Texan stalwarts Bowling for Soup return to kick off their UK Get Happy Tour and DTF Media caught up with Erik Chandler to talk about the past 24 years, the new tour, solo projects and the search for balance between music and family life.
DTF: So here we are in Glasgow on the 9th February. A mean, cold night in the big city with Erik Chandler from Bowling for Soup. First night of the tour Erik – how you feeling?
EC: Much better today than I was yesterday. We had a full day of press in London that started as soon as we got off the plane. We flew in, got our bags, drove straight and did press all afternoon. I ended up passing out on a beanbag chair before the last interviewer got there. Jaret and Gary were doing a video interview and they set up just in front of me. So I’m there sleeping on this chair back behind them right through the whole interview. So that was fun.
DTF: What a great input to their interview (laughs)?
EC: Yeah exactly. The occasional grumble (sic).
DTF: It’s great to see you back in the UK. It must almost feel like home to you given the amount of times you’ve toured here in the past?
EC: We used to have an exact count. We think we’re at 31-32 trips over here. Somewhere in that range.
DTF: I think some years, you were here 2, maybe 3 times?
EC: There were several years that we were here three times a year. That was several years in a row. We’d come in February, back in the summer and again in October. It’s just not feasible any longer. We’re not getting any younger and people needed to start taking care of their home life a little bit more. Starting to get into the situation where people are having kids, newly married. And it’s like we’re gonna miss this part of our lives because we’re running ourselves ragged being on tour. That was pretty much the idea behind the farewell tour we did a few years ago. It wasn’t saying we’re not coming back anymore but we gotta go home and figure out in what capacity we can still continue to do this and make it work.
DTF: You must have done that ‘cause here you are?
EC: Exactly. We did, we did. And back with a really really finely tuned, renewed sense of excitement about being on tour. It’s really nice. We’re all very excited.
DTF: So where are we gonna see you across the UK?
EC: This tour takes us to Glasgow tonight, Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Norwich, Manchester, Cardiff and we finish up in London.
DTF: Big shows in London?
EC: Yeah it’s gonna be good. The O2 Brixton Academy. We played there many years ago. It’s been quite some time. It’s been probably 10 – 12 years since we played there.
DTF: It’s really interesting that you choose the UK to kick off the tour.
EC: Basically we toured the US all summer last year on the Vans Warped tour so it made sense to come back here first before you set off.
DTF: So you’re gonna play an album in its entirety?
EC: Drunk Enough to Dance will be played in its entirety less the one hidden track that we’re playing at the acoustic VIP every night. Those folks get to hear one more than everybody else but we decided to do it that way since it wasn’t actually a listed track on the album. Drunk Enough to Dance has 18 tracks on it so by the time you sprinkle in the other hits off other albums that people want and expect to hear, you start running into a time constraint situation. This being the first night of the tour, nothing went right today. When we were loading in, we were supposed to be done with our sound check at 2.45 but I think I walked on stage to start at three o’clock. So everything was still being put together on the stage right up to the time of doors. So we’re cutting little bits off the sets and set changes here and there just ensure we have enough time to fit this entire album. It may get to the point where we have to start skipping the non-album tunes. We were putting together the set via a group text thread and I was sitting at home watching this go down and my statement was how long are we gonna have to play because we’re already pushing 2 hours. I said I think we had more than 2 hours of songs that everybody decided we had to play. It’s a hard thing to do when you’ve been a band for 24 years almost. There’s just so much material and you know, we’d like to play everything everyone wants to hear but it’s not always possible.
DTF: 24 years. Do you still get pre-game nerves?
EC: It’s another day at the office. With BfS I don’t. My solo project – I do (sometimes) but I think it’s because that stuff is still new a little bit and there’s a difference when you’ve been the side-man for 20 years and then all of a sudden you’re the front man and it all falls on you. The other guys in that band tend not to talk on the mic at all so it literally all falls on me. So I get a little bit nervous before those shows but never with BfS.
DTF: Have you got plans this year for the Erik Chandler band?
EC: I’ve got two shows scheduled back in Texas right after this trip but then our bass player is having shoulder reconstruction surgery so that’s gonna put us out for a while. He may actually be done so it may be a situation of having to find someone else who works well with the other two.
DTF:That’s interesting. We’ve listened to your solo stuff. It’s really polished and passionate but very different from BfS.
EC: Yeah, very different. When the band first started everybody was writing songs and bringing songs and then after a while the attitude of the band started moving in the direction of songs that Jaret was writing so I didn’t bring songs to the band for years. Then I started writing for this and wrote probably 75 songs, knocking the dust off and I’d sing them to Jaret and he said “this is good to know – I thought you’d forgotten to write songs”. I said “you know why I haven’t brought in”. Yeah – it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy doing both ‘cause it’s just completely different styles of music.
DTF: Keeps it fresh?
EC: It does.
DTF: So what are the essentials when you’re on tour?
EC: You’ve gotta have a good backpack that holds lots and lots of stuff. Without endorsing a certain brand – every one of us found this one particular brand that allows you to pack a couple of days of clothes and get your computer and all your charges, extra toiletries, snacks in the side pockets, books to read. They’re awesome but the problem is there are so many pockets and sections it’s often hard to find where you put something.
DTF: So you spoke about that balance between family and your music career. What do you miss when you’re on the road?
EC: Sitting on the couch and watching movies. And just kinda like being still at home. Having my dog curled up on my lap and just the mundane, boring stuff is what you miss. It depends on how long you’re on tour. This tour obviously isn’t that terribly long but in the past we’ve done tours where we’re on the road doing 56 shows in 65 days and at that point it’s like – around day 20-25 – you know what would be really really good right now? Doing nothing. Doing absolutely nothing! No TV, no sound, no people around. Just by myself laying down on the couch covered up with a blanket and not being surrounded by people constantly. The stuff that makes this the coolest job in the world is also some of the things start to wear on you after quite a while. I love being around my friends. This bus in particular (tour bus) has 14 people on here. There’s space for 14 people to sleep but there’s not much space for people to ‘be’. So kinda being at home by yourself is a very nice thing to go back to.
DTF: That’ll be news for people who’ve always wanted to do what you do. The things that at home that people take for granted are the things you cherish the most when you get off the road.
EC: Yeah – you witnessed it first hand in our dressing room. This is a huge venue and we’ve got a relatively small box that’s the only place all of us have to go. That’s why we’re doing this on the bus ‘cause you can’t hear in there.
DTF: Well I’m conscious you have a show to play and I just want to say thank you from Down the Front Media. I know a huge amount of our listeners are really interested in going to see you on tour. Thank you.
EC: Thank you so much for having me. Take care man.
To read the full Live Review and catch a glimpse of some of the photos taken by the DTFMedia Team , check out the following link: https://www.downthefrontmedia.com/down-the-front-media/live-gig-reviews/bowling-for-soup-army-of-freshmen-the-aquabats-09-02-18/