Three guys on a red carpet.

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Smash Mouth frontman leaving the band after viral TikTok captured him cursing at, threatening crowd

‘This is not what I wanted,’ says the woman who posted the video.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Steve Harwell, the lead vocalist for Smash Mouth (and one of its founding members), is retiring from the band just days after a viral TikTok captured Harwell going on a bizarre rant on stage.

Speaking to TMZ, Harwell cited physical and mental health issues as the reason for the retirement.

“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a Rockstar performing in front of sold-out arenas and have been so fortunate to live out that dream,” Harwell said. “To my bandmates, it’s been an honor performing with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather gone on this wild journey with.”

“Despite Steve’s best efforts to work through these ailments, he is heartbroken to share that it has become impossible for him to continue doing what he loves most, performing in front of the band’s millions of fans around the world,” a representative for Smash Mouth said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A spokesperson for Smash Mouth also noted that Harwell has been dealing with addiction and other health issues over the past several years including cardiomyopathy (which affects a muscle in your heart and can lead to heart failure) and Wernicke’s encephalopathy (a neurological condition that impacted speech and memory).

Harwell’s retirement was prompted in part by a viral TikTok posted online. Haley, who goes by @doesthisfeelgood on TikTok, posted a video taken at the Big Sip festival in upstate New York from this past weekend. 

“OK, I know the ethics of this aren’t great, but I did just see Smash Mouth perform live at a local beer and wine festival,” Haley explained. “When I say this is the most chaotic show I’ve ever seen in my entire life, I have no words.”

Haley then shared clips of the concert with TikTok’s auto speech feature detailing what was happening onstage as well as transcribing what Harwell was saying to the crowd. There were technical issues like mic feedback and the speakers blowing out. At times, you couldn’t understand what Harwell was saying. Other times, he cursed out the crowd, calling someone in the crowd “a fuckin’ nutbag. He flipped off the crowd with a cry of “fuck you, bitches” and also appeared to threaten someone.

“I’ll fuckin’ kill your whole family, I swear to god,” he said.

In the video, Harwell also lifts his right arm in what appears to be the Nazi salute.

The Smash Mouth spokesperson also addressed the alleged Nazi salute, noting that Harwell “regrets his actions, but this TikTok video is not an accurate representation of the man Steve is.”

Haley, whose profile now includes the disclaimer that she “did not mean to cancel smash mouth,” is overwhelmed by the turn of events.

“This is not what I wanted, this is not what I wanted,” she said. “I mean, I’m the person who was at the Smash Mouth concert because I love Smash Mouth, even though I know how problematic they are. They literally gave 250,000 people COVID, Google it. But this, I never wanted it to come to this.”

What Haley is referring to is Smash Mouth performing at the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic, which became a super-spreader event with at least 100 confirmed COVID cases directly connected to the event—and would eventually lead to an estimated 250,000 cases in the U.S. At the time, Harwell also came under fire for mocking the pandemic during Smash Mouth’s concert at the rally.

In his statement on his retirement, Harwell wished his now-former band well and looked forward to what they would be able to accomplish.

“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,” Harwell said in a statement. “I cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next.”

The Daily Dot