Loudon Wainwright’s “Older Than My Old Man Now” and that’s really really good. I love the guitar, the acoustic guitar, all the violins, or fiddles…all these country music instruments. It’s really bare bones. Good song writing, good scene. It’s what I love.
You’re not a big folk punk guy are you? I know there are some similarities in instruments there.
Johnny: Folk…Punk? (Completely confused)
< Then I explain what folk punk is, what bands are “folk punk”, and how here in San Diego there is a pretty large scene which has essentially replaced the ska scene that used to be here” >
Obviously, you guys are always touring with Suburban Legends and the mighty fucking Maxies, don’t you get sick of them?
Matt: You know, there our friends and they’re good bands and nice guys to tour with. Uh, when you tour a lot it’s important to be with people you respect and get along with and um I think having The Maxies and Suburban Legends out is cool.
Derek: < Shrugs Shoulders >
Billy: We’ve spent the most amount of time with these people like we’ve hung out with them for hundreds of days at this point.
Matt: Yeah it’s cool to walk into a tour and know everybody already and not have to learn every body’s name. You just hug and say “Hey, let’s do these 40 shows, here we go!” You know, we do tour with them a lot, but there’s a reason for that.
Johnny: They’re fun bands. Fun and entertaining, and that’s huge for us.
Now in terms of touring with those guys. I have a little business plan for you guys, and you can steal this.
Billy: I’m ready
So since you guys do this tour, almost every year with those guys, at least recently. Why don’t you start doing like an EP? Like a “Don’t Stop Skankin” record, with a part 1, part 2, etc…Where you guys do like a new song, or cover each other’s songs each year. Possibly? (Asking to gain or lose approval)
Billy: That was pretty good (to the others pointing at me)
But if you take the idea you gotta put me in the little credits section.
Matt: Yeah, well of course. “Special thanks too” or “original creative thought by”
< Insert inside industry secrets changing the exact business model I pitched above that I’m not allowed to tell you, but I get to know so ha ha! >
< Continued totally out of context for comedic effect >
Matt: Billy fills all the slots
The dirty slots.
Billy: No, no, just the normal ones. Your average slots
Matt: ANY slot. Let’s be real.
Billy: No, no. Get outta town. You’re selling me short here man
Matt: You’re right, you’re right. Only the nice ones
Johnny: He’s got standards man.
Derek: < Says nothing >
Billy: Yeah, like I prefer like the pull down slots verses like the button pushing ones.
Johnny: Yeah, and I like the ones that drop the coins out. I hate when they just give you a ticket.
Matt: Yeah the ticket is boring. Anti-climactic
Billy: Its horse shit.
< All of us agreeing and being mutually unsatisfied with slot machines using paper tickets now >
Matt: I bet there’s all sorts of people out there who don’t know what Derek Gibbs sounds like. They just see him looking stern and stoic all the time. [To Derek] Don’t change that! Just don’t say anything, but I think this is good. He’s like our Silent Bob.
Derek: < Whispers something to Billy >
Matt: He’s Teller. We’re Penn and he’s Teller. We’re Jay…and He’s Bob.
Billy: He’s Robert* let’s be real.
If you had to be on a on a desert island with 3 celebrities, past or present…they’d be alive. Who would they be? And you would have to be stuck there forever.
Johnny: OH MY GOSH, I would kill myself
Matt: Why did it have to be celebrities? Wait 3 of them?
Well, celebrities is a loose term…
Matt: 3 egomaniacs…
Billy: They don’t have to be egomaniacs. They could be decent; there are good famous people out there.
Derek: < Says nothing >
Matt: Well I’m gonna pick all girls. I already know that…Cuz let’s be real here…
Johnny: Oh no that’s a mistake.
Matt: Could I do 1 guy and 2 girls?
Johnny: Yeah 1 guy and 2 girls is good.
Derek: < Whispers to Billy >
Matt: My guy is going to be Jason Schwartzman…starting with Jason Schwartzman
Johnny: Oh that’s a huge mistake too. < Laughing >
Matt: I think he’s funny!
Johnny: I think he’s funny too, but he just complains about everything. < All laughing >
Matt: He is a big complainer isn’t he…Well fuck Jason Schwartzman….hhmmm…….HHMMMMM……Uuuhh 2003 Kelly Clarkson?
Matt: Maybe?..Crap! I don’t know about that yet…But definitely Jason.
Billy: I know my three if you wanna just come back to you?
Matt: Oh yeah yeah yeah, go go go!
Billy: Uh it would be Johnny Depp…and Uh…I don’t know her name, but whoever Pam from The Office is (Jenna Fisher) have you ever seen The Office ?
Yes of course. (All chiming in their familiarity with the show The Office)
< None of us knew her name and tried to figure it out for a bit with little success >
Billy: Well her…and I’d say Johnny Cash… I think those three, cuz I think getting fucked up with Johnny Cash and Johnny Depp at the same time would be…like having some drinks. I think that’d be fun.
Johnny: < without a moment’s hesitation > Mark Twain, Hunter Thomson, and Abraham Lincoln.
Matt: But who are you gonna hump for eternity?
Johnny: There is going to be no humping.
Johnny: There’s gonna be none of that.
Billy: You could probably hump Hunter S. Thomson.
Johnny: There’s going to be a lot of jokes…and puns… and Lincoln will be able to keep the peace.
Matt: Ok, different angle on it…Not thinking with your wiener. Interesting, interesting…that’s tough.
You’re a better man than I.
Matt: I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Amy Adams for eternity
< All chime in with their praises of approval including myself >
Billy: What about you Gibbs? < To Derek >
Derek: – – – < Shakes his head and says nothing >
I’ll just put three dashes.
Matt: OOO! What about 1964 Pattie Boyd? George Harrison’s first wife and she humped Eric Clapton a bunch too.
Johnny: She’s Leila
< A famous Eric Clapton song. If you don’t know the song then you need to brush up on your music >
But what if she had “the Clapton”? < A Mitch got puns >
Johnny: Oh hey! Uh Oh!
Matt: oh yeah
Billy: Oh ho, < Does knee slap and mimics a rim shot >
Matt: I don’t think I was prepared for this. So Jason Schwartzman, Amy Adams, and Pattie.
Derek: < Off the record may or may not have spoken the name Jenna Fisher (Pam from the Office) but for you the readers is a complete and totally mystery >
Billy: < To Johnny > I really like yours. I think they’re great. But < to Matt > I still can’t believe out of all the people in the world you said 2003 Kelly Clarkson. It’s fucking ridiculous.
< We all laugh >
Anybody in the WHOLE world…and that’s who you pick.
And the fact that you narrowed it down. That 2003 stood out to you so specifically…not 2002 or 2004 but 2003.
Billy: Is she like the babiest babe on your list? Is she up there?
Matt: Yes. Absolutely.
I like it. So…Man buns… Cool? Or Douchey?
< We explain to Johnny what Man buns are >
Billy: I mean if feel like if you have one you pull it of…I mean… I don’t give a fuck…
Matt: All Billy’s friends have man buns.
Billy: Nooo. I can only think of one friend who has a man bun.
Matt: He just doesn’t wanna lose all his friends when this interview comes out.
Billy: I think there are only so many hairstyles a guy can have.
Matt: I used to have long hair, It wasn’t really in a bun, cuz I didn’t know how to do that, but I used to put it up because it was annoying and got in the way. So I’d do like a ponytail and like, pull the ponytail through so it’s kinda like stuck. That way it wasn’t hanging down, but it wasn’t really a bun…
Billy: It’s like, early 90’s jersey show, kinda long hair…and people thought that was cool, but the man buns gotta be cooler than that. I mean, there’s some bad haircuts that are way worse throughout the years you know? Like the man bun isn’t as bad as a mullet. There’s definitely been worse haircuts in society.
Matt: You don’t know.
Billy: No I do. I mean, it’s just my opinion. I mean nothing against mullets I guess.
Matt: Your opinions are wrong.
Derek: < looking stoically, sits in silence >
Billy: I just think it could be a lot worse as far as style goes.
Well, what do you think would be worse? What’s the worst haircut you guys think is out there?
Billy: I’d say Matt’s more than anything.
Matt: I just got it yesterday.
Johnny: Whenever people get Lines… in their hair. Like the Zig Zags
I totally agree with you… It’s like the tribal tattoos of hair.
Matt & Johnny: Exactly
Billy: Unless it’s like a good design.
Matt: What about the Prince Valium one from Space Balls? Like the long hair, trimmed nicely with bangs…
Yeah, but who have you seen that actually has that haircut?
Matt: Prince Valium!
But besides him?
Matt: Yeah I guess that’s about it.
Billy: I mean there’s gotta be SOMEONE with that haircut out there. Like 2 people on earth. It’s a numbers game yah know?
What do you think is the most versatile condiment?
Johnny: Ranch Dressing. You can put it on salad, or use it for chicken, all kinds of stuff.
Ooo good one!
Matt: Does hot sauce count as a condiment?
Matt: Yeah, so just some solid hot sauce…Tabasco let’s say.
Me and Johnny: No not that one.
Matt: But it goes everywhere
Johnny: Yeah, but it’s not that great.
Matt: Ok, well a good habanero hot sauce then.
Billy: Well if you don’t have a personal favorite, how is it your favorite condiment then?
Like for me, my favorite condiment is Hank Sauce which is a hot sauce made in New Jersey. And it’s amazing. It’s like a garlicy basily hot sauce, but it’s not super hot, but it’s hot enough, and you can cook shit in it too. Like sometimes if I make like shrimp tacos I’ll cook it right in that and it’s soo good. Ah soo good.
Matt: Well then you need to bring us some Hank Sauce.
Billy: Did you think of your favorite hot sauce yet?
I mean if Tabasco is your favorite that’s fine too.
Matt: No, it’s definitely not! I just got weird. I like that Habanero, carrot type thing.
Now there’s two accounts on record.
Billy: It is now officially a fact that you love Tabasco.
< Silence >
Johnny: You fucked up.
You kinda did…
Billy: You’re lucky you’re not under oath. You’d be going to jail.
< All laughing >
Matt: You guys are dicks.
Billy: By the way, Derek said water. He doesn’t wanna verbalize it, but I can read his body language… and I wanted you to know. Derek Gibbs says water.
What is the meaning of life, according to Reel Big Fish?
Matt: Maybe there is no meaning of life for Reel Big Fish… Like the song we just practiced at sound check… Life sucks.
Billy: Yeah I don’t know. Everyone’s dying and then you die…Lots of death.
Johnny: The meaning of life is what you make it. If you wanna have your life have meaning… you make it have meaning… there’s nothing beyond that
< Interview interrupted by Tom the tour Managers cell phone ringing, you totally blew it TOM! >
Matt: Tom we’re in an interview here! < All laughing >
I’ll add that to the interview…put it in bold so Tom will forever be hassled for interrupting this interview.
< All laughing >
Matt: I think what we do is so special, to bring happiness to people…throughout the world and I think that there’s nothing that you can do better than uplift people’s spirits and I think we’re lucky guys to be able to do that.
Billy: Also, I think there’s a lot more to life than, you know having to go to work to pay your rent and pay your bills and then that’s what you do. And then you try to do fun things on the weekend or you’re like 20 days off a year and I think that more people need to travel. We get lucky that we get to go everywhere, but some people…Other countries travel more, but I feel like in America it’s like maybe you’ll go on one trip a year, cuz you have to work and you don’t want to use your days off, because you wanna save um for next year so next year you’ll have 50 days off, but then you’ll save those and you just never take the time to do anything and you always have an excuse of why you can’t go far away or spend a couple thousand dollars to experience things.
Right…I think we just got closer.
Billy: Hey man, that’s what we’re here for.
I’m glad we made eye contact during that answer. It was moving.
Matt: I think we’re gonna be ok.
Billy: You’re the one asking all the serious questions!
< Laughing >
Well that’s about it, do you guys have any final words for the wonderful readers at San Diego Punk Community?
Johnny: Yes, I’m Johnny Christmas
Matt: Oh, I’m Matt Appleton
Derek: Derek Gibbs < HE TALKED!!! >
Billy: Billy Kottage
Matt: And thank you for being a community.
Billy: San Dia Go < pronounced >
You know in German that means a whale’s vagina.
Billy: So I’ve heard. That was good. Maybe say keep coming to our shows.
Matt: Yeah, so we can keep playing um! And our drummer is from San Diego (Ed Beach)
So that’s cool. And there he is < Ed walks in >
Ed: Oh Hello!
Matt: He smells like San Diego. You can tell he’s from San Diego because he’s wearing a tank top.
Billy: And a Dana Point hat
Hell yeah! Represent dude, < We pound it for SD >
I’d like to thank the guys from Reel Big Fish for hanging out and doing an interview with me. Some of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Make sure to check them out while they’re on tour (the dates are available at their link below)! Be sure to check out Amy Regan’s album “Pretty Little Baby” as well! Have a fun rest of your tour guys!
Reel Big Fish
(The official RBF page is temporarily down because someone hacked it and made it a porn site which is hilarious so try these links for more info!)