Smash Mouth: New Singer, ‘Shrek’ Fans Fuel Comeback


Smash Mouth became a beloved group for all ages thanks to their 1999 hit anthem “All Star,” which was later used in DreamWorks Animation’s ubiquitous 2001 film “Shrek.” The song had a long tail, racking up radio plays and airplay years after its release date. So when founding vocalist Steve Harwell retired from the band due to health issues – after an onstage ‘episode’ in 2021 where he would have “garbled his words, threatened the audience and made rude gestures to the crowd” – co-founding bassist Paul De Lisle had huge shoes to fill.

“Literally,” says De Lisle, the band’s last original member who still performs as Smash Mouth. “Steve is a big guy, standing nearly 6 feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, with a big voice.”

Enter Zach Goode, an equally big, big-voiced actor, songwriter and man, who joined Smash Mouth in time for one of his biggest concerts ever in May 2022. “A Guadalajara stadium filled with 50 000 people as the first show,” says Bon. “No pressure.”

Last Friday, Goode-fronted new Smash Mouth released their debut single and video, a cover of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” via UMe, marking a return to Universal Music Group, which is also home to Interscope, who signed the band in 1997. The new single comes weeks after Republic Records released an electro-pop version of “All Star (the Owl City Remix)”.

In addition to its Rick-rolling, Smash Mouth features a new original, “4th of July”, dropping just before the band are embarking on a summer tour that kicks off July 3 in Mason, Ohio.

Even before Harwell’s departure, De Lisle had persevered despite significant losses in the Smash Mouth camp, most notably when co-founding guitarist and lead songwriter Greg Camp left the band in 2008.

“I was hurt when Greg left, but there was never any question that Smash Mouth would continue,” says the bassist. “Keyboardist Michael Klooster has also been a part of it for 25 years, and we all knew we were going to keep going. Steve [Harwell] was equally adamant, then, about keeping Smash Mouth.

De Lisle says he knew the original Smash Mouth singer had been considering retirement for a long time — in fact, since being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, heart failure and Wernicke’s encephalopathy in 2013. “Whatever he has to do, his health was the most important thing,” says De Lisle. “Steve has retired. We continued. It was sad after so many years, but we saw it coming.

Goode, a mainstay of San Diego’s alternative scene of the 1990s who played with renowned regional bands such as Ghoulspoon and Divided By Zero, traveled to Los Angeles in 2012 to face the Secret Seven and expand into the dubbing work for advertising clients like Taco Bell and Dr. . Pepper.

“I had popular bands in San Diego that never got beyond ‘big, local’ and I wanted to give the music one more chance in LA,” Goode laughs. “Los Angeles was a rude awakening because everyone is a mercenary who wants to get paid for band practice, but I persevered.”

“There’s all these great newspaper listings at the time that read ‘Blink 182,’ ‘Sugar Ray,’ ‘No Doubt,’ ‘Ghoulspoon,'” De Lisle explains before mentioning the Smash Mouth audition period. of December 2021. “When Zach came to try Smash Mouth, it was obvious, immediately, that he was the clear choice.

Smash Mouth was, at first, looking for someone with the same baritone and chest voice as Harwell, and who embodied his physical presence. That is, until Goode wowed them with his high, tenor voice. “Even though I don’t usually sing in a low register, it’s a good fit, me and the music of Smash Mouth,” says the singer. “Paul said I sounded good, but it didn’t hurt that I was 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds.”

Tackling another man’s iconic songs proved mentally challenging for Goode. “Should I copy it? How should I dress? Goode remembers thinking. “The rest of Smash Mouth, however, just told me to be myself, so I did. I’m a ham and I love interacting with the crowd. Also, Greg Camp’s songs are very wordy. Not spoiling it is my sacred duty.

The band is currently re-signed to the UMG family for new music and catalog releases after being independent since “The Gift of Rock” in 2005. “Thanks to our manager Robert Hayes, we have never lost touch with Universal, our home,” explains the keyboardist.

Smash Mouth had been planning for some time to record “Never Gonna Give You Up”, his cover of British soul-pop singer Astley’s 1987 hit single. “Doing Astley’s song was part of the audition process, and that was awesome in my mind, because Smash Mouth never gives up and never goes away,” Goode enthuses. “As soon as we uploaded it to YouTube, we got hundreds and thousands of comments, including these memes connecting us to ‘Shrek: The Musical’ (a stage production that ran from 2006-2008 ), and Astley because the producers used that song in the stage version of the movie, too. The world’s two biggest memes had collided.

The May release of Republic Records’ “All Star (Owl City Remix)” by Adam Young only helped Smash Mouth garner even more attention for their new work, not to mention the track’s popularity in as the intro to the original 2001 film version of “Shrek”.

“‘Shrek’ was a huge thing in our career, and we were lucky doing it, but I think we have great songs and our music is timeless in a way that all ages can appreciate” , says De Lisle.

The bassist laughs as he discusses what he notes is Spotify’s “nearly a billion streams” countdown for the original version of “All Star.” “I don’t know how or why Owl City decided to create the remix, but it’s different, ethereal and soaring enough to not look like the original, while still reminding people that our version is still here.”

Goode adds, “There are kids being born today whose parents weren’t even there when ‘Shrek’ came out, let alone ‘All Star’. It just cracks me up every time.


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