BADFISH: INTERVIEW WITH BASSIST JOEL HANKS: KEEPING THE MUSIC ALIVE

By: Suzanne Sanchez

 

 

Beyond the scope of music lies the passion, determination, & pure drive that eliminates all the bullshit. BADFISH will ignite your soul !
Over 2o years, easily 1000’s of shows this band of bad asses have reigned the touring circuit. Moved by their charisma and true talent, I can tell you these guys are nothing short but a phenomenon. BadFish, A Tribute to Sublime, are known throughout the country. Their fan base is ageless, along with the continuity of the band’s commitment to music has driven this band to their success today. Their tours have run endlessly throughout the years.. Inspired by Sublime, these gentlemen dove in head first no doubt. Their love for Sublime would translate into their music.
With such a massive fan base there’s no denying they have continued to annihilate the music industry. Again, not just a tribute band, but a true legacy of Sublime carrying the torch of the music that will never die. BADFISH has shared the stage with the heavy hitters of rock/reggae such as , Roots of Creation, Bumpin Uglies, The Expendables, and 100’s more. I was completely stoked to have an opportunity to chat with Joel, the bassist of Bad Fish. We discussed music, family, and the sustainability of being on the road.

 

 

 

Joel

We just played a show at the Indian Ranch in Massachusetts. It was amazing. It's an awesome yearly show where people are bringing their kids. We’ve been playing there for years! This is an
interesting spot. A lot of people I talked to yesterday are people that have been coming to see us for a very long time. We were off stage at 4:30 pm; no complaints.

 

Suzanne-

Did you guys play with anyone?

 

Joel-

Yesterday we had a Dave Matthews tribute band play. It was fun and the place was perfect for it. The fans were a little bit on the older side of what is usually the age range that comes out to our shows. The demo of this venue is slightly older, but it was awesome. It’s an RV park that has this nice amphitheater hang out situation; really unique.

 

Suzanne-

Tell me about the band members. Has it been the same guys since the beginning?

 

Joel-

It’s 4 members all the time and then sometimes we’ll bring in a 5th or 6th, depending on the city or the venue. Me, Scott, Pat, and Danny are typically 4 band members full time. Dorian was with us for a long time, but he’s currently taking a break.

 

Suzanne-

You guys have fans of all ages. It’s nuts, everyone knows who you are.

 

Joel-

I mean, luckily people still like Sublime. Even the younger people are still getting into it. It’s becoming classic rock on some levels.

 

Suzanne-

It’s weird, isn’t it?

 

Joel –

What’s even more weird is that some of these kids are coming to the shows now. I am like, Oh, I used to coach that kid in soccer, standing front row at a friggin BadFish show. (haha) Where did this time go?

 

Suzanne-

Oh my God (haha). I saw Sublime at the Milk Bar in Jacksonville, FL way back in the days. Have you guys ever played that venue?

 

Joel-

Actually Badfish didn’t, but I was in a ska punk band in high school and we played the Milk Bar. I learned everything I didn’t want from that band.

 

 

Suzanne-

You just had opposing personalities or something, non-committed, or the whole nine?

 

Joel-

It was sleeping in vans, on people’s floors, eating horrible food. It was horrible. Obviously, it sucks when you’re not making any money and you can’t do anything. It was rough, man.

 

Suzanne-

Two decades now and you guys are killing it more than ever! How do you guys stay so cohesive? How do you stay mentally and physically strong through it

 

Joel-

I think everyone has their own routine to stay healthy physically and mentally as it can be really hard on the road. No matter how you do it you have to get from point A to Point B. Plain, train, car it doesn’t matter what level you’re at. A lot of the stuff during the day is moving around. That’s the downside of it. For me I go through waves where I am working out a lot, but then you go through your times where you’re too busy. So, it depends on the routing of the tours. If the cities are close to each other, there’s really no time. You wake up, drive, soundcheck, eat dinner, shower and then go on stage.

 

Suzanne-

Do you guys travel on a tour bus?

 

Joel- 

Things are good right now. We take 2 vans. We have done the tour bus. We have a crew that shows up earlier, gets the stage ready, and that allows the band to get a couple extra hours of sleep
every day. Sleep is the most important thing on the road. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a tour bus but it’s not exactly the most fun thing.

 

 

Suzanne-

People don’t realize how much work it takes to keep live music going. All the behind the scenes stuff; it’s a lot of work!

 

Joel-

I’m very involved in the music business. I booked some of the dates, and the behind-the-scenes stuff. It can get hectic sometimes.

 

Suzanne-

How do you juggle family life with the music biz?

 

Joel: 

My wife and son have been able to go on tour with me. They’ve been selling the merch this summer. It’s also great that I get to see them more often. I wish we could have done this forever. It’s
been awesome!

 

Suzanne-

How old is your son?

 

Joel-

14 years old. I love my kid! We have a great time. We all picked up surfing this past summer in Rhode Island, and we surf whenever we can. There’s not always waves but we hit it when we can.

 

Suzanne-

Oh I’ve heard stories about the swells up north.

 

Joel-

Yeah, especially during hurricane season. So this summer since my kid started coming to the shows my kid started grinding on the guitar and he’s learning to play all these songs. I’m like, he can just take over for me in like 5 years!

 

Suzanne-

What drew you to music initially?

 

Joel-

I started playing when I was 10 years old. Then in high school I was like let's drink some beers and start a band! (haha) That how that started. I was into the ska punk scene. Sublime was a natural draw, it’s got that mix of ska punk and reggae. It was so much better than anything else out there. Sublime was my favorite band. Back then, I was like ska and punk all the way. . But now I’m more appreciative of music in itself. The talent and the song writing ; all of it. I have gotten a much more different perspective later in life.

 

Suzanne-

I watched so many videos of you guys. Your fans go crazy. And you guys are maniacs. I love it. I’ve been to some serious metal shows, and I’ve worked with some of the craziest. But I have never seen a singer stage dive, and crowd surf while playing the guitar and singing. This was the gutsiest move I’ve ever seen. I was stunned beyond belief.

 

Joel-

(haha)  You know, we are still having fun and a lot of it is how much fun the crowd is having. I think there’s that direct correlation in both the crowd and the fans feeding off each other. We are lucky these people know the songs and if you were a Sublime fan you can sing the songs front to back. The shows are like a huge party.

 

Suzanne-

You guys have such a following!

 

Joel

You know, no one usually plays this long in bands. I mean no one does it. But we did it. Our first tour started in Key West over 20 years ago. In hindsight, that was really one of the smartest things we could’ve done without even knowing it. Florida is such a good scene for what we are doing. Maybe I could speculate that, but you know we went down and did the work and played all these markets and now it’s amazing. We play huge festivals now. We are playing a huge festival in Jacksonville in September. In fact, one of the bands that are playing that show Fayuca from Phoenix, Arizona is how we got the 4th band member Danny and he still writes for them, and he is still involved with them.

We also have other bands jump in and play with us in shows. Here’s a really good story.. so we showed up in Philadelphia 5 years ago. Our singer was sick. We got him to the hospital and then we got back for a sound check. We didn’t know what to do. Are we going to have to cancel?

So, at some point I’m talking to the opening bands and I’m like does anyone know Sublime songs? The other singer in the opening act said he knew 10 of them, and then we started practicing and a band member in the other band says I know these 4 songs. We literally backstage built this set with these two singers. At this point we knew our singer was not going to be ok to sing, so we had to make a move. We said fuck it, lets try to pull this off. It was so fun and we were so grateful!

 

 

Suzanne

What’s the wildest show you’ve ever played?

 

Joel-

So Buffalo always has free concert series. It was a big thing for 6000-7000 people at least usually. So it was going to be us , Reel Big Fish, and for whatever reason there ended up being over 20,000 people estimated. One of the few times I’ve ever been nervous. I was holy shit looking into the sea of people. I walked on the stage, and I couldn’t even look up. It took me 3-4 songs just to feel comfortable. It was wild!

-Here’s another story. One time we played a show at the Stone Pony with the band” State Radio”.. The show was sold out. It was such a huge crowd and so close together, they started swaying dangerously and we finally had to stop the show and tell people to help get more in control of the crowd. It was a scary situation. I’ve been in a crowd like that before when I saw The Mighty Mighty Bosstones back in the day. When you are in that sway you’re fighting to stand up and not fall.

-Another time at a show someone rushed the stage and attacked our singer. Some venues have average security, but this time this guy slipped past them. We had countless people get on the stage before. But this dude was tackling the singer. Turns out this guy thought the singer was fucking his wife and he doesn’t even have a wife! Crazy fucked up situation.

 

Suzanne-

Some music coming out soon?

 

Joel-

We have our live albums, but it’s been a minute, so we are thinking about getting some music out there soon and definitely with Danny in the band !

 

Suzanne-

I bet you guys are stoked to be touring again. I mean, to think of live music not existing is definitely something I cannot grasp in my brain.

 

Joel-

All the outdoor events are going so much better than last winter when we did a tour. There were covid
restrictions and so much chaos. It was insane.

 

Suzanne-

Your band is doing such a great thing in this world! You guys have a huge impact on people.

 

Joel-

You touched on exactly how I feel our country needs this more than ever. People need to forget about all the fucked-up shit that’s going on. Just have fun, let go ,and heal

 

Suzanne-

Any last words?

 

Joel:

We feel so fortunate to be able to travel and have all these fans. The message is that hopefully this will stay alive. I hope people keep going to live shows to be a part of it. As you touched earlier most people don’t understand what it takes and how difficult it is for bands. We’ve never taken it for granted. Especially since all the chaos in the past couple years. Live shows cannot die.

 

 

CATCH BADFISH ON ROAD COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU!

 

Band:

Joel Hanks-Bassist
Pat Downes- Vocals
Scott Begin-Drummer
Danny Torgersen- Trumpet

 

 

 

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