We had a chat with Bowling For Soup bassist Erik Chandler, just before he went on stage for the Sheffield leg of the Party In Your Pants tour…
It’s been 3 years since your last album, how long have you been working on the new one?
Well for the writing process, if we’re not on the road then there’s writing going on. We recorded in January of this year and worked on it until March.
Talk us through the BFS song writing procedure.
Jaret writes most of the songs, but for this album it happened a little bit differently. In the past we’ve all got together with one of his songs, and then all thrown bits in, then we’ll record it and do a live demo of it. Although this time around, because technology is so fantastic, we did a lot of it at Jaret’s house just using pro tools on his laptop. We’ll write a song, thrown down some drums, I’ll lay down some bass or some guitar. A lot of it was done whenever Jaret wrote it, if he wrote it with someone else, so we’d have these almost finished of songs that sound better than our first three albums and those are demos. A lot of it was just – we’d be at his house and he’d be like “OK I need this bass part, can you play some guitar for me, I need this done this way.”
Who wrote My Wena?
That’s written by Jaret and co-written by a guy who co-produced our album, Linus of Hollywood.
For future reference, where do you get a giant penis costume from?
You have it made! $6,000 will go a long way.
It was like $3000 or $6000, fairly expensive. That’s why we continue to make more videos, ‘cause it’s like “man we spent all this money on this”.
Yeah, we’ve not seen it on many music channels.
The album is called sorry for partying. Are you guys big party animals?
We do enjoy our drink, we enjoy the rock and roll, on the road, tour bus, party lifestyle. Yes. It’s something that is catching up on us a bit now that we’ve all got a bit older, but for some reason we don’t seem to be slowing down. We have a little, but not much.
You sell a special album package which includes a song written for the buyer with their name in it.
Yeah, I didn’t even know that this kind of think happened, that people sell different packages. If you want to pay this exorbitant amount of money then why not?
Is it going to be a case of write a song and shove a name in?
No no no, we’ll get your to give us some information, maybe a good story and then we’ll write a song about that.
That’s amazing. You’ve been together 15 years, what are you the most proud of?
Being together for 15 years. I’m about to be 35 years old, I’ve never done anything for 15 years, I didn’t go to school for 15 years and in a few years I’ll have been in this band for half my life, that’s an amazing thing to be able to even consider the fact that we’ve managed to stay together this long and I think it’s because of our genuine friendship with each other. And it doesn’t hurt that we’ve been able to sell a couple of tickets.
A lot of bands try grow up musically and get a bit too serious and it doesn’t suit them. BFS are just as fun to listen and to watch. Do you think it’s important to stick with what you know the fans like?
You know, it’s important to us because this band is about that kind of music. If we were going to do something, and eventually we probably will do something a bit more serious, it couldn’t be bowling for soup, it would have to be in the form of another band.
What’s the most rock and roll thing you’ve ever done?
I don’t remember a lot of them. One of the greatest nights ever, I’m trying to remember where we were… I can’t remember where, but one night in particular we were on tour, we’d brought our friends Simple Plan over to support us, and through some sort of drunken dressing room conversation at the end of the night we decided that the refrigerators in our dressing room needed to go over the balcony outside, and so they took a fly and we were promptly asked to leave the premises. Shit happens all the time, nightly. I walked down the stairs on the bus the first night that we were here to see a man getting a whole roast chicken smashed into his head, I don’t know why, but did it surprise me that it was happening? No, because that shit just happens.
What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
This, right here.
What if this hadn’t worked out?
At that point I would have probably been a literature teacher, but by now I probably would have been burnt out on that and become a chef or something.
So if it all ends tomorrow…
I’ve planned to go to culinary school at some point when this is over, but it’s a two year commitment and I’d like to do it all at the same time, so we’ve got to get to a point where Bowling For Soup take a break for two years.
We’d imagine the refrigerators there are a bit harder to throw over balconies…
[laughs] Yes absolutely, they’re slightly larger than dressing room refrigerators.
Have you got any non-musical talents?
I’m a great bocce ball player.
It’s similar to bowls.
What can we expect from tonight’s gig?
Rock and roll mayhem.
Will you be partying in your pants?
I’m already partying in my pants, in fact I’ve partied in my pants twice today already.
Did you guys name the tour?
Actually our manager did, we were looking for something that went along with Sorry For Partying, and we were sitting at lunch with him one day and he said “Party In Your Pants is a pretty good name for your tour” and it was like “Fuck yeah it is”.
What advice would you give to bands starting out now?
Rehearse, be with people that you enjoy being with and don’t try to take yourself too seriously because there’s nothing worse than meeting folks in bands that have this attitude “Oh I’m this” or “I’m that” or “I’m rock and roll and so I have the licence to be fucking rude and idiotic” and “I’m Steven Morrissey and if I smell meat anywhere in the general vicinity I’ll walk off stage”, that kind of shit. It burns me up so bad to watch people like that, it’s like “Who the fuck are you? You’re some asshole who got lucky enough to do this for a living and you use it to make other people’s lives miserable” – that’s not what this is about.
We see you guys on Twitter a lot. Do you think it’s a good platform for bands?
Absolutely. The technology that’s available today, you can be immediately in touch with fans. The technology that has caused record sales to drop and that part of the industry not to be as lucrative is the very same technology that has allowed us to be more personal and in touch with fans, which brings more people to shows.
What are your thoughts on music piracy?
When we started with a major label it was right at the beginning of the whole Napster thing, so we haven’t ever lived without it. When Billy Joel inducted John Mellancamp into the hall of fame, part of his induction speech was talking about the fact that no one sells records any more, and you just don’t. We sell enough, but 500,000 albums today would be 2.5 million 15 or 20 years ago. It’s because the technology is there, people will get you music if they want it and that’s just something that the Lars Ulrichs of the world are gonna have to realise. Kids are going to get your stuff and it’s not like they’re going to walk in to Walmart and steal a CD, they can do it in their bedroom. You’ve got to learn to adapt.
Do you think music piracy affects you directly?
I know that it does, but it doesn’t bother me because we have found other ways to be able to make a living doing what we do, so it’s not a big deal. The biggest problem I have is when people leak your albums before they’re out. It happened to us the last 3 or 4 albums and this time the same person leaked ours and Paramore’s album on the same day. So it was available almost a month before it was released and it’s like – “Let us have our day of giving our gift to the world”. It kind of takes the wind out of your sales. But then again, had it not leaked and we’d released it, I’d be like “If you wanna go download it illegally, go download it illegally”. If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it, and I’ll have no say in it.
What’s the best and worst thing about the UK?
Fans are the absolute best.
Are UK fans different to US fans?
These are the best music fans in the world, you will never find a better music fan than a UK music fan. Everyone’s heart’s into it, and they’re loyal as shit.
The worst thing, I don’t find the UK very convenient because we do things differently in the states. If I need batteries, I can’t just run down to a 7-Eleven and get batteries, but that’s just one of the cultural differences between here and there. We’ve set things up to the point where it’s absolutely easy to do anything and here it just seems like a bit more work to do whatever.
Give us some words of wisdom to end the interview on.
Keep it between the ditches, bitches.