Interview

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 Ďseminal bandí 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 theyíve 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 havenít been on tour, weíve 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 didnít really lose anything and we didnít miss any shows, so it was good.

That was your eighth Warped tour?

Umm, I think weíve done at least nine, maybe ten.

So youíve gotten to know it pretty well?

Yes, absolutely.

So what can we expect from the New Zealand tour?

Well, Iím really looking forward to it, more of some good times you know? Just bringing a good time, thatís 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 ĎGhosts On The Boardwalkí?

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 couldnít even do that because the songs werenít 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 thatís as simple as it gets. People have asked me that question for years and Iíve finally figured out the answer [laughs]. Itís that simple you know? If you donít care about what youíre doing, really, truly, deeply, then itís not going to go anywhere and I think thatís why The Bouncing Souls have continued to have people that keep coming back, because we really do love everybody and itís like a family and itís real, itís a real thing.

Whatís been the highlight of the past 20 years?

The highlight? Oh man, thereís just been so many. As far as a band in my experience, thereís 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 peopleís lives, thatís always been the biggest one - itís 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 sheís 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 canít 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 itís almost unexplainable and unfathomable.

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

Yeah, it has. I think from the beginning itís 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 thatís why it has been created from that, from the beginning and then I think itís just grown and grown to things that we couldnít even have imagined like knowing and living the example of the world and their people being a family. People across the world weíre all one big family, and actually feel it and see it, in music as opposed to being this idea, like ďoh yeah the worldís one big family sure, sure enoughĒ but itís 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 Ė itís less and less. Those times were back when we didnít realise how great the things were that we had and what itís 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 weíre enjoying it, we want to be a part of the show or we want to be doing this tour, or recording this song. Itís sort of like we know how to do it so we wonít put ourselves in a place where like ďaah, this sucks, we donít want to do this, I donít want to be here,Ē whereas before we would kind of run ourselves ragged, trying so hard and when youíre really trying hard and youíre over-extending yourself and pushing things to a point where it feels like itís not doing anything Ė thatís when you start to feel like you resent it and donít want to do it. So I would say that feeling is less and less because weíre learning how to manage those things a little better.

Where do you see the band in the future?

Itís always kind of an unknown, the futureís always been an unknown, I donít really speculate, I donít think about it beyond the very short term. I think the bandís sounding great, we had an awesome show yesterday in Seattle at the Bumbershoot Festival, we just clicked right in and the energy was awesome, itís just a matter of how much weíre going to play or how much weíre going to tour Ė weíre always going to play, thereís no reason for us to not play on whatever level, itís just a matter of how much, I donít know. And we could be gone tomorrow, so who knows? Like we all could all die tomorrow [laughs], anybody can. So weíll see, weíll just do the best and make the best choices right now and see where that takes us and thatís what weíve always done from the very beginning.

Where did the inspiration for the song ĎAirport Securityí 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 Iím having a relationship on the phone Ė thatís 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 youíre just like ďoh my God, it seems like Iíve been travelling forever, I live in an airportĒ. Thatís pretty much it I think.

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

Well yeah, I mean weíve been married now for nine years and yeah over those nine years man itís been a trial here and there. And thatís 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. Iím really excited because over all these years Iíve actually always wanted to bring Shanti to Australia and New Zealand and sheís going to come this time so thatís also really fun.

Thatís wonderful.

Yeah, Iím actually really psyched about it. For anyone whoís toured or travels a lot and tried to keep a relationship, itís very challenging.

You also did a childrenís 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 sheís really creative and a great singer, great songwriter and she had just started writing a story and when it was finished I was like ďWow, this is a great childrenís storyĒ and I was whining about being on tour and being like ďMan I want to do some other stuff, but Iím on tourĒ and sheís like ďMaybe you should try illustrating the storyĒ and I said ďCool, great idea.Ē 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 ďWow, itís done, it looks doneĒ 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 itís been great. We went on a little tour, we read the book at schools and weíve been doing kidsí music too, itís just been fun to expand and learn, doing music in different environments Ė 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 itís playing Iím like ďWow, it sounds differentĒ, and thatís how musicís awesome, itís that way for all of us, like say your favourite record ten years ago and you didnít hear it for a long time and then you pop it on and sounds different to you and youíre like ďWow,Ē and thatís the magic of it Ė the magic of music. You think you know whatís in there and you donít because itís different, itís different today than it was yesterday, so it really helps you learn about yourself and about life. Itís like you think you know about something and then itís like ďThis is not what I thought it was,Ē itís different, it sounds different, it feels different, Iím hearing different things and seeing different things from it. So I think itís great, sometimes youíre like ďOh crap, I wish I was this way or that way too,Ē but usually weíve passed all that now, itís like let it be what it is, itís all good what it is.

Do you have any favourite songs from The Bouncing Souls?

Umm, [itís] always changing all the time you know? Sometimes I love certain songs because theyíre fun to play live because theyíre everyone elseís 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 theyíre the ones that are the bigger hits, but then thereís all other kinds of songs Ė itís 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, itís a bit of an ongoing project and itís been fun, itís been good, itís looking good.

Whatís been the craziest thing a fan has done?

Itís funny because we donít have super-crazy fans, I donít 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], itís like their mouths were gaping open like ďOh my God, that guy just got jumped on by a pit-bull and heís on stage.Ē

Did you still play the show?

Yeah, I was like ďOoh my God, okay, letís play the show now.Ē

Is there anything else youíd like to add, Greg?

I think thatís it. I know speaking for me and the rest of the band we love New Zealand, weíve had a great experience there all around Ė shows, people, the country and weíre really looking forward to being there, thank you.

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

HOT WATER MUSIC & THE BOUNCING SOULS

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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