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Bowling for Soup

Bowling for Soup

Rock group

"The main thing we wanted to do was make happy songs and sing," Bowling for Soup lead vocalist and guitarist Jaret Reddick told John Sinkevics of Michigan's Grand Rapids Press in 2002. "That seems to be a lost art." The quartet's music has been classifed as power pop and pop-punk since its members came together in 1994, but perhaps the best label would simply be party music; Bowling for Soup has created high-energy, often humorous songs in which women and alcohol are the most common themes. Capable of both irresistible musical hooks and lyrics that veered from predictable paths, the band emerged into the pop mainstream with its 2004 hit single "1985," from the album A Hangover You Don't Deserve.

Bowling for Soup had its origins in the small northern Texas city of Wichita Falls, where Reddick and other members of the band grew up. "We shot BB guns and sling shots and fished for crawdads," he told the VH1 website. Reddick and guitarist Chris Burney knew each other in high school, where they were the "class clown dorks," Burney told the Grand Rapids Press. "We weren't cool enough to be the official class clowns. We were the ones who the class clown stole his material from." As students in the 1980s, they grew up on the commercially successful heavy metal music of bands such as Quiet Riot and Ratt, but were also influenced by the zippier punk rock of the Ramones and later Green Day.

The rotund Burney owned a Wichita Falls coffeehouse with a music stage, where he and Reddick met bassist Erik Chandler and drummer Gary Wiseman in the early 1990s. After forming a band called Rubberneck, they took the name Bowling for Soup in 1994. They have offered various stories about the origin of that name, several of them mentioning the wild-and-crazy-guy routines of comic Steve Martin. In its early years, Bowling for Soup honed its music and stage presence by playing in a series of small Texas and Oklahoma towns that other bands avoided. They moved their headquarters to the college town of Denton, Texas, north of Dallas, and released several recordings on the small FFROE label there. By 1997 they were opening for punk and ska bands on national tours.

Bowling for Soup released its full-length debut, Rock On Honorable Ones!!!, on FFROE in 1998, experimenting with ska-style horns themselves. Thanks to the following the group had amassed during its several years of touring, the album sold well enough across Texas to attract the attention of national label executives, and Bowling for Soup was signed to the Jive label. One consequence of the signing was that they began to include a cover version of fellow Jive artist Britney Spears's "…Baby One More Time" in their concerts. Jive released Bowling for Soup's Let's Do It for Johnny in 2000. Although it reflected the influence of the commercially successful punk band Green Day, that album failed to break through on the charts. But the band's touring radius expanded, and they traveled to England in 2001.

The songs on Bowling for Soup's sophomore major release, 2002's Drunk Enough to Dance, reflected the band's long track record of barroom experience. Mostly written by Reddick, they featured strong melodic hooks and lyrics that managed to be humorous and original even as they centered predictably on women and wild times. The biggest success was "Girl All the Bad Guys Want," in which Reddick sang self-deprecatingly of his pursuit of a girl who was "out of his league." Although Bowling for Soup was little known nationally at the time, the song garnered a 2002 Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.

Reddick got the news of the nomination by phone while his wife was in labor delivering the couple's first child. The band No Doubt took the Grammy that year for their song "Hey Baby," but Bowling for Soup got a taste of the fast lane, sitting in identical tuxedos in the fourth row of the audience and meeting an icon of their 1980s youth, onetime "Family Ties" star Michael J. Fox. Reddick told the Plan 9 Music website that the nomination "was a big deal in newspapers and Entertainment Weekly and People …, where our grandmothers could take those issues to the beauty shop and say this is what my grandson is doing. That's where we benefited the most."

Bowling for Soup was on tour in Europe before and after the Grammy ceremony in 2003, and the award made them more of a marquee name at big venues. Still, they kept their show fresh with such bits of craziness as a segment in which they appeared naked (but partially concealed with their guitars). At one point they changed their last names temporarily: Reddick became Jaret Von Erich, Chandler became Erik Rodham Clinton, Wiseman was dubbed Gary Wiseass, and Burney parodied the name of a famed Swedish guitarist with his new moniker, Chris Van Malmsteen. Bowling for Soup toured nearly nonstop, but didn't seem to tire of the road. "If it wasn't fun, we'd break up," Von Erich-Reddick told the New York Post. "That's always been the plan."

For the Record …

Members include Chris Burney , guitar; Erik Chandler , bass; Jaret Reddick , vocals, guitar, songwriter; Gary Wiseman , drums.

Group formed in 1994 in Wichita Falls, TX; released full-length debut, Rock On Honorable Ones!!!, 1998; signed to Jive label; toured England, 2001; released Drunk Enough to Dance, 2002; released A Hangover You Don't Deserve, 2004; recorded theme song for television show The Real Gilligan's Island, 2005.

Addresses: Record company—Jive Records, 137-139 W. 25th St., New York, NY 10001. Website—Bowling for Soup Official Website: http://www.bowlingforsoup.com.

For their next Jive album, 2004's A Hangover You Don't Deserve, the band didn't tamper with a formula that seemed to be working. The album's biggest hit, "1985," was featured on the MTV cable television channel and cracked the top ten of Billboard magazine's Top 40 Mainstream chart. The song was a name-check of a roster of top 1980s entertainers seen from the perspective of a bored middle-aged woman fondly remembering her metalhead years. The song originated with Reddick's guitarist friend Mitch Allan, and was first recorded by his band, SR71; Reddick reworked it heavily. "To me, writing about the '80s was easy because I was a teenager in the '80s," Reddick told the Arizona Daily Star. "That's what shaped my being. All of the stuff I say is all from John Hughes movies."

The year 2005 saw Bowling for Soup riding high with new projects. They contributed a punkified theme song to the television reality show The Real Gilligan's Island, and they appeared in cult horror film director Wes Craven's Cursed, performing a version of the 1966 Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs hit "Little Red Riding Hood." "We have officially turned the corner," Reddick told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Our crew outnumbers the band, which is a really weird position to be in. Now you got five crew people and a driver, and there's only four people in the band. … It feels like a day care."

Selected discography

Rock On Honorable Ones!!!, FFROE, 1998.

Let's Do It for Johnny!, Jive, 2000.

Drunk Enough to Dance, Jive, 2002.

A Hangover You Don't Deserve, Jive, 2004.

Sources

Periodicals

Arizona Daily Star, January 6, 2005, p. G29.

Grand Rapids Press, September 5, 2002, p. 5.

Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 14, 2005, p. J29.

New York Post, September 13, 2002, p. 52.

People, October 18, 2004, p. 44.

Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), January 14, 2005, p. T8.

Online

"Bowling for Soup," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (March 18, 2005).

"Bowling for Soup: Don't Take Them Too Seriously," Plan 9 Music, http://www.plan9music.com/?node=module&id=9xonlinearticle&id2=196&id3–112 (March 18, 2005).

"Bowling for Soup: Every Frame Is a Beer Frame," VH1, http://www.vh1.com/artists/interview/1473250/06242003/bowling_for_soup.jhtml (March 18, 2005).

"Bowling for Soup," Hollywood Reporter, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/reviews/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000760064 (March 18, 2005).

JamesM.Manheim

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