Interview with The Bouncing Souls: In Orbit

When I think of bands that define genres, certain acts stick out. When I think of punk, I immediately think of The Bouncing Souls. They have been performing and active for pretty much my entire life, and there are no signs of them slowing down. Every time I have groups come in through the studio, whether they are in the punk genre or not, The Bouncing Souls are always noted as an influence of some sort. Maybe it’s because they are a New Jersey success story that never forgot where they came from. Or maybe it’s the fact that they have so much talent that it’s hard not to jump on board.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Pete Steinkopf, the Souls’ incredible guitar player. We talked about everything from what “punk” means to him, what he does in his free time, and a cool showcase they will be playing with Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem with Red Bull Sound Select. The transcription is below:

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Pete. You guys recently just played two shows in NYC with one of my personal favorites, The Gaslight Anthem. It was somewhat odd for me to watch you guys open for them; I know how much they all look up to you. What a great lineup!

Yeah! Those shows were great. Unfortunately, there was a sound rule, so we couldn’t get as loud as we wanted. People kept yelling, “Turn it up,” and we couldn’t (laughs). But overall, the shows were incredible—great energy. And we love Gaslight; they’re such great dudes.

Now on that note, I see you will be playing with Brian, once again, for the Red Bull Sound Select show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Sept. 30. The whole thing is awesome and I just attended another concert they put together a few weeks back. Can you tell us a little bit about how this came about?

Sure! I’ll tell you what I know so far: Brian is good friends with those guys at Red Bull and helped us put together this showcase, and it’s going to be awesome. We thought it was an awesome idea. I know it’s kind of like a first-come-first-served deal at the door, where they will release tickets for $3, so people should get there early! No presale or anything like that. Brian will perform some songs with us and vice versa. It’s going to be awesome. Hopefully you can come out!

I wouldn’t miss it! Now, it’s been just over a year since your last album, Comet, came out. I love that record by the way. What’s the deal with some new music!? Anything you can tell us?

Yeah, we actually just finished recording a 7” split with a band called The Menzingers that will come out this fall. We love those guys. They are a great band and it’s a cool way to bridge a gap between records. I think everyone will really enjoy it.

That’s so rad! I love The Menzingers. You guys are playing a show with them soon too, yes?

Yup! The Tsunami Festival out in Reading, PA, on Sept. 27. Tons of good bands on that bill too, like Man Overboard. Should be cool.

Now, I have to say, in my opinion, The Bouncing Souls have created a punk revolution. I feel like there are some periods of time where there are a ton of bands, then not so many. Do you guys ever feel that responsibility to keep the scene alive?

Not necessarily. I agree with you, but I think when a new generation comes around, like it has, about every two years, they do it themselves. We just happen to be a huge part of that, which is really cool. Kids kind of do it all on their own now. I mean, there are so many places to play, like Court Tavern in New Brunswick and of course, Asbury. Bands are really making it happen “DIY” these days.

This is very true, for I have witnessed it myself. I hate it when sometimes people say, “This isn’t punk, and your music isn’t negative.” Have you ever gotten that before?

Ha, I’ve heard it, but luckily we don’t encounter that. In my personal opinion, punk is about self-expression—speaking your mind on what you love. There is so much negativity in the world anyway, why make it worse, you know?

I totally agree. So many New Jersey musicians look up to you all and respect you guys. Now I know on your downtime you also own a studio and produce music as well. Any bands that you can recommend for us that you’ve been working with?

Yeah, I own a studio and I also work at Lakehouse Studios in Asbury Park. I’ve worked with so many cool bands; I love it. Right now I just finished a record with a band from Toronto called the Organ Thieves. They are very creative, and the record is ridiculous. You have to check them out.

Awesome, I certainly will. I am always looking for new bands to play and review. Now, it’s crazy to think that you guys have been active in the music scene for over 20 years now. What would you say has changed the most in the industry since you started, other than everything?

Ha. Well, I can say the internet has changed everything 100 percent. When we were first starting out, we would write on pieces of paper, hand out flyers on our own just to hope people would come out to a show. Now people can go on social media and blast out one invite in two minutes to thousands of people. It’s definitely easier for bands to access things these days and to keep in touch with fans.

Do you think it’s for the better?

Yes and no. It has its pros and cons. I mean, hell, yeah, you have a show you can tell 20,000 people about it, cool. On the other hand, your newsfeed could be completely flooded 24 hours a day!

Oh god, I know all too well. I always say one way to get me to ignore you is to invite me to something.

Ha-ha, true!

So other than the two shows you mentioned earlier, any plans for fall? Are you guys still planning on continuing the Home for the Holidays tradition this year?

Oh yeah, of course. We’re going to play those shows, then start planning what we want to do for Home for the Holidays, then take it from there. We’re starting to think of our new concept for this year. Last year we had CM Punk create the setlist, which was cool; he’s a cool dude.

My final question that myself and many other Souls fan would want to know is will you guys do this forever?

I think one way or another, yes. We always take breaks and everyone does their own thing, but we love to get back together to make music and go play shows. That will also be the best part for us. So, I am going to say yes.

And I hope you stick to your word! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Pete. I will see you in Brooklyn!

Right on, thanks Maria!


The Bouncing Souls will play at the Red Bull Sound Select showcase on Sept. 30 at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg with special guest Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem. For more information on that show, visit their Facebook page or official website.