Bowling for Soup has been together 17 years. In that span, the band has seen its star rise, yet never quite to the heights of some of its contemporaries. While never reaching the heights seen by the likes of Sugar Ray, the band also has never crashed like many of the other innumerable pop-punk acts of the late '90s -- nor hurt for fans or exposure. Singles such as "1985" or "The Bitch Song" still receive regular airplay. In addition, Bowling for Soup has had its music featured in movies and has appeared in the films as well. The band recently accumulated a new generation of fans who hear "Today Is Gonna Be a Great Day" at the start of every episode of the Disney hit animated series, Phineas & Ferb.
Along with tourmates the Dollyrots, Bowling for Soup plays RecordBar tomorrow night. We spoke with Jaret Reddick, Bowling for Soup's frontman, about the band's history with Kansas City and pop culture notoriety.
The Pitch: Bowling for Soup has a lengthy history with the Kansas City and Lawrence area. I remember seeing the band open for the Feds for Wednesday-night Bottleneck shows ages ago.
Jaret Reddick: Yeah, we met the Feds fairly early on in our venturing outside of Texas. We would come stay with them for a week, and they would book us shows around the Kansas City/Lawrence area, and then they'd come to Dallas, and we'd do the same thing for them there. It was a nice little trade-off, and it was pretty cool because their friends became our friends, and vice versa, and they obviously ended up moving to Texas.
We have played and been in the Kansas City area a lot. We definitely consider it another home away from home because we have so many close friends that we've had there for over 10 years, now.
You've been one of those bands that has built your success gradually. It started with signing to Jive in the late '90s, right?
We signed with Jive in '99, and our first album came out in 2000. Like you said, there's never really been a huge explosion for us. It's always been kind of gradual, and it's been consistent. I think that definitely helps with our longevity -- that there wasn't ever just a huge blowing up of the band, where people were able to get sick of us. We were never even able to get sick of ourselves so like to think that the whole baby-steps approach to how we've managed to get success has helped us along the way.
You guys have done a lot of club shows, playing on your own. What's the difference between that and the times you've been on the Warped Tour, for example?
Obviously, you know, on the Warped Tour, there's no pressure. You've got a captive audience there. It's just a matter of getting the word out when you're playing and getting people to see you. The pressure goes into doing the club shows and touring on your own, because if people don't show up, it sucks. We definitely feel like we have to get out there and bust ass and promote ourselves and make sure people are aware of what's going on.
The great thing about club shows is that everybody is there to see you. It's a very nice environment to be presenting your show, where in Warped Tour, there's going to be people that love you and hate you. They're definitely two different things, but we enjoy both. We're actually going to be doing three Warped Tour [dates] this summer.
You've done a couple of stints with the Dollyrots. Have you found that having tourmates, with whom you go out regularly, helps in terms of attracting people to your shows?
It happens a lot, where we'll tour a lot with a band and develop a relationship with them, in and around the show, as well. The Dollyrots and us really hit it off. They're a great band that our fans love, and they've brought in fans that we've converted into Bowling for Soup fans, as well. You can definitely ride that train for a while. I think that it gets to the point where you have to put somebody else in that slot after a while because you're wanting to attract some of the same people, and sometimes just variety can be great.
The main thing for us is that we've always tried to bring out really good bands that we like as people and as musicians, as well.
You tend to take out a diverse array of acts. MC Lars, for example.
Diversity has always been something we're into. When we started in Dallas -- once we decided to start taking it seriously -- there were no bands that sounded like us in the Dallas area. So we were pretty limited as far as bands we could go do shows with. One of things we found interesting was that the more diversity in the show, actually the better for us, because you're constantly getting new people to see you, and that's what it's all about. I'm definitely not scared of diversity.
It's funny, because I tend to argue with promoters a lot, especially over in England, that think that all of the bands should be of the same genre or whatever. That's just crazy. That's the reason things like Lollapalooza and festivals like that work so well, is because they're so diverse. If you can somehow put a spin on that, and put into four hours in a night, the fans are getting their money's worth, and you're doing a good thing.
Your sound, by this point, has been streamlined and focused. You have the power-pop thing down. Early on, what was it that led to you getting signed and, later on, featured on a slew of movie soundtracks?
I can't really put my finger on just one thing. We just worked really, really hard -- and still do. We had a song called "The Bitch Song" that got on a few radio stations in Dallas, and a few labels started to come around and sniff a little bit. Jive, obviously, didn't have any bands like us and pretty much signed us as an experiment, if anything.
Us having a consistent sound and, like you said, finding our niche -- we definitely have our "thing" about us that we've got down to a science. I think, as movie and television people started to want a certain kind of song, or a song done a certain way, we sort of become a go-to band for a lot of music supervisors for a while. It's pretty great. Our resume is pretty vast in that area.
Was it the Jive connection that got you into Crossroads?
Yeah, definitely. At that point, Jive had a TV and film department, so it was definitely their influence that helped that, for sure.
Being as cross-platform familiar as you are, do you find people come to the band from those shows and movies, or is mostly from your songs and albums?
Mostly from songs and albums, but I think the film and TV thing will definitely remind people of you. Like, right now, the fact that we're on Phineas & Ferb, which is such a huge hit with kids right now, and parents are watching that show with their kids, and they're like, "Gosh, you know, I listened to you when I was this age" or "I just got into last album because of this show" or whatever. It definitely helps. It's a nice billboard to get out there and advertise yourself, but you know, I'm not sure how many fans we gained from being the opening scene of Cursed. I'm sure there's a few.
What's it like being involved in a kid's show? Your songs aren't raunchy or filthy, but they're not necessarily kid-friendly.
There's definitely songs on each album that aren't kid-friendly. But, yeah, it's really cool. It's something that we've always done. We've always crossed into both worlds -- "1985" and "Punk Rock 101" were huge hits on Radio Disney, and we've done Freaky Friday, and we've done Scooby Doo, and we did the theme song to Jimmy Neutron the movie, so we've always sort of been in that world.
I think parents are just smart enough to know, "Hey, if we do take the kids to see this band because of the Phineas & Ferb thing, they're probably going to hear a few things, but they're not going to hear anything they wouldn't hear on television" -- with the exception of a few words that don't get censored, here and there. We like to think that we've got the show to a point where people know what they're going to get.