The close of 2013 sees Texan quartet Bowling For Soup toasting their nineteenth year of existence on the tail of their thirteenth full-length release. If these stats don't sound impressive then consider the following; their lifespan has been roughly double that of The Beatles and their album count is higher than that of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or even any of their noteworthy pop-punk peers, where quantity over quality is often the approach undertaken. Whilst not being a book-end on their career, 2013's tour has been billed as a 'Farewell Tour', in which they say goodbye to their typical rigorous annual schedule of touring Europe & the US.
Before they go on-stage to a sold-out audience at Nottingham Rock City, Contactmusic sits down with founding member Erik Chandler, a very talkative, intelligent individual who seems upon meeting to be at odds with the carefree, juvenile music he and his cohorts make.
Contactmusic: So, first off, how is this current tour going?
Erik: Well we're only two nights down but so far it's fantastic. We're playing a lot longer than we normally do, I think we're clocking in at around 31-35 songs a night and that's... that's a little bit of a beating, but I've been doing well at going to bed at a decent hour and waking up at a decent hour, not burning my candle at both ends.
Contactmusic: How are you finding the longer sets?
Erik: I love the fact that we're playing for that long, it's just the fact that for the first time ever we're using setlists and that whole thing is throwing me off a little bit, having to pay attention to what's coming up next because you've got songs in groups between these little breaks we have and you have to know what is coming up straight away. Twenty years in and I'm not used to doing that. But if that's the biggest problem of my day then that's not a bad thing.
Contactmusic: How have you chosen the sets?
Erik: Chris [guitarist] made a list of all the tracks we've ever played live and that came to about 65-70, and we narrowed it down to 40. Then it became a bargaining between the band on what tracks to trade off.
Contactmusic: How are you enjoying touring now compared to how it was when you first started out?
Erik: I enjoy it... OK, here's the thing. I enjoy playing shows just as much as when I first started, touring is not as easy as it used to be just because now I'm a grumpy old man. I'm road-worn, I'm grizzled. But I love doing this. It's one of the things I love to do just so I can bitch about it. I think that's where all of us sit on that subject. I bitch about the fact I have to go on tour, I go on tour and I have the time of my life, and then I go home and I bitch about the fact I just had to be on tour. When we're out here (playing) it's the greatest thing ever, but all of a sudden I'm 3,000 miles away from my home and my girlfriend and time difference and trying to communicate with people at home gets a little weird.
Contactmusic: So is that what is driving the band's decision to, at the very least, go easy on touring in the foreseeable future?
Erik: Yeah, that is pretty much it. It's not so much a farewell to the UK, it's just a farewell to the process of yearly touring. It's just gotten out of hand and it's not feasible to be gone for a month at a time anymore. We'll still come back for festivals and really short stints.
Contactmusic: So where will the band go from here? I understand you all have your own side projects.
Erik: Well, Bowling For Soup next year have two albums and three DVDs set for release, so we're still going to be going at full force, but my side project and Jaret's side project are going to use that downtime. I'm not sure that I'll be coming back to the UK in a solo capacity but that's coming up. I'm working right now on just getting the hometown [Dallas, TX] thing happening.
Contactmusic: So what's inspiring you to keep this work rate up?
Erik: What else would I do?! What would any of us do?
Contactmusic: Well, what did you do before you joined Bowling For Soup?
Erik: I joined when I was 19 and the last straight job I had I was a bartender and server at a restaurant and I was three years into university and I dropped out because of the band. I took a semester off and I'm still on that semester off... at 39 years old.
Contactmusic: Have you thought about going back?
Erik: No... there's no way I'd have the patience to do that now. When this all ends, I'll work in a kitchen at a restaurant and be a chef somewhere. Whether that means I'll do a six month culinary course or just go work for someone I know, that's my aspiration.
Contactmusic: Is that something you think a lot about?
Erik: Yeah! I think about it a lot. Because that's my other thing, cooking. Which the lady loves because she's got something hot and ready to go whenever she gets home.
Contactmusic: To wrap things up, as a wizened old hand at the touring game, what's one piece of advice you'd give to anyone reading this that is about to embark on their first tour?
Erik: Don't suck, and make sure you're in a band with people you like because if you don't get along at the start you aren't going to get along at the end. The people that I'm in a band with are my favourite people in the entire world. That doesn't mean you can't have issues with somebody about something but it means you can easily resolve those issues because you're friends. I'm closer to these guys, band and crew, than I am with my family. This is my family. I don't know if that's s****y to say? It's just that when you spend so much time on top of each other you're kind of forced to be that close, and that's just the way that it is, and I kinda apologise for it but, I don't really? You know when you see your dad twice a year... and these are the people that are with you constantly everyday you have to try and make it work, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
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Photograph (Ed Sheeran cover) [Live] Video
Heartbeat Song (Kelly Clarkson cover) [Live]