Life Is Good
Get ready for some positive preaching from the band that's sure to get those dirty soles bouncing every time.
"Just as it has ours, may rock save your ever-loving bouncing soul."
Such are the profound words of a maturing punk rock band called The Bouncing Souls. And so far, those words seem to hold some truth for singer Greg Attonito, guitarist Pete "The Pete" Steinkopf, bassist Bryan "Papillon" Kienlen and drummer Michael McDermott.
What started as a high school pastime back in 1987 for the four Jersey boys evolved into a 17-year-long journey that has been documented in the form of six full-length albums and almost a dozen EPs and compilations. Although their most recent release, 2003's Anchor's Away, is darker compared to some of its poppy predecessors, the meat of the material is no different -- it deals with real life experiences such as the death of a very close friend (Todd's Song) and their concern for Americans' freedom (Born Free). Papillon confesses this album is "the furthest in our evolution ... so far."
With sing-along choruses in well over half their tunes, The Souls know how to have fun with life, even if it means succumbing to superstitions like, "It's good luck to buy your own record," which led every band member to purchase a copy of Anchor's Away when it first hit stores. We got a chance to talk with Papillon about more of the good things in life, like riding his Harley Davidson, fresh baked bread and Fat Mike from NOFX.
PULSE WEEKLY: How'd you get your own Dear Abby column in READ magazine?
BRYAN KIENLEN: It's funny, right? [laughing] I've done a couple things for them in the past, and Adam [READ's editor in chief] said, 'You're a good writer. You should do an advice column.' I laughed at first, but he was really serious about it. I guess I kind of said, 'OK,' because the next thing I knew, there were advice requests. I was a little nervous about the whole thing, but so far it's been good for me to think and to write.
PW: When you're not giving advice, I read that you like to ride motorcycles. Any particular reason why?
BK: The thing that kind of started it all was the need to get away from the usual circles that I'm running in. I love being on tour, but you never have any time to yourself. It's my alone time, and riding itself is a [form of] mediation. Also, living in New York builds up a thing in you, at least for me -- I have to get the hell out of the city.
PW: What are some of your favorite places to ride?
BK: I like doing the Route 66 thing ... through New Mexico; there are bits of the past that are still alive [out] there. There's also the Black Hills and Sturgis in South Dakota. I like the mountains and I like the desert -- any form of nature appeals to me at this point.
PW: On your current tour you invited Fat Mike's Punkvoter along to set up at shows and stuff. I read that you have a gambling bet with Mike. Is that true?
BK: [laughing] Um ... not that I'm aware of. He might be remembering something that I'm forgetting.
PW: So that's not the reason Punkvoter is on tour with you?
BK: [still laughing] No, no. We love Fat Mike and we f--king love hanging out with him, but that has nothing to do with it. Hats off to Mike for getting this thing started. For years we've kind of been focused on our own private lives, trying to work out our own shit to keep our sanity, so we were never an overly political band. We got involved with Punkvoter now because things have gotten so bad you can't not do anything about it anymore. It's an amazing idea to try to mobilize all the kids through the bands that they love.
PW: Who were these "older women" that were mothering you guys during the recording of Anchor's Away?
BK: That was the staff at the farm. The recording studio is at a farmhouse in the Middle Of Nowhere, Massachusetts. It's really warm and hearty; total Little House On The Prairie. You wake up and there's these women who're like, [in a feminine voice] 'Good morning. What can I make you for breakfast?' They also baked a banana bread kind of thing or a cake everyday.
PW: Sounds like you were pretty spoiled.
BK: Oh, we were totally spoiled. It's so easy to get fat there; we just drank tons of beer and ate so much good food. It's really good for your energy levels and it all went into the record.
PW: What do you have to say to the people out there who don't like The Bouncing Souls?
BK: I think at this point it's impossible to completely and utterly hate us.
By Jenny Poust, Editorial Assistant