Bouncing Souls readies its balls for Punk Rock Bowling.

The Bouncing Souls

The Bouncing Souls: Punk to spare

Bouncing Souls readies its balls for Punk Rock Bowling

Before scrawling on Epitaph Records' dotted line in 1997, New Jersey punk veterans the Bouncing Souls had already three-chorded their way through a couple of critically acclaimed albums released on L.A.'s Better Youth Organization label. It's been the better part of a decade since the move, but this is not a band to let newer commercial alliances trump old ties, and certainly not when there's pin-thrashing revelry to be had: BYO is sponsoring the 7th annual Punk Rock Bowling Tournament at Gold Coast this weekend.

"The BYO tournament is a really awesome all-weekend fucking party with a lot of people, tons of old friends," says guitarist Pete Steinkopf. "There's like, 200 bowling teams--it's fucking insane."

The actual number for this year is 140, or 30 percent less insane than Steinkopf's estimate, but still a record sign-up for the event that will see legions of punks rasping each other down over two days until a single, twitchy squad of champions emerges. Tourney brackets are still being drawn, but the band is slated to roll a few hours before its Saturday show at House of Blues.

They could be up against most anyone, including "The Britney Spares" or "Pinsurgents." For their own team name, the Bouncing Souls have gone with "E.C.F.U.," a properly skewed acronym for their late '90s goader "East Coast Fuck You" (not directed at the Atlantic side--these are Jersey guys--think of a shorter, somewhat more colicky "East St. Louis Toodle-oo").

The quartet has been around since its rock 'n roll high-school days of 1987, and while old punks never die, they can be subject to some mellowing. This quartet's latest album, Anchors Aweigh, shipped out in 2003 and marked at least a lyrical departure from their earlier efforts.

"It's a sign of the times that were going on then," says Steinkopf. "Whenever we write a record, it's pretty much about what we've all been going through--a reflection of what's been happening in our lives."

Thus, 1999's self-titled release brought us "E.C.F.U." and "The Toilet Song" ("Who's gonna throw the toilet off the roof?/ We already smashed the TV with a guitar and a vacuum"), while the last lines of "Inside Out" from Anchors Aweigh...well, they go like this: "To feel someone beside you is beautiful in life/ But to feel a wholeness inside is the greatest feeling of all."

For now, the writing is still on hold, although it's coming around again as part of a streamlined cycle the band knows intimately at this point.

"We've been on the same schedule for a long time," says Steinkopf. "Write, record, tour. We toured for like, 18 months off Anchors Aweigh. We went everywhere, finished up in November, and have been taking a few months doing nothing for the first time in a long time. We have a few short tours coming up, then we're gonna get back to work, take our time, and write a cool record."

Last year, the Bouncing Souls made their fifth appearance as part of the punk-venerated yet increasingly corporatized Warped Tour. They're sitting out this summer, but are currently shoring up whatever fan support they can as they lobby for inclusion within the upcoming Warped Tour 10th anniversary DVD.

"I guess it's going to be based on what people want to see," Steinkopf says, "so we put something on our website to give ourselves a little shout-out. [The Warped Tour] is what it is. You gotta root for the little guy sometimes."

The band is giving only two U.S. performances this month before bouncing off to the U.K. for 15 more. Saturday's appearance at Mandalay will be the last one stateside, and they're looking forward to a Vegas send-off. Steinkopf says he loves Sin City and is excited to come out and play. In all honesty, though, how much of this anticipation has to do with the bowling?

"I don't give a shit about it. I'm just there to hang with my friends and have a good time. It's gonna be quite a weekend."

By Dave Surratt
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