Whatever Happened To Smash Mouth?

"Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me..." It might not feature the lyrical depth or complexity of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but it's tough to find someone on planet Earth who doesn't know the opening line of Smash Mouth's "All Star." While most people undoubtedly recognize the Californian band for this sole song and its appearance in "Shrek," they are far from one-hit wonders.

Formed in 1994, Smash Mouth never stayed within the confines of genre. As founding member and longtime lead singer Steve Harwell told NY Rock: "We wanted to write songs that feel good to us and make others feel good." Throughout the years, they created a radio-friendly sound borrowing elements of pop, punk, and ska, even tackling a few cover songs in the process.

Despite being around for decades and continuing to tour and release albums, Smash Mouth hasn't been in the limelight as much as it once was in the early 2000s. That doesn't mean the band has gone away, though. From starting an internet feud with Taylor Swift and her Swifties to the tragic death of Harwell in September 2023, let's take a look at what Smash Mouth has been up to since the band's heyday.

Smash Mouth almost didn't make it onto the Shrek soundtrack (2001)

Ask the average person what they believe Smash Mouth's biggest claim to fame is, and most will say it's their song "All Star," appearing on the soundtrack of 2001's "Shrek." While there's no disputing the green ogre and his fairy-tale friends helped the band reach a wider audience, "All Star" had already been a smash single, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 in 1999. DreamWorks noticed this, but the animation studio had other designs for the music for "Shrek," as per The Ringer.

In the production process for the film, DreamWorks used "All Star" as a temporary track for the film's opening scene. However, the team felt the song had been everywhere in the years prior and feared it would be overkill to use it in the movie. The solution was to ask one of DreamWorks' signed artists, Matt Mahaffey, to record a track that had a similar vibe to "All Star" and could work for the film's tone. After teaming up with producer Eric Valentine, who actually produced "All Star," Mahaffey believed he had cracked the code and delivered a hit. However, this all changed when a cut was shown to DreamWorks Animation's then-CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Reportedly, Katzenberg asked why "All Star" wasn't used instead. The rest, as they say, is history.

Their next album bombed hard (2003)

Thanks to the popularity of "Shrek," "All Star" continued to roll on, becoming the earworm that never goes away and everyone knows the words to. It also appeared as if Smash Mouth was achieving some real momentum, since 1999's "Astro Lounge" and their 2001 self-titled album peaked at No.'s 6 and 48 on the Billboard 200 chart, respectively. Naturally, the expectation was that their follow-up album would continue to build upon the earlier success — perhaps even debut in the coveted No. 1 spot.

Unfortunately, 2003's "Get the Picture?" failed to ignite the charts or catch the public's attention. The album performed worse than previous efforts, peaking at No. 100 on the Billboard 200, while also lacking a strong radio-friendly track in the same vein as "All Star" or even "Walkin' on the Sun." Arguably, the album's biggest single was "Hang On," which was featured in the 2003 film "The Cat in the Hat," starring Mike Myers as the titular character (via IMDb). Ultimately, "Get the Picture?" proved to be Smash Mouth's final album for Interscope Records.

The members started to depart (2006-2008)

In life, the only constant is change. Musicians know this all too well, as it's rare to see a band finish with the same members it started with. Smash Mouth has experienced its fair share of people coming and going, too, with bassist Paul De Lisle as the sole founding member still in the band, according to Variety. However, the group was relatively stable from the late '90s to the mid-2000s, until drummer Michael Urbano and guitarist Greg Camp departed.

Urbano left the band in 2006. Speaking to Rolling Stone about his decision to leave when he did, he said, "Things were spinning out of control. I think that there were just differences of opinion about what we should do, and what direction we should take. It was time for me to go."

Camp parted ways with Smash Mouth in 2008. According to the guitarist's comments to The Mercury News at the time, trouble had been brewing and he wasn't getting along with another bandmate. "It was just one of those things where either me or one of the other people in the band had to leave, and if that person left, then that band wouldn't be together anymore," he said. Both Urbano and Camp did return to play with Smash Mouth later.

They feuded with Third Eye Blind (2014)

In the world of rock 'n' roll, there are numerous bands and musicians who have serious beef with each other. For example, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose had a storied feud that lasted ages. Weirdly enough, Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind also had some tension between them, but the reason for their animosity doesn't seem too clear or obvious.

At 2014's BottleRock Napa Valley, Smash Mouth's then-lead singer Steve Harwell took a shot at Third Eye Blind during the band's performance. According to reports from fans at the event (via SPIN), Harwell took to the stage and said, "Third Eye Blind can suck my d***." It wasn't the first time the singer had derogatory things to say about Third Eye Blind or their singer Stephan Jenkins, whom he described colorfully in a previous interview.

However, Smash Mouth's manager Robert Hayes denied there were any real issues between the bands. He told The Washington Post that it's all harmless banter between professionals. "Steve [Harwell] pretty much has a long history of poking fun at Stephan Jenkins," he said. "There's no true bad blood there. They've toured and done shows together for quite a while."

The singer cussed out an audience for throwing bread at him (2015)

Performing live isn't for the fainthearted. Forget about the audience throwing eggs or rotten tomatoes at musicians they don't like — some of them have had bottles of urine (or worse) flung at their heads while playing their tunes. Having been around the block, one would expect Smash Mouth to be adept at dealing with hecklers and hurlers in the crowd. Yet, vocalist Steve Harwell wasn't seeing the funny side of the audience throwing food at him during a 2015 performance, as per TMZ.

Appearing at a Colorado food festival, Harwell was left unimpressed when the crowd chucked slices of bread at him while he sang on stage. Video footage of the event showed Harwell cursing and threatening physical violence against the audience members for their actions. At one point, he wandered out into the crowd and looked like he was ready for a showdown with anyone who would step up before a security guard intervened. Harwell seemingly calmed down and returned to the stage to belt out "All Star."

The band became a meme (2017)

Some people make history, others make memes. Both are equally important for the future of human civilization and should be encouraged. While Smash Mouth's "All Star" was the anthem of the late '90s and early 2000s, the song also experienced a resurgence in popularity in the late 2010s. The fad stemmed from content creators who decided to make their own inventive remixes of the song and post them on the internet. As per The Daily Dot, some creators sang the unmistakable lyrics of "All Star" over the music of other songs, such as Adele's somber tearjerker, "Hello."

While some musicians may take offense to becoming a meme, Smash Mouth embraced it. Speaking to The Daily Dot, Steve Harwell said, "Our standard answer is 'Hey We Invented The Meme.'"

In a separate discussion with Rolling Stone, guitarist Greg Camp admitted it's humorous to see all the memes and songs created, and that Smash Mouth is okay with it. Interestingly, he revealed that from a technical perspective, "All Star" is actually ideal for remixes and mash-ups because of its specific key, tempo, and melody.

The shadow of All Star loomed large (2019)

In June 2019, Rolling Stone put together a retrospective piece about Smash Mouth that looked at the band 20 years after the release of "All Star." The expansive article interviewed various members of the band — past and present — as well as some of the key players in the group's history. While everyone agreed "All Star" was the song that changed everything for the band, guitarist Greg Camp also put matters into perspective by talking about the flip side of the song's unparalleled success.

"It's bittersweet," Camp said. "Once you do something like that, everyone expects you to keep on doing it. Your bandmates, your managers, your record label, everyone's just like, 'Yeah, just do that again. Just write another one of those.'"

Camp explained how there were various factors that contributed to the overwhelming popularity and success of "All Star," and it wasn't as easy to replicate it as some people might imagine. In a way, it was like Smash Mouth had captured lightning in a bottle by being in the right place at the right time. While the song catapulted them into the sphere of popular culture, it also loomed over them — and nothing they ever did from then on could top it.

Smash Mouth thought their masters were destroyed (2019)

In 2008, a fire rocked the music industry. The backlot of Universal Studios was engulfed in flames and some Universal Music Group (UMG) artists lost their master recordings in the process, as per The New York Times' report. Unfortunately, many of the musicians impacted didn't find out about the fire until the report's release a decade later. That being said, UMG disputed the accuracy of The New York Times' findings, as per Variety.

Initially, Smash Mouth believed they were one of the groups who lost the masters to their songs recorded for Interscope (which is a part of UMG). In a statement to SPIN, the band said their loss was nothing compared to the devastation other people had experienced due to uncontrollable fires that had claimed lives, homes, and livelihoods in the California region.

Later, the band tweeted out that their masters were not impacted by the fire after all. The record label had informed them their music was still in safe hands.

Smash Mouth threw shade at Taylor Swift and the internet responded (2020)

Social media doesn't have many rules. After all, it's the Wild West of the digital space. Anything goes and people run rampant like hooligans. However, there is one law everyone must abide by: Thou shall not slander Taylor Swift. Smash Mouth learned this the hard way after posting a now-deleted tweet where they referred to Swift's 2020 album, "Folklore," as "borelore" (via Yahoo). Whether they were being serious or horsing around was irrelevant, since the internet took notice of the transgression and instantly reacted.

The self-proclaimed Swifties, in particular, were having none of it, taking to the platforms to let Smash Mouth know what they thought of their comment and music. One person who made his feelings very clear was "Teen Wolf" star Dylan O'Brien, tweeting "F*** Smash Mouth." The backlash toward the band was intense and unrelenting, as fans weren't about to let them get away with their one-word review of Swift's new album. In the end, Smash Mouth deleted the tweet, which was probably the wisest thing to do.

Their pandemic concert was identified as a superspreader event (2020)

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. The world shut down as everyone tried to contain the spread of the virus. One of the industries that was the most affected by the collective shutdown was live entertainment. Many groups couldn't hit the road or perform to a wide audience, since the threat that COVID-19 would spread among people in close spaces was too great. When live music slowly started to return, there were regulations put in place to control the number of people allowed in a venue, mandate the use of masks, and keep social distance between concertgoers.

Smash Mouth found itself embroiled in controversy when one of its concerts was identified as a superspreader event by the Independent. Reportedly, more than 100 people tested positive after attending an August 2020 concert in South Dakota. What made matters worse was how the event was purportedly packed to the brim with people who weren't wearing masks. According to the report, Smash Mouth vocalist Steve Harwell took the opportunity to tell the crowd: "F*** that COVID s***."

The voice of Smash Mouth calls it a day (2021)

Smash Mouth without vocalist Steve Harwell is like cereal without milk — it just feels unnatural. However, in 2021, fans had to make peace with the fact that, while diamonds are forever, band lineups aren't.

Speaking to TMZ, Harwell announced his departure from Smash Mouth, saying: "To our loyal and amazing fans, thank you, all of this was possible because of you. I've tried so hard to power through my physical and mental health issues, and to play in front of you one last time, but I just wasn't able to."

According to TMZ's sources, the singer's health had rapidly deteriorated over the years, with Harwell experiencing numerous issues that impacted both his everyday life and performance levels. After a Smash Mouth show at the Big Sip made headlines for all the wrong reasons, namely because of Harwell's eccentric behavior during the set, the decision was made to call it a day. Harwell's representative told The New York Post that the singer was "heartbroken" to have had to make the decision but there was no other way he could continue due to his health issues.

The band announced a new singer and Rickrolled everyone (2022)

While many bands have forged ahead with new lead singers, there was a question mark surrounding Smash Mouth after Steve Harwell's departure. Unquestionably, a large part of the band's success was due to his instantly recognizable voice and tone. Would another vocalist be able to pick up the mic and belt out "All Star" in the same way as Harwell?

Chatting to Audacy's Kevan Kenney, bassist Paul De Lisle explained how Smash Mouth had known about Harwell's health issues for a while, so they were prepared when the inevitable happened. The band had long decided they wanted to carry on, so they put out a call for a new singer, and Zach Goode stepped up. Goode explained how he decided to email the band out of the blue, thinking they would never respond to his message. When they did, the conversation started between the different parties.

Shortly after announcing Goode as the new singer, Smash Mouth unveiled a brand-new single. It wasn't an original number that showed off Goode's versatility or the direction the band's songwriting would take moving forward, though. Instead, it was a cover of Rick Astley's troll-worthy smash-hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Steve Harwell passes away (2023)

Almost two years after Steve Harwell announced his departure from Smash Mouth due to health issues, band manager Robert Hayes confirmed to USA Today that the singer died at the age of 56 on September 4, 2023. A day earlier, news broke that Harwell had experienced liver failure and was receiving hospice care at his home with the outlook being that he didn't have long to live. The vocalist had experienced several health issues after his cardiomyopathy diagnosis nearly a decade earlier.

In a statement, Hayes revealed that Harwell "passed peacefully and comfortably." In addition, he praised Harwell's achievements in the music industry and how he attained superstardom even though he wasn't a trained musician. "His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition," Hayes stated. "Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him."