Interview: Erik – Bowling For Soup.

Bowling For Soup have managed to become a live tradition in the UK through their rigorous touring in October year after year and, of course, 2011 was no different. We readily welcome their talk of STDs as a given, much like Turkey at Christmas and pumpkins at Halloween. Prior to their show at Glasgow’s ABC, Erik took a little time out for a chat about Bowling For Soup’s 17th year of, well, being completely awesome.

By the time the band rolled into Glasgow, the tour was a long way in. “It’s been absolutely amazing. Everyone’s been great,” explains Erik. “It’s really cool when you get to go out on tour with bands that you haven’t officially met and hung out with before and everybody gets along with people well. So, Orange and Suburban Legends are just amazing. I mean, they are amazing ‘bands’ but also amazing folks to get to hang out with every night; very, very cool. Everybody’s getting along great. They’re awesome.”

On the first date of this tour, a couple got engaged on-stage. Initially, there’s some confusion over this topic as it turns out two members of the Bowling For Soup crew family also got engaged on this tour. “Let me get my calendar. Yeah, okay. You’re right! Sorry about that,” he laughs. Theoretically, if it works out only propose once so you’ve got to do something great.

He explains how he feels about his band being that loved that someone would include them in such a pivotal event. “You know, it’s a little weird. Like, honestly, it’s absolutely amazing to me for people to think and do that. I love it. It’s happened several times – in fact, more than several. It’s happened a lot over the last seventeen years and there’s always that thing in the back of my head where it’s like ‘Oh man, I hope they say yes’,” he laughs.

On this tour, the band opted to have an on-stage bar for a group of fans to sit at during the show. This was actually ran as a Kerrang! competition earlier in October. “That’s actually something we’ve talked about for years; not constantly, but it was always like ‘Some day we should do a tour with a bar’,” Erik says. “And, finally, it just worked itself out. This time we were able to do that and also use it as a thing where we give away chances. We have winners who come up and sit at the bar and hang out on stage with us while we’re playing, so.”

“Yeah, it is,” says Erik, agreeing the bar is a special extension on the idea of meet and greets, “because every night we take a moment and go actually hang out and we’re actually interacting with them properly throughout the show. It’s not that they’re just sitting watching us, we’re making them a part of the entertainment for the night. You know us – we’re always trying to do something. We always want to include fans and keep looking at ways to get them involved more and more in the show. For this tour, it’s kind of worked itself out in a very unique way.”

Our last encounter with Bowling For Soup was at the mighty Download Festival this summer, which saw the band play both a full and acoustic set. “It was amazing,” he begins. “You know, on Saturday Jaret and I did an acoustic set and we had the largest crowd that they’ve ever had at the Jagermeister Stage, which was awesome. And then on Sunday the full band set was amazing too. It was just cold and rainy but it was still very good!”

“It’s a little unexplainable to us,” he laughs, touching on how they manage to avoid negative judgements at a metal festival. “We’re not exactly sure how that works out also, but I think that the first time we played Download it was just an all day long intensity of heavy, heavy, heavy stuff. They seem to always stick us right in the middle of the afternoon and it’s like here’s this little happy-go-lucky spot right in the middle of the afternoon where everybody can kind of let loose for a little while and just enjoy themselves.”

The band are, naturally, an established name themselves but they’re not past the phase of being star struck – Download being a prime example of that. “You try to be cool about it though,” laughs Erik. “We’re all sitting here doing the same thing. A couple of years ago we were with Dee Snider on stage and the big moment for us this year was that Dee Snider and his band were standing at the side of the stage watching our show. It was just like… I looked over and was like ‘Alright, that’s cool… be cool.’ I’ll take it!”

“You know, we were actually on stage watching Twisted Sister this year,” continues Erik, “and Phil [Anselmo] walked up and was standing next to us and Jaret started freaking out. I thought he was freaking out because we were on the side of the stage for Twisted Sister because I had no idea that Phil was standing right there. He had his back to us so I was just clueless to everything…”

In April of this year, the band’s latest studio album ‘Fishin’ For Woos’ was released. While it’s been out too long to talk fully about what to expect, it’s been out long enough to gain a fair judgement of the reception. “It’s been really amazing, actually,” begins Erik. “It’s different for us because this is the first album… Out of our eleven albums, this is the first one that I don’t think I’ve read one bad review of the thing. I think we’ve kind of decided that everybody has finally gone with the ‘If you can’t be them, join them’ mentality!”

A key note of this record was that it encompassed more of the original Bowling For Soup sound compared to previous works. Was this intentional? “It was absolutely intentional on our part,” he explains. “We just wanted to return to the core BFS sound, back to more guitar, drums and bass and a couple of guys just singin’ pretty. I mean, there are a few keyboards here and there on the thing, but it’s definitely not like the previous two albums. We got a little ‘experimental’ playing with the studio toys for a minute, but we just wanted to reel it back in just a little bit.”

“That’s just for the future,” he adds in reference to future musical plans. “We tend to try and take it one at a time and this album hasn’t even been out six months yet, so we’ve not discussed what might happen after this in terms of a new album. They are always in the planning stages, just not consciously.”

“[2011 has] been a really, really great year,” Erik continues. “It’s a really nice milestone as a band and because of that we’ve had some really cool realisations about ourselves and the fact we’ve been able to be around as long as we have. It’s been really great for us personally. We have people now who started watching us when they were eighteen or nineteen years old, and they’re bringing their kids to a show and their kids are almost that age. It’s crazy to think that we’ve got families now that come out to our shows and make it an event because the parents and kids alike are into us and coming to see us so many times.”

As for future plans of the band, Erik admits they are in the works but far from confirmation. “For next year… actually, right now, we’re working on sorting some of those prospects this week. We’ve got a few offers that could possibly change for our plans, so stay tuned! We’ll keep you informed…”

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