Bowling For Soup - Interview
Before their show at Manchester Academy. Manchester Rocks writer Mick Birchall and photographer Cai Dixon sat down with bassist, Erik Chandler from Bowling for Soup to discuss touring in the UK, dealing with record labels and Erik’s own personal demons. Plus a lot more.
Well, it appears that Bowling for Soup now back in the UK, even after the Farewell Tour in 2013.
Yes, Finally! We’re back! You see three years ago we weren’t exactly sure what the future held for Bowling for Soup. It almost ended, like the whole thing. Luckily though, we made it through our rough patch and we’re back and we’re happier than ever and we’re so happy to be back playing our favourite city in the entire world.
It’s always a good show in Manchester.
Oh my god, Manchester. From the very first time we ever played in Manchester. I don’t know what’s different about this city but it’s always insane.
I know what you mean, I very rarely go anywhere else for gigs. If I do it’s only because I have to. [Both Laugh]. So on the whole what do you love the most about coming to the UK?
Hands down it’s the fans. The UK fans are a different breed of music fan than we have at home. You guys are rabid music fans, people will come to the show just to completely lose their minds. Whereas in the US, and I’ll admit I’m one of these people too, fans turn up at the show and they’re too cool for school, but… I’m also 41 fucking years old [All laugh]. You know I go to a show and I’m leaned up against the bar. Whereas my girlfriend is the one on the edge of the pit shoving people back in. She’s says things like “why don’t you stand out here with me?” and I say “because… there’s so many people around and they’re touching me”. You know I do this for a living, it’s not new to me.
On the flip side that… What do you hate most about coming to the UK?
There’s no such fucking thing as convenience over here. Everything is a four step process. Even going to the sink to wash your hands, you’ve gotta like punch in a code before you can. Also the UK loves stairs and doors, and doors that go to nowhere. There are six doors in this hallway and there is no reason for them. We’ve been to places where we have to go up stairs, just so we can go back down stairs. I just think, why wouldn’t you just build it flat? So you don’t need to go up the stairs in the first place.
It’s health and safety, stairs slow people down. If was a flat corridor things would just be manic! [both go into laughing fits]. So… Now that Bowling for Soup have had that break and you’re back, do you think there is still anything left to achieve for the band now?
Well it’s always been like, hey we’re all friends and having fun. I don’t really know though. As far as achievement goes, up until a year and a half ago I would have said the next thing we have to achieve, was to turn 20 years old as a band and in June is our 22nd year anniversary. So I guess the next big milestone is 25 years as a band and we’ve got plans in the works to keep us working through then. There’s no foreseeable end right now.
Well more Bowling for Soup can only be a good thing in my book. I’m interested to know what music you’re currently listening to, what do you chill out to.
That’s always the hardest question. Errm.. I just listened to a new album today that I bought a couple of months ago that I actually forgot I had. It’s the latest album from the First Aid Kit. I was looking for something that would be a little more chilled and relaxed in the dressing room. I came across it and I totally forgot that I had it and I hadn’t even listened to it yet.
It’s always nice when you look back and you find those albums or songs that you listen to and you think wow this is pretty damn awesome.
Exactly. I mean last week I found Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend deluxe edition album that comes with the Good Friend album and it has a lot of alternate takes of some of the songs from that. My girlfriend asked me is this a new Matthew Sweet album? and I said No! It’s old shit and it’s brilliant.
So I’ve got a couple of questions that we have pulled off of social media to ask you, because I didn’t feel like doing some of the work. So firstly, do you feel the term “Pop-punk” is still relevant in this day and age and is it so overused to the point that it’s lost meaning?
People get bent out of shape over genre labelling and rules. I don’t know really. I think people need that sort of thing to keep them sane. They have to call it something, I mean it’s going to be used whether we like it or not. So, for people to get their panties in a bunch over it, I just think we should let them have their fun and it is what it is. I’m still going to make the same music no matter what.
Cai: Just a personal question from my friend Dan. Are you going to Wrestlemania this year in Dallas?
I will not be going to Wrestlemania and I will be staying as far away from the venue as possible because it’s going to have traffic backed up for days. No, I’m not a huge wrestling fan. I was when I was a kid and my ex-wife used to watch wrestling. Actually Chris (Burney) and I took her to one of the shows. We got the record label to hook up to get stupid ridiculous ring-side seats, maybe 10 rows back from the ring. It was just stupid the seats we had.
If you could go back in time to visit yourself as a child, what would you tell yourself?
It gets better. Just stick it out. It’s all going to be okay.
So I’ll ask the final two questions I always like to ask. Firstly, what is the hardest thing personally you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
Probably the fact that I’ve been dealing with depression for years. Since I was like 12 maybe 13 years old and I was medicated, highly medicated, for many years. Until I realised that there weren’t any low points anymore but there weren’t any high points either, just stasis. So in my early 20’s I took myself off medication and just learned to cope through other means. It got to a point where I was literally sleeping 14 to 16 hours a day. If wasn’t going to work or to school, I’d be in bed and that’s no way to live. So once I realised that, it got easier to get my head around it and figure it all out. It’s crippling to kids, you know. Also, that long ago there was still a stigma around it and people didn’t see it as a real disease. I say, this is for real and it will totally mess you up. Over time, I’ve learned to cope and talking about it helps a lot, it’s one of the best ways to handle it.
Especially in situations like this, when we’re on super-long tours I’ll get in a tour depression, as it were. Luckily though I feel everybody, band and crew, deals with something very similar and we’re always talking about anxiety and depression problems and keeping our moods up. Just having brighter lights in the dressing room helps. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to affects your mood and general outlook on the day, turning on some more lights.
So finally, what is the hardest thing professionally you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
Dealing with record labels. Spending over a decade on a major label and then finally getting out of that. Then completely doing it on your own and being able to give the finger to the man and being able to say fuck you for saying that we couldn’t do it, and we are! When we split from the label in 2009, well I think it was 2009, we were actually looking for a way out of the deal a few years prior. We had just released an album, it had been out for a month and we were touring for that album. Then they shelved it and decided that we weren’t going to be on their label anymore. When we found out it took the wind out of our sails for about 10 minutes. Then we realised that this is what we’d been trying to do… This is great!
We had a had a huge party on the tour bus and the soundtrack was a song from i-45, a rap band from Houston who aren’t around anymore, and they have a song that goes It’s interesting to me, just how easily, you can be on top, your record sales drop, you get a phone call from the label, you’ve been dropped. So that was the song that was playing all night long on repeat, and it was the most ghetto gangster dance party on the tour bus.
That was fantastic, thank you so much for talking to Manchester Rocks tonight.
Words: Mick Birchall | Photos: Cai Dixon