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Reel Big Fish Biography


Home > Music > R > Reel Big Fish > Biography


Birth Place: Huntington Beach, California, United States
Years Active: 1990–present
Genres: Ska Punk, Alternative Rock, Third Wave Ska


Reel Big Fish is an American ska punk band from Huntington Beach, California. After many line-up changes throughout the years, front man Aaron Barrett remains the only founding member in the band.

Reel Big Fish's 1995 self-released debut album, “Everything Sucks,” was successful and became an underground hit spread by word-of-mouth, which led to the band signing a deal with Mojo Records. In August 1996, the band released the album “Turn the Radio Off” on the new label, which appealed to fans of ska punk style, and the band began touring throughout the United States. After the single “Sell Out” became well known in mainstream venues, including MTV, the album peaked at #57 on the Billboard charts.

However, the ska revival was short-lived, and their 1998 album “Why Do They Rock So Hard?” failed to match the sales of the band's previous record. In 1998, the band appeared in the movie “BASEketball,” performing in the stands to rouse the crowd. The band also collaborated on the soundtrack with a cover of a-ha's “Take on Me.”

“Why Do They Rock So Hard?” was the last album for three members of the band. Trombonist Grant Barry took leave and trumpet player Tavis Werts was fired. Drummer Andrew Gonzales left the team to spend more time with his family. Reel Big Fish then had a changing cast of drummers and trumpeters over the next six years.

In 2002 the band fared much better on the rock charts, particularly because of the single “Where Have You Been?,” which did not prominently feature the horn section. It appeared on their 2002 album, “Cheer Up!” The album showed Reel Big Fish expanding their musical styles past the pop-rock sound, as it contains an a cappella cover of Frank Sinatra's classic “New York, New York” as well as a cover of Sublime's “Boss DJ.”

In 2005, Reel Big Fish released their fourth album on Mojo, “We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy.” Barrett has stated that “We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy” was the third record in a trilogy that began with “Turn the Radio Off.”

While on tour in early 2006, Reel Big Fish were dropped from the Jive Records label. The band formed their own label and released a 3-disc live performance CD/DVD set, “Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album.” Jive later released a Reel Big Fish greatest hits album, “Greatest Hit...And More,” because they owned the rights to all previous songs. The band did not approve of, or make any money from the album, and have spoken out against it.

Reel Big Fish released their first studio album since leaving Jive Records, “Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps For Free” in 2007, on the Rock Ridge Music record label. They released a new studio album in 2009. The album, “Fame, Fortune and Fornication,” consisted of ten cover songs. Another album, “A Best of Us for the Rest of Us,” featuring a 22-track collection of re-recorded songs and a 14-track collection of “Skacoustic” versions produced by Barrett, was released in 2010. An extended version of the album, “A Best of Us for the Rest of Us (Bigger Better Bonus Deluxe Version),” was released in 2011.