By MORGAN KING – STAFF WRITER
This past weekend, the Newlin stage hosted the illustrious all-star singing group, Smash Mouth. Their concert was a spirited, sometimes rowdy, experience and the group enenergized The Norton Center for the Arts for the night.
Smash Mouth’s history speaks volumes for itself. The original quartet began in San Jose, Calif., 20 years ago and has been rocking audiences since. Their first album “Fush Yu Mang” contained the single “Walkin’ on the Sun” and began Smash Mouth’s rise to fame. That album went double platinum and led to their second album, “Astro Lounge.”
The single on that track, “All Star,” was featured in movie soundtracks like Shrek and Rat Race which added to the band’s popularity.
Someone who knows the ins and outs of Smash Mouth’s career is original band member and lead vocalist of the group, Steve Harwell.
“It is different now than it was when we first started [touring],” Harwell said. ”When we first started touring, we had one song that was just getting recognized on the radio so we had to work hard to win over crowds every night. Now we have multiple hits that the fans go crazy for which we appreciate. We still work hard to give our best every night, but it is a different dynamic.”
Harwell is one of the few remaining originals, along with bass player Paul de Lisle. Together, both men continue to perform along with current members Michael Klooster, Jason Sutter, and Sean Hurwitz.
Smash Mouth has seen some changes both in musicians and sound from when they first began.
“In the early days we were more of a punk/ska band. We’ve evolved into more of a pop/rock/alternative band,” Harwell said. “We still embrace our punk roots but don’t play much of the ska anymore.”
Smash Mouth’s newest album, “Magic,” released in 2012, brought this more punk rock sound into their established style.
Regardless of their change in sound and group members, Smash Mouth hopes to provide a good, exuberant show, as evident of their concert last Saturday night. Harwell claims that half of the shows’ experiences comes from the audience itself.
“College students are crazy and love to have a good time. It’s one of our favorite shows to play,” Harwell said.
Centre College is just one of nine stops of Smash Mouth’s 20th anniversary tour. This isn’t Smash Mouth’s first time in the Bluegrass State, although this trip brought with it an air of solemnity.
“We have been to Kentucky many times. But actually this time will be bittersweet for us,” Harwell said. “As much as we love coming to Kentucky and performing we used to always stop at our first Tour Manager Scotty Haulter’s mom’s house in Louisville for homemade pie. She recently passed away so we will miss her on this trip.”
What’s next for Smash Mouth after this Centre show? They continue touring through November and are looking forward to releasing a live album through Sony later this year. This album will include new studio tracks, including a cover of The Kink’s “All Day and All of the Night.” As for Harwell, he’s been busy with working on a TV show and preparing a side project called Radio Angel.
This new group features fellow band member Paul de Lisle, former Third Eye Blind guitarist and songwriter Kevin Cadogan, and former Mariah Carey drummer, Joey Jam Flores. Radio Angel is expecting to release their debut album soon.
Smash Mouth’s success has depended a lot on their relaxed mood through their two decades of playing concerts, something evident by the way they carry themselves and the way they perform.
Always determined to have a good show, Harwell reiterated Smash Mouth’s desire to please their fans.
“One thing that has remained the same is that we have always and always will bring the party,” Harwell said.
The Smash Mouth concert brought in a full crowd; however, the experience overall seemed a little dismal.
Besides the fact that the group kept excessively drinking on stage, their attitude towards the Centre Community, and more directly, the football team, seemed in bad taste.
Smash Mouth began their concert with many of their new songs, and the audience waited patiently in expectation for their hit singles.
The low point of the night probably came when Smash Mouth invited audience members on the stage, and they were promptly kicked off by the Norton Center Staff.