Interview: Bowling for Soup

Old-hand at the pop-punk scene, Bowling for Soup’s Eric Chandler chats to Greg Talbot about the importance of Twitter, touring taking its toll and playing the hits night after night Bowling for Soup are veterans of the pop-punk music scene. After 18 years and 12 albums, the Texans' longevity and success is undoubtedly evident. The band was originally drawn together by admiration for each other’s' talents and abilities, in an unassuming fashion. According to bassist Erik Chandler, it “started out as hanging out and drinking beers”, but the band did not waste time. “We played our first show a month later, recorded our first album three months later and we just kind of never looked back.” Their most recent record takes the form of Bowling for Soup Presents One Big Happy, a collaborative effort with other bands of their genre, the Dollyrots and Patent Pending. In conversation with Otwo, Chandler explains that the other bands on the album “are pretty much, as far as bands go, our best friends in the world”. With this affectionate sentiment in mind, he explains the motives behind the album: “We toured extensively with both bands, but never together, and they have done shows together, but never with us and it was like, ‘Let’s get the fans together’. Last year we split a 7-inch with the Dollyrots where they did two of our songs, and we did two of their songs and we thought it was a great idea to contribute one new original, then everybody cover one of each of the other bands songs.” For those die-hard fans out there, however, Chandler insists there is little to worry about when it comes to Bowling for Soup getting bored of music, or dwindling off the radar as a stand-alone band. He’s excited to get started working on a new Bowling for Soup record, however he does warn there may be a little waiting involved: “We are in the discussion phases of that right now, that would be in nest year before it would happen, but we are talking about it.” As talk turned to Twitter, Chandler highlights the important role that social media has to play in publicising bands and their music today, and in particular when it came to developing Bowling for Soup's relationship with their fans. “That's one of the greatest new ways to keep in touch with fans. It is immediate; 'I just did this and I'm telling you about it right now'; and they can respond back to you in real time, it is really cool. We have embraced it, and we’re trying to get some people in certain areas of the business that work with us, who are still a little more old school when it comes to things like that, and we’re trying to say this is where it is going.” Twitter making life easy isn’t what has made Bowling for Soup so eager to get in touch with their fans; Chandler was once in charge of responding to as much of their fan mail as he possibly could, before Twitter ever existed. “We always have, especially once Myspace became as big as it was. That was my job, just to respond to all the emails we got on Myspace. And then it is like, we get so many, you start to respond to every third one, and people get their feelings hurt. It’s like I’ve got 1,000 emails here, I'm not going to get to all of them!” Excitement and anticipation is building in fans for the upcoming tour, and the band themselves are no exception to this. “It’s always a good tour. Our October UK and Ireland tour is always amazing.” The lengthy life-span of Bowling for Soup is demonstrated in the confident and meagre approach to preparations for the tour. “Ah, we don't prepare. We’re in and out of town until just a few days beforehand, and then we have like three days to rehearse before we take off.” Though, not to appear too blasé, Chandler reassures us that they “will spend those three days rehearsing, for sure.” Touring America and Europe does take its toll on the artists, particularly time spent travelling this side of the Atlantic: “ It’s harder on us when you tour over there because you are so far away from family, and the conveniences that you are used to, and so your daily routine gets messed up.” Despite this small hindrance, Chandler talks positively about touring in Europe, “The crowds are definitely different. It’s just a different kind of music fan over there, like everyone is there as a community rather than there just by yourself or with your two friends, to be kind of see and be seen.” With having well known hits such as 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want' and 'Punk Rock 101', you would think Bowling for Soup would be tired of performing their more celebrated singles show, after show. Chandler however, says he rarely gets sick of playing the hits. “I haven't yet, I'll say that. I can’t imagine that I would, I can't imagine that you would get tired of playing a song that got such a huge reaction.” All the same, having such a large collection of recordings does help with organising a set. “We have such a big body of work, I guess it’s easy to switch songs in and out, so that you’re not getting tired of any. Songs do get cycled out of our sets, and after a couple of years they make their way back in.” A humble pride of his and his band's work is manifest in Chandler, even still: “There's not one I don't enjoy playing.” As our chat comes to a close, Otwo is assured that notwithstanding Bowling for Soup's immense work load and extensive touring schedule, there are holidays planned within the coming months. “After this tour it is pretty much it, for the rest of the year. We will be taking out annual Christmas hiatus. We fly back to London on November 10th and we will be headlining our bands Warped tour. Then that’s it.” Bowling for Soup play The Academy on October 18th. Tickets are priced at €25. Bowling for Soup Presents One Big Happy is out now.