Interview

w/Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup

                                                                                                                                                Jaret Reddick second from the left. (Louisville.com)
Lisa Sanchez

Bowling for Soup may be one of the most successful, long-running, low key bands I've had the chance to interview. Like basically every other teenager in the mid-2000's I heard Bowling for Soup's hits, "1985" and "High School Never Ends," but I didn't realize 13 years later I'd be interviewing lead singer Jaret Reddick. Bowling for Soup is still putting out new albums, like 2016's Drunk Dynasty, the band's tenth studio album, and they're beginning a new tour at the end of the month. Bowling for Soup will hit Cleveland on April 2 at the House of Blues with Runaway Kids and Direct Hit! 

Lead singer Jaret Reddick took the time to talk to me about the band's extensive career, Drunk Dynasty, and how Bowling for Soup always brings the funny.

First off, you guys just released Drunk Dynasty a little less than a year ago, but it was your tenth full length album. Please tell me y’all had a party or something to celebrate.
 
Reddick: It started out as an EP and it ended up being a full album. It was a nice surprise, actually and definitely one that we’re super proud of. I don’t think we had a party, but we may have gone out for a beer or two.
 
Well you know, after ten albums, you’ve got to start scaling down your party status. You’ve got to get tired after a while.
Reddick: We’ve definitely slowed down in the last few years. That’s for sure.
 
Of course, Drunk Dynasty is very evocative of that Bowling for Soup sound I think of with The Great Burrito Extortion Case and Sorry for Partyin', but what did you do differently for Drunk Dynasty?

Reddick: We really didn’t set out to do anything different. I really wanted to simplify things a bit and go back to the Drunk Enough to Dance, Hangover You Don’t Deserve sound. We’ve gotten really good in the studio and can make the songs sound super huge with different instruments that we don’t necessarily do live. We just simplified things a little bit. We broke it down into guitars, drums, and bass and a whole lot of singing. We went in with five songs and as we were recording those five songs I just kept writing and writing and was like, “Man, let’s go back in.”
 
Its nice when that happens organically so you don’t have to work super hard for it or force it out.

Reddick: Definitely. I’ve definitely been in the situation before when it’s like, “I need two more songs for this album and I’m so exhausted.” All I want to do is get in the studio and record it, but I’m not ready yet. This one was exactly the opposite, we were already in the studio…we would record the songs that day. It went really well.
 
That’s really excellent. Especially for the tenth album, you don’t lose any momentum on that is really cool.

Reddick: That’s definitely something we talk about all the time. With Eps and everything this was our 17th release. To be able to go in and do it, and sound just as fresh as we always have, that says something about our longevity and where we are as a band.
 
Bowling for Soup used PledgeMusic which allows your fans to help name your albums and stay connected to you. Why is it important for your process?

Reddick: Pledge is the new record label. We get asked a lot, “Aren’t you guys rich and famous?” The truth is, no, we’re not. We’re famous, but we’re not rich. We work really hard and when you lose the ability to have someone help you with financing, when we lost the label, we were self sufficient. At first, Pledge was a way for the audience to help us fund it [Bowling for Soup albums]. Now, it’s way more than that.  Pledge is a way for the fans to be involved in the whole process. We have them help pick a new cover, help name the album before, and things like that. But, not only that, we’ve released videos while we’re in the studio showing the parts, the making of an album, that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It’s a really cool thing to us. Pledge and the fans are the new record label. It certainly makes it a lot more fun for all of us.
 
It also sounds like as Bowling for Soup has gone on as a band you’ve also evolved to do what is necessary to survive as a band.
 
Reddick: The music industry now and entertainment as a whole is less about what you do exactly and more about just content in general, just keeping people engaged. There’s really no better way to keep people engaged than letting them be involved in the process. We’ve found it to be rewarding for us and the fans. For us, it’s just the normal thing to do now.
 
In addition to Drunk Dynasty you also released Acoustic in a Freakin Church, which is a great title. Can you tell me a little about why you wanted to release this special performance, where you performed, and what the atmosphere was like?
 
Reddick: It was amazing. We did an acoustic in, like you said, an English church. The crowd was amazing. That album, there’s no overdubs. It’s just the show so we left the mess-ups in there and everything. We were doing it as a DVD at first, but we were really happy with it and just wanted to get it out there. A lot of people haven’t seen us acoustic before because we don’t necessarily do the acoustic shows all over. It definitely was something we were stoked to get out into the world.
 
It’s definitely different too and something that you might not expect from Bowling for Soup.

Reddick: Yeah, we get that a lot because we do these acoustic performances, we’ve always done them locally and we’ve actually toured the UK acoustic before. I don’t think a lot of people realize there’s a lot of actual substance to the songs. You think Bowling for Soup and you think fart jokes, which is 100% accurate, but we do have songs that have actual substance.
 
You get to highlight a different side of Bowling for Soup. What’s amazing to me is you technically released two albums in the same year. Your releases have been so consistent since Bowling for Soup formed. I wonder, did you secretly just write 1,000 songs in the early 90s and have been releasing them over 20 years? Is that what happened? What’s your secret?

Reddick: I wish I could have done that. You know what’s so funny about that question, nobody’s ever asked me that before, but I do write a lot of songs, not as much anymore, but really back in the day of Great Burrito Extortion Case, Hangover You Don’t Deserve, Sorry for Partyin’. I’d write 60 to 70 songs for those albums. You’d think that I could go back to the well. My way of thinking is, there’s a reason they didn’t make the album in the first place. Mentally, I just move so fast into other areas there’s just other stuff I want to talk about. If I ever really really really run dry and need something to release, the songs are there.

​Bowling for Soup is set to come to Cleveland on April 2. You guys have been touring for years. It seems like you’ve got this down to a science by now, would you agree?

Reddick: Definitely. Not only that, but we were forever known, even by our friends,  as the "busiest band in the world." A couple years ago we did have to tap the breaks a little bit and re examine how much we wanted to be on the road. But, nevertheless, we do have it down to a science. Everybody’s got their things that they do when we’re on the road. It’s still fun, which is good because if it weren’t fun anymore it would probably drive us all crazy.
 
Well, especially after a career of it. After a certain point, you can’t do it if it’s not fun.
 
Reddick: People ask, “When did you realize you made it?” I don’t think I’ve ever made it. I think I’ve just had a bunch of awesome stuff happen. In no way, was I ever like “I don’t have to work anymore!” You can’t take anything for granted. It’s not easy to bounce back from any sort of bump in the road, but we’ve kept it going.
 
Since you’re coming to Cleveland, you’ve obviously got “Ohio (Come back to Texas)” which specifically mentions Cleveland. Do you have a special place in your heart for the city?

Reddick: I do, just Ohio in general. Cleveland has been great to me. I’ve had some of the best nights and times of my life there. I’m always stoked to go there and play, especially for the after party because it’s never not fun.
 
Have you seen the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet?

Reddick: No and I refuse to go because it becomes a whole thing. If you’re in the band and you go there with your tour laminate you get in free. But, I’m keeping true to the song. I’m not going to go. I’ve thought about going in, seeing what they have for Green Day, then leaving.
 
I’ve never seen you guys play live, but I imagine it’s a fun time like kiddie pools and high fives everywhere. How would you describe your shows from the stage?

Reddick: We’re having more fun than the audience is. I think that’s what most people take away from it as well. You come see Bowling for Soup, you’re just like “I can’t even believe that I’m watching this.” It’s like hanging out with your friends.
 
One of the things that has always amazed me about Bowling for Soup is that you are accessible to people of any age. In other words, you’re pretty kid friendly. Was that a goal or an accident?


Reddick: Our shows are definitely not kid friendly unless it’s stated we’re at a fair or something. That’s the only way I can explain it. If you listen to Bowling for Soup you know what you’re going to get. With us being on so many Disney movies, being on Phineas and Ferb, and “1985” and “Punk Rock 101” were super big on radio Disney. I don’t know what it is about us that younger people are drawn to the way we sound. I don’t complain. It definitely just keeps generating new fans.
 
You gotta get em young, right? Just like drug dealers.

Reddick: Rope ‘em in!
 
Of course, you personally have gone into the world of children with Phineas and Ferb, plus, you’re the voice of Chuck E. Cheese. Is voice acting work something you always wanted to do? Did Bowling for Soup lead you to these big gigs?

Reddick: Bowling for Soup didn’t hurt. Bowling for Soup is the reason I was put in front of those audiences that got me those gigs. I was in theater when I was a kid and I always wanted to become an actor. Actors become musicians and musicians become actors kind of thing. I’m the total stereotype. I’m a drummer that became a singer and a singer that became an actor. I’m literally every stereotype...I absolutely love it. Every time I get the chance I’m doing auditions. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve always been one that likes to do impressions.
 
One thing I learned getting ready for this interview with you is that Bowling for Soup is squeaky clean. You guys don’t have any weird drug orgies that I can find. Maybe you’re just really secretive about them.

Reddick: We’re super boring. We haven’t had anybody go to rehab. We’ve got a couple of divorces, that’s about it.
 
So when do you change your name to “Boring for Soup?”

Reddick: Maybe right now. This could be it.
 
Just remember to give me a royalty.
 
As a pop punk band, you’ve been around for a significant amount of time when the scene itself is ephemeral. What was your goal for Bowling for Soup? Did you think you’d still be doing it 20 plus years later?

Reddick: Definitely not. Honestly, we grew up in Witchita Falls, Texas and there was nothing to do. Everyone we knew then is still there and they’re either in trouble or they have a factory job. We needed something to do to keep us out of trouble. We just started playing, then two or three years into it, we felt like we might be onto something. I remember specifically thinking, “It’s not like I’m going to be 40 years old singing about high school and farts.” Here I am, 40 something years old singing about high school and farts. Nobody seems to mind. It’s an adolescent 45 year old or whatever.
 
I mean, Blink-182 have made millions off of that.
 
Reddick: Yeah, but they got all serious. I don’t know how you go from Take off Your Pants and Jacket to just being uber serious all the time. They managed to do it and they do it well. But, all the bands in our genre get serious. Sum 41 got signed because they robbed a pizza place with water guns. Green Day had an album named Dookie. Everyone was funny back in the day. We pride ourselves on being the ones to remain funny.
 
So since you mentioned it, how do you feel about being 40 plus years old and still singing about high school and farts?

Reddick: It’s working. I’m glad to be back doing songs like “Don’t Be a Dick” and “Go to Bed Mad,” you know, being funny again. I miss the hilarity when it’s gone.
 
It’s got to feel good too because it’s lighter and you’re making other people laugh with you instead of at you.
 
Reddick: Totally. That’s always been my thing. When I was going through my first serious mode, I lost what my thing always was and that thing was, there’s a bright side to everything and everything’s going to work out. That’s the way I've always lived. It’s the way I’ve always written. I like to end my songs with the guy getting the girl and if he doesn’t, I like him to have the last laugh. I am glad to be smiling and making people smile.
 
Because Bowling for Soup has been around for 20 years, if you could synthesize your message over all those years, over all of your songs, what would it be? Would it be everything’s ok and let’s laugh together?

Reddick: Just keep smiling. Life is a pretty crazy thing and it gets pretty bumpy. Obviously it’s more bumpy for some, but a lot of times we bring those bumps on ourselves. That’s my thing, just stay positive. When you’re happy, it brings other happy people to you. I love that I hear all the time that my songs are a ray of sunshine and put a smile on people’s faces on a bad day.
 
Is there anything you want to tell your fans that may or may not be able to see you on April 2nd in Cleveland?
Reddick: Stay in touch with us online. We’ve got tons of cool stuff on the horizon. Slowing down touring has definitely brought us the ability to do more creative things, as you said, release two albums and an EP last year. Go check out Drunk Dynasty!