When Bowling For Soup were back in the UK on their annual acoustic tour, I stole a few minutes with Erik Chandler…
Erik Chandler is tired. The last leg of Bowling For Soup’s acoustic tour will be starting in a couple of hours. The culmination of weeks of performing and traveling will soon be upon him. Oh, and I’ve just woken him up.
Sitting in a darkened side room at London’s KOKO, he apologizes for his cracking voice, insisting he’s fit to talk, “We’ve only just got back from doing some filming and our meet and greet starts soon. It’s been a busy day…”
Oh, to be a rock star. Granted, it’s been a long time since either one of the band’s “two big hits” took on the radio waves, but the row of fans already assembled outside would suggest Bowling For Soup are still holding some fine company.
“It’s amazing – people just keep turning up,” laughs Chandler, “Now we’re on doing two tours a year, people have been telling us to back off a bit. But why would we – if people will still come out to see us, we still want to play.”
Yes, you read that right – apparently Bowling For Soup are touring too much. Next they will be releasing too many albums, or maybe their selection of merchandise will become too varied. Who knows.
For Chandler and tour partner Jaret Reddick, the former has been avoided by the band’s split with their label, shortly after the release of Sorry For Partyin’. For a band already doing too much, would looking after themselves prove to be the final straw? It would seem not. Chandler argues that being in control is a healthy development for the band.
“We’re so much more free now. Before we would have an idea, then go through this ritual of rejection, followed by some big shot telling us the original idea was great.
“Now we call the shots. We’re recording what we want and how we want. Yes, we’re still using the same studio, but I think the difference in us is very visible. I think the label split is the best thing that could have happened to us. We haven’t had any outside input – this album is all us. Take “Turbulence”, for example – I honestly think this is the only album of ours it could have gone on.”
If you haven’t yet listened to Fishin’ For Woos, the band’s return to freedom is sublime, with a variety of music styles on display. Take the aforementioned “Turbulence” – a moving acoustic ballad. It’s no longer an ‘acoustic BFS’ song -it’s an acoustic song by Bowling For Soup. It’s not being manipulated to fit any ‘trademark’ sound. Chandler admits the label pressures of the past were creating a stagnant view of the band through industry eyes.
“We’ve never been cool by “industry standards”, but fuck it. We find ourselves moving between stupidest name polls and best punk song polls. That suits us fine. So what if some people don’t like us – we’ve been at this for 17 years, bitches.”
On that triumphant high, our time together comes to an end. Water in hand, Chandler moves toward to the door, greeted by the sound of his fans in a nearby room. I think I’ve made him late. He seems not to care – by now he’s nothing short of a seasoned pro in all things musical, from the press to the fans. With a hearty clearing of the throat, he’s gone.
As the show at the KOKO unfolds, it becomes clear that the acoustic tour has built on last year’s efforts. It may have been a tough act to follow, but Bowling For Soup have managed it. All this time into their career, it’s refreshing to see them still moving forward.
You might argue that BFS are doing a little too much. You might say they’re simply going above and beyond. Either way, there can be no denying the Texan punks are having a glorious time. Here’s to the next 17 years…