Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Last month marked the 20-year anniversary of the release of “Fu Shu Mang,” the debut album from retro rockers Smash Mouth. You know the record. The massive hit “Walkin’ on the Sun” launched the California band into the pop stratosphere, and the group followed it up two years later with the equally inescapable “All Star.”
Smash Mouth’s hits remain memorable today, as you’ll find out if you catch them live in concert at the Flamingo Go Pool on Sunday night, Aug. 27. (Find info here.) I tracked down the band’s bassist and songwriter Paul De Lisle to talk about Smash Mouth’s big year of touring in 2017 and what they’re planning next.
Looking back, how do you feel today about that first album, “Fu Shu Mang”? We love it. I’ve been listening to it a lot recently because of the anniversary, and we decided to go back in the studio and re-record it semi-acoustically. We’re doing that now, and packaging it with the original album for a release early next year. We also had some friends do remixes of “Walkin’ on the Sun” and we’ve been servicing those to clubs, and we were the No. 2 most-added song on Billboard’s dance charts last week.
That’s crazy! I still hear your cover of “Why Can’t We Be Friends” from that album all the time, too. Your hits are unavoidable. Have you ever had a strange experience where you’ll hear a Smash Mouth song where you least expect it? All the time. Just recently our manager was in Milan in a little café having pizza, and I called him, and while we were talking I had to stop. “Wait, is that ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ in the background?” It was on the radio in this café. It’s always popping up in weird places, and it first it takes you by surprise but it’s always very cool.
You guys have had a very busy year so far. We’ve had a real resurgence in the past few years, more and more shows, and this year has been super busy. We’re playing nonstop.
Is that because of the anniversary or is the current infatuation with all things ’90s affecting Smash Mouth as well? It’s both. The people that listened to our stuff then are getting older and they have more disposable income and the nostalgia for songs that make them feel like when they were younger is growing. They’re going to see bands like ours, and Sugar Ray, and the Gin Blossoms.
Is it strange to think of Smash Mouth as a nostalgia act? It’s not weird for me because I’ve worked for this. We earned it, paid our dues, and here we are on the other side of it. And we don’t have ties to the record companies and all of that stuff that brought a lot of pressure. We can do whatever the hell we want.
Other than the acoustic recordings, what’s next for the band? We are writing new music, too, but we’ll still be touring extensively for a while. We’re also working on a collaboration with this great indie band Car Seat Headrest where we’re kind of remaking each other’s songs and releasing it to radio just because we like them and it’s fun. On top of that, I’ve been writing a bunch of songs lately. I’m in a groove.