“It’s passed the best friends point, that almost sounds silly to say now but it’s way more of a family”: An interview with Erik Chandler of Bowling For Soup

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On Friday I was lucky enough to have a chat with Bowling For Soup bassist Erik Chandler ahead of their return to the UK in 2016. Erik and the boys will be returning to this side of the Atlantic on the 1st February for their How About Another Round Tour. They will be heading to Southampton’s very own O2 Guildhall on the 13th.

In our chat over Skype we talked about why they’ve come back, what they got up to in their time off, and what Erik thinks about Jon Snow’s fate in Game of Thrones

What’s made you and the guys come back for another round? Was it an easy decision?

When we announced the Farewell Tour, we always said that farewell doesn’t necessarily mean goodbye, it just means that we’re not gonna be back and touring in the excessive capacity that we had been before. Just kinda looking at things and what we had on our plate, and the fact that I don’t think there has been one day since our last tour that I have not seen something from someone saying “Please come back to the UK,” and so, as we were sitting down and starting to plan out the next 18 months or so on our calendars, that came up as a responsibility and everyone was really excited to do it. It’s time, you know? It’s been two years so we thought it’d be time to come back for one more round.

Bowling For Soup have announced they'll be back in the UK in February

Bowling For Soup have announced they’ll be back in the UK in February

Fair enough! What did you get up to whilst you were away from it all?

Well, let’s see… Last summer we were over and did Download Festival and did the Warped Tour in the States last summer. Then before and after that we worked on our re-recorded best of compilation, Songs People Actually Liked, and then released that earlier this year. Then right now we’re currently in the middle of a tour in the States for our 21st birthday, we’re doing our Finally Legal Tour.

Yeah I saw that, I liked that name, that was cool!

Yeah, so we finished the first half of that and now we’re home for just a little bit before we head back out on that and finish up with that in early fall, and then the very next thing will be coming over to see you guys! But other than that stuff, everybody’s just kind of been, you know, I’ve been working on my solo stuff, Jaret‘s been working with People On Vacation who were just over in the UK on tour in, I wanna say it was February or early March. So everybody’s been taking a little time to work on their outside projects as well and now we’re back in full BFS mode!

Brilliant! How has the first leg of the Finally Legal Tour gone? How’s it been?

Absolutely fantastic! It’s kinda strange, the last couple of years in the States have been very interesting, because as it is with any career in this industry you see ups and downs and whatever, and we were kinda at a point where we were starting to think not about hanging it up, but obviously we were approaching twenty years and so might want to think about slowing things down just a little bit as to not overstay our welcome in people’s minds or whatever. Then last summer when we did the Warped Tour, we realised that we’re still trying just as many people as we had been before at the peak of everything. So the first half of this current tour has just kind of solidified that in our minds, and so it’s really awesome to be at twenty-years and still doing it in the exact same capacity that we had done it at the best of times. That’s very, very cool for us.

You mentioned the Songs People Actually Liked album. Am I right in saying that was solely funded by fans?

Yes! That was done through Pledge Music. When the whole crowdfunding thing started several years ago I was kind of a sceptic, but simply because I didn’t quite grasp it, I didn’t understand it when I first started hearing about it. We’ve done our last two albums that way and it’s really, really, really cool! Especially with Pledge Music because that service tends to give, at least in my opinion, people a bit more of a hands on insight view of what’s actually going on while you’re recording or while you’re finishing up doing the mixes or whatever. It just gives you the opportunity to show people little bits and pieces along the way. Obviously they put their money into it and would like to see progress being made, so that offers them a unique venue to offer them that content and see all that stuff. So yeah, it’s really cool and I’m really excited that we chose them to work through, just because they make it very easy to do all that extra stuff.

Song People Actually Liked is a collection of hits from the band's first ten years together

Songs People Actually Liked is a collection of hits from the band’s first ten years together

How does it feel to you and the guys that people are actually putting their own hard earned money on the line to back you up? Because, you know, that’s commitment!

It is! To me it just speaks to what we’ve said about Bowling For Soup fans for years. We’ve always said that we have one of the most loyal group of fans around that we’ve ever come across. Even when speaking with friends in the industry, just comparing stories and stuff, for some reason we’ve always felt that our folks were very, very special. With Pledge Music they just showed us how loyal they are and how they were willing to take that chance and basically buy an idea before it even begins to materialise. It’s cool to know that we have people out there that have that much faith in what we’re going to do. That makes us feel all nice and fuzzy inside!

It’s obviously a greatest hits kind of thing from the first ten years you were together and they were all re-recorded for the album, was that fun to do?

It really was! It was actually very interesting in the fact that here we are recording songs that we haven’t necessarily played in, some of them, ten or fifteen years. Gary and I went in first and we knocked out seventeen songs on drums and bass in two days, which is fairly unheard of. Considering we hadn’t spent less than a month on… I guess with Lunch. Drunk. Love. we actually recorded that one fairly quickly… Up until Lunch. Drunk. Love. we hadn’t spent less than a month in the studio doing an album in a very, very long time. Some of those had gone up to six weeks, eight weeks getting worked on. I know in the grand scheme of things that’s not a super long time to spend on an album, you know people spend… Well, hell, look at Chinese Democracy! But, you know, it’s not uncommon for someone to spend a year working on an album, but we’ve never worked that way. To go in and knock songs out that quickly and I guess over the course of the entire process, we probably spent three to four works on it, but it just was not at all at the same time. But for he and I to go in and knock that bit of it out that quickly at the very beginning was really fantastic.

Do you have your own personal favourite song that the band has? That either you love performing the most or that you’re most proud of?

You know, I honestly can’t say. That question gets asked a lot…

I suppose they’re all your babies in a way!

Yeah! I suppose it’s like, it’s never not fun to pull out one of the huge hits and have that super intense crowd reaction, but then at the same time you’ve got other songs where I’ll be playing a certain bass part or something and in my head it’s like I’m playing these special things that I threw in that I’m particularly proud of and I sometimes sit there and play this stuff and it’s like, “Oh man, this so cool! You don’t even know I’m playing it!” It’s like, “Man, this is so cool and tasteful that unless I sat here and showed you exactly what I was doing, you would never know I was doing it!” All of them have little moments that are to each of those extremes, so it’s hard to take one and say “This is the favourite”.

Is there a song out there at the moment that isn’t the band’s that you wish was? So if you could take any song and make it Bowling For Soup‘s, what would it be?

I’ve always wanted us to do ‘Synchronicity II‘ from The Police‘s Synchronicity album on side two. Wow, that really, really dates me right there!

So you’ve celebrated 21 years together now. What have been the biggest highlights during that time?

Probably the biggest highlight would be making it to 21 years! As far as accomplishments, that’s quite possibly the biggest one. We’ve had awards, nominations and amazing tours and everything, but in the grand scheme of things lots of people have huge tours and lots of nominations for awards and win awards and everything, but they’re only around for six to seven years. So to be able to say that we’ve been doing this for over two decades… I was a kid when this band started! Now I’ve officially been in this band for over half my life.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

No… Simply because when we started out we had no idea what we were doing and this was just something that started more or less as just something to do and to be able to get together and have a couple of laughs and a couple of beers. But for every mistake that we made along the way, which there haven’t been many huge ones, but through all of that that’s how we learned how to operate and do this thing. I think may have a lot to do with the fact that we’re still around and that we did it our own way and the if our own way didn’t work then we figured out a way to do it our way that did work! So I think that has a lot to do with the longevity as well. So no, I can’t say I would do many things differently, not from the band’s side of things…. There are a couple of buildings I might not have jumped off in a not so sober state, but other than stuff like that, no, there’s nothing really anything I would change.

Would you say you have more fun now or when you first started out?

You know, it’s hard to say which would be more fun. There was a time when going out and touring was brand new and fresh and we were experience things that we had never experienced before and it was like, “Oh my god, this so great! We actually get a dressing room tonight! That’s really cool!” Compared to now where those things are kind of standard and we know what we’re doing, but it’s like now we’re really, really good at, and I’m not talking anything like music or songwriting, we’re good at touring, the logistical aspects of it – we’re good at that now. Back then when things were new and fresh and super exciting, they wouldn’t run as smoothly as they do now. Now some those things are old hat but now things run a lot smoother and there aren’t very many hiccups throughout a day and so it’s as fun now but maybe for different reasons. We’ve always said that you won’t find the four of us happier than when it’s us four sitting in a room and having a beer and shooting a shit. It’s passed the best friends point, that almost sounds silly to say now but it’s way more of a family – I’m closer to these guys than I am to lots of members of my family and that’s simply because when you’re forced to live in close quarters with people for so long and for super extended periods of time, you either find a way to get along or you don’t get along. That’s the downfall of many bands, they don’t find that way to get along. We figured out very early on when to push buttons, when someone has reached their limit and it’s time to leave them alone. If someone were to be looking in on some things we may not be the most polite to each other all the time, and I’m not saying we’re being angry or mean, but there comes a point when you get passed the idea do social niceties, where it doesn’t matter any more, you don’t have to have those. It’s not like we’re running around tell each to seriously go fuck yourself all the time, but we don’t have to sugarcoat situations anymore. I’m simply talking about borrowing somebody’s shaving cream to shave in a dressing room somewhere, it’s not like “Hey buddy, do you think you might have something I can borrow?” It’s like, “Hey, gimme that!” It may look like we’re not being polite to each other to someone else but between us we don’t need that anymore, it’s not an important thing.

No, I suppose after 21 years together you know everything about each other. Like you said, you’re like family and that’s what families are like.

Yeah exactly! It’s like, say you’re out on the road and you need something, everyone knows what everyone has and over the years it’s been kind of everybody has… We haven’t been assigned roles but some people do certain things consistently and so you come to be able to count on that person doing or having that. For instance, on the last trip, the pocket of my shorts got torn, so immediately when it happened I went to Chris, “Hey man, give me your sewing kit” because Chris has the sewing kit. Somebody gets sick on the road, that know I’ve got the stash of all the cold and flu medicines. Jaret always has the Emergency, do you guys have Emergency over there?

What’s that?

It’s kind of like Berrocca, but it’s powder that comes in a little packet that you mix in with a bottle of water and it’s just full of vitamins.

Oh yeah, okay, we’ve got that kind of thing.

So yeah, it’s that kind of thing.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not with the band? How do you unwind and relax?

When I’m at home it’s spending a lot of time with my dog, because when I’m at home, I’m at home, I’m not doing anything else. A normal day would consist of getting up and immediately taking the dog on a walk and coming back and playing with her at the house for a few hours, then taking her to the dog park. Probably after that I reach out to my friends and see who’s out and about and normally go down to a drinking establishment for some food and a couple of beers. I’ll then come back home, play with the dog some more, then the girlfriend gets home from work and we catch up on TV shows and films that we’re constantly making our way through. It’s just a fairly normal, kind of everyday existence and that’s I think one of the coolest things off the road to just have these very, very regular guy lives that we live.

Yeah, just real people.

Yeah and that’s the greatest way to unwind and relax and keep yourself sane from the absolute chaos of touring.

What TV shows are you working through?

Right now, there’s a show called Wayward Pines, I don’t know if you guys have that over there, but it’s a 12-part, I was gonna say mini-series, but that wouldn’t really be a mini-series! It’s basically a show I think on ABC that’s twelve episodes, that’s basically like what do you guys have? Like Broadchurch!

Oh right, yeah okay!

Erik does not think Jon Snow is dead and will be back one way or another

Erik does not think Jon Snow is dead and will be back one way or another

Here’s one season and it’s going to tell the story from beginning to end. That stars Matt Dillon and it’s a really cool sci-fi, but you don’t really know what’s going on, kind of show. Penny Dreadful is another one, I know you guys get that because I think Sky is involved in that one. And True Detective, I’m only a couple of episodes into this season, I think I’ve got more because I didn’t watch it at all when I was on tour. What else? Always Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, he kind of nerd-core staples there.

Are you all the way through Game of Thrones?

Oh yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

What do you think? Is he going to come back?

Oh! Didn’t you see his eyes turn purple?!

I don’t know, what do you think?!

Oh yeah, he’s back! He’s not dead. Melisandre has plans for him! She needs another demon-black-cloud baby, she’s gonna get it somehow and she needs royal blood. I’m of the camp that actually thinks that Jon Snow is a Targaryen.

Yeah, I’m the same!

Yeah, but we’ll see! It’s so cool right now because we’re all caught up with everything! So it can go anywhere!

There’s no more books so it’s a guessing game! 

Yeah exactly! We could be spouting all this stuff, and I read all the theories and everything on all the shows that I watch, but that to me makes the most sense. But! In that last scene, like right before he fades away man, eyes turn purple! He didn’t die, something else happened to him. Either that or is he, I forget what they’re called… Where Bran goes out into the animal…

A Warg?

Yeah! Like, can he do that? Did he send himself into his dire wolf? And like, is he being imprisoned in that and is he gonna resurrect somehow? There are tonnes of way that could play out!

Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds! Quickly back to the band…

The band again?!

This is the last question on the band I promise!

[Laughs] It’s alright, I’m joking!

If there’s one thing you guys could do in the future, whether it’s play a certain venue or produce something or other, be in something, what would it be? If there’s just one thing you could do in the future.

The biggest thing… hmm… We’ve been discussing a documentary for several years now. Not necessarily a career-spanning documentary, but to go back and shoot it in our home town and do the absolute origins of Bowling For Soup and get access to some of the places that are maybe closed down or maybe they’ve become something else, like venues we used to play that become something else and just talk with people that were around in the first couple of years when we were getting started. Just to get that take on where we started and where we’ve gone and where we are now, which if those people we’re still in contact with now. I’d like to eventually get that done.

And what would you like to say to all your fans who will be reading this interview or anyone that has supported you over the years?

Just thanks to everyone for being there with us through this entire trip that we’ve been on and thanks for your unwavering support. We very much look forward to seeing you all in February!

Great, we look forward to seeing you too! Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me!

Tickets for Bowling For Soup’s How About Another Round Tour can be found via this link.

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22 years of age and Live Editor here at The Edge. In my spare time you'll either find me on a basketball court dunking like Jordan (that may have been a dream...), going to gigs or attending stand-up comedy shows!

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