The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world






FUN - If you want fun at a festival - who do you call? Reel Big Fish, that's who. With a brand of punk pop ska and a collection of inspired covers the party is never far away. We spoke to Ryland Steen to get the latest update on the Vans tour downunder and so much more...



Mark: Hi, Ryland, how are you? You are coming down to Australia for the very first Vans Tour, but as you are veterans of this tour, you can probably let us know what we are in for!


Ryland: You are in for an action packed display of organised chaos, that you have never witnessed before! It’s going to be exciting.


Mark: It will be a day to remember I’m sure, and it’s so cool to have you guys over here. The big question is are going to be playing any solo dates, as well as the festival dates, when you come over?


Ryland: That has yet to be determined. I certainly hope so, but we haven’t found out if we are going to be playing any additional dates, outside of the Warped Tour. If it doesn’t happen, I can only hope that we will be down there again soon. We always love playing Australia, the Australian people have always been very welcoming to us, and it makes us feel like it’s a second home, so we love playing as many shows as we can down there.



Mark: we always like having you over! What is it about the audiences over here? We are a little bit different to the rest of the world, I guess.


Ryland: Well, I think a lot of it is in the culture, you know the Australian people. I think of all the places I’ve been, I think Australia has some of the warmest, nicest people of anywhere in the world. I think we feel that while we are there, it’s like we are not just playing a show that people are coming to, it’s like people are coming to hang out at a party and we just happen to be the band playing! After the shows we hang out with the fans, and have a drink, so I think overall it’s just the friendliness of the Australian people.


Mark: That sounds about right, and I think it’s the fact that you have travelled so long to get here, we are just glad you made the effort! You are an incredibly busy band, touring wise, is that part of the secret to your success?


Ryland: Yeah, I think it is. That was sort of the bands way. We didn’t really know what we were doing at the time; it just worked out that staying on the road constantly, and going to countries and cities at least once a year, sometimes every 6 months, that was our way of staying in touch with our fans, and making new fans. We don’t really have a big way of getting our music across, so we bring a great, fun, live show, so that people who don’t necessarily listen to our music, they know they are in for a good time at our shows, and that’s been our way of keeping things going.




Mark: It must be hard picking a festival set, because of the limited amount of time you have. What sort of stuff are you doing at the moment, are you doing a lot from “Candy Coated Fury”?


Ryland: We are certainly doing a very cosmopolitan set. We always play our hit songs, that our fans love to hear, and then we try and throw in 3 or 4 new songs off whatever new record we have, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately. We always play the favourites, because if we don’t, we know there’ll be riots at the show!! So, we always try and throw in really old songs that we haven’t played in a while, and new songs of the new album, we are definitely trying to throw in songs for everyone.


Mark: You have the US tour, “Don’t Stop Skankin’”, which starts in November, in January you are over in the UK with Less Than Jake, and Zebrahead are you good friends with those guys? Have you played with them before?


Ryland: Yes, Less Than Jake and Zebrahead, we have been friends with them for years now, and you never really know what you’re going to get when you go on tour with a band that you haven’t toured with before, and in the case of these bands, we have, and there style musically, we like them, but we get on so well, and it really makes for a great tour, and we’re very excited about that coming up.




Mark: “Candy Coated Fury” was a great album, released about a year ago now; it has a huge amount of energy in there, and really reminded me of the first couple of albums, what’s the response been to playing that for the last year or so? What are the songs that are sticking out for the fans?


Ryland: The fan response has been amazing to this record, and as far as the energy goes, we are harping back to that reckless abandon that the group had when we first started. We’ve been playing songs like “Everything Sucks”, “Everyone Else is an Asshole”, “I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore” and “Don’t Stop Skankin’”. Everyone seems to be digging’ the new album, which is great for us, because I think once you’ve been a band that’s been around long enough, when you’re a band that first gets going you have to do a lot of proving yourself, whether it’s the music you create, or the live show you do, and then bands can get comfortable for a while, but when you’re a band that’s been around long enough, it’s almost like you have to start proving yourself again, that you are still relevant and viable, and that you are still a great band to invest your time and money in. So, I think we are back at that point, where we are still trying to show people that we are still full of piss and vinegar!!


Mark: the lyrics to ‘I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore’ I think encapsulate all that people love about the band, and there’s a couple of inspired covers on there as always like the Wonderstuff’s “Don’t Let Me Down Gently” and When In Rome’s “The Promise.”  You’ve just lost a band member too in trombone player Dan Regan to go off and open his own brewery – surely the best reason ever to leave a band!?


Ryland: (laughing) yeah, well he’s definitely on his way to having a big family, and he’s been in the band 20 years now so his prison sentence was up and we allowed him to leave without any bad feelings, but it’s been great having him in the band and we’ll miss him a lot, but we’re lucky enough to have a friend Billy, who has played in a few Ska bands , so we’re really excited to have him step in. No one could ever replace Dan but its great to know we’ve got a great horn section going with a new trombone.  


Mark: As a musician you’ve an impressive resume – you’ve either played or recorded or toured with the likes of Kris Allen, Maroon 5, The Summer Obsession, The Elected, Start Trouble, Phantom Planet, and more, what was the most fun so far outside of the band?


Ryland: Well I think growing up, as my father is a musician, so growing up in a house of music I was exposed to all kinds of music and there was never really any restrictions on what I could listen to and I was never told ‘this is good music, this is bad music’ there was just a lot of different stuff floating around the house. And so I’m just a fan of music, so whether it’s playing with a pop band or a rock band or a ska band or a jazz group I’m just a fan of playing. But I’ve always loved playing Reel Big Fish music because as a drummer it’s challenging, it really never gets old playing these songs. But outside the band like I said, I’m just a fan of music and I feel lucky whenever someone calls me to either play live or one a record with them, I’m just happy to be there.




Mark: I think our time is just about up, so I’ve just got a couple we ask everyone: If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Ryland: I think I would have chosen Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ because that was the album that really made me want to play drums. Even though I grew up in a house of music, when I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ for the first time, I just decided then and there that I had to play.


Mark: And finally what is the Meaning of Life?


Ryland: (pause) Whew! Man, just to enjoy the ride. It’s not the start or the finish it’s everything in-between that you need to enjoy, so I’m doing my best to enjoy the in-between.  


Mark: Thanks you so much for talking the time to talk to us Ryland, any last words for Australian fans?


Ryland: We look forward to seeing you and come find us after the show and we’ll have a beer together!


Mark: I think we’ll all take you up on that, it will be a big round! Take care and see you soon.
Ryland: Thanks Mark.




Ryland Steen spoke to Mark Diggins October 31 2013





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