Looking like I had just gotten out a swimming pool because I was so drenched in sweat, out of breath, and looking for refuge from the heat, I ran to the Press Room in hopes of beating the Bouncing Souls to the room. Well, I walked through the door to find Greg And Bryan waiting for me, talking with Rayanna. I quickly pulled myself together and pulled off a fun, interesting interview, I hope you enjoy it.
Samuel Barker: What are your names and what do you do?
Greg Attonito: I'm Greg, and I sing.
Bryan Kienlen: I'm Bryan, and I play bass.
Samuel: Being around since 1987, did you ever think you'd reach this point when the band started out?
Bryan: Definitely not. I don't think we spent much time thinking about or trying to visualize this day coming. It was all about something to do after school and something to do during school. At least for myself it's been how I've lived my life everyday since then.
Greg: Then it became something to do instead of school.
Bryan: Yeah, then it became something to do to get kids to quit school.
Samuel: I've read before that you guys used to play house parties in order to pay your rent, was it ever nice having the band to fall back on?
Bryan: It wasn't a way to pay rent or anything, but we lived in this punk house where there were like 10 people living in this big house, so rent was really cheap. But then we'd get these gigantic heating bills for oil, and we'd freak out and be like "what are we going to do?" and we'd throw a giant house party and have all our friends come out and play. There was a half pipe in the back yard. Someone would make fritters, someone would make vodka slushies, and we'd get a keg and charge everyone a few bucks at the door and it'd be this big "Oil Bill Party."
Greg: Water Bill Party.
Bryan: Yeah, Water Bill Party, Electric Bill Party.
Greg: It'd work where we could pay the bill and have a few bucks left over to buy beer.
Bryan: Yeah, it killed two birds with one stone. It was the only venue in town too.
Samuel: Was this in New York or in New Jersey?
Bryan: That was in Jersey, we grew up in Jersey.
Rayanna: What area of Jersey?
Bryan: New Brunswick.
Samuel: I know you've done the art on all the past albums, did you do the art on How I Spent My Summer Vacation as well?
Bryan: Yeah, all the art.
Samuel: So you guys are one self contained unit?
Bryan: Yep. It works that way, at least for us. It's all coming from the band.
Samuel: Have you ever done anything for any other bands?
Bryan: No, sometimes people ask me and I just tell them "no." I'm not really that kind of artist, a commercial artist. Each record comes, like a song, from here(inside). I can't write a song for another band or draw a record cover. It's like 'It's your band, express yourself, I'm over here expressing myself.'
Samuel: A lot of your songs have a sing along feel. Is that something you got from the music you listened to growing up or was it just the way the songs are made?
Greg: That's the best of it really. We started out as a live band and the audience is a part of the show. When they sing along to the songs it makes it more fun, it's that simple. If no one is really connecting with the song, if they're inspired enough by a song to sing along, then you know that they're enjoying it. You don't have to do anything because they're all singing along.
Bryan: It increases the volume and the power of what music does.
Rayanna: Is it ever overwhelming to have thousands of people singing your songs back to you?
Greg: It's great, everytime.
Bryan: It's awesome. It's the greatest feeling in the world.
Samuel: I know you guys tour a lot, when you get home are you happy to be home or do you get anxious to get out?
Greg: I was only anxious to get back out when I didn't have a steady place to live, it was like 'where am I going to stay for the next 3 weeks until the new tour.' But now I sorta practice feeling comfortable and feeling at home wherever I am because we travel so much. I work hard to feel as comfortable and at home as I can because I don't get home much. When I'm there I do enjoy it.
Samuel: Are you guys taking some time off after the Warped Tour?
Bryan: Yeah, after this tour we're going home for a month. Then we're going back out to Europe and doing a headlining tour out there with Guttermouth, and a bunch of Epitaph bands. We're doing Europe, then we're going home for a week or so then we're doing the US again.
Samuel: Weren't you guys on the Deconstruction Tour?
Greg: We did, just last month.
Samuel: I notice you play a lot of your European dates with bands like Snapcase and Avail, is it ever strange touring with hardcore bands?
Bryan: It works for us, so it should work for the kids. Us, Avail, Snapcase, Sick Of It All. We just shared a bus with Sick Of It All over there, and we're all friends and we all listen to each others music.
Samuel: How's the Warped Tour been this year?
Bryan: It's been good.
Greg: We've had a lot of fun.
Samuel: I know you've been on the tour for a while now, who are some of the bands you still enjoy to watch?
Bryan: The Explosion is on, The Business, and Madcap. I've made a discovery this year, I've never heard them, Madcap. They're really cool kids. They're a great band.
Samuel: Do you dig this vibe or are you more into intimate settings of clubs?
Greg: They're both cool, they're just different things. At Warped Tour you just have to get out there and just dive into all the new people and everything going on. This year we've been showing a lot of people who we are. When we do a headlining tour in a club, it's easier, there isn't a lot of weather to deal with, you get to play longer, which is fun. Each of them are fun in their own way.
Samuel: I know a lot of bands come onto Warped Tour with a scripted set list for the entire tour, did you guys do that this year?
Greg: We do until it hits a moment where it gets boring, and it's like 'we have to do something.'
Bryan: Sometime we won't write a set list or we'll switch songs around. The other day we hit a moment like that where we had been playing the same set list but a few songs around each day, so we didn't use a set list. This kid, Mark Holloway, who works at the stage we play on, we decided to make it Mark Holloway Day. Mark you call them out, and we'll play them. You have to come up to the microphone and say a song and we'll play it.
Rayanna: That's different.
Greg: You have to break it up and we enjoy it all over again. Everyone else is like 'ahhh, a break from the mo..no..tony."
Bryan: mernipply, persnickity
Rayanna: How long have you two been around each other, because you keep finishing each others sentences?
Greg: Yeah, we're talking about stuff we both know. We live this stuff everyday.
Bryan: I've known this kid since we were little grommits. Since we were wee willy bunters.
Samuel: So does the chemisty help in being able to do no set lists and things like that?
Bryan: Yeah, we've gotten to a point where we've been doing live shows for so long that we don't have to get psyched up. I'm sitting here talking to you and I'm in the same state of mind walking out on stage, then as soon as the first chord is hit I'm just like on. It's always fun, there's never a hang.
Samuel: Growing up around New Jersey, who were some of the bands you looked up to most around that area?
Bryan: Headstrong, Vision is still around, there was a band called Sticks N' Stones from New Jersey that was amazing, we still sell a 7" of theirs. Nobody in the world knows anything about Sticks N' Stones, but we sell their 7".
Samuel: Speaking of Chunksaah Records, do you guys still actively get new bands?
Bryan: We just signed a band, what'd you say, it's the first time we've signed a band sorta?
Greg: Yeah, before it was just reissueing things that were already there. This is going to be a new album.
Bryan: They're call the Arsons. You ever hear of Grey Area? They were on Victory I think.
Bryan: Ernie from Grey Area who is a genius. He was in Token Entry as well. His new band is called the Arsons and he decided to do an album with us on Chunksaah. He just came to us and was like 'I want to do an album on Chunksaah,' and we're like "Alright, great, we can't really do much for you, but we'd love to do it." The label is just the members of the bands and Kate, Kate is Great. If it wasn't for Kate, it wouldn't exist. She basically does everything at the label. When we're home we help out and make decisions.
Samuel: So is that the reason there has never been a Bouncing Souls full length released on Chunksaah?
Bryan: We did also just put out a full length.
Samuel: Oh, you released a full length, I knew you had all the 7"s.
Bryan: We have all the 7"s, the first two full lengths which used to be on BYO. Last year we put out an hour long collectors CD called The Bad, The Worse, And The Out Of Print. It's cool, if you're a Bouncing Souls fan, it's a must. We collected everything from 7"s and one offs we did for compilation. We'd like to take it seriously, but we're too busy touring and being the Souls for right now.
Samuel: So maybe put more in it in your older days?
Bryan: Yeah, put a little more juice in it.
Rayanna: So how long have you been doing it now?
Bryan: Since like....93?
Greg: '93 was the first time we released something.
Bryan: It's named after our friend Timmy Chunks, also from Token Entry. He gave us the money to put out our first EP. So we named it after him, Chunksaah.
Samuel: What was originally on the disc of The Good, The Bad, And The Argyle?
Bryan: An MTV logo with a red band over it.
Samuel: I know I've seen that on 7"s.
Bryan: Yeah, and we still sell T-shirts with it on there. Yeah, the people who printed the CD.
Greg: They wouldn't do it.
Samuel: It was just the printers, not BYO?
Greg: No, the people who were printing it wouldn't do it, so BYO had to change it. The thing is we were going to repress them for Chunksaah with the logo on it and all the original artwork. We found a place that would print it.
Bryan: But they made it out of the country with the goods.
Greg: Yeah, the company folded, after tons of phone calls to get our stuff back Kate went to the office and the office was empty, no return phone calls, all the artwork gone, all the original art and everything from Argyle and Maniacal Laughter all gone.
Bryan: Yeah, so we're totally out of the first two records.
Samuel: Did they have the masters as well or do you have them?
Greg: They had everything.
Rayanna: Have they been located?
Greg: No, and there is literally going to be a stop in the availabitity of the CDs.
Bryan: Kids have been ordering the first two records from us at Chunksaah and this is what has been going on, and they're waiting for the records. It's pretty gnarly. Maxdisc is the name of the company we went through to print them.
Greg: If you're out there....
Bryan: You're dead!
Samuel: Anything you'd like to add?
Bryan: The show is going to rock tonight.
Greg: See you out there in the computer world and anywhere else you may be.
Samuel: Actually, sorry I forgot about this, we were talking before the interview about your music being available on the internet, I know emusic has a few albums available for download, what's your take on that?
Bryan: Well the emusic thing is the only legitimate thing we're a part of. I think Epitaph has a thing going on with emusic. It's kinda cool, it's fair. Find us one way or another, if you really can't afford it, you should hear our music. Go to Napster or go to our website bouncingsouls.com and you can get some songs from there. Go to "Sounds" and you can get all kinds of songs.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.