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After 17 years, Bowling for Soup still satisfies

Posted 4:40pm on Tuesday, May. 31, 2011

Seventeen years in any profession is impressive, never mind the rapidly shifting music biz.

Founded in Wichita Falls and now based in Denton, Bowling for Soup is closing in on two decades of fun-loving, high-energy pop-punk. Led by frenetic front man Jaret Reddick, the Grammy-nominated foursome (Reddick, Chris Burney, Erik Chandler and Gary Wiseman) has built up a passionate fan base, thanks to relentless touring, musical cameos on Phineas & Ferb and near-constant engagement on social media (Reddick, as well as the other BFS'ers, are dedicated Twitter-holics). After six albums with Jive Records, Bowling for Soup bid the major label world farewell, striking out on its own to release Fishin' for Woos, the band's 11th full-length record, earlier this year.

To celebrate its 17th anniversary (albeit unintentionally; Reddick says the routing just worked out that way), Bowling for Soup will play a trio of shows in north and central Texas. BFS hits Denton's Rockin Rodeo Thursday, Austin's the Parish on Friday and Fort Worth's the Aardvark, one of the first clubs where BFS experienced regional success, on Saturday (its actual 17th birthday). The band will circle back through Texas in August, hitting San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

It's just part of the hectic year on tap: After a few shows in the UK and an Asian stint in July, playing U.S. naval bases and aircraft carriers, the quartet will hit the West Coast and return to the UK. After that, there are plans to release a solo album from Chandler, a debut LP from Reddick's side project People on Vacation and, already, plans to head back into the studio for BFS's 12th album next spring. I caught up with Reddick earlier today to discuss all the BFS goings-on.

So, are you surprised/shocked to be staring down 17 years?
Reddick: [Laughs] It’s funny, because it’s definitely not something we set out to do. We were playing shows just for fun and doing our thing. It’s weird – you blink and it’s one thing after another and here we are. I'm surprised, definitely, but not shocked; it’s been this never-ending thing. Every five years, we're like, "We’ve got two years left in us!" [But] we’re still going strong. I have to give props to an amazingly loyal fan base. They've stuck with us through them growing up and us growing up ... we're very blessed.

Why go the indie route now?
Now more than ever, it makes sense. ... After we split with Jive, we had the opportunity to go to another indie label and a couple major labels, maybe that’ll make sense down the road, but right now, [going indie] makes sense. Let’s give it a shot on our own; let’s go out and do out a really organic launch of a record we believe in. It’s funny because when you’ve been such an easy target for critics for so long -- because we’re seen as that band that doesn’t take itself seriously -- but by the time you get to your 11th album, critics have a real hard time finding things to say. They can’t say we’re not good at what we do; we must be doing something right.

In keeping with the DIY theme, you guys are also pretty active on Twitter.
You have to be. It’s part of the job but also part of the appeal. There does come a time when you think, "I don’t have anything to say." There are those times where you wish you could take a week off, [but] part of what you do is keep your fans engaged. For the fans, they have total access. They come to expect that, and the minute you stop, they’re like, "What’s going on?" We give music fans so much content that we’re actually doing it to ourselves. Techology has allowed us to chisel away at the attention span of the music fan.

Tell me about Fishin' for Woos. You guys knocked that out pretty quick last year.
Things were really simple for us until we got to [2002's] Drunk Enough to Dance. We added a few things here and there, as we got into [2006's] The Great Burrito Extortion Case and 2009's Sorry for Partying, we got really experimental with all the stuff we were learning how to do. For this, because of time and money, we had a short amount of time, so we kept it simple. I remember Erik and I the week before we went into the studio, I have an iPod that was on … Drunk was playing … and we were like, "Now we understand why people say it’s their favorite Bowling for Soup album." We just reeled it in and made a good ol' Bowling for Soup album. I think we grew but also we also put out that signature Bowling for Soup sound. My thing has always been, like, buying a Bad Religion album: I know what it’s gonna sound like before I put it in and I’m fine with that.

What's up with People on Vacation [a side project Reddick started with Smile Smile's Ryan Hamilton]?
It's going great; we've pretty much finished the album. We're shopping it to labels, and the reaction is amazing. ... It's all a matter of accidental greatness that happened. Ryan and I got together to write a couple songs, put the two ways we write songs together to see where it would go. The first song we wrote [Rainy Day] was great; the second time we knew, we’re onto something. We've written and recorded 15 songs and the album will be out, if not end of this year, the beginning of next year. We'll also be playing some acoustic shows this summer in Dallas.

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