PLAY THE HITS!
Smash Mouth is Fine With Just Being Your Average Everyday Multiplatinum Cover Band
by Jeff Hill
Smash Mouth bassist Paul De Lisle is calling to check in from the beach in Hawaii, where he is enjoying a day off. It is a safe bet that he is seeing better waves than the ones in Brookings on the Oregon coast, where he visited and surfed as a kid. Paul is from Exeter, Ontario, Canada but he is all about the beach.
The band that he formed with Steve Harwell in San Jose in 1994 has since become something of a party-band national treasure—a multi-platinum selling group with a Greatest Hits and a Christmas album to their credit. Smash Mouth also landed two Top Five radio hits in the late ‘90s: “Walking On The Sun” (which reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts) and “All Star,” a song implanted to alarming depth into American cultural psyche thanks to its placement in the movie Shrek. In advance of their appearance at Britt Festival on June 21, The Messenger caught up with De Lisle on the phone to discuss music, beer and Southern Oregon.
“Oh yeah, we have toured through there over the years, we know the area,” De Lisle said. “But we have never played at the Britt before though, so we are looking forward to that. It’s a cool area. We have kind of missed touring the West Coast.
Twenty years in, the band knows there are some tunes cemented as staples of their set.
“Well, my favorite is probably ‘Pacific Coast Party’, but that might be just because I wrote it !” he said with a bit of a self-conscious laugh. “That song is still a good one. I like playing the older tunes and the newer stuff too. There are, of course, about five songs that we know we are going to have to play no matter what, the singles. But we like to mix it up too.”
Still, they remain open to working in new music. Especially if they didn’t write it. The band has been a veritable jukebox lately, jamming out cover after cover.
“My favorite song that we play that is new to our set is “All Day And All Of The Night” by The Kinks. We just love playing the cover songs,” De Lisle.
Smash Mouth is known to break out covers from The Monkees, War, Neil Diamond, ? and The Mysterians, Simple Minds, and others. That said, De Lisle and crew have an eye on some new music down the road.
“I think that we will be ready next fall to do a record, but like most bands, we are releasing singles these days online, not really albums,” he says. “Steve (Harwell, singer / guitar) and I are always writing, now we will just do a song and release it on the internet. But there are more songs coming, yeah definitely.”
Since this issue of The Messenger is all about the beer, we couldn’t help but ask a bonus question of De Lisle: What is your favorite beer?
“I am Canadian, so of course I can go for Labatts or Molson any time,” he says. “Budweiser is cool too. You have a ton of craft beers up there, though—right ? I might have to try one of those while I am there.”
Yes, Paul. Do that. Don’t be surprised if afterwards you get the urge to play your cover of “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.”
Smash Mouth, with Toad the Wet Sprocket
7 p.m., Sun., June 21
Britt Pavilion, 350 First St.,, Jacksonville