When the single 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want' stormed the UK charts last year, Texan band Bowling For Soup were instantly dropped into the high flying punk pop bracket alongside all the Sum 41's and Blink 182's. Several spins of the bands current album 'Drunk Enough To Dance' will prove that this group of larger than life characters are much more than your average radio friendly punk band and simply just a great rock band (by their own admission they're more Cheap Trick than punk) They combine elements of great rock bands with a cool modern day feel that brings together some of the most infectious power pop tunes of recent years, and several sold out tours later has proved that this band are here to stay. TrashPit met up with the band, singer/guitarist Jaret Von Erich, bassist Erik Rodham Clinton, drummer Gary Wiseass and lead guitarist Chris Van Malmsteen, mid afternoon in Sheffield on their recent UK tour.
What was your first UK tour like and how has the UK changed since you began touring over here?
Jaret: The first thing that happened for us over here was through Steve Homer who used to work for Mean Fiddler whose now our promoter with Clear Channel. Steve saw us at a festival in Austin, Texas called South by South West and said he wanted us to come play Reading and Leeds, and we're 'Okay whatever' and didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Then one of the guys called me up and said 'I just went to the Reading and Leeds website and this is some really big shit!' So I go on there and it's like 'Holy Crap, 100,000 people!' So we fly in and play the smallest stage there and it's absolutely packed and the kids knew the words to the songs already. It took us a year to come back over again when we did our own tour with Uncle Brian, just little 200 seater clubs and all the shows were great.
Erik: Eleven people packed into a transit van!
J: The drummers dad took two weeks off from work and borrowed the school transport van and drove us all over. It was just so much fun, like real old school.
Gary: Singalongs every night on the way back to their house to stay up all night long with the singers dad drinking his beer and the next morning he'd wake up and already have the fridge stocked with more beer!
Other than playing live what's your favourite thing you like about the UK?
J: Drinking, we like drinking.
G: I went to Jilly's Rockworld last night and thought it stayed open till seven, so I'm ringing everyone up going 'Get over here man, they just finished playing 'Hot For Teacher' it's fucking rocking, we're having a blast!' And as soon as I hang up the phone, Boom, the lights come on!
J: The thing is I'd gone outside and I'm like telling this cab guy 'I need five cabs here like soon cos we've got to make it to this bar!' Then Gary rings me back to say the clubs closed so I'm like lets get the fuck out of here, there's five cabs on the way! So we haul ass back to the bus!
E: I went to Jillys and I was told we were getting in free, so I get up to the front and look like a dip shit!
J: Imagine that!
How did you become associated with Butch Walker?
J: One of our A&R guys flew down to see him at a show and played him some of the early demos from 'Drunk Enough To Dance' which was 'Emily', 'Out the Window' and a couple of others. And Butch was like 'Man, I'll do this in a second, I'm all over it!' I went out and brought 'Ready, Sex Go' because I didn't know that much Marvellous 3 stuff other than the 'Freak of the Week' song. So I go into the practice place and go 'You guys are not gonna fuckin' believe what I'm about to play you, this is the guy who wants to produce our next record' and I didn't say another word, just pressed play and everyone just went 'Holy crap, this is gonna be awesome!' So it was cool how we got together and we became friends really fast. I don't know if he's gonna work on the next album though because he's such a busy guy and that's question number one right now. He's working with people like Avril Lavigne and Pink and all these huge artists so whether he'll have time for little old us I don't know.
When TrashPit spoke to Robin Black earlier this year he mentioned you might be working together sometime in the future. How did you guys hook up?
J: He's a genius, if this guy had come out in like 1987 he would have been the biggest thing ever! But I don't see why he still can't be now, with everything that's happening over here with bands like The Darkness and stuff. This guy can drink......more than me! He's the best guy ever! I met him through our manager who is also my business partner and we manage another Canadian band who they opened up for at a showcase one time. My partner calls me up and goes you're not gonna fuckin believe what I'm hearing right now, there's this guy up there like wailing and shit and meaning it! And he brought the album back, and that 'Some of you Boys' song, I couldn't believe it, it's such a smash! He's gonna come down to Dallas and we're gonna write some stuff together. E: He was hanging out on our bus and I was sitting there talking to him for like forever and these guys just didn't tell me who he fuckin' was. Then he left and I was like 'Who was that guy?!' and they go 'That was Robin Black, man' and I'm like 'Oh Fuck!'
J: No, I said it was 'Robin Fuckin' Black', that's his name!
You're one of few bands who find it important to build up your fanbase on touring alone. You've been back to the UK several times without a single to promote. Why is this important to the band?
J: Everybody tells us not to come when we don't have a single but the tours are always awesome. What people fail to remember is that the kids over here have a real loyalty aspect, and they want you to make that commitment to be the band that's gonna come over to the UK. So every kid that comes up to us after the shows keeps saying 'Please come back!' So we decided we're gonna come over three times a year and for the last three years we've done it.
With almost twenty tracks on the current album and numerous B-sides and soundtracks, just how many songs do you have?
J: We have more songs than we even know. I'll just be sitting around singing a song without knowing what it is and Erik will tell me it's some song we did like eight years ago! We wrote forty songs for the last album.
E: There was a lot of good ones that didn't make it.
J: It got to a point were we had to stop because it was getting confusing. But hopefully we'll have that many again.
You've become a regular on the festival circuit but what would your ideal festival line up be?
J: There was some combination at Reading and Leeds one year when Green Day and the Foo Fighters played on the same day, and I couldn't fucking believe we weren't there. But you know the Warped Tour this year was pretty cool, simply because of the hang out factor. The cool thing that people probably don't realise is that there is no ego on that tour at all. I thought people would give us the cold shoulder because we're the new guys and not from California but it was so amazing that people would want to come up and meet you just because they'd heard your song. We'd get people like The Used coming up and sitting at the side of the stage watching our set. It's not that they're the biggest band ever but it's cool that they took the time to come and watch our show, and it was like that for the whole tour.
E: Then at night when everything starts shutting down and people start leaving, all the buses empty out and everybody's in the bus parking lot standing out in the greatest and hugest parking lot party you've ever seen in your life!
J: Every night! So that was a dream come true, as much work as it was it was a good time and I hope we get to do it next year. What's cool though is the Warped Tour used to be predominantly punk but there were so many more rock bands on it this year so the audience was way more diverse. It was such a good experience for us and opened up a lot of doors.
If asked would you ever consider doing the Monsters of Rock at Donington, should it return in the future?
J: Absolutely, I think it would be great. We'd be that band that gets fuckin' pelted with bottles though.
E: It'd be worth it
Chris: Fuck off, Bad News!!
J: That'd be exactly what would happen to us!
Do any of you remember the first album you brought?
E: Run DMC 'Raising Hell'
J: Donald Duck 'Disco Duck'
G: Poison 'Look What the Cat Dragged in'
C: Willie Nelson & Family
First album you stole?
E: I stole the first Beastie Boys album for my cousin.
J: I stole the first Queensryche EP from Gibson's in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was back in the day when the CDs came in those big boxes and I had a friend distracting the guy whilst I tried to get it open. I felt really, really guilty but I stole a couple more after that!
C: I've stole a bunch from out of cars but the first one I stole from a store was U2's 'Under a Blood Red Sky'
J: Good one, Bono would be fuckin' pissed!
G: I think mine was Bon Jovi 'New Jersey', I remember stealing that one.
J: It's funny you ask that and we really all did steal a bunch of stuff and we're trying to distinguish 'Did I steal this one first or was it this one!?' What the fuck are we saying about ourselves here!?
Most embarrassing album?
J: I own the soundtrack to Grease and I still listen to it too!
E: One year for Christmas my aunt thought it would be a good idea to buy me the Milli Vanilli album because that's what all the kids were listening to.
J: I also own the entire Dixie Chicks collection!
C: I was gonna say the Dixie Chicks 'cause I've got their first album. And I've got fuckin' Bananarama's Greatest Hits!
E: Is Pure Moods embarrassing?
J: No, that's sex music!
First album that made you want to play in a band?
J: Easy, 'Blizzard of Oz' by Ozzy. This kid came into school with his walkman, with just fast forward no rewind, and played me 'Crazy Train' and I couldn't believe what I was hearing, it was the greatest thing I'd heard in my life! I went out and brought a pair of drumsticks that day and asked my Dad for a drum set at Christmas but he laughed at me. I got one in the end though!
G: Mine's actually kind of gay, it was Billy Joel 'Uptown Girl'
E: What the fuck is gay about Billy Joel man, you stand up and be proud!
G: I wish I could say it was 'Appetite for Destruction' but I'd be liar.
J: It was weird how pop culture influenced me as a kid. I would go watch a Rocky movie and all of a sudden I was gonna be a boxer, I'd stand in front of a mirror and practice my punching.
E: When you saw Footloose did it make you want to be a dancer?
J: I swear that was the next statement out of my mouth! I went and saw Footloose, came home and I swear to god, I had a Sound Designs stereo from Sears, turned that fucker up as loud as it would go without shutting itself off....and I started dancing!
G: Whenever I saw Top Gun it made me want to make out with Kelly McGillis.
J: Everyone danced to Footloose!
The album 'Drunk Enough To Dance' is out now on Music For Nations