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Still bowling strong

By Russell Axon
On September 12, 2012

On Bowling for Soup’s song “Ohio (Come Back to Texas),” the second verse starts “There’s nothing wrong with Ohio / Except the snow and the rain.”

The band may form a better opinion of the Buckeye State after headlining at UT’s third annual Music Fest this Friday.

Or at the very least, they’ll enjoy Toledo.

The pop-punk quartet will bring their upbeat melodies and goofy antics to the UT campus stage at 10:45 p.m. to close out the show.

“We are very serious about not taking ourselves seriously,” said bassist Erik Chandler in a phone interview.

Consisting of Chandler, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jaret Reddick, lead guitarist Chris Burney and drummer Gary Wiseman, Bowling for Soup is best known for the songs “1985,” “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and the theme song for the Disney Channel show “Phineas and Ferb.”

The band has played in locales around the world, but Friday will be their first performance at UT.

Chandler said comparing large and small shows is “apples and oranges,” but the small venues have a special appeal.

“[I enjoy] the up-close, in-your-face-action with the crowd. That’s the coolest thing about [small venues],” he said.

The group’s first venues were in their hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. In 1994, Reddick, Chandler and Burney joined up after their respective bands at the time split.

“We just kind of got together, started drinking beers and put a band together,” Chandler said.

The band jokingly named themselves after a Steve Martin skit, and they released four albums before Wiseman joined them in 1998.

Since then, the band has released seven more studio albums and four compilation albums, including two Christmas albums. In the process, the band performed all over the world, sold almost two million albums, and earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for “Girl All the Bad Guys Want.”

Their most recent album, 2011’s “Fishin’ for Woos,” saw the band take a “back to basics” approach, according to Chandler.

“It [was] like, ‘Let’s just get back in the studio and do just ... two guitars, drums and bass again. Because we haven’t done that in so many years,’” he said.

Chandler said the band kept the recording time brief so they wouldn’t be tempted to over-produce the songs.

“We only spent, I think, 14 days recording this album,” he said.

For Chandler, the refined focus and stripped down approach paid off for the band.

“I honestly think it’s one of the best albums we’ve ever made,” he said.

The band’s upcoming album, “Bowling for Soup Presents One Big Happy,” will be released Sept. 24, and it will feature songs from pop-punk bands The Dollyrots and Patent Pending, along with Bowling for Soup.

The band members also work on multiple side projects with one another and other groups.

Chandler said he occasionally performs solo sets, while Reddick is part of the indie duo People on Vacation. The two Bowling for Soup members also host an annual acoustic tour in the U.K.

“For me ... it is a reason to keep writing songs, because as a songwriter, you really can’t stop, you shouldn’t stop,” Chandler said. “That’s a muscle that needs to be exercised.”

The band’s work is also featured in a handful of video games, movies and TV shows. Most children — and likely numerous college students — recognize them from their songs and appearances on “Phineas and Ferb.”

Chandler said the “smartly written” show established for the band a whole new audience who appreciate the group outside of their normally raunchy repertoire.

“The fact that we get heard and are sung by millions of kids every day, that’s one of the greatest things in the entire world,” he said.

The band plans on playing for more of the world soon.

According to Chandler, the group will begin a U.K. tour in October, and then finish in the U.S. near the end of the year. He said the group hopes to take a well-deserved Christmas break afterwards.

In a profession where most groups don’t last for five years, Bowling for Soup’s productive 18 years of work is unique in many ways. Chandler said the secret to the band’s longevity is relatively simple.

“We actually like each other,” he said. “I get to be out on the road with my best friends in the entire world. It’s very wonderful.”

Chandler added that the band surrounds themselves only with people they get along with.

“That’s always been really important to us, to make sure that everybody was into the whole thing and not just there for a job,” he said. “From the band members to the crew, it’s ridiculous how close we all are. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.”


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