Who: The Bouncing Souls -- AKA the best punk band you're probably not listening to. With catchy choruses and lyrics that delve deep into feelings of loss, love, and the strength of friendship, the Bouncing Souls (drummer Michael McDermott, bassist Bryan Kienlen, singer Greg Attonito, and guitarist Pete Steinkopf) have carried on a 12-year-long career and cultivated a loyal fanbase that includes Blink-182's Tom DeLonge (he's got a tattoo of the band's logo) and Good Charlotte.
What: Anchors Aweigh, their sixth CD. "The technical meaning of [the phrase "Anchors Aweigh"] is pulling up an anchor on a boat and leaving for an adventure," explains singer Greg Attonito. "It follows the idea of looking at your old ways in life and the things that you've been doing. Deciding not to let it hold you down --instead, you gotta just pull up all your anger, get up and go on a new adventure and maintain that sense of adventure in your life. That's the spirit behind the anchor idea." If it sounds like the record is rooted in a real-life situation, well, it is. The Souls have always written autobiographical songs, and in this case, the anchor in question is Bryan's breakup with his longtime girlfriend. "A lot of the subject matter comes from his experience of letting go," says Greg. "All these things that he had been used to [like] having this person around him all the time [were] suddenly gone."
Where: New Brunswick, N.J. It's where the band met (in high school) and later lived, in a series of dilapidated houses immortalized on several songs. "We were just kids looking for something to do," explains Greg. "We were looking for something different. We all had a spirit. We wanted to create our own thing and do our own thing, so we just kept pursuing it." So, before punk had a home on MTV, the band was relegated to performing shows in their front yard, and in seedy dives on Manhattan's gritty Lower East Side.
Why: It's those shows that grew into massive word of mouth. Although the Souls don't release singles -- or even tour in a bus (bands pay for that and "we save all the money that we make" says Greg) -- they've managed to score the mainstage at Warped Tour and sell out their own headlining tours. "If you do keep pursuing that part of yourself and following your heart and following that spirit inside of yourself, you undoubtedly have to be successful and enjoy it," says Greg. "It's common mathematics."