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Bouncing Souls.

THRASHER DOESN'T OFTEN interview bands more than once. In 1995 we ran a short article on a young punk rock band from New Jersey called the Bouncing Souls. It included some choppy text and a couple grainy live photos taken in a low-ceiling, East Bay club. Now, more than 10 years and a dozen albums later, the Bouncing Souls are touring the world, playing both big and small venues--and killing it every time. So it's not just because they wrote a (great) song called "No Comply" or because their crew skates or because they just released their truly amazing The Gold Record (Epitaph Records) on 6.6.06. We're interviewing the Bouncing Souls again because they were great back then, they're even better now, and they're showing no signs of letting up. Look for the third Bouncing Souls interview in Thrasher in 2017.

Can you give us a brief history of the Bouncing Souls?

Greg Attonito (vocals): In 1987 we got together in Brian's basement and wrote a song called "Brain Dead." We were all in high school together, doing covers of Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Billy Idol, U2, Ramones, The Who, whatever. We did everything ourselves, no help, just did it and kept going. People would get jobs or whatever, but we would keep gravitating back to this. We realized this is what we were good at, it's what we like, and so whatever money we would make we would just put back into the band and try to keep it going.

Brian Kienlen (bass and vocals): Basically we just started as a high school band and everything that came afterwards has been done to facilitate playing music together. Pete Steinkopf (guitar and vocals): There was never really a plan. The only plan was to not do what everyone else was doing. We didn't want to go to college. We just didn't give a shit about that. We just wanted to be a band and that's it. I guess it's just a matter of priorities in life.

You guys have slow and fast songs, and songs about everything. That seems to detract from the idea that the Bouncing Soul are a political band or a hardcore band or a whatever band. Agreed?

Brian: Yes. Basically we just write and sing about whatever we are into--BMX, skateboarding, inside jokes, our friends, and whatever we happen to be going through in our lives.

Greg: All along we've just been finding our way through life and so we write about that. Basically, the idea has always been how can we enjoy life, write about it, and invite everyone else in? Somehow it's worked. It's a lot of work, though. Tons of touring.

Sometimes it wasn't fun, but we learned to make it fun.

So what's your advice to people who want to write music, be in a band, and not go the standard path that everyone else seems to go on?

Brian: Well, the way we did it is one way. There's a million ways. If nothing else, we proved that you can do it with sheer determination. You can't just wait for handouts. You have to make it happen.

The Bouncing Souls boast a lot of New Jersey pride. Would you say that the movie Garden State is an accurate representation of life in Jersey?

Greg: Yes. But no matter where you're from, I think that the movie Garden State is a testament to the feeling of leaving your hometown and then life changes and then you try to go back and revisit your old life and you can't, and you hit some sort of epiphany. I think it's a great movie.

Speaking of movies, tell us about your involvement The Freaks, the Nerds, and the Romantics.

Brian: It's a movie named after one of our old songs. It's kind of the same theme of returning home. It's done by a group of kids in Long Island, NY, called the Slack Pack, and they're doing everything themselves, making movies. Pete and I have cameos. You can see us doing some truly bad acting.

Tell us about the comic book.

Brian: The comic book thing is done by Johnny X. He's part of the Souls family. He's a brilliant artist and has an illustrated novel with six installments of comic books. It's released on Chunksaah Records.

I see "US Thugs" tattoos.

Brian: Actually no. We were on tour with Rancid and some of those guys have US Thugs tattoos. So we decided that the East Coast answer to that would be to get "US Mugs" tattoos. Basically it's an inside joke turned into a tattoo.

After all the years of tours and shows, what's the ultimate thing to experience there?

Brian: The best is still a club that's dark, sweaty, packed with people, full-on chaos, people stage diving and falling on each other. That's the best.

Greg: When I can dive into the crowd and go all the way to the back of the club. I've succeeded in making it to the soundboard at the Warped Tour, which is pretty far.

Pete: Everyone having fun with us.

Last words?

Brian: I want to say that it's an honor to be in Thrasher, especially for a second time. I've been a subscriber since high school, which was a long time ago.

Greg: Total honor to be in Thrasher. Thank you to everyone there.
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Author:Huberman, Andy
Article Type:Interview
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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