Smash Mouth still having fun performing feel-good songs

04/07/2013 8:19 AM

08/08/2014 10:33 AM

It’s not easy to turn down “Shrek.” But bluesman Popa Chubby recently passed on the chance to play the lead in the Broadway version.

Smash Mouth almost walked away from the opportunity to place songs on the soundtrack to the film version.

“That was a long time ago, but we initially said no to the head of Dreamworks when it came to ‘Shrek,’ ” Smash Mouth vocalist Steve Harwell said. “He tried to convince us that it was a good idea for us to have songs in his animated movie about a big green ogre. We said no, and then he flew us up to see the film, and that changed our minds.”

Good thinking.

The band’s cover of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” became a top 10 smash shortly after the release of the 2001 film.

“That was great,” Harwell said. “That kept things going for us.”

Just three years after the pop-rock band formed in San Jose, Calif., in 1994, the group had a top 10 hit. The trippy, quirky and bright “Walkin’ on the Sun” cracked the Billboard’s singles chart, peaking at No. 2.

“That was interesting how that happened,” Harwell said. “We started out as a punk, surf kind of band and morphed into a group that crafted accessible songs. ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ put us on the map. We found that we had a way with the California fun-in-the-sun vibe. We just rode that.”

In 1999, the band scored another hit, “All-Star,” which hit the No. 4 position on the Billboard singles chart. “All-Star” is typical Smash Mouth, a sunny, positive, energetic, catchy pop tune.

“We enjoy writing those kind of songs,” Harwell said. “There’s something to a feel-good song. I love singing them, and the crowd goes crazy. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Smash Mouth, which also includes guitarist Mike Krompass, bassist Paul DeLisle, keyboardist Michael Klooster and drummer Randy Cooke, is back on the road for a tour, which stops Sunday at the Orpheum.

“Playing live is something that we’re so passionate about,” Harwell said. “We’ve had lineup changes and other things have changed, but we still get excited about doing shows.”

Don’t be surprised if Smash Mouth slips in some covers. The band has a penchant for rendering Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the Beatles’ “Getting Better” and War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”

“We’ll have fun time to time with covers,” Harwell said. “Why not take a stab at them? It’s fun. If the songs are upbeat, they are a nice complement to what Smash Mouth has done over the years.”

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