Grammy nominated. RIAA Gold certified album. RIAA Gold certified single. Another single that is certified platinum by the RIAA. All of those things belong to the self-proclaimed greatest band of all time, Bowling for Soup. It’s an impressive resume for a predominantly pop-punk band, and while their songs aren’t cracking top 40 radio, they have been around for 24 years now. They don’t rely on radio play at this point in their career, instead as guitarist/vocalist Jaret Reddick tells it: it’s all in the fans.
We first get on the topic of the band’s longevity when talking about Warped Tour and I recall the summer of 2014 when Bowling for Soup was routinely pulling in the largest crowds of the summer. Reddick mentions that this past summer they were drawing the same large crowds at Warped Tour, before making the comparison to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers noting that the band travels well. “I can say that’s just the loyalty of our fan base, we’re just really, really lucky,” Reddick states.
“The majority of my life has been in Bowling for Soup, and it’s lasted longer than any of our relationships,” Reddick states regarding the band’s longevity. He explains that when they came up in the early-2000s, they were sort of the first band that parents and their kids agreed upon. They might have said “shit” one every song, but parents would let their kids buy their CD’s all the same. Their music was fun, energetic, and though they might have said “shit” and other profanity, their music never had a bad message to it. Looking at their career now, Reddick explains “I used to get asked all of the time ‘are you gonna be like 45 and touring and doing fart jokes and shit for a living?’ and I’m like ‘No way!’ Now I stand on stage and I’m like ‘Okay, how does it feel to be watching a bunch of 40 year olds signing about high school?'”
Earlier Reddick mentioned that their fans are the reason for their sustained success — which is certainly true, as it is for most artists — but Bowling for Soup as a whole has changed over the years. There haven’t been member changes since 1998 (when Gary Wiseman took over for Lance Morrill on drums), but they have taken on a more relaxed touring schedule over the years. Touring for over 300 days a year used to be not a problem, but ended up being the downfall of personal relationships outside of the band for some members. “I have a whole new life now, too. I have my children from my first marriage, and I have a little boy with my wife,” Reddick begins, while mentioning that it’s still hard to be out on the road away from his family. However, he’s quick to mention that “It’s because of, again, the loyalty of our fans that have made it to where we can tour when, you know, it’s the right time. We can be go out for 10 days or two weeks, then take a couple of months off.”
Part of the sustained run, as well, is that most members are doing things outside of the band as well. Reddick mentions his voice acting career and also managing the upcoming power-pop trio Not Ur Girlfrenz, while Wiseman has a real estate career. “It’s just a balance thing,” he begins, “Sometimes it’s just getting together and talking about nothing, being best friends. It’s what we do.”
The amazing thing about the band’s success, is that it has allowed Reddick to stay away from your typical 9-5 job (something that’s referenced in Bowling for Soup’s “Life After Lisa“). His first job working for someone else came back when he was 16, in which he worked washing dishes at a cafeteria and shoveled stables for 3 months. That was also the last job he had in which he worked for someone else. At 17 he started his own business, then he runs through his various other entrepreneurial outfits: owning a retail store, building houses with a partner, being the #1 above ground swimming pool builder for a company in Texas. “Then [after all of that] I decided ‘Okay, I’ve got two degrees, I’ve got three failed companies. I guess I’ll just go be a musician — and that’s what I did,” he explains. Once the band got started, Reddick and bassist Erik Chandler would stay with friends and whoever would feed them or sometimes sleeping in the van.”We were playing acoustic shows on Monday and Tuesday’s, making a shit-load of money. It was all cash. Then, we would be in Bowling for Soup on weekends. We did that for years and years,” he highlights.
We had to, of course, retrospectively discuss the Grammy nomination — which, for the record, was over a decade before blink-182 was nominated for their first Grammy in 2017 — that totally came out of nowhere for the band. “None of us realized really what that meant, even while it was happening,” Reddick says explaining the 2003 “Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo” nomination for “Girl All the Bad Guys Want.” He goes on to liken it to receiving your doctorate, in that essentially no one can take that away from you once you get it. The phrase “Grammy nominated-band Bowling for Soup” will simply never be inaccurate. It was a turning point for the band, as the song began getting traction on pop radio, and they started appearing in things like People Magazine. “The impact of it was crazy for us,” he states.
Reddick is hesitant to call the Grammy the craziest thing to happen to their band, although acknowledging it’s importance. There was a time when the band was on national TV for the Billboard awards and were in that side of the music world for a while. We talk about how the band had a slow and steady climb from 1994 to the early-2000’s, and how they have sort of hung around that level of success, with incredible things along the way. After some thought, Reddick adds a specific time from when they were in China doing a Hennessy sponsored event in which Bowling for Soup found themselves on Billboards in China. “Four fuckin’ fat guys from Texas just like on billboards in China. When you’re driving by that, it’s hard to grasp it — it really is. It’s just one of those things where you’re just like ‘that’s fucking weird'” he begins. “It was the year that the Olympics that were gonna be there, and remember they had the Bird’s Nest? That’s where all of the Olympics happened. We had a fucking billboard opposite the highway of that thing, it was crazy.”
To bring things a little more up-to-date, Reddick and I discuss Bowling for Soup’s recent ‘Get Happy’ UK tour in early-2018, when they performed their 2002 album Drunk Enough to Dance in full. “People probably don’t realize this, but usually when a band goes and records an album, 80% of that, that’s the last time you’ll ever play those songs again,” he explains mentioning the difficulty of pulling off their full album shows. He also mentions that guitarist Chris Burney used a cheat sheet for the whole tour, having to turn pages between songs and their tour manager making sure it doesn’t get blown off stage. It was an environment that Reddick paints as a fun picture, revisiting songs he wrote in the back of their van while the band was supporting their major label debut, 2000’s Let’s Do It for Johnny!!
For a band that rarely rehearses or puts setlist’s together, visiting these older songs provided a new challenge, noting that it took two shows to really nail their performance. “We hate rehearsing,” Reddick begins, “Our rehearsals are us sitting around, we like have a beer, and we’re like ‘you guys wanna go get chicken wings?’ and that’s it. So, we had to rehearse like three times for [Drunk enough to Dance] and I just remember like, me and Gary by the third one are just like ‘Are we done here? What the fuck? Can’t y’all just practice at home?” For reference, judging by a few YouTube videos, they did just fine.
Bowling for Soup did a “Finally Legal” tour back in 2015 when the band was celebrating it’s 21st anniversary, so what will happen for their 25th anniversary next year? “I’ve got to start thinking about that now, but I think I want to do something big,” Reddick stated. A Hangover You Don’t Deserve — which features “1985,” “Almost” and “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” — will turn 15 next year as well, and while he stated that “The good thing about [A Hangover You Don’t Deserve] is: there’s so many hits on it, it won’t take us long to get that one worked up,” there are no plans set in stone for anything.
For as much as we have highlighted the past up to this point in our conversation, I wanted to discuss their new music and how they want to move forward with that as a band. “For us, I’m in a weird spot with new music. I don’t really know how much our fans really want to do new shit. I guess they do, but, you know, I almost feel like there’s a whole movement of they want us to do different shit,” Reddick explains as he tosses out the idea of doing something like covers record. He mentions that off of 2016’s Drunk Dynasty they had the single “Hey Diane” that went over well, and while there’s people who want to hear “Don’t Be a Dick” off of that record, they have mainly excluded that record (and 2013’s Lunch. Drunk. Love.) from their sets, at least for now. Overall, though, he finds the idea of new music still important for the band. “I have some ideas for some new stuff. I’m on a roll right now writing, anyway. I think that’s probably what we’ll do; after this summer, I think we’ll go and start figuring out when we’re gonna record again and start moving towards that,” Reddick states.
This is a band comfortable with where they are at and where they are headed. It’s been an incredible journey for the band, coming from acoustic shows during the week to being Grammy nominated and RIAA platinum certified to poking fun at themselves at this year’s Warped Tour. They aren’t going away soon, and you don’t want them to. After seeing them twice in one week in July, I would recommend their live shows to anyone. So as the band goes on, the legend continues to grow for the greatest band of all time, Bowling for Soup.