Rock Today

Rock Today


Bowling For Soup - Spring 2024

Still hungover...

Widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the pop punk movement, Texan rockers Bowling For Soup have a huge year ahead of them. 2024 will see the band tour extensively to commemorate 2 enormous milestones: 30 years as a band and the 20th anniversary of their groundbreaking album A Hangover You Don’t Deserve. We take a trip down memory lane with bass player Rob Felicetti to get a flavour of what the pop punk scene was like in 2004.

2024 is a massive year for Bowling For Soup with extensive touring and importantly it’s also the year where the band celebrates its 30th anniversary and 20 years since the release of the groundbreaking album A Hangover You Don’t Deserve. Of course the band were already riding a crest of a wave following 2002’s Drunk Enough To Dance but with singles such as 1985 and Almost, I think it’s fair to say things went stratospheric. This was before your tenure but you were very much a part of the pop-punk scene. I would like to take us back to 2004. To me this felt like the year pop-punk absolutely dominated the air waves. The albums that year included releases from New Found Glory (Catalyst), Avril Lavigne (Under My Skin), Jimmy Eat World (Futures), Simple Plan (Still Not Getting Any), Green Day (American Idiot), Good Charlotte (The Chronicles of Life and Death), Sun 41 (Chuck) and of course, close friends of Bowling For Soup The Dollyrots (Eat My Heart Out). Can I ask you to paint a picture of what it was like at that time and what you saw happening in music? 

2004, I graduated high school that year! I was watching all that happen. It was slightly different in America than it was in the UK. In terms of pop punk dominating things, I felt like it was kind of staying on the rise in the UK while in the US, at least from my perspective, it was like sitting where it was. It blew up in the late 90s with like Blink 182’s Enema Of The State and then Sum 41 hitting right after that, Simple Plan, New Found Glory… all these bands were hitting super hard all around the same time within a couple of years. And then they all still had albums coming out so were riding this wave. Whereas in the UK, at least from what I understand, it just kept climbing and going up and bled into that next wave of things like Paramore and Fall Out Boy. When those bands were blowing up, the other type of pop punk was sort of elevating and keeping going, whereas in the US it kinda dipped and then there was like a second wave of it. I’d seen all that happen at once, it was a lot and it made the genre what it is and it’s bigger than ever today.

What was it about the pop-punk style that enticed you in as a musician? 

I swear to God I’m not joking, it’s the fact that the music is at its core much easier to play. That’s not a joke! It’s structurally very simply – which doesn’t make it any better or worse than any other genre. It’s just a simple structure, a few chord songs, no big surprises and that’s what’s kind of appealing about it – that it’s very straightforward and upfront. And I know there’s a lot of bands that challenge that and push the genre which is great. Even Bowling for Soup have done a lot to progress past that, but that’s at the roots of it. When I was a kid growing up listening to The Beatles and The Eagles, there’s a lot of really technical musicianship stuff in there – Boston and Foreigner and all these crazy bands where is like ‘Oh cool! That’s awesome! Those songs are great!’. I can never do that. So hearing a band like Blink 182 – and this is in no way an insult – break into the mainstream popular culture where it’s really simple and you don’t have to be Eric Clapton to play it, it inspired me to say ‘Oh, I can do this too!’. That’s just the reality of it! (Laughs!)            

I love the fact that you’ve said that and I think it’s really important that people understand simple can also mean incredible. You mention The Beatles there but of course lots of their material was actually very, very simple. 

Yes, and then they sort of broke the mould. If you listen to some of their later stuff I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Then you hear bands like Green Day and it’s like ‘Wow, this is simple’, and even Nirvana – simple and straightforward and there’s no tricks, just play it! That’s what really got me into wanting and thinking that it was even possible for me to have some sort of career. I mean, I never thought I’d be where I am now, but just doing something with it. 

It’s really interesting when you say that you at its core you think it’s easy because this style of music also at it’s core very fun and uplifting. But as you suggest, I think it’s also a style that’s accessible in that anyone – with a bit of dedication - can aspire to play guitar and be in a band. Sales of guitars rocketed 10% in 2005 and the pop-punk bands such as Bowling For Soup were credited with inspiring the next generation of musicians. You must agree that this is amazing thing? 

That is cool and I would never of even thought to look into that correlation there. And right there, as a statistic, that’s pretty awesome! 

I think one of the wonderful things about this genre of music is the camaraderie that exists. Every band just seemed to be – and continues to be – supportive of each other. Is that how it feels for you? 

Oh yeah, all the time! That’s still the case to this day. Jaret says it all the time and we all agree with him: it’s not a competition and we all want each other to win. Sadly, Sum 41 are wrapping it up but we’ve just seen that they’ve sold out a freaking stadium in France or something, 35,000 people! And it’s like ‘Hell yeah! That’s awesome!’. We have seen that Simple Plan are out there doing this great tour right now. All of us as friends are all stoked for each other. The other day I got a call from Ed (Udhus) from Zebrahead and he was literally calling from Cardiff where they were at the time just to say ‘Hey! We just saw that you’ve sold out this arena in Cardiff and we’re so stoked for you guys!’. That’s so cool! That’s what our community is like with our peers and how we treat each other. If you’re all on the same team, we’re all gonna want the same things for each other. 

Absolutely! And I love that phrase ‘community’ because that’s absolutely what it feels like. When A Hangover You Don’t Deserve was released, what was your reaction and what are your memories? Tracks like 1985 were just groundbreaking.

What’s funny is I actually remember hearing that song on the top 40 radio here in America in 2004. On the radio, at the time at least, they weren’t really introducing songs so there was something about it that sounded familiar but I wasn’t even aware that it was Bowling for Soup the first few times I heard it. And then I thought ‘Wow, that’s 1985 from the Girl All The Bad Guys Want band!’. Even though Girl All The Bad Guys Want did crossover to radio here, it was a much bigger hit in the UK in 2002. But here Bowling for Soup was still more not quite in the Blink 182 world. They were part of this cool collection of bands like New Found Glory who are on the radio but still touring clubs and doing the punk rock thing which was cool. At the time, being in high school, that was more appealing to me. Hearing that song then on pop radio, it was everywhere that year. That video was huge and that song was everywhere, like in the grocery store! (Laughs!) It was cool to see punk rock bands being top of the charts. That was my experience – seeing the album being put at the top at that time! 

Bowling For Soup UK Tour 2024

Bowling For Soup UK Tour 2024

Ask and ye shall receive...

Let’s move on to Bowling For Soup in a live setting. You will shortly be heading to the UK for 9 sold out shows, commencing on 15th February in Manchester, and as you said you will even be playing a massive arena show in Cardiff. Bowling For Soup have always had a very special relationship with UK fans. Why do you think that is and how much are you looking forward to these shows?

Well, the band broke in the UK well before the US because of The Bitch Song. That wasn’t really a hit in America at all actually but it was big in the UK. Bowling for Soup went over maybe in the year 2000 or something like that early on. The band had been playing a show in Texas, a sort of showcase event, and Steve Homer who was with Live Nation at the time (now CEO of AEG Live UK) was there, seeing it, taking it all in and then trying to figure out who was going to be worth something next. He saw Bowling for Soup and loved it and believed ‘Hey, this is going to do great!’ So he put them on a festival, I think it was Reading & Leeds - one of the big ones over there in the UK – and it just sort of helped elevate the popularity of the band. Obviously they put on a great show and everyone loved it and then The Bitch Song broke. It was huge, and then the album Drunk Enough To Dance came out with Girl All The Bad Guys Want which sort of kept elevating the band. So I think the fact that the UK saw it as a bigger thing first is what makes the relationship more special. We are a bigger band there, technically speaking. It’s really kind of the same thing as it is here. It’s just a bigger country in America and we are spread out more. But we’re doing arenas in the UK! So it’s kind of a different thing but ironically at the same time I feel like we have a little closer connection with the fans because they were onto it first. Obviously the band has its roots toughing it out in America, mostly through Texas back in the day, well before my time in the band, and there’s always that love there. That’s obviously nothing against anywhere else in the world where people are incredibly supportive. It’s just like the UK made the band play an attainable career first. 

What makes these shows incredibly special is the billing. You are joined on tour by the outstanding Less Than Jake and also Vandoliers. Just focussing on Less Than Jake, surely you must agree this is something really special. What does it mean to be out on tour with Less Than Jake? 

We must’ve done 3 or 4 tours with those guys at least, not including festivals such as Warped Tours and popping up a different festivals here and there and then just doing our own tours together where we were sort of co-headlining here in the States. The only stuff we’ve ever done together overseas was the festivals Slam Dunk, Reading and Leeds and stuff like that. We’ve all been really good friends for a long time. Hell, I even knew those guys before I was even in Bowling for Soup. So we had this thing where we were like ‘It will happen one day, right? There’s going to be a time when we’re going to the UK together, like properly?’. It was during one of our last US tours together where the conversation really started. It got put together and we announced it at Slam Dunk last year so that was cool to see. That’s why the posters are called the You Asked For It Tour. Every time in the UK people would be like ‘When are you guys gonna do it together?’. We’d always be doing tours where we would be there for 2 weeks and then Less Than Jake would be there for 2 weeks and we just kept missing each other. So each band kept getting asked ‘When are you guys going to tour together? It will make my life easier!’. So it was like, ‘Alright, you asked for it, here it is!’. So we put it together and we’re really excited because it’s been a long time coming. We’re all really good friends. We text each other nonsense all the time. It’s gonna be fun and just like hanging out with your friends. We get to spend 10 days with Less Than Jake and that’s great and amazing. We’re all fans! They were doing bigger stuff before Bowling For Soup especially in the punk rock world and they’re still very much a huge part of the real punk rock scene. They have their place and they’re all peers of all these bands, we look up to them and we’ve looked up to them for years.

Just focusing on Vandoliers, they are a really interesting choice in that they aren’t a pop-punk band. They perhaps more of an American alternative country band. But they are from Bowling For Soup’s home and headquarters of Texas. Tell me about the conversations that led to Vandoliers joining the tour.  

Yes they’re from North Texas so they’re from the same neighbourhood, as far as England is concerned, as Bowling for Soup. They are an awesome band and that’s a great way to describe them. They consider themselves to be Americana and they’ve got multi instrumentalists. They’re awesome and they have great songs! They sort of ride this world between country music and punk rock. They do like the Flogging Molly Cruise and they do a lot of punk festivals and they’re accepted by that community. They’re an interesting band and I think that’s number one why we wanted them there, because it’s something different. It’s different but the same – it’s upbeat and it’s fun and it’s that kind of world but it’s also just a great band and it switches up the show a little bit. It’s cool to kick off the show with a high energy different thing to what we normally do. So that was the first thought. Secondly, we’re just friends and we know those guys. We’ve had them come out and do shows with us with Bowling for Soup in Texas and elsewhere, and they’re good hangs. Number one for us is usually how we get along with the bands we are travelling with. And then also Jaret has a side project that’s country music, Jaret Ray Reddick, and I actually play bass in that too. So we’ve done a lot of shows together with The Jaret Ray Reddick country band and Vandoliers. They put on the same show for 20 people as they do for 2000 people so it’s cool to see that they’re into it, they’re going for it and they’re dedicated. They have a following which is really starting to make that thing happen. It was a no brainer: we want something a little bit different, we want good people and we want an awesome band. They checked all the boxes for us!

I would also just like to touch on the possibility of new music. Your last album was 2022’s excellent covers album Don’t Mind If I Do. What’s happening in the Bowling For Soup space in terms of writing and recording new music? 

We’re sort of always writing a recording new music. We each have our own studio set ups. This is where I’m in right now in the downstairs of my house, a writing and recording room. Jaret has a studio at his house and there’s a drum studio real close to Gary’s house that he can go and cut some drums at. So we have the resources to always be busy and we’re always writing stuff. Then when it’s something we want to bring each other we just do and we’ll just make it happen. We’ll get together and do it. We’ve worked on a couple of songs like that. Actually for the upcoming tour we covered a Less Than Jake song and recorded it and Less Than Jake covered and recorded a Bowling for Soup song so we’re going to put that out as a little package for that tour. If you want to know what song it is you’ll have to show up! So that’s the next thing that will be released. After that in the first week of June to mark the band’s 30th birthday, we’re doing our Big Birthday Bash which is a 2 night show in Texas. It’s also 20 years since A Hangover You Don’t Deserve so one night we’re going to do the album front to back and then the other we are doing a 30 Years Of Bowling For Soup show. So we’re going to put out a song called 30 Years That’s A Lot Of Beers. We recorded it but we’re still finishing it up. It’s a redo of 10 years ago’s 20 Years That’s A Lot Of Beers which was an acoustic version but the new version is recorded as a full band. It’s got different lyrics but it’s basically the same song and same message with just 10 more years on it!

I think it’s great that you’re releasing music like that because I think one of the wonderful things about Bowling For Soup is that you are an albums band. To explain a bit more about what I mean by that, after 2013’s Lunch Drunk Love, in recognition of how the way people were listening to music was changing, the band openly said they wouldn’t be releasing full albums any more. Of course, in 2016, what was only intended to be an EP naturally evolved into a full album with Drunk Dynasty and it seems as though the band are committed to creating and releasing full albums. To what extent is that a fair thing to say? 

I think so. Case in point is a few years ago we started recording one at a time these cover songs and that was fun for us. We started putting them out spaced out by a couple of months here and there, just this sort of random schedule. And then along with a couple of other songs that weren’t released, we put out that album. So it’s like, whether or not we want to or not, we end up putting out albums. If we put out a single that we recorded and then another one, eventually will go ‘let’s record an album’ and package those other 2 songs into it to make a comprehensive work. Like Jaret put it, our genre of music is like basically the new hair metal. Hair metal was huge in like the 80s and early 90s and then it took this big dip, and then it came back and it’s bigger than ever. People are still going to see these types of bands and that’s what’s happening with pop punk music. It was huge, it was selling everything out, they took a dip but it came back for this nostalgia purpose but the band is still recording and putting out music. There is something about a full collected work of 14 songs. Personally I never really like the singles and EPs route. There’s something about an album that’s cool that you would take your time with back in the day, like sequencing and putting the songs in order to listen to it, arranging it and finding the right flow. I feel that’s gotten lost on some people but it’s coming back and people are into full albums again. To me that’s a really important part of the production, the sequence of songs. It’s cool to see people caring about that again. 

Some closing thoughts...

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what an incredible ride the last 30 years has been for Bowling For Soup and the profound mark they have made with UK fans who continue to be hugely loyal to the band, demonstrated wonderfully by the routinely sold tours and arenas. To find out more head over to and in the meantime, enjoy the video to 1985 below.

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