After a decade and a half, most bands have not only endured enough breakups, shakeups and other internal fights to fill a Behind the Music episode, they've also ruined what made their music great in the first place. Such is not the case with one of punk's most undying mainstays - the Bouncing Souls. During their 15 years as a band they've headlined the incredibly demanding Warped Tour, shared the stage with such legendary punk acts as NOFX and The Descendants, started their own record label (Chunksaah Records), and even lost one of their four founding members (drummer Shal Khichi), only to continue to sail on, older and wiser but nonetheless energetic, enthusiastic and just plain fun. Having released a DVD documentary entitled Do You Remember: Fifteen Years of The Bouncing Souls, earlier this year, and on the cusp of the release of their latest full-length album, Anchors Aweigh (due Aug. 26 from Epitaph), the Bouncing Souls - Greg Attonito (vocals), "The Pete" Steinkopf (guitar), Bryan "Papillon" Kienlen (bass) and Michael McDermott (drums) - seemed just as poised to unite their world in their collective joy as ever before. Recoil spoke via phone with Steinkopf about some of the band's history, current longevity, and bright future.
Recoil: Considering that your band described your last album, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, as 'simply the best album we've ever written,' do you think your new album, Anchors Aweigh, has raised the bar in the same sort of way? How would you say it compares to some of your previous releases?
Pete Steinkopf: Every new record is like a step in a new direction and I think this new record is totally a big step in some direction. It's our second record with our new drummer Michael [McDermott], and I think that's added a lot to the band and on this record you can really, really tell we're a better band. It's got great songs. Really it's fucking awesome.
R: What was different about the songwriting process this time around?
PS: Me and Bryan and Greg write lyrics all year round and then we get together for a few months and get it all together and make a record out of them.
R: What different things inspired or influenced you while you were writing and recording?
PS: Me personally, just like what's been going on in my life now, and everyone else. Every record is a reflection of what's happened in our lives. We write about the world around us and everything that's going on and that's pretty much what the record is.
R: Are you excited about playing at Krazy Fest 6 (being held Aug. 1-3 at Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky) this summer?
PS: I've heard about it for the past two years. I heard it's a really good time and all the bands that have ever done have said that it's a cool thing to do so I'm looking forward to being a part of it. The day we're playing (Aug. 3) there's a lot of cool bands, too, so it should be pretty good.
R: How would you say playing big festivals like Krazy Fest and Warped Tour compares to headlining your own shows in smaller, club-size venues?
PS: It's just like a totally different vibe, you know. The outdoor festival is cool because they can get a lot of people that might not come to like your own show [and] you get to play to other people's crowds. And our own headlining shows I love just [because] it's our kids, our fans, it's got like that cool club energy. Clubs have a good energy to them as compared to being outdoors.
R: Was there any particular reason why you guys decide not to get involved with Warped Tour this year?
PS: Just didn't do it this year. We're going to try and maybe do it next year.
R: Are you looking forward to touring with Hot Water Music in Canada?
PS: That's going to be awesome just because those guys are so fucking cool, they're just cool people and an awesome band. [They're] one of my favorite bands to tour with. It should be a good time and a good way to go across Canada.
R: Considering that you have been a band now since 1993 and recently released the DVD, Do You Remember?: Fifteen Years of The Bouncing Souls, to chronicle your career, what were some of the things that you would have liked to have on that DVD that maybe you didn't have a tape of?
PS: That's a good question. There's so much stuff on the DVD that when I watched it I had totally forgot about, so that was kind of cool, but there are a few things that I wish were in there more. I wish there was more about our truck that we have. [When] we tour we have [a] box truck that we renovated and put bunks in it and windows. There's not much about that and we've like lived in that thing for the past six years.
R: Of the stuff that made it onto the DVD, what would you say is your favorite part?
PS: The imitations. Everyone making fun of each other. That's what we're all about and that's how we kind of get through life.
R: Considering that you have been a band for so long now and that a lot of major label punk acts are getting a lot more attention, how would you describe the state of punk rock music right now?
PS: I don't know. It seems like there are all these bands getting really big and some of them are good and some of them aren't so good. As for the state of things, though, it seems like there's more kids that are into it. I don't know if that's the way it's always going to be, but, you know, trends kind of come and go, but right now it seems to be in.
R: Iit seems like you're able to attract a wide range of both younger and older fans.
PS: Yeah, we get the whole gamut. We get like people who were into the band for like ten years and we get kids that just discovered [us]. All ages.
R: Is there anything in particular about your band that you think attracts such a wide-ranging audience?
PS: I think it's more of what we talk about - our honesty. I think people can relate to it.