Bowling For Soup first graced our eardrums back in 1994 with their eponymous debut album, seventeen years and several hits later the boys are back. This time around they deliver what is perhaps their best work yet with Fishin For Woos, the band’s first studio album in two years, and more importantly their first sans label. Being the humble superstars that they are, it was no surprise to me that bassist and founding member Erik Chandler took time out of his busy schedule, on the day of one of his band’s proudest moments, to chat with me about everything from “Fishin’” to Phineas and Ferb to football. So sit back, grab a cold one, and enjoy…
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the release of Fishin’ For Woos, which hits stores today. I actually had a chance to listen to it, and was very impressed.
ERIK CHANDLER: Thank you so much man, ya know we’re really excited about it, really happy with the way it turned out. This one kinda… ended up being greater than the sum of it’s parts. Because we actually, for the first time in a while, didn’t have the opportunity to overthink anything, and so it just kinda is what it is, and it turned out really well.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, Fishin’ For Woos is an interesting name, and you guys have always been known for being a little comical, where did that name come from?
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s actually just kind of an inside joke with the band… there’s some things that bands will say from the stage that are designed to elicit a certain response from the audience. One night on stage, something was said, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it got one of those ya know crowd wide screams, and Jaret walks up to the mic and says “OK, well I wasn’t fishin’ for woos, but I’ll take ‘em” So from that night on, that became a running joke for us, that we’re going fishing for woos.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) On this album there’s alot of songs, such as the first single “S-S-S-Saturday” and “Here’s Your Freakin’ Song” which scream classic BFS. But then you have your softer side coming out in songs like “Turbulence” and “Guard My Heart”, the latter of which you, yourself actually wrote 14 years ago for a movie. What went into the decision to finally include that song on an album after so many years?
ERIK CHANDLER: I wrote that song and it wasn’t… especially 14 years ago, there was no way we could’ve included that song on a Bowling For Soup record. At that point we weren’t really putting non-high octane rockers on our albums. We had gotten approached to do a song for this independent film called Sardines that actually never really did anything, and ya know we went in the studio and did a really quick version of it, and we were never really happy with it so we didn’t ever release it or put it out to where people could get it. But Jaret and I did the song at a couple of acoustic shows, and some fan videos started leaking out around the internet, especially here amongst our street team. Word of it kinda spread and it was, ya know the “secret song” that wasn’t ever recorded, but here’s a little bit of evidence of it’s existence. So people, for years now, have been asking us to play it at shows and we never really played it as a full band. And then, just because the fan response to this “non-existent” song was so great, we finally decided to give it to the hard core folks, ya know. So that was more of a gift to our street teamers.
AWAY-TEAM: Now this is your first album without a label, being now free of the label and being able to call your own shots, what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but never have been able to, but now that you have the freedom, you plan to do?
ERIK CHANDLER: We did it! The first thing, when we were finally free and clear of the whole Jive Records contract, immediately the first thought was ‘We’ve gotta get into the studio and make an album, like right now!’ And for the very first time ever, there was zero input from outside the band. It was all us. Our managers… one of our managers came by the studio while we were in the recording process, but he didn’t even go in the control room, didn’t even listen to anything that we were doing, and it was so awesome not to have that. Ya know, people from record labels come around, and these are business people, they’re not musicians and all of a sudden they start trying to throw their two cents into the studio process and the creative process, and when they’re in positions of authority you kinda feel an obligation to appease them. When it comes down to mix time and everything, everybody’s got an opinion, and for the first time this was all band. The only input that was there was us, and the producer, and I think that honestly speaks to why we love the album so much.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s gotta be a great feeling, after so many years being pushed in different directions.
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah, ya know, I mean I was saying this earlier today, but you spend a certain amount of your career attempting to get into certain situations, like label contracts and what-not, and then you immediately spend the next portion of your career trying to get out of those relationships to get back to work for yourself. (laughing) And it’s great because, we actually have a record label in place, it’s just we get to be in charge of it now, it’s not like we’re running down to the Kinko’s and making the CD jacket copies ourselves, and what-not. There’s actually a record label there, and real distribution and everything, it’s just we get to be in charge now, and we’re the be all end all, and get the final say in everything.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been involved with the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb, which my daughter and I love, how did that come about? And what was the initial reaction when the opportunity arose?
ERIK CHANDLER: The guys who created that show worked together on The Simpson’s, and evidentally in the Writer’s Room at The Simpson’s, I don’t know if it still happens now, but back then they liked to play Bowling For Soup in the Writer’s Room. Fast forward down the road, they’re doing this cartoon, and they had the 30 second theme song written, and they wanted to turn it into a 3 1/2 minute kinda radio single song, and we were the band that they wanted to do it. So they actually sought us out and asked us if we would be interested, and the took Jaret and flew him to L.A. and showed him some of the unfinished first few episodes. He came back and said “You know what, I think this cartoon is gonna do really well. It seems really funny. Let’s do it.” We jumped in the studio, and two days later sent them back their song and they loved it. That afforded us the opportunity to do a few more songs for the cartoon, and they animated Bowling For Soup into an episode. It’s really cool, alot of fun working with those guys, good folks too.
AWAY-TEAM: I did see that they are actually coming out with a full length movie. Are there any plans to include you guys in that as well?
ERIK CHANDLER: Jaret has written, at least one song for the movie, and I don’t know as of yet if we will be recording it, or if someone else will be recording it. But he will be involved, at least in that part of it.
AWAY-TEAM: One of your biggest hits was the song “1985″, which you wrote with Mitch and John Allen, who are friends of the site. If you could go back in time and could’ve written and performed any song from that era, what would it be?
ERIK CHANDLER: Oh wow!…from that era…hmmm. You’re actually throwing me for a loop here. How about Alex Chilton from The Replacements.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow, interesting choice!
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah that’s that era-ish. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: So, obviously you guys still live in Denton, TX, and sort of pride yourselves on being just regular guys. After nearly 20 years of fame, in which you’ve stayed grounded and stayed in your hometown, do you still get around town swarming you for pictures and autographs? Or do they kinda get it and say “Yeah that’s Erik, he’s just a regular guy with a really cool job“?
ERIK CHANDLER: In Denton, that never happens! It rarely ever happens, because that’s the attitude around there. It’s like, everybody’s a musician, some people happen to be doing it on different levels than others. So it’s no big deal, all people are in the music scene, you know who drinks at what bar. You know who you’re going to find at what restaurant on Tuesday nights, because that’s where they go every Tuesday night. It’s a small town, and a pretty close community, as far as the music scene goes. When you move a little further south, like down into the Dallas area, that’s when stuff like that starts happening. Ya know, the staff at a restaurant wants to all at one time come and get a group picture. Which is really cool, but at the same time everybody else in the restaurant wonders why all the service has stopped, and everybody is standing around your table. It’s like “Who are those guys?” that everybody’s over getting their picture taken. That can be a little bit weird at times, but it’s a really cool problem to have.
AWAY-TEAM: I think it’s cool that you can go home and maintain a bit of normalcy as well.
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: You and Jaret both have other bands that you’re involved with as well. So when you’re going through the songwriting process, do you ever find yourself struggling with whether a particular song might be better suited for BFS or The Mulberry St. Socialites?
ERIK CHANDLER: Me, not so much. I can remember one song that was kinda in between from my stuff, and I had written it, and I was really stoked and I had sent it to Jaret, and he’s like “Hey man, this might be a really good Bowling For Soup song” I thought that’s cool, that’s great, let’s wait and see, and when it came down to time to nail down the Bowling For Soup songs, he was like “You know what, why don’t you just keep it for your band.” I was like “OK”, and I wrote for the rest of the year, I guess until November for the album, and the song didn’t even end up making my album. (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: It didn’t make the final cut, it din’t quite fit the vibe of everything else. But I’ve still got it, and we’ve actually discussed possibly putting it on the next Bowling For Soup album, so.
AWAY-TEAM: I was gonna say, it may be another one of those songs you release 14 years later. (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: Right, right. (laughing) The thing with our solo, or extracurricular projects if you will, they’re so different than Bowling For Soup so there’s not really that trouble of which does this go to. Ya know, it’s either a Bowling For Soup song, or it’s for something else.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been known for playing some really crazy, off the wall covers over the years. With that being said, how do you feel about Prince’s recent comments, that he doesn’t think that anyone should be able to cover another artists song because it detracts ownership from the original artist? I mean, I have tremendous respect for Prince but I find that slightly hypocritical, given that he covered the Foo Fighters just a couple years ago during the Superbowl. What are your thoughts on that?
ERIK CHANDLER: I think that’s completely… I think that’s just bad all together. I think he’s probably upset that Sinead O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares to You” was much bigger than his version of it.
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s really cool to me to hear other people’s interpretations of songs. Especially a situation where somebody can take a song and go completely the opposite direction with it, than how it was originally recorded. It’s like wow, this is awesome, this is a great reimagining of the original idea. But then, if a cover is too close to the original, that doesn’t do much for me. But if you’re able to throw a different spin on it, I think… I mean isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery?
AWAY-TEAM: You hit it right on the head. I mean, to me, I think you’re bringing attention to the artist’s song. So ya know, I may hear a cover, and say “Wow, I haven’t heard that song in a long time!” And guess what I’m doing, I’m going right to iTunes and downloading the original, because I had it on cassette or vinyl! (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah, yeah! I mean it’s like, I think it’s a cool thing for artists to be able to say “Hey, this song influenced me.” And I’m putting my stamp of approval on whoever it may be!
AWAY-TEAM: Right on! So have you guys ever thought of releasing an entire album of cover songs? And if so what is the one song that MUST be on there?
ERIK CHANDLER: We have discussed it actually. Just because we’ve done so many in the past. Every tour we slave over the fact that “OK we have to come up with something new. We have to come up with something that has never come up in the past, that would be really cool, that no one would ever imagine us doing, but we could make it perfect in the Bowling For Soup style.” So we’ve ended up with just a giant catalog of those. But I can’t think of one that…. uh, ya know what… “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.
AWAY-TEAM: That’d be a cool one!
ERIK CHANDLER: We actually demoed that. We were gonna put it on an album, a couple albums ago, but we weren’t really happy with the way the demo came out. So we kinda scrapped, in our minds we’re not gonna do it, but… that was the very first cover song that we learned to play in June of 1994, and we’ve been playing that song in sound check for 17 years. Every once in a while, when we’re feeling saucy (laughs), we’ll play it at a show. In 17 years, we may have played it at 25 shows, which is not alot in the grand scheme of things.
AWAY-TEAM: Living in Texas, it’s gotta be almost a requirement that you love football, correct?
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s kinda bred into us down here for some reason. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) So what’s you’re opinion on the NFL lockout? I know we just got some encouraging news yesterday, but we’ve got a long way to go. If we don’t have a season for some reason, what do you think America should be tuning into on Sundays? What should they put on TV in football’s place?
ERIK CHANDLER: I think they replace the NFL on all the major networks with that Lingerie Football League. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Dude, I knew you were gonna say that! (laughing) When I compsed the question that was the first thing that popped into my mind as a possible answer! (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: (laughs) I can’t say honestly that I’ve ever seen one of the games, but I’m fairly certain that the action’s not gonna be quite as good, but that’s a decent replacement as far as I’m concerned.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Agreed. That’s exactly what I would’ve said too.
ERIK CHANDLER: Maybe we can get Vince McMahon to bring back the XFL! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) There you go! Well hey, Erik, it’s been a real pleasure talking to you. Best of luck with the album, and I know you’re kicking off a tour in a couple of days, so again best of luck. Hopefully we’ll get to talk again soon!
ERIK CHANDLER: Right on man! Thanks alot, I appreciate it!
AWAY-TEAM: Take it easy.
ERIK CHANDLER: Bye.
For more info on Bowling For Soup including Tour Dates, and to purchase music, visit http://www.bowlingforsoup.com/main.php
Special thanks go to Erik Chandler for so graciously giving me his time on such an important day in his career, and also to Tim Tatulli at Stache Media/Sony Music for making it all happen.
RED DISTRIBUTION/ SONY MUSIC
Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by: Jay Rybak
When first presented the opportunity to review an album from Bowling For Soup, I was a little on the fence. But as always is the case, I kept an open mind, and thus was pleasantly surprised. Not to say that I wasn’t a fan, but I just wasn’t a fan of the genre in general. Wasn’t is the operable word here.
Entering this project with an open mind is the best thing I could’ve possibly done. The album’s first two tracks do exactly what I thought they would… they get me moving, but maintain the status quo for the punk-pop genre. That was about to change. The first single “S-S-S-Saturday” and the lyrically genius “Here’s Your Freakin’ Song” took me by the ears and turned me 180 degrees. I was reminded that not only are these guys hilariously clever with their lyrics, they are quite adept at writing a quality song musically. With “Fishing for Woos”, BFS shows us they can also be serious with their acoustic laden analysis of life called “Turbulence”, yet still seamlessly bring us back to the comedy we are used to in it’s neighboring track “I’ve Never Done Anything Like This”, which is destined to not only become a fan favorite at the band’s shows, but seems to be a made to order track for druken debauchery at places such as the famed Irish Kevin’s in Key West, along side such classics as “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw” and “Sweet Caroline”. After following up with another great drinking anthem, “Friends, Chicks, Guitars” , the boys get back to the serious side with “Guard My Heart”, before leaving us with a reminder of how fun they are titled “Graduation Trip”.
All in all “Fishing for Woos” shows us the diverse musical talents of BFS, while still keeping true to who they are. The only complaint I can lodge on this one is, I was dying to hear the rumored track “Dear Megan Fox”… perhaps another time. Until then, tide yourselves over with this little masterpiece by heading over to http://www.bowlingforsoup.com/main.php and pre-ordering the album, which hits stores on April 26th. This album comes Highly Recommended.