Bowling For Soup
Jess and Suzi
22 October 2012
Erik Chandler with Jess (top) and Suzi (bottom)
Bowling for Soup are currently back in the UK (for the 30th time, no less) on their ‘One Big Happy Tour’ with fellow bands and friends Patent Pending and The Dollyrots. We were lucky enough to grab a quick interview with BFS bass guitarist and backing vocalist, Erik Chandler, before their Manchester Academy show, where we chatted about first class flights, acoustic shows, and the power of sleep.
Jess Rock Pulse: A simple question to start with! How are you and how’s the tour going so far?
The tour’s fantastic, although I’m a little worn out right now. When you hit the half way point, that’s when you normally start getting a bit fed up, and you start thinking, ‘almost home, almost home’, but the shows have been amazing.
Jess RP: How do you try and get over the tiredness of touring?
There’s not that much you can do about it. I was the first person in bed last night, and I slept for probably ten hours straight through, and I still woke up today and came in and laid on the couch and went right back to sleep. Tour bus sleeping is only a level above airplane sleeping: it’s not like real sleep, because you’re constantly getting tossed back and forth while the bus is driving through the night, so it sometimes ends up being more of a workout than a sleep.
Suzi Rock Pulse: You’ve been coming to the UK for a while now; how do you entertain yourselves on the flight over?
I read a lot. There’s a book I’ve been sitting on all summer – I got it in June – and I hadn’t touched it because I was saving it for this tour. I got through three quarters of it on the flight over and I’m waiting for the flight back to finish it up.
Jess RP: Do you get to travel first class?
Sometimes. Not normally internationally, although I did get bumped up one summer when we were flying to Japan because of my flight status and because I’m a member of the airline club. They’d oversold the flight so they came and got me and took me up to first, and I got the seat that lays down completely into a little bed, which was awesome for a fourteen hour flight, and as soon as I sat down, they brought me a glass of champagne… it was great. I fly first class quite a lot at home on domestic flights, because I’ve got so many miles and so many points. Normally, it’s like 2 five hundred mile segments on American Airlines to upgrade domestically, and I’ve got about 65 of those, so when I can, I do that. It makes the 6am flights easier to deal with!
Jess RP: What made you and Jaret want to do the acoustic shows and how do they differ from the main tours?
From my experience and from the people I’ve met, it’s the same fans from the full band shows that come to the acoustic shows. Jaret and I have been doing these acoustic shows for about 15 years now and that was how he and I were initially able to quit our day jobs: we were setting up in pubs and just playing for tips and beer, and within about a month of us starting to do it, we realised we were making way more money doing that than we were at our regular jobs. So that was when we took the big leap and decided just to do music for a living. Then as things started taking off, we weren’t able to do that stuff as much anymore, but we still continued doing acoustic shows around Texas a few times a year and then for some radio stations, like acoustic Christmas concerts. We started realising that people were flying into the United States from other countries to see us do these, so we took the idea to our booking agents and our promoter here in the UK but they told us, “no, that wouldn’t fly, that wouldn’t work over here, nobody does that” and it took us two years to convince them to do it. After we did the first one, which was actually here in Manchester about three years ago, we came offstage and everyone was like, “OK, we get it now, we understand.”
It’s a really special, intimate way to see us and you get to hear the songs broken down basically into the way they were written. The acoustic tours are really fun, too, and there are no logistics whatsoever. The last one we did, I opened with my solo stuff, Jaret did People on Vacation in the middle slot, and then we both came out after that, so it was three acts, but totally comprised of three people, plus two or three crew members, and there’s nothing much to load, there are no amps and just three guitars to take round. It’s a much more relaxed tour – I think our entire touring party in April was twelve people, and I think we’re upwards of forty on this tour right now. There’s a lot more room to spread out as well, more room to sleep!
Jess RP: For the ‘One Big Happy’ album, how did you choose which songs of the other bands to cover?
We didn’t actually get to choose because the other bands had taken the songs we wanted to do already! But I’m really happy with the way it came out; everybody did great versions of the songs.
Jess RP: How’s it been touring with the guys?
Well, The Dollyrots are our best friends in the world, and we consider Patent Pending to be our little brothers. That band is us ten years ago, and they’re just our favourite people to tour with in the world, so to be able to have both bands on the same tour has just been fantastic.
Suzi RP: Do you get much time at home these days or are you constantly out working?
Actually, I’ve been home all summer. From the end of May until this tour, we only played five shows, so it’s been a nice, easy, relaxed summer. I’ve just moved back to Texas from the east coast so it was nice to have that time to kind of get acclimated back into the old surroundings, and it was nice because it gave me time to gear up for this tour.
A massive thank you to Erik for the interview; it’s always a pleasure. You can visit Bowling for Soup’s official site at www.bowlingforsoup.com and you can read the review of their Manchester gig here.