Things to Do

Smash Mouth powers Smyrna at Night

By Craig Horleman
Posted 5/29/24

With two years under his belt as lead singer of the power pop band Smash Mouth, Zach Goode is loving life.

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Things to Do

Smash Mouth powers Smyrna at Night


SMYRNA — With two years under his belt as lead singer of the power pop band Smash Mouth, Zach Goode is loving life.

“It’s a lot of travel. But the incredible thing is the band is so well known that, wherever we go, lots of people show up. It makes it a lot of fun,” he said by phone from California this week.

“If you had to do all this work to go play an empty show, it’d be one thing. But pretty much every show is many thousands of people that know all the songs. So, it’s definitely a blessing.”

Another huge turnout for the band is expected June 15, as Smash Mouth presents its string of hits to the 10th-anniversary edition of Smyrna at Night, headlining the main stage in front of Town Hall at 8.

The San Jose, California-based quintet, formed in 1994, is known for such hits as “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star” and “Then The Morning Comes,” as well as a cover of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.”

“I’ve been in bands for so many years where you’re trying to win people over with every song they don’t know. (But we) come out there and have songs that (many) will know ... were bona fide hits,” he said. “And there’s another handful that were Top 40 soundtrack songs that a lot of people know. They’re fun to play. They’re fun to have people get excited about.”

Landing the lead singer job around Christmas 2021, Mr. Goode hit the road with Smash Mouth the next year, replacing original lead Steve Harwell, who retired due to health concerns and passed away last September.

A New York City native, Mr. Goode traveled the world and eventually landed in San Diego, where he fronted the award-winning bands Ghoulspoon, Divided by Zero and The Secret Seven, and released seven albums of original music along the way.

“I was kind of doing my thing, and I just saw an ad looking for a new singer. And I just sent in my YouTube page, where I have a lot of covers and stuff,” Mr. Goode said.

“They liked it. And then, they told me to do an audition tape for ‘Walkin’ on the Sun.’ I did that. They liked it. They told me to do ‘All Star.’ I did that. They liked it. That means the conversation continued, and ... one thing led to another, and I went up there and met the guys in the band and came back for a full audition with a bunch of other people, and things just kind of clicked.”

He said it’s been tricky to navigate between bringing his own style to the band and staying true to the group’s sound.

“I’m very aware that nobody really wants to see a new singer. I expected a lot of pushback, and I got way less than I thought. People have been really welcoming and accepting and seem to like what I do. I am conscious that the band has a certain sound and a classic sound with the vocals and stuff. So, I do try to stick pretty close to that,” he said.

“But I do have kind of a unique voice of my own, so I do ... add a different flavor to it, while still keeping faithful to the original sound. As it progresses, I kind of add my own flair on certain newer songs. But, for the classic songs, I try to stick as close as I can within my abilities because (Mr. Harwell and I) don’t really have super similar voices. Some say we do, but I don’t hear it.”

Smash Mouth has been busy since Mr. Goode joined the band, putting out 15 songs, including a cover of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and a Christmas album.

Its newest single, a summer anthem called “Ride On,” was released in April with a video dropping last week.

“We played it live for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and it went over really well. Usually, with a new song, you’ve got to kind of keep people’s attention. But it’s just such a catchy, repetitive kind of earworm. People were clapping and singing along right away. So, that was a very good sign,” Mr. Goode said.

As the years have gone on, Smash Mouth has become synonymous with the “Shrek” animated films — both “All-Star” and “I’m a Believer” were part of the soundtrack of the first movie in 2001.

Additionally, Mr. Goode has lent his DJ abilities to a recent “Shrek” rave, and Smash Mouth concertgoers still dress up like the characters.

“Almost every show, someone’s in costume with the ears or with the shirt, or they bring signs. One show, someone brought a ‘Shrek’ VHS tape and threw it on stage for us to sign. ... I wasn’t hip to people throwing things on stage to sign. So, they gave me the tape, and I was like, ‘Oh, thanks,’ like it was a present. I took it and finished the show and didn’t realize they wanted us to sign it until after the show when it was too late,” he said.

“Our guitar player searched and somehow tracked it down on social media, and we signed it and mailed the tape back to him.”

He said “Shrek” has been a boon to the band.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving. That movie is timeless, and new generations discover it every year, and we’re the soundtrack. So, you’ve got to lean into it,” he said.

‘In shock’

With this being the 10th anniversary of Smyrna at Night, Alyssa Carney, assistant to the police chief and one of the event’s organizers, said she wanted to make a splash with Smash Mouth.

“I was actually shocked that they wanted to come to Delaware, and I think I cried when they said yes,” she said. “I was just in shock. I’m like, ‘(That’s) my childhood. One of my favorite bands is coming to Smyrna, Delaware.’”

Billed as the largest free music festival in Kent County, this year’s edition has 18 acts playing over three stages.

Prior to Smash Mouth, Eric Hutchinson, an international platinum-selling singer, songwriter and touring artist, hits the main stage on South Market Street at 6:30.

He is best known for his songs, “Rock & Roll,” “OK, It’s Alright With Me,” “Not There Yet,” “Watching You Watch Him” and “Tell the World.”

“He’s actually doing his 15th-anniversary tour. He came out with an album of his greatest hits. He’s touring with that this year, so we caught him at a perfect time,” Ms. Carney said.

Also playing will be local favorites, such as Love Seed Mama Jump, Spokey Speaky, Braxton Hicks, Sug Daniels, Nick Kashmanian, Bad Alibi, Bryen O’Boyle and Best Kept Soul.

“We have always had local acts, and it was really hard to choose which ones to bring back this year because we didn’t really want to have the same lineup as we had the last few years. So, we wanted to throw some new people in there,” Ms. Carney said.

“But we did try to keep the originals that have been with us since day one. We have had (Smyrna native) Sug Daniels in there multiple times. Bad Alibi actually had a band member that was a police officer for our department. So, we always like to have them back. They’re all local, but a lot of them are newer.”

The day will also include about 40 merchants, kid-friendly activities like a petting zoo, food and local beer, wine and cocktails. With help from a variety of sponsors, Smyrna at Night will benefit the Holly’s Club of Smyrna.

Ms. Carney said the 2024 rendition should break the 8,000-attendee record set in 2023.

“It’s a huge help to the businesses in Smyrna. With Sheridan’s Pub, St. Patrick’s Day used to be their biggest event, and now, it’s Smyrna at Night. That’s how big it’s gotten,” she said.

“And that’s why it started, and that’s the whole purpose of it. We want people to see downtown Smyrna. We want them to shop the businesses and know that they’re here and come back.”

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