Smash Mouth (named after Mike Ditka's term "smash mouth football") was formed in San Jose, Calif., in 1994 when boyhood friends and former garage band compadres Steve Harwell (vocals) and Kevin Coleman (drums) recruited Greg Camp (guitar) from a local cover band. Camp then persuaded Paul De Lisle (bass), with whom he'd played in another outfit, to take a chance on the new band.
After toiling for a couple of years on the San Jose scene, Smash Mouth caught fire when area radio station KOME started spinning what would be their breakthrough: "Nervous In The Alley" (Smash Mouth were the first unsigned band to receive regular rotation on the influential Modern Rock outlet). Soon thereafter, the quartet inked a deal with Interscope Records, which released their debut, Fush Yu Mang, in 1997.
Smash Mouth supported the album with extensive touring, including jaunts with Sugar Ray, Third Eye Blind, and Blur, among others. Buoyed by these road efforts, the #1 radio success of "Walkin' On The Sun" and a cover of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" (not to mention a couple of heavily rotated videos), Fush Yu Mang bum-rushed the Top 20 and racked up double platinum sales.
The band built on their success with a rendition of the Mysterians' "Can't Get Enough of You Baby," which made its debut on the soundtrack to "Can't Hardly Wait." The cut is also included on Smash Mouth's magnum opus, Astro Lounge.
Produced by Eric Valentine, who sat behind the boards for Fush Yu, Astro Lounge was introduced by the radio track "All Star," which began rocketing up Modern Rock charts in May of 1999 (it entered the Top 5 of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks before the month was out). "All Star" was also slated to be the first single and video from the soundtrack to "The Mystery Men," as well as making an appearance in the title sequence of the hit DreamWorks film, Shrek. Says principal songwriter Greg Camp of the tune that seemed likely to make Smash Mouth superstars: "That's sort of our 'Everybody is a Star.' It basically says, 'Don't get down on yourself - with a little bit of spring in your stride, you can do whatever you want.'" Camp is also quick to expound on another Astro Lounge standout, the more pointed "Radio." "It's kind of about our love/hate relationship with radio and the people who have power over it," he confides. "They can really stomp on you if they don't like you. They love you when you're on top - they all want to talk to you. But when you're not .... It's something we didn't realize until 'Walkin' on the Sun' started dying down and we got called 'one-hit wonders.' We don't take ourselves totally seriously, but we do want people to know we actually work really hard at doing this, and sometimes the ups and downs can be tough to roll with."
Smash Mouth has proven since that it can roll with the punches just fine. Since the release of the insanely popular and triple platinum Astro Lounge, Smash Mouth has released five albums to fan's delight, featuring hit singles such as "Holiday in My Head", "Story of My Life", and their cover of The Monkees' "I'm a Believer."
Smash Mouth is one of those rare bands whose lyrics, vocals, and music are on an equally elite level. Smash Mouth has perfected the balance between artistic integrity, technical ability, and presentation.