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Smash Mouth California in a Can

Posted in MusicWorld on October 31, 1999 by

"After two years of people calling you a one-hit wonder, it just drains you; you start believing it," admits Greg Camp, Smash Mouth's guitarist and main songwriter. "You can let it ruin you, or you can get pissed about it and really try and prove everyone wrong."

The California combo's frontman, Steve Harwell, puts it more succinctly.
"F--- the sophomore jinx," the singer says.

Smash Mouth came out of nowhere - well, out of San Jose, actually-to score an infectious breakthrough hit with "Walkin' on the Sun," from the band's double-platinum 1997 debut album Fush Yu Mang. While that song's huge success led many observers to predict that the fun-loving foursome - Camp, Harwell, bassist Paul De Lisle and drummer Kevin Coleman - would be unable to follow it up, such speculation was put to rest with the release of the band's sophomore effort Astro Lounge.

The new album features 15 catchy slices of quirky post-psychedelic frat-pop, exemplified by the relentlessly upbeat leadoff single "All Star." Where Fush Yu Mang tended to fall back on fast-and-furious rock energy, Astro Lounge largely embraces a more relaxed pop vibe, drawing from a stylistic melting pot that incorporates elements of pop, punk, ska, surf and Latin into a cohesive and catchy style. The general consensus - amongst fans, critics and the band itself - is that the album represents a quantum musical leap for the group.

The band members weren't shy about maximizing Astro Lounge's pop appeal. "With this record, we were like, 'We want five singles'," states Harwell. "When we talked about writing it, I'm like, 'Dude, we've gotta make the whole thing radio-playable-like, every song'."

Describing Smash Mouth's eclectic new approach in a recent interview with Billboard, Camp stated, "We're California in a can. That sound makes us feel good. It's what we'd want our kids to listen to."

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