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Reel Big Fish dives back in with new album

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Reel Big Fish have "a little trick" that gets fans to pay attention to its new material.

Trumpeter John Christianson says the California ska/punk group simply doesn't introduce the fresh songs, instead simply charging into them. "The crowd don't realize we're playing a new song 'til we get halfway through. It's like, 'What's this? Oh...'," Christianson, 36, explains. "They're a little confused when we don't announce it a the beginning, but then they get excited about it and get into it, and (the songs) wind up going over really well."

This time out Reel Big Fish is showcasing songs from "Candy Coated Fury," which comes out July 31. Among the selections have been "Punisher," "Don't Stop Skankin' " and a cover of When In Rome's "The Promise," which the group tried out at a sound check in Dubuque, Iowa, and decided "this would make a great reggae song."

The album also makes the Reel Big Fish recording debut of former Goldfinger saxophonist Matt Appleton, but Christianson is confident that what will really stand out to listeners is the quality of the songwriting, which he feels is "the best we've had in a long time." That includes a tune called "P.S., I Hate You," which Christianson co-wrote with group founder and frontman Aaron Barrett.

"I initially wanted to write a tune that was sappy, for my wife," he recalls. "I started writing it thinking 'P.S., I Love You' would be a beautiful song, and I totally forgot about the Beatles song. Then we were in England, on the Beatles tour in Liverpool, and they played the song and I went, 'Oh my gosh...'

"But, you know, 'P.S., I Hate You,' that's a Reel Big Fish song. That's the kind of song we have fun with. We don't do sweet and romantic very well, really."

Reel Big Fish performs Monday, July 9, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $22.50. Call (313) 961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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