Talking with Bowling for Soup singer Jaret Reddick, you may not immediately get the sense that this affable, down-to-earth Texan fronts a Grammy- and Emmy-nominated pop/punk band with over a million album sales to their credit. "If you compare our first album to our 10th one, you could be like, 'Let's see... Well, their voices finally changed, and they got a lot better musically, but they still sound like the same guys to me," Reddick says, the grin audible in his North Texas drawl. "Man, I would hope we're still the same guys! Can you imagine what a bummer it'd be if we weren't?" Frankly, we can't-and on their 10th studio album, Sorry for Partyin', Bowling for Soup prove that no matter what lame new trends may lurk outside their studio walls, they've got the hits, fits, shits and giggles to keep coming out ahead.
From side-splittingly funny double entendres (the I-can't-believe-they-got-away-with-that lead single "My Wena") to call-and-response jams you'll undoubtedly be hearing in high schools worldwide ("No Hablo Ingles"), Sorry for Partyin' features some of the funniest, most infectious songs of BFS' 15-year career. Of course, the album also packs some of the strongest, most confident songwriting in BFS' catalog, proving once again that these guys are masters of their craft. "We've created our niche, and our niche is us," says Reddick, who formed Bowling for Soup in 1994 and today rounds out the Denton, Texas-based quartet with guitarist Chris Burney, bassist Erik Chandler and drummer Gary Wiseman. "We know there are lots of people out there who think guys in their 30s shouldn't be writing about stuff like their 'Wena' and farts and beers and chicks." (Incidentally, you'll find all of the above on Sorry for Partyin'.) "But I say why not? What should guys in their 30s be writing about? The economy? War? Organic food versus non-organic? We like funny movies, and we like to drink beer and talk smack about each other's moms. There's nothing contrived about it--this is who we are."
For anyone else who thinks humor doesn't belong in music, let's also remember that this is who BFS are: A worldwide phenomenon with a string of hit singles (including 2006's "High School Never Ends" and the 2004 MTV and radio smash "1985") to their credit. A fan-favorite live act whose chemistry is so innate they've never had to prepare a set list. And a TV and movie-soundtrack juggernaut whose Emmy-nominated contribution to Disney's Phineas and Ferb is literally the most widely heard cartoon theme song on the planet. Quite a step up from the salad days when they were handing out demos in Warped Tour parking lots--even if the motives behind the music have stayed pure since then. "There was nobody in Texas that sounded like us in 1994," Reddick remembers. "Obviously you had the Orange County, Calif., explosion that we felt a part of, because we were all ripping off the same bands. But as all the bands from that era started finding success, people started getting super-serious and making these really dreary or angry records. I'm not saying I don't like that stuff, but for us it's always been a case of 'Let's never do that!' We want to be that point of somebody's day where they can get off work and put us in and think, 'Okay, yeah: Everything else sucks, but this is awesome."
Fittingly, "awesome" was an operative word during the Sorry for Partyin' sessions. Working with producer Linus of Hollywood (also Reddick's partner in the year-old Crappy Records label), BFS cut the album in a whirlwind 24 days at Wire Recording Studio in Austin, Texas, where the ideas flowed as readily as... Well-let's just say there's a reason they titled one of Sorry's singles "Hooray for Beer." "We had close to a two-year break between the last record (2006's The Great Burrito Extortion Case) and writing for this one," Reddick says, "so we were ready to have some fun." The anything-goes atmosphere lent itself to some interesting collaborations, too: After discovering that one of their musical heroes, former ALL vocalist Scott Reynolds, lived just blocks from the studio, BFS rang him up to make a cameo on "America (Wake up Amy)." Fastball's Tony Scalzo, another Austin native and band friend, ended up collaborating on the rollicking kiss-off to an ex "I Don't Wish You Were Dead Anymore." And, even if he originally dropped by just to hang out with his friends, Nerf Herder frontman/YouTube mega-star Parry Gripp also wound up making a cameo on vocals. "It literally felt like more of a party than work, and I think that shows up throughout the record," Reddick remembers. "People are gonna hear this and be like, 'Okay, well, it sounds like they had just a little bit of fun." Of course, they also got serious-or as serious as you can when your album's lead single is a wiener joke. "I think a song like 'My Wena' is a perfect example of us being like, 'Okay, whatever people think is as far as we're gonna take it, we'll just keep pushing things to the next level,'" Reddick explains. "But there are a handful of songs on this record that really mean a lot, too. I think that was also a part of the studio environment--whether we were goofing around or wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we weren't afraid to go for it."
Considering how long they've been a band, it's no small wonder that Bowling for Soup still find new ways to go for it in the niche they've carved out for themselves. But as Reddick notes, that sense of abandon is just the thing that's allowed BFS to tackle Sorry for Partyin' as if it were their first record, not their 10th. "We've always said that the day it's not fun anymore, we're just not gonna do it anymore," he concludes. "So why focus on the down side? Let's keep doing what we do best. Let's keep having fun."
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