Bowling For Soup have become somewhat of a household name in terms of the rock scene in the past two decades; if pop-punk were a food chain, Bowling For Soup would most definitely be at the top, sporting a dick joke or two with a plethora of catchy hooks in tow. It’s not long since Bowling For Soup called it a day with the UK and embarked upon a farewell tour of our nation.
However now they’re back with the How About Another Round tour, the words on everyone’s lips tonight as they celebrate the return of the alternative-rock titans. To mark this occasion, we caught up with bassist Erik Chandler and discussed the reasoning for their return, as well as stories about their craziest tours and what it’s like to know your band’s music is a staple of any rock club night across the UK.
BM: How’s England so far?
Erik: You know, it’s freakin’ cold. That’s it. But if that’s the biggest problem that we have, then I don’t suppose we really have any problems. It’s been great, tonight is our third show, first one was in Scotland and then Newcastle last night and now we’re very happy to be back in Leeds. This was the first place we ever played in this country. In the year 2000 we played the Leeds Festival. It was our first show over here.
BM: What made you decide to come back? Because you did a farewell tour of the UK in 2013…
Erik: Yeah, but we didn’t do a goodbye tour. We did a farewell tour. Basically, the whole idea behind the farewell was to let us figure out a different capacity that we could come here and tour in. At that point there were several years that we were here like in one form or another, about three times a year. As we grew older and people had families and more at home responsibilities, to come to another country and do twenty-five days in a row with no days off or whatever, it kind of starts to suck really, really bad. So we were like ‘let’s go home, figure this out, we’ll kind of re-think the way we’re doing things’, so we’d be back once we’d figured out the best way for us to do things. So this time when we came back, we started talking about this tour almost a year ago and there was a lot of planning that went in to make the dates very strategic, so were spaced out far enough that anybody and everybody that wants to come, can get to a show that’s not too far from them, but still keep it down to about two weeks.
BM: How are your supports, because you’ve worked with the Dollyrots quite a few times before haven’t you?
Erik: We have, actually all of the support bands, we’ve toured with Lacey and MC Lars several times as well. We like to keep stuff in the family, for lack of a better term. Well, we like hanging out with our friends. If you know that you can get on with a band on tour, it makes stuff so much easier. It’s like in all of our years of touring I think there has only been one band that we didn’t really get along with, and they just made the entire thing horrible. So it was like OK! We’ll go if somebody invites us, but if we take people out again, we’re not going to take anybody that we don’t know or haven’t fully vetted yet.
BM: Can you tell me who that was…?
Erik: No festivals this year… THIS year. That’s all I can say about that.
BM: How was re-recording the songs for the greatest hits album, Songs People Actually Liked Volume 1?
Erik: It was really, really cool. The thing that blew my mind about it the most was that Gary and I, he and I only spent about two days in the studio doing drums and bass. Which is extremely quick for the way that we do things. Halfway through the first day was like ‘oh… yeah. This is going fast because we’ve been playing these songs for twenty fucking years!’ There’s no re-hashing parts or having to discuss what’s going to go where, or what you’re gonna do here and there. It’s like, this is going so quickly because we know exactly how this is going to go. It was a great time, the whole idea behind that was to give these songs that we initially recorded years and years and years ago, a chance to sound like we initially intended for them to sound, but they didn’t get the chance to sound that way. That was due to lack of technology, lack of our experience in the studio, whatever. So it was really nice to kind of give some of those songs a second chance to become what they should have been in the first place.
BM: Do you have any plans for a Volume 2, the second ten years?
Erik: We’re discussing that, because that was initially the idea but as we started talking about it, to do the second ten years would kind of be re-recording songs that sound exactly how they sounded the first time they were recorded. So we’re trying to re-think the idea for Volume 2, and do something a little different and a little creative, but we’re not exactly sure what that’s going to be yet. So yes, we’re talking about it but we haven’t exactly figured out the whole thing yet.
BM: There’s no rush to decide though is there?
Erik: No, no, not right now!
BM: So, over all these years of touring, what’s your craziest tour story?
Erik: Let’s see… *much deliberation*, there are so many, that’s the thing. I’m trying to pick one that’s worthwhile… There’s a band from the United States, they are not together anymore, but they’re actually doing a reunion this year, they’re called American Hi-Fi. We were on tour with them, and we used to consider ourselves one of the best tour prank bands ever. Until we went on tour with American Hi-Fi. They were all like, went to bed early, got up early. They still kept sort of a normal day-to-day schedule, whereas we go on tour and it’s like up until five/six AM, sleep until four kind of thing. So there was one night, we had them out on the road with us and one night those guys just stayed up and it was like ‘man this is so awesome! You guys aren’t going to bed, you’re hanging out! Yeah, good times!’ So then Bowling For Soup starts peeling off one by one, and we all go to bed. After we all went to bed, with the help of our tour manager, they set up every piece of their gear in the front of our bus. I mean like drums, full guitar cabinets, full bass, they put up a fucking MERCH STAND, printed out setlists… Then at like five thirty in the morning, we’re woken up to what sounds like somebody with a jam-box with busted speakers turned up all the way, standing in the hallway. So I’m like ‘what the fuck is this?!’ and I open up my curtain and the singer is just walking up and down the hallway of our bunks singing at us, while the entire band is just playing the song up at the front. Yeah, at that point all we could do was get up and open another beer and watch the show. But after that, we have not attempted one tour prank at all, since then. That tops everything, we can never, ever, ever beat that, so we won’t even try anymore.BM: How does it feel to know that you’ve inspired so many new bands, and that also (I’m sure it’s the same in the States) but in the UK, any rock club you go into, you will ALWAYS hear Bowling For Soup.
Erik: It feels weird… I mean. It feels great to think that people would say that about us, and give us that compliment. But at the same time it’s a little… It’s kind of strange because this was never… I was nineteen years old! We were doing this for fun. It was never meant to be something bigger than Wichita Falls, Texas. Here I am twenty one, nearly twenty two years later, sitting here in Leeds talking to you guys about it on a fucking tour bus. So it’s all, it makes me feel so small to hear statements like that, because I think that’s not me! That’s other people who have that said about them.
BM: So you don’t think about it often?
Erik: No! Not that I don’t have pride in what we’ve done and accomplished, I know that for myself. I do appreciate it but it’s not something that we dwell on.
BM: So how do you come up with the content for your live show? Is it things you plan or things that just happen?
Erik: Both! Most of the time when something like that goes down, it has started off as a joke that we thought ‘that’s absolutely completely stupid and hilarious, what if we did that?’ and then it’s like ‘oh no wait that is so stupid and hilarious we are GOING to do that!’ It just carries on and carries on until finally we just think ‘yeah we should really do that…’ and all of a sudden the wheels go in motion and you think ‘holy shit we’re gonna do that, this is going to be a thing!’ It’s just fun for us basically, we don’t ever know from time to time if it’s going to go over well or not. But like I said before, we do everything to entertain ourselves, so if people didn’t like it… sorry you didn’t get the fucking joke! You’re lame. But as long as we think it’s funny, that’s seemed to work out well for us so far.
BM: It just seems so natural for you guys to do things like that, it goes along with your songs and your onstage persona.
Erik: I mean that’s the whole thing… We’re happy if people at the show are enjoying what they’re seeing and we’re entertaining ourselves. Anything that is said on stage between us, it’s not like there’s any rehearsal or anything scripted; it’s different every night. But we’re just trying to make each other laugh, or make each other uncomfortable. Kind of goes hand in hand! I’m happy that it seems that people tend to get our sense of humour and aren’t super annoyed by us talking about random shit that they have no idea what we’re actually talking about because we’re not exactly saying what happened, about the thing that happened in the dressing room three days ago. But it’s like if we seem to be enjoying ourselves, then the crowd seem to be too, along with it. We’ve always said this is us throwing a party and you’re welcome to come; if you’re not having a good time, then you don’t have to stay at the party, we’re going to be having a good time so we hope that you would like to stay and enjoy it with us!
BM: Sounds like a good motto to have…
Erik: Yeah, it’s not a bad way to live your life!
Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK