The Bouncing Souls

The Bouncing Souls

Thursday 25th November, 2010 2:06PM

The Bouncing Souls have been playing punk music for over 20 years now, richly deserving the ‘seminal band’ status that frequently prefixes their name. New Zealand will get to enjoy the band in all their live splendour once again this December when they tour with Hot Water Music. Cameron from 95bFM's The Mind Set got in touch with lead vocalist Greg Attonito and found out just what makes The Bouncing Souls tick, how they’ve lasted for so long and why you should watch out for pit-bulls in Germany.

How is the current tour in the States going?

Well we actually haven’t been on tour, we’ve had a few weeks off. We did three weeks of the Warped Tour and that went pretty well, we had our truck break down, and we got a u-haul trailer stolen, but in the end after a whole lot of craziness it ended up being not so bad, we didn’t really lose anything and we didn’t miss any shows, so it was good.

That was your eighth Warped tour?

Umm, I think we’ve done at least nine, maybe ten.

So you’ve gotten to know it pretty well?

Yes, absolutely.

So what can we expect from the New Zealand tour?

Well, I’m really looking forward to it, more of some good times you know? Just bringing a good time, that’s what we do.

So will it be some of your new stuff and some of your old stuff?

Yeah, the music will be a mix. We always try and mix it up and then remix it up and then remix it up again.

How did the 20th Anniversary series come about, with ‘Ghosts On The Boardwalk’?

Well we wanted to do something different besides the regular CD release and we wanted to release stuff on our label [band-founded Chunksaah Records] so we decided to do the digital downloads and then we thought it would be fun to do it as part of our 20 year anniversary, to do one a month and celebrate the anniversary with new songs and it worked out great. It was fun to release songs as we mixed them too, because now especially when you release a whole CD, everybody gets it all at once on the internet but now you couldn’t even do that because the songs weren’t even done yet, so we had one at a time and it kind of filtered out slowly. It was really a success because people were discovering the records slowly, as opposed to just all at once.

After being around for more than 20 years what do you think has helped you stay together?

Well, the music, I think everybody in the band cares about music, we care about each other and we care about the audience, I think that’s as simple as it gets. People have asked me that question for years and I’ve finally figured out the answer [laughs]. It’s that simple you know? If you don’t care about what you’re doing, really, truly, deeply, then it’s not going to go anywhere and I think that’s why The Bouncing Souls have continued to have people that keep coming back, because we really do love everybody and it’s like a family and it’s real, it’s a real thing.

What’s been the highlight of the past 20 years?

The highlight? Oh man, there’s just been so many. As far as a band in my experience, there’s just been so many things beyond my expectations that have occurred you know? Like playing in Japan, going to New Zealand, I mean these things are huge. All those things like playing Wembley Arena, playing big European festivals and really having an amazing effect on people’s lives, that’s always been the biggest one - it’s like someone says that you saved their life. Just yesterday a girl said that she tried to commit suicide years ago and in some way she had to stay awake because she took sleeping pills or something and she’s in the hospital and they told her she had to somehow stay awake so she sang the words to one of our songs and she said that was what saved her life. I mean you can’t even... the meaning of that is unfathomable you know? So those kinds of things, I would never have thought anything like that, the deep impact of our music, like I said it’s almost unexplainable and unfathomable.

Do you think now that you’re hearing those stories that that reflects in your music?

Yeah, it has. I think from the beginning it’s always what was most important to us, was on varying levels, camaraderie, of friends, it was what we always wanted and what we always wanted to create. So that’s why it has been created from that, from the beginning and then I think it’s just grown and grown to things that we couldn’t even have imagined like knowing and living the example of the world and their people being a family. People across the world we’re all one big family, and actually feel it and see it, in music as opposed to being this idea, like “oh yeah the world’s one big family sure, sure enough” but it’s real you know? And if we live it and we believe it and we live by it, [you] can really feel it and it gives us all strength and it gives us all stability in a world that seems extremely unstable.

Do you ever lose motivation sometimes?

Yes [laughs], absolutely. But I think it was much more in the past, because I think the more we experience, the more we kind of learn about ourselves and learn about how our lives work and what works for us – it’s less and less. Those times were back when we didn’t realise how great the things were that we had and what it’s worth to stick it out, but now we know each other well, we know how to get along, we know how to tour, so we know how to keep ourselves in that window where we’re enjoying it, we want to be a part of the show or we want to be doing this tour, or recording this song. It’s sort of like we know how to do it so we won’t put ourselves in a place where like “aah, this sucks, we don’t want to do this, I don’t want to be here,” whereas before we would kind of run ourselves ragged, trying so hard and when you’re really trying hard and you’re over-extending yourself and pushing things to a point where it feels like it’s not doing anything – that’s when you start to feel like you resent it and don’t want to do it. So I would say that feeling is less and less because we’re learning how to manage those things a little better.

Where do you see the band in the future?

It’s always kind of an unknown, the future’s always been an unknown, I don’t really speculate, I don’t think about it beyond the very short term. I think the band’s sounding great, we had an awesome show yesterday in Seattle at the Bumbershoot Festival, we just clicked right in and the energy was awesome, it’s just a matter of how much we’re going to play or how much we’re going to tour – we’re always going to play, there’s no reason for us to not play on whatever level, it’s just a matter of how much, I don’t know. And we could be gone tomorrow, so who knows? Like we all could all die tomorrow [laughs], anybody can. So we’ll see, we’ll just do the best and make the best choices right now and see where that takes us and that’s what we’ve always done from the very beginning.

Where did the inspiration for the song ‘Airport Security’ come from?

That was like a comical take on travel and having a relationship. It was definitely inspired from the play on the security of having a relationship with somebody you love and the airport security, and travelling and finding ourselves in these situations where I’m having a relationship on the phone – that’s all kind of where it was inspired from and then it threw the whole comedy take on the ridiculousness of ending up in these situations travelling where you’re just like “oh my God, it seems like I’ve been travelling forever, I live in an airport”. That’s pretty much it I think.

So is it hard trying to keep your relationship with [your wife] Shanti?

Well yeah, I mean we’ve been married now for nine years and yeah over those nine years man it’s been a trial here and there. And that’s how relationships are, without those trials and tribulations, when you get over them and surmount them, the difficulties you end up having - usually you get to a better place and that goes for any kind of relationship. I’m really excited because over all these years I’ve actually always wanted to bring Shanti to Australia and New Zealand and she’s going to come this time so that’s also really fun.

That’s wonderful.

Yeah, I’m actually really psyched about it. For anyone who’s toured or travels a lot and tried to keep a relationship, it’s very challenging.

You also did a children’s book with her [I Went For A Walk...], how did that come about?

That was a story Shanti had written a story just for fun because she’s really creative and a great singer, great songwriter and she had just started writing a story and when it was finished I was like “Wow, this is a great children’s story” and I was whining about being on tour and being like “Man I want to do some other stuff, but I’m on tour” and she’s like “Maybe you should try illustrating the story” and I said “Cool, great idea.” So I plodded out with me on the road some paint pens and it took me five years to illustrate it. I just took my time and whenever I had time hanging around before shows or whatever I just would try and work on a page and that was it. Once it was done, it took five years and we were like “Wow, it’s done, it looks done” and we just put it out ourselves and just went with what we knew as far as like how we put out a cd or a record, and it’s been great. We went on a little tour, we read the book at schools and we’ve been doing kids’ music too, it’s just been fun to expand and learn, doing music in different environments – broaden your horizons.

How does it feel to listen to your old work?

I rarely, rarely ever do but sometimes when it comes on or it’s playing I’m like “Wow, it sounds different”, and that’s how music’s awesome, it’s that way for all of us, like say your favourite record ten years ago and you didn’t hear it for a long time and then you pop it on and sounds different to you and you’re like “Wow,” and that’s the magic of it – the magic of music. You think you know what’s in there and you don’t because it’s different, it’s different today than it was yesterday, so it really helps you learn about yourself and about life. It’s like you think you know about something and then it’s like “This is not what I thought it was,” it’s different, it sounds different, it feels different, I’m hearing different things and seeing different things from it. So I think it’s great, sometimes you’re like “Oh crap, I wish I was this way or that way too,” but usually we’ve passed all that now, it’s like let it be what it is, it’s all good what it is.

Do you have any favourite songs from The Bouncing Souls?

Umm, [it’s] always changing all the time you know? Sometimes I love certain songs because they’re fun to play live because they’re everyone else’s favourite and my favourite, like True Believers and all the real classic ones like Gone, and Kids and Heroes, because the songs just create an awesome energy, because they’re the ones that are the bigger hits, but then there’s all other kinds of songs – it’s really hard to pick a favourite.

What do you get up to in your time off?

This past three weeks Shanti and I have just been working on our house a little bit, it’s a bit of an ongoing project and it’s been fun, it’s been good, it’s looking good.

What’s been the craziest thing a fan has done?

It’s funny because we don’t have super-crazy fans, I don’t have a whole lot of crazy fan stories but when I get asked this question I have one story that I always could go to, as far as like crazy tour stories, was when I got attacked by a pit-bull on stage in Germany. I actually stepped up on a stage, it was in a squat in Germany, and this pit-bull leaped up and grabbed me by the arm and had me by the forearm until his master from the far back of them room screamed at him, and he let go. The rest of the room was entirely silent [laughs], it’s like their mouths were gaping open like “Oh my God, that guy just got jumped on by a pit-bull and he’s on stage.”

Did you still play the show?

Yeah, I was like “Ooh my God, okay, let’s play the show now.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add, Greg?

I think that’s it. I know speaking for me and the rest of the band we love New Zealand, we’ve had a great experience there all around – shows, people, the country and we’re really looking forward to being there, thank you.


Interview thanks to Cameron Adams from 95bFM's The Mindset and Gareth Meade (intro and editing).


Thursday 2nd Dec San Francisco Bath House, Wellington
Friday 3rd Dec Kings Arms, Auckland

Click HERE for tour and ticketing info.

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