Bowling for Soup
Interview with Erik Chandler by Ashley B, October 2012
Bowling for Soup are what I like to call one of the founding fathers of the pop-punk movement. Before their recent gig at The Junction, Cambridge, I caught up with bassist and vocalist Erik Chandler. Erik was super cool and one of the nicest dudes in the world; I can't thank him enough for his time!
I started singing in church as a kid, as a very, very young kind, and by the time I was 7 I had decided that I wanted to be a singer. Then when I was 13 I figured out that I needed to be able to make some music to go along with my singing. I'd had piano lessons from the ages of 6 - 8 and then I'd given that up. The summer between my junior high and high school transition, I locked myself in my bedroom with a book of chords and taught myself how to play guitar. And that was 25ish years ago and here I am now. It's so weird to think that I've been I'm going to do the actual math 24 years ago, so I've been playing guitar for 24 years and it's weird to think I've been doing it for this long.
What was your first gig like?
When I was 7, I sang on stage with my grandfather's band, I was in front of probably 3,000 people because Texas was celebrating its 150th year of independence from Mexico so it was like a big local thing. Everybody was out and his band was playing and they let me play 2 songs, one of them was Amazing Grace, I can't remember what the other one was. That was the moment where it was like oh, I kind of enjoy this.
What's been your favourite gig so far?
There are a lot that, kind of, mark moment in time for us as a band. But about a year into Bowling For Soup we played a show in Abilene, Texas at a coliseum for a radio station. We were nothing at that point, but the radio station had started playing some of our songs. There were like 3,500 - 4,000 people at the show. I was so ill, I had a trash can behind my amp, running around and throwing up between songs. But it's like we walked up on that stage and we came down off stage off stage as a very different band. That was the one night that totally solidified everything that we do.
Any strange backstage moments?
(Laughs) Yes! We have amazingly great backstage moments all the time! There's a lot of nudity that goes on in our camp and it's simply for the humour factor. A great friend of ours, our old guitar tech, who, when the bus would get full of people after the show, when he got fed up with how many people were on, he would just come out struttin' completely naked and just plop himself down in the middle of the party. And it would always clear the bus of all the extra people because everybody would get super uncomfortable with naked guitar tech guy, but at the same time everyone in the group just thought it was super fucking hilarious, but others got super uncomfortable. Now when we have a new crew member come on, there is a ritual that we like to call nakey time, you've gotta be able to hang out with us completely fucking naked and have a beer. So the front lounge is full of a bunch of nudes, butt naked, having a beverage, having conversation. If you can get through that, then you can understand almost everything that goes on in our camp.
We're gonna go home and take a bit of a nap and then we're discussing a timeline for a new album, next year and we've discussed piggybacking a covers album with it also, that's something we've been discussing for well over a decade so a lot of stuff going on for BFS next year. But immediately in the future I'm going to be working on my solo project and Jaret is working on a new album with his side project. I've got my first full band solo show in November so things aren't stopping for us, but we're going to take a little bit of a rest.
Any advice to young musicians who will read this?
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and then do some more rehearsing. When we started, we would rehearse four, five, six hours a night for five or six nights a week. That's the only way to get locked in with the band that you're playing in. when you're just starting that's the best advice I can give because that's the only way we got to be where we are now.
Thanks to Dave at Invictus for sorting this out!