Erik Chandler – Bowling for Soup (The VH Interview)

There would be a lot of people in the UK, even the subject of this interview; who would never have expected these guys to be back in this position, back on the road in the back of a tour bus, and playing shows across the UK. Like the prodigal Phoenix, Bowling for Soup have risen again and we were lucky enough to sit down with bassist Erik on the ‘How About Another Round Tour’.

You’re back in the UK, it’s been a while?

Yes it has been!

Happy to be back?

Absolutely happy to be back, when we did our Farewell Tour it was a really strange time in the band because we didn’t know if Bowling for Soup was going to be around for much longer at that point. So to work though that time period, there was never a rift between the band; several people had things outside the band that were potentially effecting our ability to do this, without getting too personal. So we got that all worked through, and we’re all still here! About a year ago we were like “it’s time to start thinking about going back to the UK” and hope nobody was too angry with us for saying we were never coming back, and then deciding to come back.

At the point that you actually stopped, you were coming over here every year and then touring in America. So nobody can blame you wanting to take a break…

Yeah, and it gets to a point sometimes, like for instance there was a point in time where we were coming over here three times a year and we would be here for a month at a time. Touring out of the country, with everyone having families, and the settled home life, being away for a month on tour sucks anyway, being away on tour for a month a thousand miles away really, really fucking sucks. So we’ve condensed it down a little bit, but I think we did a really nice job, in the past we’d be here for twenty-five or twenty-six nights, and played a show every night. Now we’ve knocked it down to fifteen, but we’ve spaced them properly so that everyone who wants to come to a show, has a show that isn’t too terribly far to travel to. Our manger a few days ago was like “do you think we could get it down to seven” and I was like “dude, that’s starting to get a little crazy talk there”.

But it is something you could get away with in this country though. I think British music fans are a little bit lazy in that a two hour journey is too far for them, where as I’ve spoken to American bands where you’ve got to travel three or four hours routinely to see a band.

I was sixteen years old driving three hours any time at all that I wanted to see a band. I wasn’t born in Dallas, I got there as quickly as I could, but when I was a kid that was the place you would go to see shows. I took myself to my first show, one week after I got my drivers licence when I was 16 and at that point it was no big deal, that’s what you did; you drove to Dallas three times a month to go see bands play.

It’s just something in this country?

Yeah, and it’s funny people will complain over here “ergh, you are playing in such and such and not such and such” it’s thirty minutes away and it’s a four buck train ride- and we are off stage by eleven to make sure anyone who’s got a train in can get the last train out to get home. We planned this strategically with fans in mind, but it’s like “you are so rude playing thirty minutes away and not playing here the next night” it doesn’t make sense to me. I think people are also very, you guys are very local centric, you don’t accidentally say the wrong name of the town that you’re in, because people get really, really upset about that stuff! When we were over here the first time, I think we were in Glasgow and Jaret on stage said something to the effect of “it’s great to be in England” and it was like “oh shit, no, no, no.”

In terms of when you guys went on hiatus, the last album was the re-recordings of what is essentially your greatest hits as you wanted it. How important was it to get that album out, as I read there was a greatest hits that was released by the label that you weren’t happy with, or has that been taken out of context?

What happened with that, when we left the label they put out a record which they called our Greatest Hits, with no input from us at all and that was the first time that we ever publicly went in front of people and said “do not buy our album, do not buy this because it’s a bad compilation made by people who saw only dollar signs. Give us a little bit of time, and we’ll do one ourselves and do it the right way” so it was a very cool project re-recording all these things, because the ones we picked are band favourites and we had input from fans as well, songs that they wanted to see. Which was great because it lined-up that the ones people wanted us to do, we wanted to do as well. It was cool to redo them because the technology twenty-two years in is much better.

I was listening to it earlier, and it really sounds great.

We were able to take these songs and give them the treatment we always wanted to, but for one reason or another weren’t able to at that point, due to a lack of technology or our lack of experience in the studio whatever it may be we were able to give them life and say “this is what they were meant to sound like.”

Some of the songs are ten or fifteen years old, yet over here at least they are still getting played almost daily on the likes of Scuzz and Kerrang TV. What is it about those songs that has seen them stand the test of time?

I have no fucking idea, not that I think they are bad, but it blows my mind that we had in the past and still continue to get the response we do from people, and people playing our videos and songs on the radio and stuff, shit that we did years ago seems to still be as viable as when it came out. I don’t know what to think!

There was never a sense of impending hits when you were recording them?

You know, not necessarily that we did something and were like “this is going to go straight to the top of the charts” type thing, but when you’re in the studio and you are working on a particular song sometimes there is a sense of “this is special” not necessarily that it is going to be a hit and go straight to radio or whatever, but this feels really, really good and we’ve just done something extremely cool here and I can’t wait for people to be able to hear it. It’s less of an idea that we are going to profit from something, and more of a we just created a piece of art and I can’t wait to share this with someone.

Those songs, are songs that when they came out in the UK (at least) Everybody knew them. That must be nice that they transcended genres so to speak?

Our entire career- it’s kind of humbling to talk about it. Being right in the middle of it, you don’t see it all as it’s happening, and then you reflect on it and it’s like “oh, well shit, that was pretty cool and that was what was going on at the time and we didn’t realise because we were too busy working to see the real picture”. Best analogy I can give; people ask about playing festivals and stuff “is that intimidating?” no because you’re playing at Download infront of seventy or eighty thousand people but you can still only see the first two rows, that’s where your attention is going anyway and two days later you see a picture someone took from behind you and you are able to actually look at everything that is going on and see the number of people that are there and it’s like “oh shit, I didn’t realise that was what we were doing at the time.”

You can lose yourself as well, because I know we saw Reel Big Fish at Sonisphere playing to seventy thousand people and the sound went out, but because of all the monitors you can still hear everything.

Oh yeah, you don’t have any clue.

But can you really gauge the sense of things and how you are being received?

With us in a situation like that we use in-ear monitors so we really for the most part can’t hear anything other than what we’ve specifically chosen to hear individually, we do have microphones that are up in the room to get a little bit of ambient noise but I don’t use any of that so if somebody isn’t speaking into a microphone I have no idea what they are saying. People get pissed all the time because they are yelling at us while we are on stage inbetween songs, I have no way to hear what you are saying to me right now, it is impossible please stop wasting your time and energy on this because I’ve got nothing and I’m sorry!

You mentioned how humbling it was, you guys have been away for effectively three years now. You’ve announced a tour and come back over and you are selling out pretty much every show, the industry at the moment seems so cut-throat, and bands need to stay current. Yet you can go on hiatus and still sell a tour out three years later…

We’re all very very grateful that this is still happening in the capacity that it is, especially since we’ve been gone for a while and haven’t been forgotten about. When we announced the tour it was kind of a “cross your fingers boys were putting the word out tomorrow, lets see how this goes” and it was just awesome, the cry of joy that we heard from people that we were coming back. We are very very happy to be here, and extremely acutely aware that it’s only because we have amazing amazing fans in this country that still after all these years are still coming back for more abuse. So we appreciate them very much!

You don’t particularly enjoy touring, but the travelling and life on the road is worth it for the shows… Right?!

The shows are absolutely worth it, that’s the thing, that’s why we do what we do. During the day to look at us in our dressing room, you would think that everybody in there is ready to shoot someone, and then for an hour and a half every night, everybody; band and crew, switch flips and everybody is fucking right in their element and doing an amazingly great job. Our crew is such a machine and to watch them work, it’s an art form in itself. Show time happens, everyone is in their element and loving life, shows only an hour and a half but the adrenaline buzz lasts three or four hours and it takes that long to kind of wind down. A lot of people are like “why do you guys stay up all night?” because you can’t fucking go to sleep, it takes a while to wind down after all that.

One last question, before we are ejected from the tour bus. New music, I know you are trying to put something out via Pledgemusic. Now is your time to voice it because there isn’t a lot of time left is there?

Oh no, it’s extended again! I pushed back the release because we aren’t ready, it’s not done so we pushed it back. Since we’ve been over here doing this tour, I’ve been seriously working the crowd every night, I’m going out every night as soon as we’ve finished, I’m the first one out of the dressing room trying to catch as many people before they leave, handing out flyers. I feel like I’m seventeen again going to the mall “come see my band, come see my band”. For some reason when people haven’t heard about the pledge that I’m doing, and we’ve just figured out how to get round the Facebook algorithm that wont let it be seen. When you do an external link from Facebook, it wont show it to every person who’s liked your page because Facebook doesn’t want you to leave Facebook, so they want you to pay five bucks, ten bucks to boost that; but we just figured out, MC Lars-man, that smart mother-fucker he’s like “take a screen shot of your page, so that it’s got the address on it but it isn’t in a link so they have to physically type it in to go there, but then it will go to everybody”.

Finally he’s put that college education to good use!

You can find out more about Erik’s Pledgemusic campaign here:

Photo: Kimberley Bayliss