This is my interview with Erik Chandler, bassist, from Bowling For Soup at their show on April 28th, 2012 in Cleveland, OH. BFS is seriously one of my favorite bands ever since I was young so to finally meet and see them was truly an honor. Here are links to the band’s songs “Almost:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNbOr0ylYZk and their cover of “London Bridge:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXbgSMT-0j4 that is mentioned in this interview.
CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW ON OUR NEW SITE: http://www.jbrinlinginterviews.com/.
Are you enjoying this tour?
It has been a blast.
When you prepare to go on tour, what is the one none instrument item that you can’t leave without?
Well, I’m going to get this one off of a technicality. I can’t leave without my backpack because I can fit my entire life in there. I’ve got my computer, all my chargers, all electronics, and all of that stuff but then I have this huge stock of emergency medicines in case you get sick on tour because as soon as somebody has signs of something, you have to nip that s**t in the bud. There can be no illness being passed around on a tour and that’s the way that it would normally happen. Sleeping on a bus and having everyone breathe recycled air, everyone will get it.
I heard you guys played a show actually this morning, how?
(Laughs) Yes, that was not my favorite thing that happened today. The show ended up being really cool, it’s just…
Me: Two shows in day.
Yeah that and for some reason I decided to stay up drinking until 5:30 a.m. and then have to wake up and play a show at noon. As soon as we got off stage, our crew packed up our gear super fast and drove here (Cleveland) from West Virginia.
What’s your must have food on tour?
Anything that is homemade. That is the good stuff. We eat what we can but most of the time on tour, you’re eating for survival rather than the enjoyment of what you are having. There are a lot of sandwiches and a lot of truck stop food, A LOT of pizza, but all of it is just for convenience. We were in Philly the other day and Gary and I did a cooking show which was really awesome because we got to eat all the food that we cooked (laughs). It was s good because that was the first, really cooked meal we had had in weeks.
So how did you get involved with a cooking show?
It’s a show called Rock Star Kitchen and basically you play a couple of songs with the host and then you do a cooking segment. They actually shoot it backwards but yeah, they approached our manager. They got us in there because Gary and I are amateur chefs.
So being a chef and enjoying the home cooked meals on tour, if you could have one meal that you made every day on tour, what would it be?
If I had a kitchen set up, I can make these braised scallops that are ridiculously good. If I could just have those right now…
Me: Not to toot my own horn, but they are fantastic!
(Laughs) They are really good. I just moved in with a new roommate and we were talking about splitting bills and groceries and I told him that he would have to let me get the groceries and I’ll cook. He jut went with it and then the first night I made pan seared tuna and he just looked at me and said ‘dude, you’re actually cooking like real food.’ ‘I told you I can cook man.’
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Current guilty pleasure is a band called Naked & Famous. That kind of electronic pop stuff is everything that I don’t like about that kind of music but they are just so good between their songs and the way they arrange their vocals, everything sounds like a gang vocal and it’s just well done.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Play with people that you like. Play with people that you love. If you don’t and something happens to your band that would propel you onto bigger and better things, you will be miserable. I, unfortunately, know too many bands that are huge but have band members that don’t like each other. It’s tough to understand then why they would even do this still. We always said from the beginning, we were going to do it until it wasn’t fun anymore.
Me: And here you are, 18 years later.
Exactly. These are my brothers and I’m closer to all of these guys, band and crew, than my own family. Which is kind of screwed up (laughs) a little bit but…
Me: Well you’ve been with them the majority of the time.
Right and we’ve been to hell and back together. I would compare it to the kind of relationships you build in some sort of military unit at war time. I’m not trying to say it’s the same thing at all but the hardship and the adversity that you have to overcome every day will solidify you as this unit and once you get to the point where everybody has worked out their role and knows where they fit in the group and it starts rolling like a machine, it’s really cool.
If you could give yourself advice 5-10 years ago, what would you say?
Ten years ago, I would say to just stick with it, just a little while longer, you’re almost there. Ten years ago was about the point…
Me: I think that was the Drunk Enough to Dance period.
Yeah you’re right, we just put out Drunk Enough to Dance and so “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” just hit rock radio and it had tanked. Yeah, on rock radio it had just done nothing and it had left us feeling just so defeated. Little did we know, later on in December that year, a pop radio station in Indianapolis, a guy who was just a fan of the band, locked “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” into power rotation over the Christmas break. Around Christmas, the entire industry shuts down and so the playlists that they make before break from like December 15th to January 10th would be locked in. In that time period, it would spin about 93 times a week which made other stations listen to it and go look at their playlists wondering why they were missing this song that was playing so frequently at this station. On January 7th of 2003, we got a phone call and we had been nominated for a Grammy for that song and all of us were just so confused by what had happened. Things were going really s**ty then in the period of three weeks, we somehow get a Grammy nomination and we were all like ‘what the hell!?!’
You recently finished your acoustic tour over seas, how much different is a full band tour from an acoustic tour?
It’s just way easier. Logistically, there are no logistics. Load in takes literally five minutes. Sound check, if we do one, is only five minutes. There’s room in the dressing rooms. In the U.K., when we are on a full band tour let’s say with two support acts, between bands and crew, we normally travel with a semi with p.a. and everything and then another bus for that crew. You end up with 60-65 people on the tour. The acoustic tour had three bands and there were twelve people on that tour. Jaret and I had our side projects open up for ourselves and so there were three acts comprised of three people, tour manager, front of house guy, a couple of British crew folks that we had document and do photography for us, production manager, bus driver, and that’s it.
Having your side projects open for yourselves, was that strange for you at all?
Not so much. Honestly, it was a logistics decision, again. You know, we end up making more money because we don’t have to pay opening bands and so that’s where that decision came from. Also, it gave both, Jaret and I, an outlet to expose Bowling For Soup fans to what else we were doing musically. There were positives from doing both sides of that.
I know some bands will include one song in their set because they just really enjoy playing it, do you have one?
I really do enjoy all of them but that changes from time to time. Normally, my favorite song will end up being…every tour we try to work in a new cover but it would have to be a song that most would think we wouldn’t necessarily do. A couple of years ago when “Hot N’ Cold” by Katy Perry was at it’s peak, we jumped on it and it was crazy, we just made it this heavy rock version of that song but she was just everywhere at that point so when we start people aren’t quite getting what we are playing until we hit the chorus and then this just explosion on every crowd member’s face happens and they just lose it.
Me: You guys did that with “London Bridge” too right?
(Laughs) We never really did that live, that song was really just the one off. The day we did that was one hell of a day. Back in the day, you know the band Steel Panther?
Back when they were Metal Shop, they had a weekly show at the Key Club in L.A. and so we went to see them and managed to get ourselves really, really intoxicated, to the point that Jaret and Chris scared the s**t out of Brian Posehn and he would not leave them alone because he was so freaked out. So we showed up there the next day and we were just hung over, they gave us a choice of three songs and we hadn’t decided yet until we decided on “London Bridge.” We downloaded it on iTunes there in the room and sat around Jared’s computer and learned it. Literally, we walked in the room and played through it only twice until we told the studio people to roll camera because it was as good as it was going to get. The video that everyone can see is our third attempt at playing that song after learning it 45 minutes beforehand. We were so hung over and I knew, I was like ‘you know what this is Yahoo, there is somebody around here that has a refrigerator in their office with a couple of beers in there. Can somebody please find us that?’ Within ten minutes, one of our really, really good friends worked there and comes back with a six pack of Moosehead. It was not good hangover beer but we needed it so we sat there and just chugged these beers and let I start sinking in and then we played the song.
How has Phineas & Ferb impacted your career?
Well it’s a nice paycheck, I’ll say that. (Laughs) No it’s really, really cool. Dan and “Swampy,” the creators, were big fans of Bowling For Soup and started working together on The Simpsons, evidently back then in the writers’ room at The Simpsons, they would listen to us quite a bit. Dan went on to be one of the original dudes on Family Guy and “Swampy” did another cartoon called Rocko’s Modern Life and then they came back together to do Phineas and Ferb and they luckily thought of us to do the theme song. The song was already written when they approached us with it and we all loved to do it. Now it’s nice, a few times a year, very unexpectedly, a check from Disney will come in the mail and we’re like ‘okay, we’ll take that, thank you.’
Me: That must have exposed you guys to a younger crowd too.
You know it does but it also (laughs)… you’d be surprised how many older people are into that show.
Me: So you are hitting the kids and the stoner crowd (laughs).
(Laughs) It is a smartly written show so that the adult stuff goes way above the kids’ heads so it’s great. I love cartoons as well…so like you said it’s a stoner thing (laughs). A lot of Powderpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo going on at my house.
When was the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio and what was that feeling like?
You know it was kind of an unfair thing for us. When we did our first album, we recorded it three months after getting together. We spent about six months forming this base in the small town we were from, Wichita Falls, Texas. Within six months, we had already made a huge splash on the music scene. We kind of became the “it” band and people saw something different in us compared to other bands. The local radio station put on one of our songs in rotation so we knew at 9:30 on a Thursday night that it would be there. I was literally sitting in my living room with my family just awaiting it anxiously.
What bands or artists have influenced you most?
For me, personally, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, The Lemonheads, rock n’ roll songwriters. For the band, The Descendants are probably the most influential on us doing what we do right now. Jaret in college was in this death metal band and when I was 16 years old I went to one of his shows and saw him play and it scared the s**t out of me and I left., that’s how heavy they were. A guy he was taking archery class with in college played him The Descendants and he realized you could make this heavy and fast music and still be able to sing too and be funny about stuff. He wanted to do that so he started a band called Cool Fork and I started a band with Chris at the same time and we were big fans of each other’s bands and we’d go to see each other play. When both bands broke up, we came together…all because of The Descendants.
If you could co-write with anyone, who would it be and why?
Man…I would personally love to write with Jeff Tweedy someday but I don’t know how well it’d go. Watch the Wilco documentary I’m Trying to Break Your Heart and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I love them as a band and he’s an amazing songwriter. I bet we could eventually get along very well but after seeing that I don’t really know.
Who is your favorite band or artist that you’ve toured or played with?
Patent Pending. Everybody on this tour is remarkable.
What’s one of your greatest memories as a band so far?
The first time we played the main stage at the Download Festival in the U.K. was pretty remarkable. You walk out on stage and you see 100,000 people there but you can’t soak it all in. There are people as far as you can see in every direction. The town we’re from has 100,000 people so imagining that the entire town was there and a photographer friend of ours took a really great picture of me from my back out onto the crowd. That was when I got my first real scope at what just happened.
What are your plans for future?
We’re going to finish this tour and we’ll be taking it easy until September and then we’ll be touring the States and the U.K. Then we’ll take our yearly break, we normally get home on Halloween and that’s the last thing we do for the year and just enjoy November and December off. Beginning next year, we’ll start TALKING about a new album.