All of us have a hero.
Someone we look up to, a person we aspire to be. A man or woman of impossible odds. A person that could change the world and has unquestionably shaped our own. In our minds, no one will ever come close to the immense magnitude of greatness that is housed within this one being. God himself stares down at them from heaven and high-fives himself repeatedly. For Robin, it's Batman. For the obese, it's the creator of Diet Coke. And for Steve Harwell, frontman for ska-poppers Smash Mouth, it's Steve Harwell.
"I'm one of those people that basically believes I can do anything I put my mind to. When we were starting out, before we were signed and before we had a record, I said 'Give me two years and we'll have a record deal'. It was two years and a month."
No one should be surprised that Steve Harwell is his own Nostradamus. It's been over ten years since Interscope signed Smash Mouth and released their debut album, 'Fush Yu Mang'. Yet as you look back at the band's history you begin to understand why Steve feels content to tow his own party line, holding himself over his own head. Putting it bluntly, Smash Mouth have sold a lot of records.
"We've done almost ten million. But that's when records were selling. It's literally like the ‘80s, when going gold was like going triple platinum."
That's right, 'sold'. Not selling. If you're a musician, selling records is a thing you used to do. That people used to pay for their music is now a quirky historical fact. It's like saying ‘Hey, remember tapes and VHS? I know, right?’
“Me personally, if I'm gonna buy a record, I wanna have it in my hand. I'm gonna be one of the first ones in the record store. I wish it was like that. But it’s not like that and it’s not gonna be like that. But there's ways around it. We license a lot of music for new movies, commercials and they pay up the ass for our music to use it! So we're fortunate there. [But] you know, country music is still selling CDs. It's slowing down, but only a little.”
I laugh, quickly suggesting that Steve should record a country album if he wants to make some sales. I should not have laughed.
“Hey, hey! I'm serious! I did a solo country record. Basically what happened was I got divorced, said 'Fuck it. I'm out of here' and moved to Nashville. It's almost finished, it's gonna come out late next year or something. There's another side of me a lot of people don't know. Not a lot of people know about this, it's strictly on the down low!”
I'm not sure what Steve's idea of 'down low' is, because stories about this alleged country album are actually rife on the Internet. Even though finding a good country album is a bit like fishing an iPhone out of a toilet, you get the feeling that the Smash Mouth ringleader knows what he's doing.
The fact that Smash Mouth is releasing its sixth album this year is really a credit to Steve's undying belief.
“Having a new record out after all these years ... We had so many guys come and go, and there was a difficult period where we weren't sure what was going to happen. But I was like 'I'm not giving up. I've got this, for sure!' We pride ourselves on making records. Finishing this new one 'Magic' has brought new light to the band.”
Smash Mouth play at Jupiter’s on the Gold Coast Sunday October 21. Their new album, ‘Magic’ is released October 5.