An Interview with The Bouncing Souls: Sing Along Forever Ryan McGrath December 23, 2015 Interviews When announcing complete details for their ninth annual Home For The Holidays at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, The Bouncing Souls also addressed that this year will mark the final run of these quintessential holiday shows. Considering that The Souls were a group that I constantly credit for shaping my early upbringing into punk rock, Home For The Holidays was something that I’ve always looked forward to since first attending back in 2011. I’ve had many fond memories over the years, and there’s no question that being a part of these festivities year after year solidifies how much of a second home the city of Asbury Park has been for me. With a lineup that features the likes of The Loved Ones, Tim Barry, Static Radio and World/Inferno Friendship Society, to name a few, Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf conveyed that they wanted to bring back as much of the original bill from the first Home For The Holidays for this final shindig. While these nights are going to be absolutely beautiful, yet bittersweet, I am personally excited to see what kind of tricks The Bouncing Souls have up their sleeves in 2016. Right before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with Steinkopf and talk about this closing chapter of Home For The Holidays, reflect back on some of his favorite memories from playing year after year, and some possible ideas that the band might have in store for the New Year. Upon announcing the lineup for this year’s Home For The Holidays, you’ve also announced that 2015 will be the final year. What made you want to make this year the last and final hurrah? Well, this will be the ninth year, you know? We started it in 2007 when there was nothing happening in Asbury Park, and we wanted to start our own event that we would host every year—and have bands come, and have our friends come from all over the world, and stuff. We kind of feel like that we like to try something different, and we’re going to do a new thing next year; we don’t have all of the details sorted out yet. We’re not really ending anything, but we’re just going to do something different, and kind of expand it and make it bigger. It will be something new and fun, so it’s not totally the end. We’re still going to do a little festival in Asbury Park, but it’s going to be different. Understood. I know that Home For The Holidays is an annual event that a lot of people in Asbury Park look forward to every year. But I’m sure your fans will be just as excited for whatever you have planned for the future. It’s a cool idea, man. It’s going to be just something that will be fun, and different, and hopefully bigger. Home For The Holidays has become such an event, and such a great thing for all of our friends and our family to all get together for the holidays, so I am personally going to miss it because it’s what I’ve done every year for Christmas for the past like, nine years. But, you know, it’s time to change it up a little bit. Definitely! What were some of your fondest memories of planning these shows, putting together the sets, and playing year after year? There’s so many bands because it’s like—every year, we try to think of who we really want to be with and who would we want to celebrate these hometown shows with. So, it’s always good friends and good people around us. But I think the most memorable one in some ways was the year of the big blizzard in 2010 when it got snowed out. It was memorable because like, every day we were like, “We can’t do a show,” you know? Because there was five feet of snow; The Stone Pony and Asbury Park was completely shut down. It got snowed out, and there were all of these kids at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel and the Empress and they were stuck in town because they came here for the shows. You couldn’t even drive through Asbury Park because they couldn’t plow like, for days, because it was such a bad storm. So, we got some of our friends in four-wheel-drive trucks, and got some of our gear down to the Asbury Lanes, and we posted on the Internet, “If you can walk here, come to the show.” So, we just played a free show for a couple hundred people, and we played for hours to whoever could get there by foot. That night was like, the most memorable one. You know, it wasn’t really a “Home For The Holidays,” but then we rescheduled all of the shows about a month later. For this year, you have many friends like The Loved Ones, Tim Barry, and World/Inferno Friendship Society on the bill. How do you think the lineup for this year’s shows will be just as special as any year prior? The idea for this was to go back to the first one and get as many of the bands as we could who did the first show. We got I think, almost all of them—like, there’s The Loved Ones, World/Inferno, Tim Barry, The Low Budgets. We got almost all of the same bill, so we’re going to do kind of a reunion of first one. Also, almost all of the bands who have some kind of release on our record label, so it’s all related to our label, Chunksaah Records, as well. Around this time last year, I got to interview vocalist Greg Attonito, and I expressed how much I always enjoyed the spontaneity of your sets each year. Since this is going to be the last hurrah, what are some ideas that you’re currently brainstorming for December? We’re still working on it. It’s really fun though every year to think of ideas to do something new and fun, you know? Like, one year we did a bingo machine where all of the ping pong balls had song names on them, and it was totally random, and one year, we did all of our records in a row. Every year, we try to do something unique, and it’s going to be something cool. Last year, you added a different twist to the Home For The Holidays by playing a few New Year’s dates in Denver. How was the turnout for these shows overall, considering this was your first time playing outside of New Jersey around the holidays? Yeah, last year we went to Denver right after Home For The Holidays. We did two shows for New Year’s, which was really fun. They asked us to come back and do it again, but we kind of thought that we shouldn’t do the same thing every year. But we’d kind of like to start some sort of New Year’s tradition where we play different places all of the time. Maybe next year, we’ll start doing something like that. Very cool! Are there any other new plans for The Souls that we should be on the lookout for next year as well? Yeah, we have a whole new record pretty much written. We’ve been working on songs, and have been doing a bunch of demoing. We’re going to record over the winter for a record release next summer—a new Souls record. That’s the next new thing that we got going on. On a similar note, is it safe to say that The Souls will be a lot more active in the coming year also? Yeah, absolutely! The Souls are going to keep making records and playing shows. One way or another, we’re going to keep making music and having fun. We all have our own lives, and we all have other interests, but when we all get together, it’s the one thing that keeps us all going and makes us happy. So, we’re going to be always doing this one way or another. The Bouncing Souls will be hosting their ninth annual Home For The Holidays at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, which will take place from Dec. 26 through Dec. 28. 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