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Zach Goode – the new mouth of Smash Mouth

Opened at Casbah for Lucy’s Fur Coat and Deadbolt, then settled into SOMA

Zach Goode’s debut with Smash Mouth was in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Photo above is from November 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida.)
Zach Goode’s debut with Smash Mouth was in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Photo above is from November 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida.)

“Well, like anything else, showing up is half the battle,” says Smash Mouth singer Zach Goode. Goode, a longtime local musician, is talking about the voiceover work he’s done for commercials, including a Taco Bell ad that was a Screen Actors Guild gig. But together with his belief in “the power of saying yes,” it serves as a pretty good summation of his entire career, as long as you note that showing up has always been augmented by his drive to compete for a gig regardless of the odds. “Before covid, it was a little bit easier,” he notes, “but then everyone was home for two years. So instead of competing against Joe Schmo, you’re competing against Will Ferrell and Jack Black and whoever else is sitting at home.”

You know Smash Mouth. You know Smash Mouth, because you know “All Star,” their weirdly enduring 1999 megahit, which has the uncanny power to spark people into spontaneous singing of the chorus and — as I discovered when telling friends that I was interviewing Goode — busting out dance moves to match. It’s an overplayed earworm, but I get why it succeeded, and I will definitely take those dance moves over some dipshit singing “Beth” in gradually escalating volume when they see my KISS tattoo, because that song sucks.

Who knows, you may also know Smash Mouth for their earlier hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.” Or from former lead singer Steve Harwell’s health-related onstage meltdown in late 2021, which was swiftly followed by his stepping away from the band. That’s where Goode came in: during the pandemic shutdown, he took to posting cover versions of songs on YouTube, close to one every other day. That’s what got him noticed by the band, and ultimately, that’s what led to his debut with them in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Most of the band’s gigs are fly-ins, performing one show to a large crowd and flying back home. Not a bad way to tour if your band can command that.)

Theater kid takes the stage

Guadalajara is a long way from San Diego, and even further from Goode’s early stomping grounds as a New York theater kid who did time in Provincetown after his parents split up. That’s where he became hooked on the Beatles and acting — attending theater camps, performing in shows, and forming bands. His willingness to take risks and travel may come from his having been on his own since he was a teenager. “Around 15 years old, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, staying out late, doing things I shouldn’t be doing and having authority issues with my mom. It eventually came to a head, and I moved away right after I turned 16. I lived in a hippie house called 128 where all the other local misfits lived, joined a band, got a night job, and finished the last two years of high school on my own before moving to Hawaii.”

On the Big Island, he worked in a pizza shop owned by the parents of high schooler Jeremy Ronstadt, with whom he would jam. The two hooked up with drummer Doug Alston and bassist Marcus Lowe, but the four of them found themselves frustrated with Hawaii’s lack of opportunities. Ronstadt and company had intended to go to Seattle, but ended up in Tacoma for a year before deciding to move to Lowe’s hometown after parting ways with their original singer. Recalls Goode, “They said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna move to San Diego if you want to join.’ They sent me a demo tape, and I liked it. It was really weird: kind of like metal reggae, funky, like nothing that was really going on at the time. So I sold all my stuff and drove my car across the country by myself and ended up in San Diego. That was right around Halloween of 1991. When I landed, I met the guys in the band and asked them if they’d heard this new band called Nirvana. I said, ‘This album is amazing.’ And they were like, ‘Those were our buddies.’”

Ghoulspoon morphed into Divided by Zero in 2001. Once again, they were recognized by SDMA for their brand of hard rock, but it was clear that San Diego would not be the next Seattle.

The band that formed from that meetup was Ghoulspoon. Almost immediately, they became friends with other San Diego bands like Buck-O-Nine and Sprung Monkey. Goode’s presence altered the band’s sound from what Ronstadt describes as “death metal reggae.” Continues Ronstadt: “We all had so many influences that the writing process was always a bit different. Most of the first album was based on songs and riffs that Marcus and I had already been working on, as well as some fresh new jams during the initial gelling of the four of us. We had been more of a death metal group with funky reggae breaks and some surf style sounds. Zach brought his love for hip hop and rap music into the mix, as well as some more traditional rock influences.”

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Their first gig was an opening slot at the Casbah for Lucy’s Fur Coat and Deadbolt: the original support act cancelled and Ghoulspoon was, in classic Goode fashion, prepared to show up. After that, they quickly found a home at the original SOMA location in downtown San Diego, gaining opening slots in the club’s infamous underground room known as the Dungeon. (When there were no bands playing down there, metal heads made do by playing Slayer records and piling into violent mosh pits. “SOMA was a magical place,” says Goode. “We were super lucky to get there at the exact right time. You had to play an opening spot at the Dungeon first and walk around outside telling people to say the band name at the door, because you got a dollar for everyone that did that. If 100 people said your name, you got to play the main floor. So we did that. We played two shows there, and after the second show, we got to play the main floor. I don’t even know what the capacity was, but it had to be close to 2000 people. It was sold out, with a whole balcony and crazy mosh pits. There weren’t a lot of bands that were our genre back then.” Perhaps as a result, they wound up as direct support for other oddball acts: “We played a lot of weird lineups, with bands like The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, and fIREHOSE.”

That’s showbiz

From the outset, Goode saw the importance of hustling as well as rocking. Long before he put himself out there by posting all those songs to YouTube, he says, “I was really ambitious. We made all our own merch. We did a mailing list, and I would sit there and lick stamps after every show and send out postcards and make stickers. Then I would go out on off nights to support our friends’ bands. It was a cool community. I was just 21 years old from a small town. I had never played any big venues, and within three or four months, I was playing in front of thousands and thousands of people who knew all the songs and bought every T-shirt.”

I ask Goode how he has managed to avoid L.S.D.; he smirks, as if to ask if I mean just this year or over his entire life. I explain that I’m not talking about psychedelics but something possibly more mindbending: Lead Singer Disease. He smiles again. “When I was younger, I got that out of my system. Maybe I was an asshole because of my ego.” Of course, confidence is a necessary quality in a front man, even confidence that borders on temporary narcissism — you need a personality that projects all the way to the cheap seats. Plus, all that hustling can tempt a person to believe his own marketing. But Ronstadt doesn’t equate drive with assholism in Goode’s case. “He has always been quite the confident fellow, to say the least!” says Ronstadt. “I don’t know about his ego getting in the way of our music, but he definitely had his say in the songwriting process. Helping manage the band and being the front man definitely made him seem a bit pushy at times. But he always had good intentions and a heart of gold deep down.”

When SOMA lost its lease a couple of years later, Ghoulspoon felt the impact. “That really changed the whole dynamic in San Diego, especially for our band, because we were a SOMA band,” Goode recalls. “Some of the other bands like Buck-O-Nine, P.O.D., Unwritten Law, and Sprung Monkey all had management and some kind of record deals. They were able to break out into the national scene more, and we didn’t really have that. We had just moved here. We were just kind of a weird band, not super commercial or marketable. So we were kind of on our own. When the new SOMA location opened up, that was in ‘94. We headlined the opening night, but we gradually lost some of our mojo, just by the natural progression of the way things work. We never really gained that headliner status again.”

Ghoulspoon quickly found a home at the original SOMA location in downtown San Diego, gaining opening slots in the club’s infamous underground room known as the Dungeon.

Despite their tenacity and accomplishments — winning a San Diego Music Award for best Hard Rock/Metal performance and moving over 10,000 units with no major label — Ghoulspoon morphed into Divided by Zero in 2001. Once again, they were recognized by SDMA for their brand of hard rock, but it was clear that San Diego would not be the next Seattle — Divided by Zero was not going to shape the nation. “At the time, I thought, ‘Hey, it should have been us.’ And I wish we had gotten a bigger career based on all the work we put in. But I look back, and we didn’t have that big song that could have been a hit.” And whatever happened (or didn’t happen) for him, Goode doesn’t think America’s Finest City was left behind. “I think San Diego really got the last laugh in the long run. Everyone from blink-182 to Jason Mraz to Jewel to Bring Me the Horizon and Pierce the Veil and Slightly Stoopid, who headlined over Snoop Dogg. What an incredible variety of bands came out of there.”

The Geezer crowd pleaser

Divided by Zero went on indefinite hiatus in 2007, giving way to The Secret Seven, whose debut record Turn Your Back to the Sea was nominated for best rock album by the SDMA. Goode also joined Geezer, a band that founder Adam Gimbel describes as “a grandpa-era musical comedy act that started back in 2005 when my band Rookie Card covered the first Weezer album. Our bassist suggested we dress as old men for the show. We brought it back a few years later when FM 94.9 needed a band to audition Weezer fans to be onstage with the band. When our original bassist wasn’t available, Zach stepped in.”

Once again, showing up was half the battle, and Goode and Gimbel’s chemistry was instant. “I’d only known him a few months, but we immediately had old-timey comedy duo chops that rivaled the greats,” says Gimbel. “He only sang lead on a few songs each set, but it always felt like we were co-front men, because he’s such a big presence and powerful singer. When we started rapping mid-set, he was clearly the best of us, having fronted popular local rap-rock bands in the ‘90s.” Goode’s strong chops earned him respect, and added a dimension to yet another SDMA-nominated band. “I’d wanted us to sound more like old men,” Gimbel explains. “But when people tearfully thanked him for sounding so much like [Beastie Boy] Adam Yauch, we let him do his thing. Zach is hilarious, so he came up with some of our best bits. I thought it would be fun to do AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ as ‘O.L.D.’ and gave it to him to write and sing. When he screamed, ‘I’m O-L-D like Samsonite. O-L-D. I missed my flight,’ it literally never got old.”

Rap aside, Gimbel appreciated Goode’s respect for his vision, a trait that would go on to serve him well in Smash Mouth. “Zach has more than enough ego to fill a band with his own ideas, but he was always very gracious and thankful to let me shape what the band was and then give him plenty of room to shine. Having done most of the work in his bands for years, he was happy to have me do the lion’s share, but it was great to have someone who knew how to get things done when I needed help. He liked having little assignments to do within the fun ideas I’d come up with, and like me, he loves singing harmony. Sure, he’d always innocently suggest songs he sang lead on when we were making up the setlist. But it made doing three or four sets a night a lot easier to have someone with such a strong voice stepping up every few songs.”

“That makes PERFECT sense.”

Ultimately, both Goode and Geezer relocated to Los Angeles, where Goode pursued solo work and voiceover acting in his “spare time.” That’s when, and where, Smash Mouth found him. “They had me do a couple video auditions singing the hits, and then flew me up to San Jose to meet with management and Paul [De Lisle], the bass player, just to see if we vibed — and we did. He’s a little bit older than me, but we have very similar taste in both music and backstory. Like Ghoulspoon, Smash Mouth was a band that didn’t really fit in musically — they had a bunch of different styles. They had ska, punk, reggae, pop, lounge, some exotica influences. The difference is, they came out with ‘Walkin’ On the Sun’ and it became a number one single, and that changed everything.”

Goode and De Lisle “talked about influences, like punk, and Fishbone, and the Pixies. Their first tour ever was with Buck O’ Nine, and I’m like, ‘Yeah! I know those guys!’ It’s a small world. I learned a bunch of songs, and they flew me back up there to do a formal audition with all the band members. At that point, they had trimmed it down to four potential applicants, so I started thinking, ‘Wow, I might actually have a shot at this.’”

At the audition, Goode sensed that magical things were happening. “We played six songs together, and it sounded great. I could tell they were liking what I was doing. I flew home to L.A. the night before Christmas Eve 2021. That night on Instagram, it was like, ‘So-and-so started following you.’ One by one, each band member started following me. The next day, the manager called and asked if I could hop on a call [the following day], so that was my Christmas present that year — which was way better than my Christmas present in 2020, which was Covid. Apparently, it was unanimous, and it just turned out to be a good fit, which kind of took me by surprise.”

Ghoulspoon and Divided by Zero bandmate Ronstadt shares his reaction to the news. “He called me on the hush-hush about the opportunity when he first found out about it. At first, I was very surprised. Not my idea of what I thought was his style of music. But he’s always been working hard on his art, and an opportunity like that doesn’t come around every day. Kind of funny! Of course, I was super stoked for my brother, but there was this feeling of, ‘Wow, no way!’ It was kind of surreal, but totally in line with him and his personality.”

Goode also joined Geezer, a band that founder Adam Gimbel describes as “a grandpa-era musical comedy act that started back in 2005 when my band Rookie Card covered the first Weezer album.”

Geezer’s Gimbel was not quite as surprised. “He told a few friends about it in late 2021, and everyone who knows him had the exact same reaction: ‘Holy shit. That makes PERFECT sense.’ No one had any doubt that he had the talent it would take to do it. He’s a bigger guy, with tattoos, and he can be funky on a mic. His old bands might not have sounded just like [Smash Mouth], but they had similar elements. Having someone who looks dangerous but is fun, funny, gracious — and has his act together — must be a huge relief for them. I couldn’t have been prouder or more excited to see it all get started and watch him absolutely destroy, which is exactly what he did. I only told a few people, just so I could see their reaction and watch them go through all the same stages of shock, acceptance, and excitement.”

Goode’s San Diego debut with Smash Mouth came in September 2022; Gimbel was one of the many friends and former bandmates who attended. “We’ve seen him do two shows so far, and smiling that hard hurts my face,” he says. “It is the craziest experience to watch one of your best friends sing some of the most famous songs in the last 25 years with what is now ‘his band’ and have thousands of people lose their marbles. They played a surf contest in Oceanside on my birthday, and he actually remembered my name in the middle of their set. Not very Geezer of him.”

It doesn’t suck when everyone knows the words

Goode is going through some stages of his own, and excitement and acceptance are definitely among them. First, the excitement. “We’re working on a new album now, going song by song, and I want to present a few that are appropriate for their style. They really are one of the most diverse bands. Maybe No Doubt is another example of a band like that. They have the retro throwback ‘60s vibe that Ghoulspoon had. They’re super into Twin Peaks and David Lynch, and we used a lot of that stuff on our artwork in Ghoulspoon. So I’m trying to lean into that mindset when I write songs that I think would be appropriate for Smash Mouth: analyze what elements make up my favorite songs of theirs, and write in that mode consciously.” The practice has given him new regard for previous songwriter Greg Camp’s work. “I didn’t really appreciate how great of a songwriter he was and is until I really deep dived into their catalog. They had a lot of interesting elements to their music and his lyrics. He has a lot of third and fourth verses, which a lot of bands don’t. If he writes a song about a car, it’s every aspect of that car, and it all adds up in the clever wordplay.”

As we talk on Zoom, Goode and I are both listening to the same random Smash Mouth playlist. When their cover of Let’s Active’s “Every Word Means No” comes on, his energy is palpable, despite the screens between us. “I don’t know if they ever played that one live. They haven’t with me yet, and I’d love to do it!” Smash Mouth is known for several of their covers, and Goode made his recording debut with the band in June of 2022, singing on a cover of the web-weaponized Rick Astley hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (That was followed by the original “4th of July,” on which he and the other band members shared a songwriting credit.)

On to the acceptance. “It’s hard when you have a couple of huge radio smashes,” says Goode, “because they get overplayed and you become known for that one thing. You become That Band. But they have a deep catalog of a lot of really good songs” besides the one that makes people “50 and up see us as ‘that Shrek band.’” That’s the magic of the movies. “But then the ones under that age group know all the songs, and have actually listened to the records.” And overplayed or no, “it doesn’t suck to have several hits and walk out to everyone knowing the words to the songs.”

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June's Full Moon is called the "Strawberry Moon"
Zach Goode’s debut with Smash Mouth was in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Photo above is from November 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida.)
Zach Goode’s debut with Smash Mouth was in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Photo above is from November 12, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida.)

“Well, like anything else, showing up is half the battle,” says Smash Mouth singer Zach Goode. Goode, a longtime local musician, is talking about the voiceover work he’s done for commercials, including a Taco Bell ad that was a Screen Actors Guild gig. But together with his belief in “the power of saying yes,” it serves as a pretty good summation of his entire career, as long as you note that showing up has always been augmented by his drive to compete for a gig regardless of the odds. “Before covid, it was a little bit easier,” he notes, “but then everyone was home for two years. So instead of competing against Joe Schmo, you’re competing against Will Ferrell and Jack Black and whoever else is sitting at home.”

You know Smash Mouth. You know Smash Mouth, because you know “All Star,” their weirdly enduring 1999 megahit, which has the uncanny power to spark people into spontaneous singing of the chorus and — as I discovered when telling friends that I was interviewing Goode — busting out dance moves to match. It’s an overplayed earworm, but I get why it succeeded, and I will definitely take those dance moves over some dipshit singing “Beth” in gradually escalating volume when they see my KISS tattoo, because that song sucks.

Who knows, you may also know Smash Mouth for their earlier hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.” Or from former lead singer Steve Harwell’s health-related onstage meltdown in late 2021, which was swiftly followed by his stepping away from the band. That’s where Goode came in: during the pandemic shutdown, he took to posting cover versions of songs on YouTube, close to one every other day. That’s what got him noticed by the band, and ultimately, that’s what led to his debut with them in May of 2022, to a crowd of 40,000 in Guadalajara Mexico. (Most of the band’s gigs are fly-ins, performing one show to a large crowd and flying back home. Not a bad way to tour if your band can command that.)

Theater kid takes the stage

Guadalajara is a long way from San Diego, and even further from Goode’s early stomping grounds as a New York theater kid who did time in Provincetown after his parents split up. That’s where he became hooked on the Beatles and acting — attending theater camps, performing in shows, and forming bands. His willingness to take risks and travel may come from his having been on his own since he was a teenager. “Around 15 years old, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, staying out late, doing things I shouldn’t be doing and having authority issues with my mom. It eventually came to a head, and I moved away right after I turned 16. I lived in a hippie house called 128 where all the other local misfits lived, joined a band, got a night job, and finished the last two years of high school on my own before moving to Hawaii.”

On the Big Island, he worked in a pizza shop owned by the parents of high schooler Jeremy Ronstadt, with whom he would jam. The two hooked up with drummer Doug Alston and bassist Marcus Lowe, but the four of them found themselves frustrated with Hawaii’s lack of opportunities. Ronstadt and company had intended to go to Seattle, but ended up in Tacoma for a year before deciding to move to Lowe’s hometown after parting ways with their original singer. Recalls Goode, “They said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna move to San Diego if you want to join.’ They sent me a demo tape, and I liked it. It was really weird: kind of like metal reggae, funky, like nothing that was really going on at the time. So I sold all my stuff and drove my car across the country by myself and ended up in San Diego. That was right around Halloween of 1991. When I landed, I met the guys in the band and asked them if they’d heard this new band called Nirvana. I said, ‘This album is amazing.’ And they were like, ‘Those were our buddies.’”

Ghoulspoon morphed into Divided by Zero in 2001. Once again, they were recognized by SDMA for their brand of hard rock, but it was clear that San Diego would not be the next Seattle.

The band that formed from that meetup was Ghoulspoon. Almost immediately, they became friends with other San Diego bands like Buck-O-Nine and Sprung Monkey. Goode’s presence altered the band’s sound from what Ronstadt describes as “death metal reggae.” Continues Ronstadt: “We all had so many influences that the writing process was always a bit different. Most of the first album was based on songs and riffs that Marcus and I had already been working on, as well as some fresh new jams during the initial gelling of the four of us. We had been more of a death metal group with funky reggae breaks and some surf style sounds. Zach brought his love for hip hop and rap music into the mix, as well as some more traditional rock influences.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Their first gig was an opening slot at the Casbah for Lucy’s Fur Coat and Deadbolt: the original support act cancelled and Ghoulspoon was, in classic Goode fashion, prepared to show up. After that, they quickly found a home at the original SOMA location in downtown San Diego, gaining opening slots in the club’s infamous underground room known as the Dungeon. (When there were no bands playing down there, metal heads made do by playing Slayer records and piling into violent mosh pits. “SOMA was a magical place,” says Goode. “We were super lucky to get there at the exact right time. You had to play an opening spot at the Dungeon first and walk around outside telling people to say the band name at the door, because you got a dollar for everyone that did that. If 100 people said your name, you got to play the main floor. So we did that. We played two shows there, and after the second show, we got to play the main floor. I don’t even know what the capacity was, but it had to be close to 2000 people. It was sold out, with a whole balcony and crazy mosh pits. There weren’t a lot of bands that were our genre back then.” Perhaps as a result, they wound up as direct support for other oddball acts: “We played a lot of weird lineups, with bands like The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, and fIREHOSE.”

That’s showbiz

From the outset, Goode saw the importance of hustling as well as rocking. Long before he put himself out there by posting all those songs to YouTube, he says, “I was really ambitious. We made all our own merch. We did a mailing list, and I would sit there and lick stamps after every show and send out postcards and make stickers. Then I would go out on off nights to support our friends’ bands. It was a cool community. I was just 21 years old from a small town. I had never played any big venues, and within three or four months, I was playing in front of thousands and thousands of people who knew all the songs and bought every T-shirt.”

I ask Goode how he has managed to avoid L.S.D.; he smirks, as if to ask if I mean just this year or over his entire life. I explain that I’m not talking about psychedelics but something possibly more mindbending: Lead Singer Disease. He smiles again. “When I was younger, I got that out of my system. Maybe I was an asshole because of my ego.” Of course, confidence is a necessary quality in a front man, even confidence that borders on temporary narcissism — you need a personality that projects all the way to the cheap seats. Plus, all that hustling can tempt a person to believe his own marketing. But Ronstadt doesn’t equate drive with assholism in Goode’s case. “He has always been quite the confident fellow, to say the least!” says Ronstadt. “I don’t know about his ego getting in the way of our music, but he definitely had his say in the songwriting process. Helping manage the band and being the front man definitely made him seem a bit pushy at times. But he always had good intentions and a heart of gold deep down.”

When SOMA lost its lease a couple of years later, Ghoulspoon felt the impact. “That really changed the whole dynamic in San Diego, especially for our band, because we were a SOMA band,” Goode recalls. “Some of the other bands like Buck-O-Nine, P.O.D., Unwritten Law, and Sprung Monkey all had management and some kind of record deals. They were able to break out into the national scene more, and we didn’t really have that. We had just moved here. We were just kind of a weird band, not super commercial or marketable. So we were kind of on our own. When the new SOMA location opened up, that was in ‘94. We headlined the opening night, but we gradually lost some of our mojo, just by the natural progression of the way things work. We never really gained that headliner status again.”

Ghoulspoon quickly found a home at the original SOMA location in downtown San Diego, gaining opening slots in the club’s infamous underground room known as the Dungeon.

Despite their tenacity and accomplishments — winning a San Diego Music Award for best Hard Rock/Metal performance and moving over 10,000 units with no major label — Ghoulspoon morphed into Divided by Zero in 2001. Once again, they were recognized by SDMA for their brand of hard rock, but it was clear that San Diego would not be the next Seattle — Divided by Zero was not going to shape the nation. “At the time, I thought, ‘Hey, it should have been us.’ And I wish we had gotten a bigger career based on all the work we put in. But I look back, and we didn’t have that big song that could have been a hit.” And whatever happened (or didn’t happen) for him, Goode doesn’t think America’s Finest City was left behind. “I think San Diego really got the last laugh in the long run. Everyone from blink-182 to Jason Mraz to Jewel to Bring Me the Horizon and Pierce the Veil and Slightly Stoopid, who headlined over Snoop Dogg. What an incredible variety of bands came out of there.”

The Geezer crowd pleaser

Divided by Zero went on indefinite hiatus in 2007, giving way to The Secret Seven, whose debut record Turn Your Back to the Sea was nominated for best rock album by the SDMA. Goode also joined Geezer, a band that founder Adam Gimbel describes as “a grandpa-era musical comedy act that started back in 2005 when my band Rookie Card covered the first Weezer album. Our bassist suggested we dress as old men for the show. We brought it back a few years later when FM 94.9 needed a band to audition Weezer fans to be onstage with the band. When our original bassist wasn’t available, Zach stepped in.”

Once again, showing up was half the battle, and Goode and Gimbel’s chemistry was instant. “I’d only known him a few months, but we immediately had old-timey comedy duo chops that rivaled the greats,” says Gimbel. “He only sang lead on a few songs each set, but it always felt like we were co-front men, because he’s such a big presence and powerful singer. When we started rapping mid-set, he was clearly the best of us, having fronted popular local rap-rock bands in the ‘90s.” Goode’s strong chops earned him respect, and added a dimension to yet another SDMA-nominated band. “I’d wanted us to sound more like old men,” Gimbel explains. “But when people tearfully thanked him for sounding so much like [Beastie Boy] Adam Yauch, we let him do his thing. Zach is hilarious, so he came up with some of our best bits. I thought it would be fun to do AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ as ‘O.L.D.’ and gave it to him to write and sing. When he screamed, ‘I’m O-L-D like Samsonite. O-L-D. I missed my flight,’ it literally never got old.”

Rap aside, Gimbel appreciated Goode’s respect for his vision, a trait that would go on to serve him well in Smash Mouth. “Zach has more than enough ego to fill a band with his own ideas, but he was always very gracious and thankful to let me shape what the band was and then give him plenty of room to shine. Having done most of the work in his bands for years, he was happy to have me do the lion’s share, but it was great to have someone who knew how to get things done when I needed help. He liked having little assignments to do within the fun ideas I’d come up with, and like me, he loves singing harmony. Sure, he’d always innocently suggest songs he sang lead on when we were making up the setlist. But it made doing three or four sets a night a lot easier to have someone with such a strong voice stepping up every few songs.”

“That makes PERFECT sense.”

Ultimately, both Goode and Geezer relocated to Los Angeles, where Goode pursued solo work and voiceover acting in his “spare time.” That’s when, and where, Smash Mouth found him. “They had me do a couple video auditions singing the hits, and then flew me up to San Jose to meet with management and Paul [De Lisle], the bass player, just to see if we vibed — and we did. He’s a little bit older than me, but we have very similar taste in both music and backstory. Like Ghoulspoon, Smash Mouth was a band that didn’t really fit in musically — they had a bunch of different styles. They had ska, punk, reggae, pop, lounge, some exotica influences. The difference is, they came out with ‘Walkin’ On the Sun’ and it became a number one single, and that changed everything.”

Goode and De Lisle “talked about influences, like punk, and Fishbone, and the Pixies. Their first tour ever was with Buck O’ Nine, and I’m like, ‘Yeah! I know those guys!’ It’s a small world. I learned a bunch of songs, and they flew me back up there to do a formal audition with all the band members. At that point, they had trimmed it down to four potential applicants, so I started thinking, ‘Wow, I might actually have a shot at this.’”

At the audition, Goode sensed that magical things were happening. “We played six songs together, and it sounded great. I could tell they were liking what I was doing. I flew home to L.A. the night before Christmas Eve 2021. That night on Instagram, it was like, ‘So-and-so started following you.’ One by one, each band member started following me. The next day, the manager called and asked if I could hop on a call [the following day], so that was my Christmas present that year — which was way better than my Christmas present in 2020, which was Covid. Apparently, it was unanimous, and it just turned out to be a good fit, which kind of took me by surprise.”

Ghoulspoon and Divided by Zero bandmate Ronstadt shares his reaction to the news. “He called me on the hush-hush about the opportunity when he first found out about it. At first, I was very surprised. Not my idea of what I thought was his style of music. But he’s always been working hard on his art, and an opportunity like that doesn’t come around every day. Kind of funny! Of course, I was super stoked for my brother, but there was this feeling of, ‘Wow, no way!’ It was kind of surreal, but totally in line with him and his personality.”

Goode also joined Geezer, a band that founder Adam Gimbel describes as “a grandpa-era musical comedy act that started back in 2005 when my band Rookie Card covered the first Weezer album.”

Geezer’s Gimbel was not quite as surprised. “He told a few friends about it in late 2021, and everyone who knows him had the exact same reaction: ‘Holy shit. That makes PERFECT sense.’ No one had any doubt that he had the talent it would take to do it. He’s a bigger guy, with tattoos, and he can be funky on a mic. His old bands might not have sounded just like [Smash Mouth], but they had similar elements. Having someone who looks dangerous but is fun, funny, gracious — and has his act together — must be a huge relief for them. I couldn’t have been prouder or more excited to see it all get started and watch him absolutely destroy, which is exactly what he did. I only told a few people, just so I could see their reaction and watch them go through all the same stages of shock, acceptance, and excitement.”

Goode’s San Diego debut with Smash Mouth came in September 2022; Gimbel was one of the many friends and former bandmates who attended. “We’ve seen him do two shows so far, and smiling that hard hurts my face,” he says. “It is the craziest experience to watch one of your best friends sing some of the most famous songs in the last 25 years with what is now ‘his band’ and have thousands of people lose their marbles. They played a surf contest in Oceanside on my birthday, and he actually remembered my name in the middle of their set. Not very Geezer of him.”

It doesn’t suck when everyone knows the words

Goode is going through some stages of his own, and excitement and acceptance are definitely among them. First, the excitement. “We’re working on a new album now, going song by song, and I want to present a few that are appropriate for their style. They really are one of the most diverse bands. Maybe No Doubt is another example of a band like that. They have the retro throwback ‘60s vibe that Ghoulspoon had. They’re super into Twin Peaks and David Lynch, and we used a lot of that stuff on our artwork in Ghoulspoon. So I’m trying to lean into that mindset when I write songs that I think would be appropriate for Smash Mouth: analyze what elements make up my favorite songs of theirs, and write in that mode consciously.” The practice has given him new regard for previous songwriter Greg Camp’s work. “I didn’t really appreciate how great of a songwriter he was and is until I really deep dived into their catalog. They had a lot of interesting elements to their music and his lyrics. He has a lot of third and fourth verses, which a lot of bands don’t. If he writes a song about a car, it’s every aspect of that car, and it all adds up in the clever wordplay.”

As we talk on Zoom, Goode and I are both listening to the same random Smash Mouth playlist. When their cover of Let’s Active’s “Every Word Means No” comes on, his energy is palpable, despite the screens between us. “I don’t know if they ever played that one live. They haven’t with me yet, and I’d love to do it!” Smash Mouth is known for several of their covers, and Goode made his recording debut with the band in June of 2022, singing on a cover of the web-weaponized Rick Astley hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (That was followed by the original “4th of July,” on which he and the other band members shared a songwriting credit.)

On to the acceptance. “It’s hard when you have a couple of huge radio smashes,” says Goode, “because they get overplayed and you become known for that one thing. You become That Band. But they have a deep catalog of a lot of really good songs” besides the one that makes people “50 and up see us as ‘that Shrek band.’” That’s the magic of the movies. “But then the ones under that age group know all the songs, and have actually listened to the records.” And overplayed or no, “it doesn’t suck to have several hits and walk out to everyone knowing the words to the songs.”

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