Bowling For Soup are one of the most enduring and beloved bands in pop punk. They have always stayed true to who they are and retained a dedicated fanbase throughout everything. They write some of the catchiest and happiest songs and yet it’s still hard to believe that their breakthrough hit ‘Girl All the Bad Guys want’ is nearly 20 years old and the band themselves are approaching their 25th anniversary. We caught up with frontman Jaret Reddick at the tail end of last year on the bands Almost Christmas tour to discuss playing the U.K, working with Not Ur Girlfrenz, the current feeling in the band, how to stay relevant over such a long period of time, their new live album and dvd that was recorded at Brixton Academy and many more topics.
You have just wrapped up the Almost Christmas tour here in the UK. How was this tour for you?
Jaret: It’s been awesome. The fans over here are so great to us, they always have been. It’s been awesome to go to some markets we haven’t been to for years, we were here in February as well so there’s always a little bit of risk in coming to the same country twice in one year, especially when you are playing bigger places but it’s been great and we have had great crowds. It’s good to be out on the road with Patent Pending again,it’s been a while since we have been out with them, also Not Ur Girlfrenz are here experiencing their first tour outside of the U.S as well.
After this the next time the U.K will be seeing you will be at the Reading & Leeds Festival in the summer. I want to say this will be your first time playing in about 16 or 17 years, so how is that going to feel?
Jaret: I really don’t know, but it’s been a very long time and we’re anxious to get back there because it’s a special place for us because the first time we ever played in the U.K was at Reading & Leeds so there is a special place in our heart because we were catapulted into the music world over here and we just fell in love with it.
Have you compared the lineups from last time you were there and the current one?
Jaret: I can tell you that last time we played I knew every band on there and this time I don’t really know that many, which is both showing my age and also showing how much we survived (Laughs)
I mean 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of Bowling For Soup which is an incredible feat in itself because the industry has changed so much in that time. Firstly how does it feel to have been around that long and secondly what do you think is the key to your survival as a band?
Jaret: Well…First of all it’s amazing. It’s not something you set out to do, it’s something I always used to joke about “What am I going to do?, Travel the world and still be doing fart joke songs at 45?” Here I am doing exactly that. We really owe it all to our fans for all the support, our fans are lifers and they started out with us and now they have kids and they are bringing them along as well. I think the key to our longevity is that we are very true to who we are and we don’t put on any sort of face, it’s just about being us and who we are and I think because of that people relate to us and also think especially with the U.K our humour founds its niche, the fact that we are funny and don’t take ourselves too seriously really caught on over her, we’re equally as big in the states as we are here, but it’s more condensed here so you can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. The really cool thing is that we have managed to cast our hook over a few different generations so to speak, we have also manged to bring in new fans while keeping the old ones.
You are a band that has moved with the times quite effectively as well. You have become involved with Patreon and GoFundMe as well as being very active on social media in recent years. Do you think these things have played a part in keeping ahead of things?
Jaret: If you aren’t able to adapt you do become a dinosaur before your time. I’ll be honest with you, it’s not the easiest thing to keep up with trends like that, to be on Instagram, Twitter and all those things and then also waiting for the next thing to come along as well It’s a full time job now. Bands that we grew up with they made an album, then they went out to tour and they were done until the next time they made an album. Unfortunately that’s not good enough anymore, attention spans are short so you have got to continually keep putting content out, and it’s easier to put content out and keep marketing and promoting things in ways we never thought would be possible in the 90s. It’s all a learning curve and I think it catches up to bands fairly quickly sometimes, I know some young bands that are terrible at social media and it’s a shame it;s such a crutch as that will haunt them, it’s not enough to be good anymore and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a band thing.
Are these lessons and things that you have learned and adopted for yourself that have now become key elements in helping with the development of Not Ur Girlfrenz and your work with them?
Jaret: 100%. It’s actually kind of nice where they are concerned, it’s a whole different world. If they were in their 20’s all they would want to do is hit the road and tour and you can’t do that anymore, touring is expensive and people aren’t supporting live music like they used to , you don’t go to a club just to experience new music anymore, it’s very rare that actually happens, not like it did in the 80’s and 90s and even in the 2000s, so you have to market yourself online first which is great for us because they are still in school, and they have lives you know, but they really keep up with the socials on their own, if I give them a task they can do it and they come up with their own ideas, they are insane about being self starters but they are also really good at taking direction too.
In working with them have you also learnt things from them?
Jaret: I have yes, but mainly from their mums because their mums run their social media so I have definitely gotten tips with Instagram and things like that but we have learned things together with promotions and the like, things I wouldn’t normally do with Bowling For Soup because I don’t feel like it would be worth it because you are always thinking globally pretty much but I have learned a lot about centralised marketing and trying to build them up in a certain area and it’s been great.
We mentioned 2019 is the 25th anniversary of the band and you are kicking off the year in style with the release of a live cd/dvd which you recorded in Brixton. First off how did you decide that would be the show that you were going to record and secondly how does it feel having it coming out?
Jaret: It sucks because we actually did a live dvd back in 2013 and I got really really sick and for the first time ever I lost my voice and I couldn’t sing so we had to scrap the whole thing and we lost $30,000. So when we came back on the last tour we knew we were doing Brixton so we decided to try it again, it was a great show with a lot of great memories, it’s a nice way for us to do it our last dvd came out in 2007 so it’s 10 or so years later and even though we’ve have gotten older and look a little different physically people can look at it and think ‘Damn they are still good’ so I’m excited to get it out there and we are releasing a new record in 2019 as well, so everything is pointing towards that 25th anniversary in June.
Are you considering an anniversary tour at all?
Jaret: We are doing a four day celebration in Dallas all in one spot so that way people are all able to come in from all around the world, there will be a hotel discount, that way there will be one central spot and people will be able to participate in all the activities we are doing. After that we will be on tour with Reel Big Fish in the states promoting the 25th anniversary, then over here for Reading and Leeds, to carry on for the rest of the year.
One of the things I wanted to talk to you about was the piece you did in Kerrang magazine about your mental health. It was a very powerful piece and a very important conversation for people to be having. With your perceived image along with the bands as being somewhat of a prankster was it something you really deliberated over to put yourself out into the world in such an open way?
Jaret: At first I had no interest in putting it out into the world, we’re “The funny band” that you listen to after you have had a bad day and I do like the persona of always being happy and I pretty much am always happy it’s just that the person that you see that is always happy isn’t always happy inside. A friend of mine was starting a movement to help some local musicians so I committed to it and I put my story out there, at first I told my publicist I don’t want to talk about this all the time, I still want everything to be really positive but the more reactions I got to it and the more things that started happening in the world around that time especially with Chester (Bennington) and Chris (Cornell) it all kind of happened all at once and it became something where I needed to be able to tell my story. There are bands out there that can reach people because of who they are, I have a completely different set of people listening to me if I start talking about being depressed because of that persona I carry, but if you read my story you can see that it’s legit and I had a very very hard time, it was not something that was easy for me to deal with, it was 4 intense years of trying to figure out what the hell was going on, our band was looking pretty much like it was going to break up and I got a divorce and moved to ac completely different place, I got into another relationship, got married and had a kid, all of these things were going on while dealing with anxiety and depression, for me now it;s imperative that I talk about it because every single day of my life I get a text, an email, a Facebook message or I see someone on the street where I have impacted their life and it’s lead them to talk to their doctor or get help or they encouraging someone else to get help, so what little I have been able to do has impacted so many lives to the point where I don’t have a choice anymore.
How has it changed your relationship with your fans?
Jaret: Well not much, I think there is a little bit of sympathy from them for me sometimes but I also feel like it makes me more relatable, It presented me as a real dude and got people thinking “If that guy can do it then so can I” they are not shy to come up and talk to me about it anymore and I don’t take that shit for granted. A grown man came up to me literally two days ago full blown in tears saying I save his life because I answered his Facebook message just telling him to get help and it saved him from suicide, I’m not wearing that as a badge but that is how communication can help this, just getting out there and talking about it, even if you aren’t the biggest Bowling For Soup fan head over to the fan page if you need a friend and you will have a 100 friends who are just like you and will support you, it’s the craziest community and they have helped me to, once again it’s not a fair thing and it’s not fair that so many people go through this and have to do it on their own, finding themselves either not on the planet anymore or they lose everything and end up living on the streets but it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is next for you outside of Bowling For Soup? You have recently completed your duets album with Kelly from The Dollyrots, but is there any other Jaret only projects in the works but is it all going to be focused on Bowling For Soup for the foreseeable future?
Jaret: I think I have to focus on Bowling For Soup because we are going into a really big year, but I have got a little time, I’m excited about Gary and mine’s new podcast called The Rockstar Dad Show, it’s awesome for dads, it’s awesome for mums just people who want to hear stories about normal dudes who have kids but we also happen to be famous, and we have guests on all the time it’s really fun. I have Not Ur Girlfrenz who keep me very busy, mine and Kelly’s album comes out on February 22nd and it’s for preorder now you get some free tracks now and that’s at jaretandkelly.com from there I want to do a kids record, I still want to do a Country record, my manager keep telling me that I’m a glutton for punishment because I keep getting myself into tons of shit all the time (Laughs) I want to do Heartache and Hilarity 3 and keep that going as well so I’m going to be pretty busy.
In closing do you have anything to say to all the Bowling for Soup fans out there?
Jaret: I will say this, thank you so very much for all that you do to support us. We don’t take it for granted, we are very blessed and don’t stop coming to see us.