It’s hard to take Bowling for Soup seriously. Lead singer Jaret conducts his interviews with a lilting, slowed-down vibe that’s half Texas, half extreme hangover. Their latest video is based around an enormously attractive blonde lady running around their street dressed as a seven-foot penis (and at various times clutching oversized condoms, pouring yellow -lemonade’ or taking a massage), and five minutes into our interview Jaret pauses to laugh at XXXXXL guitarist Chris Burney – one of the band’s four assorted figures of fun – coming over to show him how he’s changed the red handprint he still has from last nights -shirt off party’ into a farmyard animal.
The thing is, Bowling for Soup have no desire to be taken seriously. Most of their patter revolves around vodka, women or -that time your friends dad tried to hit me with a shovel’. They love life. They turn up somewhere, play a few songs to entertain the kids, and then slink off backstage to see where the night takes them (‘it doesn’t matter where we are, we’ll make some kind of party’). Usually, as their comic lyrics attest, it takes them somewhere pretty silly. The lyrics for fan favorite -Running With Your Dad’, for example, really are based around a shovel assault: ‘there was this time we all got drunk, and somehow a friends dad found out another friend had a gun in his car. He was pretty angry. It ended with him chasing my friend down the road with a shovel’. Excellent.
The latest tour is entitled -The Party In Your Pants Tour’, and comes to Dublin at the insistence of Jaret himself. ‘The record label insisted nobody would come to see us in Ireland’ he tells us, ‘but we wanted to play Dublin anyway. We don’t care if we lose money. There are a few people here who love our music, and we love Ireland. This was supposed to be our night off, but we wanted to come here’. Jaret also admits that Irish women are great, but doesn’t single our lasses out for special praise: ‘All women are great’. Except the one from -The Bitch Song’, perhaps? Indeed.
The Soup’s tour bus, surprisingly, is quite well organized, though the band insists that has more to do with the driver than them. You can spot ramshackle shoes discarded about the place, and a number of surplus bottles of vodka poking out from under various pieces of furniture. Jaret tells us that the band emphatically don’t want to grow up (‘why?’), though he will admit that the drinking occasionally has to stop to take care of his record label, who are providing the support tonight. Bowling for Soup often brings along a -laptop rocker’ called MC Lars, and Jaret stresses the importance of variety. ‘We could bring another pop-punk band, but that’s not as interesting. He goes down well with our crowd. It’s all about having a good party, really. We can’t remember what time we went to bed last night.’
Of course, Bowling for Soup has a brief period of startling popularity behind them. -1985′ and -Girl All the Bad Guys Want’ bought them international acclaim, and even a Grammy Award nomination back in 2003. They’ve faded from the majority consciousness since the, but certainly not from their fans, who have their own favorites, like -The Bitch Song’ (‘she might know it’s about her, we’re not sure, but we love that track, it’s the one that got us a record deal’) and -Girl All the Bad Guys Want’ (‘it made us famous, so it’s a special song’). Not that Bowling for Soup cares all that much about fame. ‘We’ve always been a bit off the radar. We have our fans, and we have fun. Nothing else really matters’.
Life for these four, it seems, is a world where obscure pop culture, and excessive alcohol really are the only things that are actually important. Jaret tells us ’50% of what the band say to each other is references to lyrics of music. Most of them John Hughes movies.’ Yes, we did spot that Breakfast Club reference in 1985. ‘Most our lyrics come from something that happened to us, to one of our friends. Bowling for Soup basically go out, do stupid things, and write about it’. Nice work if you can get it.
We left Jaret contemplating the possibility of producing a song that ‘sounds like Radiohead’, for ironic purposes, right after he admitted ‘if we ever wanted to write something serious, we’d start another band.” The next step was a few beers, though not so many that guitarist Chris starts playing the wrong song, like early in the tour in Glasgow. ‘We had a word with him, but it was pretty funny. Maybe he should do it at every show’, Jaret suggests, before heading off to get tanked up for tonight himself, whilst listening to Nightmare Of You, a band he simply can’t get enough of. Later, he plans to get drunk and start a party. Fifteen years on, and not the slightest sense of lethargy, then. It’s all in the name of fun, so who’s to argue?
As published on State.ie, October 2009.