Bowling For Soup Interview - November 2013

by Jodie Humphries
Photos by Simon Lawrence

Bowling For Soup

It’s fair to say that Bowling For Soup are a band that remind me of my teenage years. While I don't look back fondly on some parts of my teenage years, music is a different story. Back in 2010 I was lucky enough to review Bowling For Soup at the Bristol 02 for the first time; two years later in 2012, the same thing happened. Roll on 2013, not only was I reviewing Bowling For Soup for Live-Music-Scene, but I found myself on a tour bus interviewing Erik Chandler less than an hour before they graced the stage to a sold out crowd.

With a mixture of nerves and excitement in hand for both myself and Simon, we settled down on the tour bus with Erik as he chatted freely and relaxed about the band and the tour, even thanking us for coming back when we said it had become our tradition. “The hour has been absolutely amazing. It’s super cliché to say that each night is better than the one before, but every show has been exactly on par with every other show, so it’s just been a really great experience. We’re using a setlist for the first time ever, just because the whole tour culminates on the last show with the filming of a DVD in London, so we’ve been using a setlist to get the production right, the lights, the flimflam stuff that goes off worked out, to make sure it’s all perfect before we shoot the DVD. For me, the first few nights being tied down was really weird as I’m not used to checking what song is next and stuff like that, but it’s worked itself out quite nicely at this point.”

With many thinking this tour was the last the UK would see of Bowling For Soup, Erik was quick to reassure it wasn’t the end. “Well the farewell tour is just farewell, it is not goodbye. We will be back to do festivals and maybe one off dates, that sort of stuff. We’re just slowing down because of family and home lives; wives, girlfriends, kids, dogs, cats, you know, that kind of thing. This far into it, it just doesn’t make sense to us to be 4000 miles away from home for three or four weeks at a time, so we’re just trying to slow that down just a little bit. When we go on tour, we don’t take days off, especially in this country. If you aren’t parked at a venue, the bus can’t run the generator, so there’s no electricity up here. So it’s hot as shit, you can’t watch TV, you’re spending all day at the pub spending money you don’t necessarily need to spend. And to buy hotel rooms for the 16 people sleeping on here – it costs you more money to take a day off than it’s worth. We tour fairly frugally; we know at the end of the day where our paycheck is coming from and we want to make sure we’re getting every inch out of that money that we can. So we keep that in mind at every turn.”

Talking about being on stage, I ask Erik what goes through his mind just before he goes on stage. “Honestly? I really wish I could sit back down in the dressing room and have another beer,” he laughs. We say it all the time; playing a show really cuts into your drinking time. It always seems like every night, just as the energy starts flowing in the dressing room and people are having fun having a beer together, then it’s like ‘come on guys, it’s time to put your ears on’ and it’s like ‘ooooh man – we were having such a good time, now we’ve got to go and play’. But then the moment you walk out on stage, it’s just like, this is what we’re here for and it’s amazing. I guess that’s a testament to our friendship because we just enjoy hanging out together and that’s the biggest thing.”

Bowling For Soup

Playing the same songs over and over for a band, can mean that some members become sick of them. Asking Erik if there are any songs he hates playing, he says; “There’s not any songs anymore that would try and make it into a setlist that I hate playing. Actually, I’ll tell you this, ‘Scope’, it’s a song from ‘Let’s Do It For Johnny!’ and that one just annoys the shit out of me for some reason. I don’t know; it’s a great song and we bought it back in the sets a few times in the last couple of years, but I was the first person to bring an issue to the band saying ‘can we not play that song anymore?’ because I’m tired of playing that song. But now, if someone gets tired of a song, it’s like ‘hey, think we could cut this one out of the set and replace it with this one?’ It’s funny, when we were putting the setlist together for this tour, Chris and Jaret had songs that they didn’t want to play and Chris was like ‘Ok, I’ll give you that one, if we don’t have to play that one’ and Jaret was like ‘alright, deal made’.”

Talking about putting the setlist together, Erik says; “We had an initial list of a 100 songs, then it got knocked down to like 65, and then out of that 65, we put together a setlist that was between like 30 and 35 songs. The four of us sat down in our rehearsal space and we literally, for want of a better word, choreographed the set, so you know to give it its ups; it’s ebb and flow to make it work and be cohesive. And I think we’ve done a really good job.” Asking if it was a hard job, Erik says; “Yeah. The thing about it, we wanted to put as many songs in as we could and we enjoy talking – a lot. So we’ve grouped songs together, so that a song goes straight into another song and there’s no talking between. Then there’s a break built in between the next group of songs. We wanted to ensure that we could play as many songs as we could. If we had our way, some nights we would just get up on stage, grab the mics and bullshit all night and not play one song, you know, but that’s not what people pay money to see. The unspoken communication between you and the audience, that’s what we get off on; that’s better than any drug in the entire world.”

Bowling For Soup

While on tour, the band have to find ways to entertain themselves; asking Erik what he brings with him, he explains; “You know, I’m really simple, I just bring my iPod, because everything else I’ve got. There’s a TV here that’s hardwired to a hardrive. I need my laptop to be able to keep in touch and do business, and my phone to do the same thing. But my biggest source of entertainment is going at the end of the night; laying on my bunk and putting my headphones in and just finding something, pushing play and falling into the abyss. It’s a super-big hangout time when we got off stage. Over here, it’s a little bit different because the way the buses are configured, there’s not enough room for everyone to hang out in the same area, so there’s this lounge we’re in right now and there’s another lounge upstairs and so the group kind of gets broken into two pieces. This one tends to be the more rowdy lounge and upstairs, where the bunks are, that’s the guys that just really want to chill out and hang. In the States, from there, all the way to the front, would be two couches and a small kitchen in that area over there, so that offers a lot more room for everyone to be in the same place. We’ve got 16 people living on this bus right now; 16 people living in an actual living space of like 185 square feet if you do the maths right now. So you’re on top of each other all the time.”

As much as Bowling For Soup love being on tour, getting home is still always a relief. Asking Erik what the first thing he does when he get home, he says; “Go to sleep. Honestly, the first thing I do when I get home, is take a shower. It’s not so much a physical thing, but I think a mental thing, where it’s just ‘ok, that tour’s behind me, I’m getting it all off of me’. I always shower on the last night of the tour, but as soon as I get home, I take another shower, so I can get the tour off me and that’s done and it’s behind me and now I’m at home, I can just lay on the couch or maybe go to my favourite restaurant or something like that. Even if you’ve got the greatest shower ever, it doesn’t compare to yours; even if yours is shit, you’re like, it’s mine and I know how it works, I know exactly what to do when I’m in it.”

The close bond in Bowling For Soup is apparent to anyone who has seen them live, and this continues off the stage. Asking if the guys go their separate ways after a tour for a while, Erik says; “It’s normally just like a couple of days. We don’t go long without communication between each other. It used to be that we would all hang out all the time, now we’re a little bit spread out; I don’t think anyone lives closer than 20-25 minutes to each other, so it’s not just like a quick phone call of ‘hey, let’s run down the corner for a beer or whatever’. For me to go to Jaret’s house, it takes me almost an hour to get there. The other three guys live on the north side of the Dallas area and I live kinda in the middle to the south and east – I live downtown – they all live in the suburbs, so it just takes me a while to get to them.”

Finishing up the interview, I thank Erik and ask if he has a message to the fans. He says; “The biggest thing I can say is thank you to everyone who has supported us for the last 13 years we have been coming to this country. The UK saved our career, simply because of all the support the fans gave us and we know that and we very much appreciate that and that’s why we wanted to make this tour as special as possible for everyone. So thank you, thank you very much; we love you, and we’ll see you soon.”

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