Front man for the punk rock pioneers Bowling For Soup, Jaret Reddick, sat down with QSaltLake to talk about the band’s upcoming show in Salt Lake, why they’ll always make music about booze and women and their own ‘It Gets Better’ speech for queer kids in conservative Utah.
Bowling For Soup will be at In the Venue, Aug. 16, with Sunderland and the Dollyrots. Tickets are available through Smith Tix outlets.
We’re excited to have you back in Utah! What can you tell us about Salt Lake City crowds? Are they any different?
There’s definitely a cool energy when you come to Salt Lake. It’s an historic music town. You can just tell there’s always just such a cool vibe in the room. It’s never our biggest crowd. But as far as energy goes, it’s one of the best. We always look forward to playing in Salt Lake.
Do you use a set list, or do you just go with the flow and energy of the audience?
We have never used a set list in the band’s history. It almost started out as a battle of the wills. We’d say, “Who’s going to make the set list.” And no one would want to do it, so it just wouldn’t get done. But having to go off-the-cuff, and we started 17 years ago, has always been a really cool element. You can see us six times in a row and you’ll never see the same show. What happens in between the songs is always different. It’s always a different show.
Are you going to be playing mainly songs from your latest album, Fishing for Woos, or will you play some classics?
I think when you go to see a band, you want to see a couple of new songs, but really, you’re there to sing along and have a good time. We play all of the hits. We play oldies that people don’t expect to hear. And we tend to side with the audience with the song selection.
Your music has some pretty powerful punk rock comedic styling, with the release of your single, “Turbulence,” do you see your musicianship changing? Or can we always hope to have music about beer and partying?
I think there are some bands that evolve and that’s a great thing. But that depends on the band. We’re not the band you’re going to listen to when you’re making out with a girl in the car, and we won’t ever be. But we will be the band you go to when you’ve had a rough day or when you’re jumping around the furniture. We’ve consciously made that decision because that’s what makes us happy.
Congratulations on the 11th album and being on your own label! How has that change been?
It’s been a good change at the right time. There is a definite freedom that goes along with that. We’ve got immediate access to fans on the Internet, so it’s possible. Being on our own even five years ago would have been almost scary. But now we know who our fans are and how to get to them.
What’s the biggest difference being away from a big record label?
You know there’s no difference that you can put your finger on. You don’t have someone else’s money to go around and spend on things. Instead it’s all up to us and if we chose to go about something and put a budget together, like making a video, hiring a publicist, that’s all on us. There’s a definite drive there. Musically and creatively, there’s no real difference.
Do you think bands can survive without the big record labels?
I think it depends on the band itself. We were with Jive for 10 years, but all things come to an end. Our relationship was fine. It’s all business and I think labels still have a place. A problem with a lot of bands, bands I’ve even worked with in the past are helped by a label. There are certain things you have to have. There are bands out there who write amazing songs, but have no idea how to promote themselves. Some bands are amazing at marketing but can’t even play their own instruments. A label can help whatever your shortcomings are and fill in the blanks sometimes.
You’re credited with most or all of the songs on your records, what is your inspiration for lyrics and music?
I grew up listening to music in the car with my parents. They listened to it all, disco old country and Neil Diamond. Musically that’s where my interest started. I like to have a beginning and an end to my songs. And country as a genre tends to do that. As far as simplicity goes, I was a hair metal kid and once I heard punk rock and the simplicity there was so appealing. All those things combined to kind of make it what it is for me.
What can you tell us about the future for Bowling For Soup?
For us it’s a matter of finishing touring. Our single, “Turbulence,” is doing fairly well on the radio, especially based on the fact that we’re doing it all on our own. In September we’ll be heading back to the studio and doing a second Christmas album. Then we’ll finish up the tour and wind down the rest of the year so we can kind of hit the ground running for next year and get some projects going?
What advice would you have for young queer fans in a conservative Utah? Your own little ‘It Gets Better’ for Utah?
My advice is be yourself and be happy. Gay, straight, smart, dumb; no matter what it is or who you are, you’re a special individual, no matter what anyone else says. We’re all here for a reason. Make yourself happy and don’t worry about what other people say. It might be tough, but don’t let it get you down, you just got to love your life for who you are.