Their recent UK tour came three years after Bowling For Soup had decided that their days of lengthy foreign tours were over. Alan Ewart caught up with front man Jaret Reddick to welcome them back and to find out what changed their minds. Jaret proved to be just as engaging off stage as Bowling For Soup are on it.
Bowling For Soup were over halfway through the tour by the time the show rolled into Bournemouth and the word was that all of the usual madness was still present. Reviews of the show had been excellent so I began by asking Jaret what had prompted the change of heart after their farewell tour.
Jaret said “well the last tour wasn’t so much that we are not coming back, it was more a case of ‘we really need to take a break,’ so that’s what we did. We needed to take stock and to spend some time with our families, we are all in our forties and have kids. We were really in danger of burning ourselves out and the break also allowed us to do some touring close to home which we hadn’t done for a while.
“It was definitely the right move, it allowed Bowling For Soup to get their spark back. We are all up for it and the crowd seem to sense that as well.”
“We had always said we would keep doing what we do so long as it was fun. Once it started to feel like a job we knew it was time for a break.
Louder Than War: Well Bowling For Soup have been almost constantly on the road for years.
“You know we spent like 16-years in the road so a break was overdue, as well as spending time with our families we got some time to do other projects as well. We are now able to spread the shows out more, it’s more ‘doable’ and we are all in a great place.”
“When you’re a band like Bowling For Soup the fans know whether or not you’re happy doing what you do.”
Louder than War: How have you guys managed to keep it going and having fun together for over 20 years?
“Well it’s about that balance. You get to know when somebody need a hug and when they need a kick in the ass. We all get on well and we all know our role in the band and we all know that no-one is more important than anyone else. We know bands that have that inner turmoil where people are fighting for the same role. With Bowling for Soup it’s not like that. We have a formula that works for us. Without any of us it just wouldn’t be the same.”
“We have seen that when we have done other projects, we are lucky as Bowling For Soup in that we all complete each other’s sentences, we know when someone needs a coke or a coffee, it’s an awesome relationship that we do have.”
Louder Than War: Did you find that taking a break acted as a spark for your creativity?
“You know what it allowed us to do other things for a while. My whole life has been Bowling For Soup and my family so it was nice to be able to spend time playing other music and doing something a little different.
Louder Than War: I understand that we are going to see some ‘pop-punk on viagra tonight.’ I know that you have brought a full production on this tour, why did you decide to go down that road on this tour?
“I saw that review. It’s all good we are all taking our meds and we’re ready to rock. We haven’t really had a full production tour in the UK before but we have worked with John Smith and his partner Maya in the past. John called me up and said he thought he could put on a full production at a cost that was manageable. What he has been able to do is way beyond what I expected. Now it’s got me thinking ‘where do we go from here?’ We have had a bar onstage before but this time we are a moving pub.”
“What John has managed to do is beyond awesome and it has gone down really well with the fans so we are delighted.”
Louder than War: Sometimes we Brits are guilty of assuming that Americans don’t really understand irony yet your songs are loaded with it. Is that something that you have to work on?
“You know you guys enjoy sarcastic humour and so do we, the real difference is that you are so dry with it. American humour is perhaps a little more obvious. I have thought about this a lot, trying to understand why my lyrics have struck a chord with the UK audience. I don’t do it deliberatley, I write like I talk, but the UK audience really get me and Bowling For Soup.”
“I like to find positivity in anything in life. Even when my songs are pretty dark and tough to deal with I try to spin it so that the good guy wins.”
Louder Than War: Even when your girlfriend makes you want to be a homosexual?
“Yeah [laughing] yeah exactly. Those are the kind of lyrics that make your record label go ‘do we really need that right there?'”
Louder Than War: I saw Green Day a couple of years back and it is clear that they love playing to UK audiences. I sense that Bowling For Soup share that enthusiasm.”
“Yeah, for sure. There is something about music in UK culture, it is more part of everyday life than anywhere else in the world. It blows my mind when we play something like Download Festival and you meet people who are there camping with their family and it is the only vacation they will have that year, and they do it every year. That’s not something that happens anywhere else on the planet.”
“We have so many like father’s and daughters, moms and sons coming to see us. It might be one of the few things that they do together during the year, but every time we are here they come to see us. There is an energy with UK audiences that you don’t get anywhere else. American and Japanese audiences are amazing but you don’t hear them sing every word to every song. That energy can’t be explained, it has to be felt and it makes touring here very special.”
Louder Than War: Who do you like among the current crop of American punk bands that are coming up behind you.
“Yeah we are seeing a renaissance, we are now being topped by a lot of the newer bands, All Time Low are over here doing bigger venues that us. On the more pop side 5 Seconds Of Summer are great, they have crossed that boy-band – pop punk divide and they are slaying it, they are the biggest thing in the world right now.”
Louder Than War: Do you think that touring with One Direction has hurt 5 Seconds of Summer?
“No not at all. I wrote a song with those guys and they have millions of follwers on Twitter and elsewhere. The only thing is in a way they have to prove all over again that they are a legitimate band. You can’t argue with the sort of exposure those tours brought.”
Louder Than War: So what are you listening to at the moment.
“I’m currently listening to a lot of country music, I’ve alaways had a soft spot for country because of the ability to tell stories. It’s nice to listen to something you don’t have to overthink. When I hear things that are deeper and more poetic I am consumed by it, I have to dive in and absorb it.”
Louder Than War: Hopefully you won’t mind talkin about crowd-funding. You have crowd-funded your last two albums, how did you find that whole experience?
“You know crowd-funding was something I understood really early. I did it with a couple of side projects, what I learned was it is not about the money. It is more about the connection you achieve with the fans. I think some bands have gone into it purely to fund the next album. What Bowling for Soup have been good at is the engagement, I think the fan who invests in a project comes away feeling ‘I was a part of that.’ Thats really important because the fan is the label now.”
“We did something where if someone pledged $250 we took them out for dinner and drinks. There wasn’t one where we spent under $500 but we had a blast and enjoyed the interaction.
Louder Than War: So are we going to see a second 10-years anthology?
“Yes probably eventually. I get asked that a lot but at the moment we want to concentrate on new music. We will probably do it a little differently by releasing four EP’s over the course of a year so that it all adds up to a whole.”
Louder Than War: Will we see you at any UK festivals this summer?
“Not this year but next year for sure, though you never know, if someone has an empty slot and ask us, stranger things have happened.”
Louder Than War: Is there a question you always hope an interviewer will ask but they never do?
“No, not really. I like to think I am a pretty open book. In interviews I tend to talk about what I want anyway. We used to have a thing where we would try to derail interviews because everyone sked us the same stuff. We would try not to answer any questions and just keep throwing the subject around. Eventually we got so good at that the record company had to ask us to stop.”
Words And Photographs by Alan Ewart: you can follow Alan on Twitter at @soundofmysummer or on the internet at soundofsummer.org and you can read more posts by Alan at his Louder Than War author’s archive