NJ punk heroes The Bouncing Souls have been playing some year-end shows, and they'll wrap up their run in NYC on Friday (12/20) at Brooklyn Steel with killer support from fellow US melodic punk vets The Bronx and Strike Anywhere, as well as UK ska-punks The Bar Stool Preachers (who, fun fact, are fronted by TJ McFaull, son of Cock Sparrer frontman Colin McFaull).
Tickets for the Brooklyn show are still available, and we're also giving away a pair. Enter via the widget right here for a chance to win:
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While on tour together, Bouncing Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf and bassist Bryan Kienlen caught up with Bar Stool Preachers frontman TJ McFaull and bassist Bungle at a bar in St. Louis and the four musicians interviewed each other. They talked about the Souls' rich history, their record label, the concept of anniversary tours, the current UK punk scene, UK festival Rebellion, tour life, classic punk venues, and much more. Read on for their chat...
T.J. McFaull: We’re sat here in a bar in St Louis, on tour with you guys for your 30th Anniversary of being a band and you've been touring pretty much non-stop this year… my first question: how old are you old boys feeling?!
Pete: I don’t feel old at all, somewhere between 25 and 45, depending on the moment.
Bryan: I would say 28-38…
Pete: To be honest, sometimes I feel better than I've ever felt on tour. I feel just as excited now as I’ve ever been. We tour differently now. We’re not on the hamster wheel trying to prove something. We do it on our terms and it's fucking fun as hell!
Bryan: A hundred percent strictly because we want to do it. Not because we have to.
T.J. McFaull: You deserve it! You guys have always been a fairly prolific touring band, obviously, there would have been periods of time where you weren’t touring as intensively, but you've done it ever since you started in ’89, right? Tell me if I’m wrong, wasn’t it like 94/97 you had a couple of big tours that really kicked you off and you caught the eye of the majors…?
Pete: Yeah, ultimately the late 90’s and the early 2000’s we were on tour all the time. Yep.
Bryan: We’re also one of the only bands that have never broken up.
Pete: We've never stopped.
Bryan: Most of our contemporaries have done the farewell tour 20 years ago…
T.J. McFaull: …And then carried on doing one last show and one last show…?
Pete: ...And then they've been doing a 30 year or a 25 year anniversary. But is it an anniversary if you broke up or if you stopped?
T.J. McFaull: Not really… it’s kind of just a birthday card at that point!
Pete: Yeah, it's just a birthday card! Thank you.
Bryan: So BSP are one of the busiest new bands we see, tell us some of your favorite spots to hit on the road in the UK. Where do you guys like to go when you’re at home?
T.J. McFaull: Haha, yeah we get around…
Bungle: Newcastle is definitely one that’s up there – that’s a big one for us.
T.J. McFaull: In the north of England the people are so giving, so generous, they just treat you like you're one of their own. It kinda feels like the East Coast. There’s a few other clubs that we love now, that if you guys get a chance to hook up a secret show in, you should! The Parish in Huddersfield is amazing!
Bryan: I’ve been there before!
T.J. McFaull: Manchester is cool too. London if you get the right promoter.
Pete: Any weird, cool, secret spots?
Bungle: Well, if we told you they wouldn’t be secret anymore!
T.J.: I like my feet touched. Apart from that… Fighting Cocks in Kingston and All Ages Records in Camden. That and we do secret shows in Brighton at the Pipeline when we want to test new material.
Pete: Any festivals you like?
T.J. McFaull: There are a couple! Rebellion has been the one that has had our back from day one.
Pete: The coolest festival man.
T.J. McFaull: Yeah, man. We just got back from selling out the room with three and a half thousand people at five o’clock on a Thursday! We were like “Oh shit,” before we played the first note! We’re really actually doing something here!
Pete: You’re royalty there man!
Bungle: I didn't cry on stage. I promise.
Pete: I hope you did.
Bungle: I was sweating so much that you couldn’t actually see the tears. People were singing back so loudly it blew us away.
T.J. McFaull: What do you guys attribute your success to? Is it because you toured so much or is it because it's the tenth studio album for you guys? Is that right?
Pete: Yeah, I mean in our case it takes at least that long to sort of get the hang of things. We’re slow learners! We could barely play when we started, and we've been learning ever since, or at least I like to think so because we're on the slow path. Slow and steady - we never got too popular too fast and we never looked like part of a wave.
Bryan: Yeah, we always just missed things, you know? Like we just missed like the early '90s Green Day getting huge. We were always on the outskirts of it. I think it's been our saving grace being kind of permanently outsiders, and never having any popularity spike, just like Pete said - slow and steady and just all self-made
T.J. McFaull: As outsiders, that gives us hope! I feel like you have to tour to earn your stripes, to get the respect of the other musicians around you, but also to learn your own instrument properly and learn that authentic energy between crowd and song.
Bryan: It’s everything. And you have to love the living shit out of it because that's all there is. If anything else happens or is given to you, that's great. You got to be content just to be together on the road playing music.
Bungle: For sure. It's a tough environment to be in and I think only touring musicians really understand it. It’s an unnatural place to be going home for a couple of days, going away for weeks, coming home. You kind of lose where you are sometimes but it does help you sort of build-up how to tour over the years.
Pete: You have to become that animal – that weird strange animal - that is the touring musician.
T.J. McFaull: I know that gremlin! Half man, half bear, half sloth... When we were setting out to come to the airport for this tour with you guys, about half an hour into the drive (and we'd been home for two weeks, which is a very long break for us) I was like “I can't tell if I'm in Southern Germany or New Hampshire”, as soon as you get in the van, it’s like that's it. That's the world.
Pete: That’s it. That is your world man.
Bryan: Really. We had a truck for over 20 years that we called “White Castle”. I spent more time in that bunk than any home I ever had.
Pete: To this day. That was our longest-running sort of home.
T.J. McFaull: The next question then, apart from a trusty steed, what do you have to have, even after 30 years on the road? What's an everyday essential or an “I'm not fucking touring without it”? What do you have to have?
Pete: It’s almost like you don't really need it anymore because in the past you needed your camera and you needed your walkman. Now all you need is this (holds up phone). You just need your damn smartphone.
Bryan: It's just the same shit everyone else needs. I guess just a fucking phone and a charger.
T.J. McFaull: I can’t imagine touring without a smartphone. On this tour you guys went all tech-savvy and all the details were on an app! The old guys still teaching us a thing or two…
Pete: Tell us what you guys like most about touring America – out of all your experiences - you’ve been here a few times now right?
T.J. McFaull: Yeah. This is only the second year we’ve had the chance to tour here - the first tour we were invited over for Punk Rock Bowling, which was amazing. And then we got to play with The Street Dogs, which again was incredible. Then The Interrupters were kind enough to take us out on tour. But all of that was within the space of a year - so we kind of managed to get six U.S. tours in a year and a half out of nowhere (with this one happening now, and more East Coast dates with you guys, The Bronx, and Off With Their Heads in December, and another rad West Coast tour that happened in October, including the Pirates Press Records: Rock The Ship festival in Oakland!) People like yourself like saw us live/heard the band and were like “That’s it. Let’s bring these guys over!” I think for me personally, it’s playing Detroit or Chicago the other night, when you're there and you go to an old venue where you feel the energy come back off the boards, hitting the ceiling! America's got that! It's got the old theaters and the heart of the working class. It's got all these old big stage places! In the UK the punk scene is hanging on by his fingertips a little bit. Nothing really to this size and scape. So, apart from how generous, giving, and kind the people have been every time we've been here, it's got to be the actual venues and stages. We kinda don’t want to leave…
The Bar Stool Preachers - "Choose My Friends" (ft. Aimee Interrupter)
Pete: So much to be said for the venues, if you find the CBGB’s of that city…
T.J. McFaull: And you help out the venues you like! We mentioned The Parish in Huddersfield earlier, we play these smaller venues, a hundred cap, and you sell them out because you know, firstly it’s sweaty lovefests, but it also helps the venue!
Bungle: It keeps the genuine punk venues open when you play there and you're making it into a thing because of the history it's got - you want to be part of that.
Pete: We felt that way about going to the UK.
Bryan: It was so much history that we were like “Whoa! We're actually here at these venues!”
T.J. McFaull: We have post offices that are older than your country! Do you find that in Europe as well?
Bryan: It’s true everywhere. But the problem is the best venues always seem to close, not to be a downer, but I swear it seems to be a thing, you know?
T.J. McFaull: It’s true. What can do we do about that?
Pete: I don't know. What can you do?
Bryan: It’s just business and nobody's got the money to really help that situation like that. There was a lot of energy rallied to save CBGB's, we played a rally to save CB's. Coney Island High, Asbury Lanes, all these brilliant punk venues. It just gets so good. You know, like a good pair of jeans. Right before they disintegrate they’re the best!
Bungle: CBGB's one of those where I never even got to try the jeans on! Bucket list tick that I’ll never enter.
T.J. McFaull: I often hate the business side of our business. Especially with regards to venues. For our next tour in the UK, for 2020 – we’re actually gonna do what they started doing in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and we're gonna hire the church hall. We're going to the town and go to the suburbs, we're going to hire it, and we’re going to take our own PA.
Pete: That sounds like a better experience in most cases. That’s how we started. Kids doing their own shows in fire halls, they wouldn’t book us at clubs, you know?
Bryan: And those were the best shows!
T.J. McFaull: So speaking of DIY, you guys started your own label right? Chunksaah? Was that in 97?
Bryan: Somewhere around there.
T.J. McFaull: Do you recommend that? Did you guys do your own independent label because you didn’t want to be with a major or was it a way for you to get it out straight away, and re-invest in yourselves?
Pete: No one would put our records out! It was utterly out of necessity. And we basically sold them at shows, we didn’t really have any distribution.
T.J. McFaull: That’s our bread and butter! Even now, in the modern day, your online shop is great and it enables people to get it from all over. But I would say we sell 90% of all of our records at our merch stand at our shows.
Bryan: That’s great! And you’ve got fucking Pirates Press Records behind you. Those guys are fucking awesome!
T.J. McFaull: They are! Are you guys still doing everything yourself now?
Bryan: No, we’re on Rise Records. The label is still alive and kicking though. We just released the new Tim Barry album, The Roads To Richmond! We’ve done the last two on Rise Records, we were on Epitaph for years, it’s just a means to an end.
T.J. McFaull: …and Pirates Press Records next…
Pete: Pirates Press is awesome! We’ve actually been talking to Skippy about – we want to do one of those things that they did with Rancid – a box set of all the music on singles! And they did that Cock Sparrer box set. It would be cool! We just have to get around to it.
T.J. McFaull: We've been listening to you guys for such a long time and you influenced us in such a huge way. So without blowing smoke, thank you for that. Do you still see the same number of new bands coming through that you influence or is that drying up?
Bryan: I guess occasionally. It's something I don't really think about since it's not such a thing. You know what I mean? No, there's actually not a lot of bands new bands that I see that remind me of us even remotely.
Pete: I see a lot of bands that even though they don’t remind me of us that are like “I saw you guys when I was in high school” but they went out and did their own kind of thing instead - but maybe the energy of seeing us affected them.
Pete: One question I didn't ask was if you’ve had any bad experiences in America?
T.J. McFaull: We got robbed on our last California tour. We were parked in a Denny’s for breakfast off of the five freeway and someone came and stole all of our stuff. We were a bit stuck. So without us knowing our fans started a just giving page that got thousands of dollars.
Bryan: That's awesome.
T.J. McFaull: That night we were asleep woke up and there was all this money… just there. We turned around and said “Stop, stop, we don't want your money, we’ll be fine.” And we tried to give them their money back, but people told us to keep it. So we ended up donating it to a charity in California that was dealing with the Ventura wildfires. The message of community has always been a big thing for The Bouncing Souls. It's always been about you guys as a family doing things together and independently. I think that that can be carried on to a lot of the newer bands like ourselves. To learn from you guys was a pleasure on this tour so thank you for having us.
Pete: It’s been a pleasure alright! You guys have been killing it!
T.J. McFaull: Here's to the next 30 years of The Bouncing Souls. We’ll see you there!
Bryan: Yeah. We'll be here.