After far too long away from our shores, Bowling For Soup announced a run of dates crammed into a couple of weeks. Needless to say, the shows pretty much sold out and we were at the opening night in Glasgow. To add to the excitement, we got some time with bassist Erik Chandler before the doors opened for what was to be a cracking night’s entertainment…
Is tonight’s show sold out?
If not then 98% of the way there. I’ve had friends contact me saying “sorry, I didn’t get my shit together in time and now I can’t get a ticket because it’s sold out – can you help me?” and I’m like… maybe. What can you bring me? How many firstborns are you going to collect and present to me?
There was a bit of upset a couple of years ago, but it was always a “see you later” rather than a “goodbye” tour, wasn’t it?
Yeah, basically what we were doing at that point was changing the manner in which we come to this country and tour. There was a point several years ago when we would come to the UK three times a year. Once you get families and wanting to be with them, touring is hard enough but to be out of the country for a month doing 25 shows in a row it gets difficult. You can’t be there doing the day to day stuff and raising the kids. Early last year we realised it was time to think about going back to the UK and how we’d do it. We decided to keep it at two weeks and maybe play bigger venues in more centrally located cities so more people could get there. I think we managed to, even with cutting a couple of weeks off the tour, spread ourselves well enough for most people to get a chance to see the show.
You’ve brought a good line-up again. You seem to have a little BFS “family” who you dip into for support slots.
That’s quite important to us and it’s the way we’ve always been, right down to our crew. Our guitar tech, Tony, will be the first person to tell you he’s not a guitar tech. He’s one of our buddies who we asked to be our guitar tech in 2004. He came out to hang out on tour and ended up with a job he’s had for ten plus year. We like to “keep it in the family” and it helps when you’re touring that you know you’re going to get along with the other people. Especially when you can find groups that fit and you get along with them. It’s a great excuse to hang out with your buddies.
You guys do other work outside of BFS. The last time Jaret was over here was with People on Vacation opening for Patent Pending. The first time I saw Patent Pending was opening for you a few years ago…
The last time I was doing my solo stuff, I was opening for Patent Pending as well. We like to do things like that. We’re not going too far out on a limb, but it’s not quite Bowling For Soup material. There’s a ton of stuff we write that doesn’t make it onto a Bowling For Soup album. We have stretched out and done the occasional song that some people might think is a little outside of what we would usually do, but we try to keep that core sound there. It wouldn’t make sense to change the direction of BFS, because then it wouldn’t be BFS – so we use the side projects to explore other ideas.
The most recent album was Songs People Liked… Volume 1. Is there going to be a Volume 2?
That was the idea, but one of the reasons for doing the album was to take the songs we’d done so long ago and give them the life they could or should have had either due to our lack of experience in the studio or a lack of technology to make them sound a certain way. This was our chance to say “this is what we wanted this stuff to sound like”. But as you start getting further through the albums, do we really want to go back and re-record something and have it sound exactly the same as it sounded four or five years ago? We are discussing what would go on a Volume 2 because the initial idea was to do first ten years then second ten years, but we just don’t know if those second ten years need done.
The track list for it was crowd sourced. Were there any songs that surprised you with their popularity or that didn’t pop up when you expected them to?
There ended up being a lot more track on there than we initially planned. We’d be sitting chilling out when someone would suddenly say “hey, we didn’t think of doing this song” and we’d end up putting it on the list. The list grew a whole lot, very quickly! We did have people suggesting their favourite songs, but we already had the core idea of what we wanted to do. If something had come up that was really popular and we hadn’t thought of it then it would have made it, but pretty much what we’d had in mind was what people were saying they wanted. It was cool finding out that we and the fans were in the same kind of head space about what songs should be on the album.
I have with me a song that another act did – a cover of Girl All The Bad Guys Want and I was wondering if you’d heard it before? [I played Erik a copy of Amateur Transplant’s “Geriatrics” which you can listen to on YouTube]
That’s awesome! Who is that? I’ve never heard it before. That’s frickin’ hilarious!
Are any of the songs you write truly autobiographical? The ones I’m thinking of are “Life After Lisa”…
“My Girlfriend Is An Alcoholic”?
Mmm…yeeeaa [OK, I don’t know how to transcribe a non-committal sound and gesture!]
“I’ve Never Done Anything Like This”?
Oh yeah. Yeahyeahyeahyeah.
Is the girl from “Emily” actually called “Emily”?
No. And I will not tell you what her name is!
Some of the songs are so detailed and they do say to “write what you know”. Like the hair down the drain in “Life After Lisa”…?
That song was co-written by Jaret and Butch Walker. It’s an amalgamation of a couple of girls between the two of them. I got divorced just a few years ago and for the year or so after it was just me and another musician, bachelor friend living together and it was like “dude, I do not have to clear hair out of this shower drain once a week!” so these are true, real things. All the songs that we write have a bit of truth and a whole lot of exaggeration in them.
You have a solo project on the go at the moment which you’re crowd-funding.
Yeah, I’m doing it through Pledge Music which you can check out [at the time of writing, it’s at 43% with 10 days to go – get pledging!]. You can get all kinds of cool stuff, updates and videos! Pictures of my dog and shit like that! I’ve finally got my band in place in Dallas which took a while to get right. We’re a three piece and I’m on the second drummer and second bass player, but finally it clicked with these guys. This incarnation has been around for about a year now and we have momentum. We’re playing shows more than three months apart, more like three or four a month. Before, some of the members were in other touring bands so our dates never coincided. Now I have two guys who are both in other bands but they don’t go off and play so much so it’s much easier to do our own thing together.
I’ve known these guys for almost as long as BFS has been together. We’re all old, worn, bitter, angsty old men and for some reason that clicked. My first bass player was a young guy and he didn’t last too long. The first drummer wasn’t too much younger, but he was under thirty. Now it’s three guys in their forties who’ve been around the world and back. We get each other and are on the same page, getting grumpy about the same things. I had a second guitar player for a while who was slightly older than my daughter – his dad’s birthday is about a week away from mine. He is a superb guitar player, but that age thing just didn’t click. So now we’re a bunch of beardy old men and we’re happy about it!