The late 90’s and early noughties were a golden time for all things pop punk, the mainstream charts were awash with bands all looking for that sound which would catch the imagination of the masses, that song that would propel them not only into the hearts and minds of the lovers of the alternative scene but also into the playlists of those whose tastes resided firmly in the mainstream. It was a hard sound to master and even harder to stand out from the crowd.
It’s perhaps a testament to the sheer volume of bands around during that time, that so many have gone forgotten or faded into the annuals of chart history without so much as a defiant middle finger in our general direction. There are of course exceptions, some bands are still active and adored today and some of them are lucky enough to have released an album or two that are regarded as a classics of the time. If you wanted to last, you had to have something that set you apart from the pack.
One of the bands that managed this are the ever loveable Bowling For Soup. It seems a little unfair to categorise BFS as simply a pop punk band; with elements of ska, out and out punk ,good old fashioned rock and the ability to blend it all together with catchy pop melodies they were always just that little bit more than your average band in the scene at the time.
It’s insane to think BFS have been a band for 24 years; I guess the old adage that time flies when you’re having fun is never truer than in BFS‘ case, having recently dropped album number 10 they show no signs of quitting anytime soon. ‘Drunk Dynasty‘ is everything you want it to be from the band – anthemic, catchy as hell and delivered with that cheeky humour we’ve all come to know and love.
BFS released some albums that have stood the test of time and are still included in lists of essential listening for anyone discovering that whole scene for the first time. One of those is the album ‘Drunk Enough To Dance‘, a flawless example of a band that never fail to put a smile on your face – it seems impossible that it’s been 15 years since the album was released. Think about that for a minute, 15 years, yet it still sounds as good now as it did then. I feel old when I realise that I remember this being released so clearly, I remember the lead single,’Girl All The Bad Guys Want‘, being all over the TV and radio here in the U.K. Damn it, I remember being in my early 20’s and loving every second of it. I want that back, or at least some a chance to live it again, just a little taste of the carefree feel of it all.
Sadly I don’t own a delorean or know a Doc. Brown but thankfully I don’t need to because Bowling For Soup are bringing their Get Happy Tour to the UK and, not content enough with just giving us the pleasure of BFS, the aquabats and army of freshman to feast upon, the band have also announced that they will be playing ‘Drunk Enough To Dance‘ in its entirety, not only in celebration of 15 years of its release but in celebration of the fact that it’s just a great record.
I got the chance to head up to London and sit down and chat to Chris and Erik before they begin what promises to be one of the most enjoyable tours of the year.
Broken Arrow: Firstly, welcome back to the U.K.! The buzz about this tour has been huge, aside from an insanely good merch table (seriously,Skateboards, tattoo’s etc) what can fans expect from the Get Happy Tour?
Chris: Disappointment. (Followed by a mischievous chuckle) I mean a good time.
Erik: We’re having a blast, playing ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’ in its entirety and revisiting songs we haven’t touched upon in 15 years.
Chris: A few of them haven’t been played since we played them in the studio, 4 or 5 of them actually.
Erik: We are notoriously not fans of rehearsing, we’ve been doing this for nearly 24 years and its like, what’s the point? It’s not like we’re going to get any better but everyone was super excited to be there for this round of rehearsals.
“Exactly, go nuts! It’s all about having fun!”
Broken Arrow: That excitement has spread to fans here ever since the tour was announced; people can’t wait to come and have some fun. In a world that can be a pretty troubling place, how important do you think it is that, as a band you still provide that escapism and good time happy vibe to people coming to your shows?
Erik: That’s what going to a show is all about, escapism is a fantastic term to use for it because you go and lose yourself in a moment, you don’t have to worry about all the bs going on around you.
Chris: Exactly, go nuts! It’s all about having fun!
“We knew we had something good but we really didn’t know what to expect…”
Broken Arrow: Did you realise back then how special an album ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’ was and that at some point 15 years down the line you’d be playing it in full to old and new fans?
Chris: I don’t think any of us thought ‘this is going to make us world famous’, but when we were making it all the songs were really good. Being in the studio is nerve wracking for me and I’d rather play live but we worked with Butch Walker on that one and he said making rock n roll is easy and fun!
Erik: This album is where I first learned to love being in the studio; it was the one where I think we first all figured it out, you know, our process kind of thing. Now, to go in and record an album is such a fast process, we work really quickly now and I can definitely point to that album being the one where we learned to work efficiently and not toil over it so much that you get burned out by it.
Chris: We knew we had something good but we really didn’t know what to expect, it was our second major label release so we really just didn’t know how it would go.
Broken Arrow: Picking up on the point you made about being prolific in the studio, you released your 10th album ‘Drunk Dynasty’ recently and when that was announced via Pledge it was slated to be an EP….
Erik: That was just nuts…
Chris: We mixed it up how we did things there, we were trying to complete 2 songs a day – rather than track the drums, then the guitar and so on we tried to make complete songs, sometimes 3 a day. We saved a lot of the vocals until the end of the process but Gary would come in and track the drums, then we’d do bass and guitar and it was pretty cool to see a song take shape over the course of a day instead of hearing skeletons of songs over a 2 week period
Erik: It’s a bit more satisfying I think, the whole thing was supposed to be an EP but we finished the EP recording in 2 days. We came in one morning and Jaret just says ‘Ok, new plan, we are gonna record a full length album but we still sell the pre sale at an EP price and once that’s done we will sell it at regular price’. That was cool to still give fans a cheaper option as it was priced as an EP right up until it’s release – it was awesome because we had a couple of days where we had recorded all we had, Jaret would tell us he was working on a couple of things, we’d go back in the morning and we’d learn 2 new songs and then record them in afternoon.
Chris: We still had the studio time so why not!
Broken Arrow: It’s crazy how that came about because it’s such a good album – there’s no filler on there, it’s trademark BFS with its anthemic chorus’ and catchy melodies. Was it a bit of a tough choice to sacrifice some of the newer material in favour of playing ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’? I mean, ‘Drunk..’ is a long record which eats up a lot of show time.
Chris: We joke that we don’t want to be that band that records a new album and shoves it down your throat, no one wants to see us play our new record, they want to see the hits. They want to hear the old songs but we’ll throw a couple of new ones in there, this story is definitely not about new songs.
Erik: There’s just no room in the set, ‘Drunk ..’ is an 18 track album, so we were all talking about set lists, and i started thinking are we gonna have time to play all these songs??
Chris: Plus we’re ooold
Erik: The set is 23 or 24 songs long – that’s a big set. When we did our Farewell Tour a while back we were playing for 3 hours a night and that was only maybe 6 more songs than we are playing on this tour; we are going to have to curtail our between songs talking to each other a bit I guess.
“I think it’s cool that we have managed to become sort of cross generation…”
Broken Arrow: A good indicator of the longevity of ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’ is that it’s still so popular today, if I DJ, there will always be a request for something from the record and people who could only have been toddlers back when it was released will sing every word and enjoy it as much as someone who was old enough to appreciate it at the time. You also have bands today that will cite you as an influence and their sound leans heavily on a scene you were a big part of, that’s got to feel pretty good?
Erik: Stuff like that doesn’t seem real to me, when people cite us an influence it’s like ‘who the hell are we to have an influence on someone’s musical direction’, it makes me giggle but it’s obviously very flattering.
Chris: I think it’s cool that we have managed to become sort of cross generation, like you say there’s people that would only have been kids at the time and they are listening to us now and coming to a show – hopefully coming to all our shows…
Broken Arrow: Well I’m pretty sure they will be, if the social media and general chat about the upcoming dates are anything to go by then this really is going to be something special.
With that I thanked the guys for their time; they looked exhausted having only landed 2 hours before meeting me.
While walking along what has to be the world’s longest hotel corridor with Erik and hearing stories about being on the road I got a real sense of just how pumped the band are to be touring here again, there is a mischievous glint in their eyes and a real impatience to get out on stage.
The band clearly feel a lot of pride for what they have achieved and what they still achieve, the Get Happy Tour will be a celebration of that – the passion for it hasn’t subsided one bit.
Bowling For Soup are entirely comfortable with their place in the music world and perhaps that’s part of what makes them so relentlessly enjoyable, after all, time waits for no one but that doesn’t mean we have to be grown up all of the time. So as Chris said, go nuts! Treat yourself to a ticket, go forget it all for a few hours and have some fun, you won’t find a better soundtrack for it than Bowling For Soup…
Old fan or new, the Get Happy Tour will be one to remember. Check out the full list of dates below…