Smash Mouth were hot in 1997! Maybe from all that “Walking on the Sun.” The California band’s debut single hit #1 on the alternative rock chart 24 years ago today and would stay there for five weeks.
They’d formed three years earlier with singer Steve Harwell coming from a rap background and joining an existing punk band. The Smash Mouth song was written in response to the 1992 L.A. riots and guitarist Greg Camp says “basically, it’s a social and racial battle cry…sort of ‘Can’t we all get along?’ song.” Harwell says he was walking around L.A. during the riot times saying, “God, what’s going on?” That theme might sound a bit like another hit from a different California band – War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Fittingly then, Smash Mouth did a cover of that song for their next single.
“Walking on the Sun” was the first of three platinum singles for them at home and a top 10 hit in Canada and Australia. Touring with Blur that year and the single helped push their debut album, Fush Yu Mang to double platinum in the U.S. and doubtless helped them get used on Shrek movies shortly thereafter, with “All Star” and “I’m A Believer” of theirs both getting use in those animated movies.
Smash Mouth are still active, although it’s been some time since they attracted very much attention.