"It's a cool place, and they say it gets colder," chimed Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell in his 1999 mega-hit. For Harwell, those wise, infectious words remain an ultimate truth. Ever since "All Star" became the song that launched a thousand memes, the singer has dealt with health problems, ill-advised social media posts and constantly assaults on his work by just about everyone on the internet. The pressure has been so intense that, at one point, he even yelled at audience members and stormed off stage.
Memes aside, Steve Harwell's career is not over just yet. As the band surpasses their 20th anniversary with multi-platinum records to their credit, Smash Mouth is as great as it ever was. The band still sells out shows and has actually seen an increase in record sales thanks to a Geico ad. But being the punchline of thousands of internet jokes really does take a toll - especially if you're the kind of person who takes his work seriously. Here's what Harwell's been up to since "All Star."
In 2001, Smash Mouth faced the ultimate choice - maintain credibility as rock artists or make a ton of cash. They chose the latter, and the world never let them forget it. Most mainstream music fans completely missed the irony in the song they covered: "I'm A Believer." This was the trademark tune by 1960s made-for-TV rock group, The Monkees, a group created by TV networks to cash in on the Beatles' success.
Shrek, of course, was a massive hit, and the sheer number of times people heard Smash Mouth's cover led to notoriety as "The Shrek Band." It certainly didn't help that Shrek was a harbinger of off-color (or green-tinged) memes that permeated mainstream culture.
If things weren't already frustrating enough for Steve Harwell, the internet has developed a theory he's actually the leader of the Juggalos, arguably America's most-maligned music subculture. There's no denying Harwell looks a lot like Juggalo mastermind Violent J of the rap-rock band Insane Clown Posse. This includes the hair, body type, and penchant for frosted, spiky hair.
To get to the bottom of the theory, consider each group's song lyrics:
Smash Mouth: "Somebody once told me the world was gonna roll me; I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed."
Insane Clown Posse: "F***ng magnets! How do they work?"
If these lyrics aren't from the same person, perhaps they should collaborate.
If you're struggling with credibility issues as an artist, it won't help to hang around with deep-fried king Guy Fieri. Fieri's goatee and strange adoration for bowling shirts made him an international taste-making sensation and widespread internet meme. Steve Harwell appeared on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, where Fieri dubbed him a "brother from another mother."
The internet could not deny the two men's similarities. Some even speculated that aside from the brief appearance together, the pair may actually be the same person. It's obviously not true, but yet another publicity issue with which Harwell had to contend.
It must be frustrating to receive negative comments online every day. Eventually, you're bound to let it get to you and Steve Harwell is no exception. The singer has regularly engaged with haters since the release of "All Star." Unfortunately, anyone who's ever read the social media comment sections knows internet commenters are generally unwilling to reason.
Here are just a couple of key examples of Harwell's online engagement:
Commenter: No wonder you guys were a one hit wonder.
Smash Mouth: #7HitWonder Two #1's
Troll: Would u say the #shrek soundtrack was your musical peak?? I would.
Smash Mouth: Nope, we already had a #1 hit song on every chart in every country and All Star was already top 10 on its way to #1 before Shrek.