Summertime.

There’s something special about it.

Maybe it’s because when you leave the Stone Pony after a December show and the brutal Northwest wind is blowing down 2nd Avenue, you feel like summer will never come.

Well, summer is finally here. And on Saturday July 13, the Bouncing Souls will play their Stoked for the Summer show at the Stone Pony Summer Stage, their annual homecoming/family reunion, when all the endearing New Jersey weirdos who have become a part of their extended family gather for a warm night of punk rock good times.

And while every “Stoked” is special, this year represents 30 years since Pete Steinkopf, Greg Attonito, Bryan Kienlen, and Shal Khichi got together in high school and started playing songs.

They weren’t all that good. And they’ll admit that.

But that would change, and now the boys have lost count of the times they’ve been around the world on their ten full-length albums. This year, they’ve got the 30th Anniversary Crucial Moments book and EP to mark the occasion, as they’ve transcended punk to simply become New Jersey’s favorite sons. They’ve also brought in their buds Leftöver Crack,  Spanish Love Songs, Fucked Up, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Tickets are $39.50 and doors open at 4:30 pm.

But summer has a place in all of our hearts—and Steinkopf, Attonito, and Kienlen all have some epic New Jersey Shore summer memories that have shaped who they are. Khinchi left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Michael McDermott. And for the last few years, Hot Water Music’s George Rebelo has been keeping the beat, but he’s from Florida, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being nostalgic for 110 percent humidity.

“I can remember as kids going to the Seaside Heights Boardwalk,” said Steinkopf, “We were like 13-years-old. And there was this one game where the prizes were cigarettes. We thought we were so cool. Anybody could go up and win a pack of cigs. And then we’d go under the boardwalk and smoke them.”

Attonito’s memories start even younger.

“What pops in my head is being a little kid. I used to visit my cousins in Bricktown and we used to go to their house and go to the beach. I don’t even remember which beach. But it was the most basic of things, that Jersey Shore experience, that atmosphere of the beach and the boardwalk,” he remembers.

Later, when the band had set up camp in New Brunswick, Attonito remembers the summer surf missions they would do from their punk house.

“We’d get up at four in the morning and check all the spots. We’d start in Long Branch and go south, check Asbury. Then we’d get in the water for a few waves. And if it was summer, we’d stop at 7-11 and get Slurpees or fries at the Windmill in Long Branch. Those were very cool memories.”

Souls on the Shore: The Bouncing Souls soaking up the sun circa early 1990s.

As a kid, Kienlen’s family used to spend a week each summer on Long Beach Island and rent a house.

“I would walk down to Brighton Beach Surf Shop every day. I became obsessed with surfing. And I’ve loved it ever since.”

But one of Kienlen’s funnier memories was at Kate Hiltz’s house, and was the basis for the writing of their song “Shark Attack” off their 1997 self-titled album.

“Kate was living in Bradley Beach and she had us all over for dinner. We ate a giant meal that she had made and special vegetable side dish with psychedelic mushrooms. Whatever it was, it was really delicious and we all ate a lot of it. We ran up the street and we swam in the ocean. And somewhere in there we wrote the lyrics to ‘Shark Attack.’ We were laughing our faces off for hours,” he recalls, cracking up at the memory.

“There are just so many good summer memories. I mean, we opened up for Bad Brains outside in the street in front of the Asbury Lanes. That was a great day.”

Kienlen and Steinkopf have been living around Asbury for about 12 years. It’s become something of home-base for the band. Today, Kienlen owns a tattoo shop in Bradley and Steinkopf is producing music. They’ve watched the famed “City by the Sea” turn from a ghost town into the most booming beach town in the state, and they’ve actually played a big part in terms of the economy and community of the early renewal.

Attonito remembers the state of Asbury in the early nineties, and while he is gracious that New Jersey recognizes the role the Souls played in the town’s turnaround, he admits it’s bigger than the band and he’s filled with hope from the punks that have been with them for three decades, many of whom are now bringing their own kids to shows.

“Asbury never seemed like it was ever going to come back. It was sketchy just to leave your car there and go in the water. But there are so many lessons for me as an individual to see how your life and the world can transform. It’s inspiring, scary, and amazing all at once.”

Steinkopf has seen it year round and like Attonito, having his own kid creates a whole new summer experience.

“When we first moved in there was nothing going on except music. It’s obviously very different now. But the best part is that I get to experience the beach summer through my son’s eyes. We get on our bike and ride up to the boardwalk. We people watch and see our friends. It’s a whole new perspective and enjoyment.”

Be sure to join the party as the Bouncing Souls and company get “Stoked for the Summer” at the Sone Pony in Asbury Park on July 13!!

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