It’s a cool mid-October evening when we meet up with Bowling For Soup’s bassist Erik Chandler. Being as popular a band as they are, we’ve only got a ten minute slot for a quick chat and so when we arrive and say “Hi”, Erik starts affably chatting right away, pouring himself a cheeky vodka as we get set up. Extremely husky, his voice sounds like a 40-a-day man, though truth be told I don’t know he’s even a smoker or if it’s just so many years of touring, as we’ll discover later on. As we begin he gracefully accepts a beer from the tour manager, just one of the harsh realities of being a rock star. We start the chat with the obvious question.
Why the farewell tour?
“OK, it’s a bit of a misnomer on the ‘farewell’ tour”, he says slightly apologetically. “We’re just not going to tour in the capacity we have over the last thirteen years in the UK. I was talking in an interview last night and started thinking about it. I’ve been in this country since the year 2000 at least twice a year for the last thirteen years. At this point in our career… it just doesn’t make sense for us any more with wives and kids and families and home life and everything that goes along with that to be gone out of the country for a month at a time.
It just makes things like that difficult not being able to catch up with my girl or whatever, but then also on top of that, we don’t want to be that band that you see one year playing main stage at Download then the next year you’re catching them in front of forty people at academy seventeen or whatever in the tiniest rooms. We don’t wanna tarnish the memories that we create for people or the memories that we’ve created for us by running it into the ground.”
Are you still touring in the US though?
“We’re slowing that down quite a bit also but we’ll still be in the studio making music together. It’s by no means the end of the band. We’ve got plans for two albums to be released next year that we’ve yet to record and three DVD’s, two of which we’re filming on this tour right now.”
What will you miss most about the UK, touring, etc?
“Playing live every night over here. I’ve played all over the world and the UK and China are the most amorous fans that we’ve ever had and in China, it’s just because nobody ever fuckin’ goes there. In the UK it’s because you guys have such a different kind of music culture here. It’s very communal. You don’t know the guy standing next to you but hey, we’re here and we’re having a great time, you know. It’s like today out in front of the bus, just people sitting there waiting since like six thirty this morning and just chanting for us.”
“It’s so awesome because our fans have created this; we tried to facilitate it a little bit but they did it without us. Our fans have created this community amongst themselves and I have so many friends now because they made friends with other fans online just talking about us and getting together and coming to shows together and stuff like that. You know, I have people that I spend time with, like last summer on my vacation, that I’ve met at shows. I’m taking my girlfriend to meet these people from out of state I know because of playing shows and they’ve come out and been around enough that we got to know them so well. It’s really cool.”
“It’s amazing. I’ve got friends all over the world that I would never have had and never have known had I not been in this band. I was sitting on my couch doing some email and an email popped up and it was my friend Yoko who lives in Osaka. If you’re ever in Osaka go to a place called Rock Rock“, he says leaning into the mic. “It’s one of the fuckin’ greatest rock and roll bars you’ll ever go into. It’s not much bigger than this area that we’re in right here”, indicating the comfortable yet not exactly palatial tour bus, “but it’s just a fantastic fuckin’ rock n roll kinda dive bar and the people that work there are absolutely great.”
So does the community explain why you went for Pledgemusic as a route for the new album?
“You know, that was a little experiment for us just to see how it could go and it was fantastic. It gave us the opportunity to let people be very viscerally involved in our album making process. I think for at least half the time we were in the studio we had fans in the studio with us and everybody was really fuckin’ cool, like, you know, staying out of the way and letting us do our job but still having a good time and being part of the whole thing. This is the first album that we’ve ever been ahead of schedule as we were recording it.
“We took a different approach this time and because there were fans around we did a song a day. Normally the way that we’ve done it, you’ve done all the drums, you do all the bass, then you do all the guitars, then you get to the vocals and then you get to the extra little sprinkles that you put on top, and this time we started a song and finished it by the end of the day. Doing it that way, we ended up knocking out two, two and a half songs a day sometimes.”
That explains two new albums to come next year then…
“Yeah, and so because we had people in the studio and it’s like, you know, you don’t want their experience to just see Gary spend an exhaustive day doing ten songs on drums or whatever, and so we did that for them and we found out after this long it’s the process that works best for us, so that’s the way we’ll be doing it from now on I suppose.”
Did it produce a better album then do you think?
“I believe it did, because of how quickly we were able to do it, you know. I think this is the best sounding album that we’ve ever made and it wasn’t in the best studio that we’ve ever been in, it wasn’t with the best technicians that we’ve ever worked with.”
It caught the moment I guess?
“Yeah, exactly. Everything fell into place just right for this. I’m really really happy with it.”
At this point our ten minutes are up and we’ve only managed to ask two and a half of the original questions we’d come armed with. With a quick thank you and a photo, we cheerfully headed into the venue to enjoy the gig. You can read how that went by reading our review.