Bowling For Soup: An Exclusive Interview with Erik Chandler From London’s Koko (April 2012)

Erik Chandler Solo 2012 Acoustic
Erik Strutting His Solo Stuff

Last month when Bowling For Soup were in the UK for their third annual acoustic tour, I had the privilege of catching up with their bassist (and singer songwriter in his own right) Erik Chandler for the second time in the flesh before their show at Koko in London. We got to talk about his solo career, Bowling For Soup’s plans for 2012 and the English Weather amongst other things so please read on for more details. Anyone who’d like to read a review of the Bowling For Soup acoustic show at Koko can do so by clicking on this link.

Jamie: So how have you been enjoying the week long phenonemon known as “The English Summer”?

Erik: I cannot believe how nice the weather has been since we got here! I had just an amazing week at home, there was a front and it had just turned to Spring and clear skies, warm temperatures every day and spending every day outside enjoying it and it was like “oh crap I’m going to the UK, this is gonna suck! But it’s been absolutely amazing!
Jamie: I was in Boston last week as I have family out there and it was 80 degrees the whole time we were there and all my family said they’d never seen anything like.
Erik: Well I live not far from there, I live in South Carolina so we were experiencing the exact same thing that they were up there. I don’t know what it was that settled on the east coast but it was awesome.
Jamie: Is it just Jaret that still lives in Texas?
Erik: Everyone else still lives down there and I’m actually moving back to Texas pretty soon, but that’s another story.

Jamie: Weather aside, has it been a good week?

Erik: It’s been fantastic. This tour, this one in particular has been really really cool and I think, I don’t know if its the fact that we’ve done it three times now and people are starting to wrap their heads around what we’re doing a little bit better, or I don’t know if it’s the crowd or if it’s us that’s made this one a little bit different but it’s been special each night. It just continues….It’s SO cliche to say that every night is getting better than the last but it has all been building so I can’t wait to see what tonight does. Because this is the biggest venue on the tour. We wouldn’t normally like to do this show in a venue this size but we’ve done it here before so it should be cool.

Jamie: Did you guys ever think that when you did the first one it would turn into an annual tradition?

Erik: Well we hoped that it would but we weren’t really sure exactly what the response was gonna be. Over here music fans in this country are very open to everything but in my opinion once they decide something about you they’re quite particular about that and we had hoped that people wouldn’t see this as abandoning what we do as far as the full band goes. But for us it’s not abandoning that it’s just re-interpreting our music into another presentation. People have been incredibly receptive to it and that’s very very cool.

Jamie: Do you think the tradition will carry on and you’ll do it again next year?

Erik: I hope we’ll do it again next year. This is honestly…you can’t compare this to a full band tour but for all the stuff that goes on “on stage” this tour is so much easier. *laughs* It is simply because they’re aren’t as many people around and because of the logistics. There’s room to sit in the dressing rooms. We’ve got three acts on stage tonight comprised of three people…
Jamie: You, Jaret and Ryan (Hamilton, the other half of People On Vacation).
Erik: So that in itself just cuts out a ton of people. When we do a regular full band tour there are three or four bands on the bill, the touring party can start to get upwards of fifty or sixty people and there’s just not a lot of room to be shared with that. So this is really comfortable and really nice. There’s no set up time whatsoever. That sound check you just saw was literally…we weren’t gonna do anything and Ryan and I were just sitting there and it was like “aw well we can go out and make some noise”. So we got to go and jerk off on stage for five minutes and everybody out front was just makin sure they could hear things on stage. But it’s cool.

Jamie: Your E.P came out this week, are you happy that it’s now finally out there for everybody?

Erik: I am! I am. It’s been a long time coming you know? I started writing the songs for this project that I’m doing probably three years ago and I recorded them in March 2011 so it’s been a long process getting to the release and I’m super happy that it’s out and I’m really pleased with the product and I know it’s a little weird to call it a product..
Jamie: Everyone would know what you mean.
Erik: I’m happy with how all the songs turned out and there will be more this summer when the full length album comes out in the States. The rest of the songs will be available for digital download over here. So I’m excited about that. Touch wood I haven’t seen any bad reviews yet…
Jamie: Well that’s good.
Erik: The most negative thing I’ve seen so far that I’ve read is people saying it’s too short.
Jamie: That might well have been me…
Erik: *laughs* I think almost every review that I’ve read, towards the end goes “the only complaint that I have is it’s not long enough, there aren’t enough songs”. We did that on purpose, just to put it out there as a teaser so build some momentum and gauge the interest.

Jamie: Has there been any friendly competition with Jaret with your two projects releasing E.P’s at the same time?

Erik: No not really because…it’s funny, the songs that I started writing for this…he and I had an idea that we were going to do a project together outside of Bowling For Soup and he wanted me to write all the songs, so I started writing. But in that process I moved to the East Coast and that gets a little difficult getting together and then Bowling For Soup went on tour with Smile Smile and just through a conversation one day he and Ryan started writing songs and he came to me and was like “I’ve got this other thing going on in Texas with Ryan right now, why don’t you just do this as a solo project”. So I was like “cool”. When he said that the direction of the song writing changed immediately and I was writing almost country kinda stuff for the two of us to do but when it became a solo project I changed the direction and kinda delved into the…not classic rock but the kinda 80’s / 90’s indie – alternative shit that I was listening to when I was growing up. I’m really happy with the way that it all turned out.

Jamie: How was your recent trip? I know you guys have done some shows for the US troops in some interesting places…

Erik: Yeah we just spent close to two weeks in the middle east and in Africa playing for the troops and it was awesome. We got to fly onto an aircraft carrier, we did the full on hook landing and catapult shot off the end take off and it was absolutely amazing. In eighteen years of doing this as a band I think that trip might be the coolest thing we’ve ever got to do. We actually got to go to some really special places and meet a lot of cool people and I hate to say that it was super inspirational and whatever but we our country is at war and we got to go meet the people who are in the thick of it every day and talk to them and hear their experiences. It was really moving for all of us to be able to bring a little piece of home to those folks so it’s great, it was really really special.
Jamie: Were any of them already Bowling For Soup fans?
Erik: Oh my god, yeah, it was crazy! We played at a base in Jabuti and the entire security team for the base is Texas National Guard!
Jamie: Oh wow.
Erik: So when we played that show everyone there was from everywhere we know. So it was like aw man I was watching you guys play in such and such place sixteen years ago and that was so awesome and so cool that we run into each other in Africa.
Jamie: Quite mindblowing really if you think about it.
Erik: Yeah, and just the number of people that we met from our home town who were there was just rediculous.

Jamie: Going back to what you said about it being the most awesome thing you’ve done, do you think you guys still enjoy the being of the road side of things as much as you used to, say like compared to when you got your big break when Girl All The Bad Guys Want came out?

Erik: We do, but back then we used to tell our management “we wanna be gone”. We did not want to go home. We would be on the road constantly. You get a little older, wife, kids, the house, those things start to become a bit more important and so being gone…there was a time when we would leave and be on the road for eight months at a time and not see home. I think that’s a lot easier for a twenty five year old man with no home life to deal with versus a thirty seven year old man with a very very structured home life to deal with. So we try to keep it to a few weeks at a time. I think when we get back to the States we’ve got a couple of weeks off and then we’re gonna go out for three weeks and that’s the longest run we’ve done in awhile, we’ve only tried to do two weeks, take a week off, two weeks, take a week off. So that’s the longest run in a couple weeks.

Jamie: I know I saw one of the band say recently that 2012 isn’t a quiet year but it’s not as busy as some of the other years, is that because you’re not doing the festivals?

Erik: It is but it’s also kinda designed as the year to let everybody rest up and allow Jaret and I to concentrate on our solo projects. Also with the festivals, we kinda have an every other year policy. We were invited this year but we did them last year but we’ve also got the invites for next year and I think we’re doing five or six next Summer.
Jamie: In Europe or just here?
Erik: …..Here!
Jamie: Wow.
Erik: Yeah *laughs* so we’ll be spending quite a bit of time here next Summer.
Jamie: Wow. I don’t know if you guys heard that Sonisphere here got cancelled?
Erik: We were just talking about that and we decided it was cancelled because we told them we couldn’t do it *laughs*
Jamie: Obviously as well you guys have a tradition with Download and that tradition also has a tradition of having some interesting stage props….you guys took that to another level last year. Weren’t you playing in a torrential storm as well last year? I know the rain was very bad up there.
Erik: Oh when we went on it was beautiful!
Jamie: The weather knew you were coming then.
Erik: We always seem to have that effect for some reason. We were actually…this is probably ten years ago, we were playing at a festival in the States and it’d been raining all day, sky breaks open, sun comes out and Jaret’s like “You see what we brought for you, God loves us!”. Immediately he says that, a lightning bolt strikes the ground, knocks out the PA and it was like “Oooo shit, we’ve done it now”.

Jamie: One last quick one to wrap it up with, as it’s April Fools day have you guys pulled any April Fools pranks?

Erik: We haven’t and I actually just realised about ten minutes before we started talking that it was April 1st. The day’s not over yet, so we’ll what we could do.
Jamie: With your reputation I half expected to get here and find signs outside saying it was cancelled as a joke.
Erik: *laughs* Actually….I may use that, maybe next year.

Jamie: Thanks Erik!
Erik: Thank you, nice one.

Erik Chandler’s debut solo E.P Writing The Wrongs is out now on digital download, or available on a CD as a split release with the People On Vacation E.P (we recommend you pick up both, however you wish to do it). A review of Writing The Wrongs is available on Rocksins here.

Bowling For Soup were recently announced for the first UK show of the Vans Warped Tour in thirteen years which takes place at Alexandra Palace in London on the tenth of November 2012. Tickets are on sale for that now. Bowling For Soup are also expected to confirm details of their annual October UK full band tour shortly. For the latest interviews with rock & metals finest artists please keep checking back with on a regular basis.


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