Pop-punk four piece, Bowling For Soup have been providing the world with music that is destined to put a smile on your face, their comical, playful and self-deprecating humour seeps into their punk rock riffs and have spawned classic hits such as ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want’, ‘1985’ & ‘High School Never Ends’.
Due to their persistence for writing a musical narrative to teenage heartbreak, high school hierarchy and boozy shenanigans it’s hard to believe that the band have been around for over 20 years. With such longevity, it is inevitable for the band to celebrate some anniversaries together and that’s exactly what they did during a recent UK tour, as their album ‘Drunk Enough to Dance’ turned 15 years old.
Arguably this is the album that rocket strapped the band into the mainstream rock scene with radio airwaves filling up with pop punk goodness as tracks such as the jilted love song, ‘Emily’ and the educational, ‘Punk Rock 101’ were played in heavy rotation with their hilarious music videos showcasing the bands comedic side, showing that they were happy to have some fun with the scene as well as never take themselves too seriously.
We had a chance to sit down and talk with the band’s bass guitarist, Erik Chandler and guitarist, Chris Burney about the bands future, the anniversary of their album and how they are now older but more efficient.
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Has it been a difficult process learning the album front to back again?
Chris: It was weird, you know, we played a lot of songs from that album back in the day, 5 or 6 of them, the last time we played them was back in the studio so it’s hard to remember that stuff, first of all because we don’t sit around and listen to that album all the time, so the last time I listened to it was right when it came out so I was unfamiliar with those songs, I kind of remember them but to get them right and into your head where you can just play the song, we have to be like “Okay so this one starts with A and then goes to D” and that’s how you try to get it back, and there’s no muscle memory for the songs like with the other older songs, the muscle memory kicks in and we have a thing where if we’re playing the guitar with either lower or higher notes, once we figure that out it’s like BAM!
With the longevity that you guys have, is it refreshing to see younger people in the crowd catching your set for the first time?
Chris: Every night there are people out in the crowd who are singing a long to these songs and they weren’t even born when the album came out, that’s kind of a cool thing and we mix in all the hits, and stuff as well throughout the set. It’s weird to think that there’s people out there who’ve been with us from the start and then some who are just finding out about us, it’s all pretty cool.
You guys seem to have an affinity with the UK, Manchester especially, can you tell me why you think the UK has taken to your music so well?
Chris: It’s just a cool rockin’ city, some of the best shows we ever had were here in Manchester, we played here at the Apollo once way back in the day, maybe ’05 or ’06 and we did our DVD here “Live and Very Attractive” and the thing with Manchester is, I think it’s one of the first places in this country that we realised were consistently good for our shows and so, it just became a thing where we’d always be looking at the gigs and seeing “Oh man, we got Manchester comin’ up!” It was always a point of excitement and it’s become our favourite place to come and play while we’re in the UK and adopted it as our second hometown.
There was a moment in time where it looked like BFS were done with touring outside of the US, can you talk about what happened to make you guys think the show might be over?
Erik: The farewell was never meant to be a “we’re not coming back” kind of thing, it wasn’t that it was over, there was just a lot of stuff going on outside the band with folks personally and we just needed to take a break and we always said that we’d do this until it wasn’t fun anymore and it’s not that the playing wasn’t fun, it was just harder to do in the capacity we were doing it in and so we spent a little bit of time off and got everything straightened outside of the band so we could get things straight with the band too and then we adjusted our touring schedules a bit, we’re not on the road as much as we used to be.”
Chris: Yeah we were burned out, we’d come over here and play 14 or 15 shows with no day off and even though we hate taking days off, days off for us were boring and they cost money so we’d end up going out and getting wasted instead of resting so it caught up with us, I mean I’m almost 50 and Erik’s 43 so we’re old.
I think it’s quite understated how much time you’ve spent on the road over the years, do you ever find yourself having to reign it in just to stop the burn out from happening again?
Chris: Yeah we still have to reign it in but we only playing 9 shows on this tour for example, but I think some of the venues are bigger so we’re still selling the same amount of tickets but in less days. People can get mad though you know, we didn’t go to Leeds, Liverpool or Southampton, so a lot of places we didn’t go but we try to be efficient and play in areas that are pretty centralised and you guys have trains you know.
Erik: That’s the thing, somebody was on our Facebook fan page tagged me specifically, I don’t know why, but it was like “Hey, why not Leeds?” and I’m like okay, we’re playing in Manchester and you can get from Leeds to Manchester faster than I can get from my house to Bowling for Soup rehearsals so kiss my ass!
Chris: We’re older, fatter and more efficient now.
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It seems that you guys go out of your way to think of new ways to interact and engage your fans at the shows, so can you talk to me about the bar that you guys have put on the stage?
Chris: The bar started because we had our tour manager, back in the day, running about grabbing us drinks the whole show, so we thought “why not just put a bar there?” so now we have people who can actually buy a ticket to hang out at the bar.
Erik: “We had talked about it for years you know, some day we should actually have a bar on stage and then when it became feasible, we thought rather than having our tour manager running around getting us drinks, we just put the bar on the stage and it started off as a little bar on the stage and then the idea grew and grew to what it is now, it got to a point where we thought that with the bigger stages why not sell a ticket to hang out with us at the bar on stage.”
It must have seen a lot of mileage and serviced a lot of hangovers…..
Chris: “We’ve had the same bar for years, we used to have one that by the end of the tour it was just falling a part so we decided to actually make a good bar, with shelves and shit for all the drinks, cups and ice.”
To wrap things up, here’s the quintessential interview question, what’s next for the band?
Erik: We’re heading to South Africa this spring, we’ve got a little run back home in Texas and we’ll also be on the final Vans warped tour this summer.
Chris: Yeah we say a little run back home but Texas is bigger than England. It’ll be fun but there’s a lot more miles there!
The band’s live DVD ‘Older, Fatter, But Still The Greatest Ever’ filmed at Brixton Academy and featuring a full play of the album ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’ will be available in the summer 2018 – More info available here – Bowling For Soup