Since 1989, The Bouncing Souls have been a staple of the New Jersey punk scene. For the last six years, the four-piece have put on shows dubbed Home For The Holidays, a series of gigs that celebrate the band’s return back to their home base. This past summer, the band released their ninth studio album, Comet, and it’s one of their strongest releases to date.
Guitarist Pete Steinkopf and bassist Bryan Kienlen took a few minutes out of their day to have a chat with me about the upcoming shows, Comet, and what 2013 holds for the band. The transcription is below:
How was writing and recording Comet different from your previous records?
Bryan Kienlen: Well, for sure the Bill Stevenson [producer] factor makes it stand out on its own as a very unique experience among our bazillion records that we’ve recorded.
Do you have a particular favorite song off the album?
Pete Steinkopf: I think my favorite song right now is “Comet.”
BK: It’s weird that you say that, because “Comet” is currently my favorite song. I think it might be the best song on the record. In my humble opinion, “Comet” is the coolest song on the record.
What makes it the coolest?
BK: It just has that bigger feeling. Sort of like “Night On Earth” off of Hopeless Romantic , it has a lot of soul and a nice pocket groove I like to sit in. I like the message of the song, and the lyrics. Something tells me it’ll be the song I’ll like forever.
PS: There’s something cool about where the bridge kicks in that I like.
With Hurricane Sandy, were there any concerns that the holiday shows might be canceled?
BK: My brain wasn’t in the realm of Home For The Holidays when Sandy hit, that was right before we started thinking about Home For The Holidays. Sandy was its own insane chapter of life.
PS: We thought everything would be canceled, everywhere.
How were you personally affected by the storm?
BK: I live one block from the ocean, and I gotta say I don’t know how but we really dodged a bullet this time. I watched the ocean flow like a river down my street and past my house. My house is elevated just enough that the water was knee deep at my intersection. My house is another foot or two higher than that. We didn’t have any flooding or any real damage, just like some weird green sea scum on the side of my house and in my garage, so it was pretty mellow.
PS: We got lucky, everywhere to the south or the north of us got like demolished. We’re very, very lucky.
Seeing as how you’re going into the sixth annual Home For The Holidays tour, how did the original idea begin?
BK: I think we were right in the same room and we were talking about doing something cool and unique of our own. At first we didn’t think of it as something we would do every year.
PS: I think the annual tradition is inspired by The Bosstones, who did the Hometown Throwdown year after year. We figured we needed something like that in Jersey. The title of it has a quite literal meaning.
It’s like a four-day-long party!
BK: This year, for the band, it’ll be like a five-day-long party. On the fifth day we’re actually going to Boston to play with The Bosstones.
That’s one way to ring in the new year!
BK: That puts us at coming home from Boston on New Year’s Eve and I think our cool side-project band, Primal Wolf, is going to be practicing on New Year’s Eve, which is going to get gnarly.
PS: For sure, New Year’s Eve practice then party.
Speaking of the new year, what’s in store for you guys?
BK: First we’re going to Australia with The Descendents, which is exciting. We’re going to the UK I think for a couple weeks after that.
PS: That is possibly the coolest thing ever.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
BK: Jeez man, that’s actually tough to narrow down because we have a hundred and something songs out there and recorded. I guess at the end of the day we put together a setlist with a lot of variety. It’s equally as fun to play a set as fast as you can or those big, heavy, slow grooves. Speaking of setlists, this year for Home For The Holidays, we’re doing celebrity setlists.
PS: We’re having our famous friends write our setlists for the four nights.
That should be entertaining!
BK: We don’t know what to expect.
PS: We always think of the same ideas, so it’s cool to have someone else write and it forces us to think outside of the box.
It’s also like a customized little show.
BK: That’s going to be cool this year. That’s going to be our excuse not to practice. PS: It’s going to be a surprise to us too.
BK: Yeah, we’re just going to get up there and play it. It’ll be fun. We’ve got CM Punk, the current WWE heavyweight champion, writing one, Brian Fallon from Gaslight Anthem is writing one of them, Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys writing one and Green Day writing the other. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. Last year we learned all of our songs; we did full album shows, so we can play anything. Any damn song we wrote we can play it.
So what’s on your personal holiday wish list?
BK: I think everything on the upcoming agenda sums it up. I can’t think further than that. There’s nothing I want stuff wise.
PS: I want to pull off another holiday with all our friends and family and get a minute to catch up with everybody. It’s a little chaotic during those four nights but my wish is to have a few quality moments with all of our friends from out of town that we haven’t seen. Even our friend Johnny X, who lives in NYC which is only an hour away, we’re always so busy and get to see him at things like this.
What have been some of your favorite tours?
BK: Right now, The Descendents in Australia is going off in big neon lights in my brain.
PS: I’m stoked for that.
BK: Hot Water Music in Australia was another great tour.
PS: Anything with Hot Water Music was great.
Many thanks for taking time out of your day to chat with me guys!
BK and PS: Thank you!
The Bouncing Souls will perform at The Stone Pony from Dec. 26-29. Their new album, Comet, is available now through Rise/Chunksaah. For more information, go to bouncingsouls.com.