Sunday, May 16, 2010

EXCLUSIVE! Bouncing Souls INTV!

2009 was a big year for Bouncing Souls, the band celebrated their 20th anniversary and are still going strong, in fact, stronger than ever. The legendary New Jersey punks began when they were teenagers chasing a dream of playing music they love and wanting to do it their way. Not the way of the corporate system or MTV airways, make the rules and raise the bar as they go along, in good old fashion DIY style. As the band is in their 21st year; they are a bit older, have families and are a bit wiser, yet they show no sign of slowing down. The road dogs of rock still are one hell of a live act to see, still play each show as if it is their last and sing and record with the same passion they had when they first started. I had the opportunity and privilege to speak with Souls singer Greg Attonito about the bands history, music, where they go now, trials and tribulations and seeing if their long time friend and manager, Kate is still great. Check out my interview with Greg below..

20 years! Congrats, well its 21 years now. How do you feel about doing this for this amount of time?

GA: Thanks! I feel really great about it. As friends in high school we dreamed of making music our life and we have done it.! With our own energy and with the help of everyone around us we have created a great monster that is the Bouncing Souls. I love how its all turned out up to this point.

Did you think when you were starting out in New Brunswick you would still be doing this 20 years in?

GA: We didn't think about it and I don't think we could have even imagined it if we tried. We stuck to short term realistic goals. Like doing a roadtrip to DC, putting out a seven inch, creating a mailing list. The short term realistic goals kept on building steam and kept us going for 20 years.

Ghosts on the Boardwalk, your latest, is a compilation of the songs you released at the top of each month in 2009. Who came up with the idea to release a song a month?

GA: We went through a process as a group where we all arrived at that decision. The first thing we all agreed on was we wanted to do something different than a standard cd release,.. then we all agreed we wanted to release songs digitally through our own label, then somewhere along the way we thought of making it part of a 20 year anniversary thing.

Ghosts on the Boardwalk is also the longest gap between Souls material. Why the long wait?

GA: Someone once said.. "A fine wine takes time." Ha! but really.. Thats the way the creative/business process went this time. We always follow our collective intuitive thread and go with what feels right with the music and the business ideas. Right here and now is where that lead us this time.

Aside from making music for over 20 years, you have also been on the road for 20 years in a van. What kind of toll does that take on you and your families?

GA: Its been difficult...really difficult for every member of the band at different times and in different ways. The invention of the cell phone has really helped our relationships survive. Without the communication the relationship and shared experience is just with some love and understanding and a cell phone we have all done our best.

With your music you have managed to influence so many artists from all different genres. What would you say about music today?

GA: There's more of everything. I hear a lot of music that doesn't come from an inspired place. I hear a lot of music that is manufactured from a formula in a way. You can feel the difference in the energy behind the sounds. . I also hear a lot of interesting new sounds people are making with all of the amazing technology we have available. And its really cool when you come upon something with a genuine feeling coming from the music... In general I'd say music keeps getting better and more interesting all the time.

Do you ever feel jealous or angry, if not both, about how fast it is for someone to get recognized today, unlike when you started out starving for what you were doing?

GA: I have gotten flashes of jealousy from time to time over the years when I see bands that do the same thing as we do but make a lot more money.....but in a moment I usually change my mind because I have no regrets about what we have done. I also enjoy seeing bands we know having a lot of success..Its fun to see them take off.

You refused MTV, never went to a major label and did it all on your own. How do you feel about the direction you took and how the mainstream music scene is folding on itself and you guys are just as strong as you were 20 years ago?

GA: We tried to get on major labels when we first started but in the long run it was good they didn't pay attention to us. Ha! By the time they were interested we had developed some real momentum on our own. That momentum that we had created on our own built up some much needed confidence. We all agreed we wanted to keep that feeling going and make it grow naturally. Keeping the focus on nurturing that energy attracted the amazing people that love the Bouncing Souls slowly but surely. Thats the secret to longevity I think. Its not about labels its about developing a real relationship that keeps growing and not letting it go for a price. So to answer your question..I'm glad that we made that focus our priority because the love and good memories are never going to fade as we watch trends and labels come and go.

Being from Jersey you influenced so many acts, including your friends Gaslight Anthem, Screaming Females, My Chemical Romance and Philly’s Loved Ones. What is it like to have these young bands cite you as a major influence?

GA: Its great!! What can I say about it. Its amazing and we love em all. It's been fun to see them succeed.

Of all the songs you have written over the years, what is your favorite Souls song and what does it mean to you?

GA: Thats really not easy to answer. Its like having to say which one of your kids is your favorite. You can't pick one because they are all beautiful in their own way. ..but since you asked,I love the classic ones. True Believers, Gone, Hopeless name a few

Of all the places you have toured, what is your favorite place to play (including venue and city/town)?

GA: We had an opportunity to play at an outdoor venue built into the side of a mountain outside of Denver. Its called Red Rocks. An amazing place and it was so great to play there. We were also invited by My Chemical Romance to play the Budokan in Tokyo. That was awesome. Those are a few of the once in a lifetimers but as far as regular venues.. The Stone Pony is great because we are so loved and welcome there. We always have great shows in Denver. Touring europe is always fun. We always have good shows in Vienna at a place called the Arena and we do well in most of England.

With all of the material you have now, is it a pain in the ass to put together a set list for a show?

GA: Yes, Its a real comedy routine every time we do it. Bryan usually wants to keep discussing changes while Pete and I usually just want to get done. Usually our different personalities go together well so it all works out. Just this past December at our home for the Holidays shows in Asbury Park we asked for volunteers to write set lists a few weeks before the show. We received a lot of great ones and picked four that made the most sense for the four nights of shows. That experiment was a total success. The band really enjoyed the fresh perspectives that came along with each set and it felt like the audience was involved even more than usual at a BS show.

Everything you have ever done has been fueled by heart and love. Was their ever a time the love died out and the heart was no longer and you felt like giving up?

GA: Yes. For a long time I fought for the success of the band and after a awhile it began to catch up with me. I wasn't really paying attention to what made me really happy...or What made me feel truly comfortable and happy with myself. I had so many distractions to keep me running and I just kept on running through most of my 20's. This personality I have had wants to hold everything frustrations build up.. so thats what I didi.. I had chosen to hold it all inside and live in my own little lie . I didn't even realize there was anything wrong for a long long time. The time it hit me hard was after a long run of touring on the Anchors Aweigh record..That was the most extreme moment. Everyday I have moments where I feel like giving up and I'm afraid to express it.. even though I have so much to feel happy about..Maybe I'm weak, maybe I'm a coward...but I'm living and learning.

BURNING QUESTION: Is Kate Still Great?

GA: That one is easy to answer. Of Course!!!

Video for "Gone" (Above) / Video for "Kids and Heros" (Below)

Thanks to Greg and Kate for the interview!