Interview: Bowling For Soup

After chatting about Saint Patrick’s Day plans and sushi, The Mic’s Robbie Simms and Bowling For Soup lead Jaret quickly got on to talking about the new album Pop Drunk Snot Bread, as well as the cycle of pop-punk and the ruthless reality of its survival from Y2K to modern day.

Bowling For Soup burst onto the scene in 2002 with the release of the single Girl all the Bad Guys Want and have since solidified themselves as one of pop-punk’s elite. The genre of pop-punk may no longer be the zeitgeist, but with ‘pop-punks not dead’ being the mantra of the new album I wanted to know Jaret’s thoughts about the longevity of the genre: “pop-punk will never go away, it’s like grunge, hip hop and hair metal, it’ll come in waves as different generations get turned on to it.”

"Pop Drunk Snot Bread comes back to the longevity of pop-punk: it's a playoff of 'pop-punk's not dead'"

We avoided the dreaded question of where the name Bowling For Soup came from (please, just google it). Instead, we talked about the inspiration for the album title Pop Drunk Snot Bread. We joked about how the working title was going to be Stream the Shit Out of This Album Fuckface and I was interested to know at what point the title was reigned in. “Pop Drunk Snot Bread comes back to the longevity of pop-punk: it’s a playoff of ‘pop-punks not dead’. I wanted to call it Pop Drunks Not Bread until Gary (drums) suggested we should call it Pop Drunk Snot Bread, and I was like: that doesn’t make any sense. But now that I see the cover and how it has evolved, I think it was a genius move, so good job to me for listening to Gary.” I joked that it is always good to listen to others, occasionally, with Jaret agreeing with a smile on his face - “If anyone gets anything out of this article it’s that you have got to listen to others, occasionally.

When Bowling For Soup started out there were not many ways to promote yourself as a band in contrast with today and I was interested to see how Jaret feels the landscape has changed during his career. He recalls how the band used to drive the length of the country in a van playing any bar that would have them for the night before moving on to the next town just to try and gain a following. Jaret also considers that this era of self-promotion is over. “I think a lot of bands want that experience from back in the day, pounding the pavement or whatever, but now when bands ask me for advice, I’m like, man, you gotta build your socials and they don’t wanna hear that. That’s the difference: if some band is like ‘Hey I’ve got money, should I go on tour?’ I’m like no, you should buy Facebook ads, buy a better light for TikTok videos or make more content. A lot of it falls on how people get their music now: in the ’90s people go out to see music for discovery but that doesn’t exist anymore, you don’t go out unless you’re going to see your favourite band that you heard about on the internet.”

Bowling For Soup found mainstream success in the early 2000s, but despite their popularity, they didn’t make a lot of money from selling their music due to the rise of music piracy and file sharing sites like Napster. “I think most new people to this industry who don’t know what it was like back then (or aren’t Taylor Swift) will look at streaming like it’s terrible and they should make more money. But we were selling millions of albums and wouldn’t see a cheque. You need to sell T-shirts and play shows! If we made any money off the music that was a bonus! I’m not a streaming hater, I like it, I think it levels out the playing field a little bit… I’m very aware that most people are going to stream it which is why it was going to be called Stream The Shit Out Of This You Fuck Face. It’s an ever-evolving learning process. Frankly, most of the bands that complain about that stuff are way better at it than I am - it’s not easy for an old man to learn all this shit” he laughs.

"We know who we are: Bowling For Soup is that band you listen to when you've had a bad day. Our job is to help somebody get through bad times or also, on a good day to make it better. I'm a positive person, sometimes to my detriment, but I am a human being!"

Going through the discography of BFS you will be hard pressed to find a negative song, even the song Getting old sucks manages to leave you with a sense of hope. I wanted to know if this relentless positivity reflected who BFS are as people or if it was a conscious decision to only put out positive music. “We know who we are: Bowling For Soup is that band you listen to when you’ve had a bad day. Our job is to help somebody get through bad times or also, on a good day to make it better. I’m a positive person, sometimes to my detriment, but I am a human being! I have severe depression and anxiety that I have under control through medication and therapy, it (the positivity of Bowling for Soup) is who I am as a person, but like anyone else I have bad days and I have to separate the two.” On the topic of their sound remaining loyal to their previous work, Jaret adds “when I go out and buy a Bad Religion album, I want it to sound like Bad Religion. Other bands can go out and reinvent themselves and I’m cool with that, but people don’t want that from us and quite frankly that’s not what I want to play. I play in Bowling for Soup: I love it, and I love that we are who we are’. Jaret also expressed his hope that people would love the new music just as much, adding that he believes they’ve “made everyone’s favourite or second favourite Bowling for Soup album!”

Now, for some quick-fire questions:

Robbie: “You say you have about 117 tattoo's which one is your favourite?”

Jaret: “The set of roses on my neck that Diana Smith did.”

Robbie: “Who are you listening to at the moment?”

Jaret: “Frank Turner, Cody Jinks. Sometimes I go on these historic punk-rock journeys: I went on a Minor Threat kick not too long ago and my wife had to ask if everything was okay.”

Robbie: “Favourite pizza topping?”

Jaret: “I get made fun of for this a lot. I’m not going to say pineapple - over here it’s called beef or hamburger. I also really love Canadian bacon. I like any meat! I don’t like any vegetables but here’s something I learned from the UK: sweetcorn, it’s delicious and the texture is so good.”

Robbie: “What is your favourite song that you have written?”

Jaret: “This is the first time this question has been asked of me since I’ve had Bowling for Soup and the country band at the same time, I’m going to go with a country song which is weird! Royal Family off my new album. The country stuff lets me hit you in the feels.”

Robbie Simms


Edited by: Roxann Yus

Featured and in-article images courtesy of Bowling For Soup via Facebook.