The Bouncing Souls
By Sarah Laidlaw
I talked over the phone to "The Pete," guitarist for The Bouncing Souls, the other day. I was feeling very humble when I started dialing his phone number because he is part of one of the bands I grew up listening to and so did millions of kids across the country. However, after ten seconds into the phone call, I forgot about all of my inhibitions and felt like I was talking to an old friend. Pete is a personable man who loves life and lives it without regrets, as evident in The Bouncing Souls' music. During our conversation he discussed his life, which is full of fame, good fortune, hard work, and devotion.
SKRATCH: What were your shows like before you were signed?
PETE: We were playing at a lot of parties and friends' houses. We booked our own tours and would play in front of about ten people at a time. We did manage to build a local following of our own, especially in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and from there it spread like a disease.
SKRATCH: What initially made you decide to start your own label, Chunksaah?
PETE: We started it because no one else would put out our records. So, we put out some seven inches and our first CD and would take them on tour with us to sell at our shows.
SKRATCH: Can you describe what it was like putting out your own records?
PETE: We didn't know any different then. We just knew we wanted to get our music to people somehow and that was the only way to do it.
SKRATCH: How did that compare to now, being established on Epitaph?
PETE: It's easier now. We can go on tour and know someone else is handling that job and know that our CDs are in the stores.
SKRATCH: What do you feel when you are up on the stage with thousands of kids singing along to your songs?
PETE: It is one of the best feelings in the whole world. I know this feeling from both sides because I was that kid in the audience who was a total fan singing all the words before I was the guy in the band. I know what it's all about and I love both sides of it.
SKRATCH: What is your definition of a hopeless romantic?
PETE: Hopeless romantic can apply to anything: love for a girl, love for a skateboard, and love for whatever you are passionate about. It's feeling strongly about the thing you can't live without.
SKRATCH: What does it mean to be a true believer?
PETE: It's what the song says. It's people who believe they can live their life the way they choose without following a set of rules. It's people who lead themselves in life.
SKRATCH: "Hopeless Romantic" and "True Believers" are some of your most popular songs. What songs would you pick as the ones to remember?
PETE: I would pick "True Believers", "Gone", "Say Anything", "Kids and Heroes", and "Sing Along Forever". I would pick the ones that are personal to be remembered; the ones that kids can relate to their own lives.
SKRATCH: What do you want kids to take away from your shows?
PETE: When I go to shows, I get inspired to do things on my own. If it weren't for me going to shows, I would not be here right now. I would want kids to be inspired to do whatever it is they love to do and do it to the fullest.
SKRATCH: Would you say that is the lesson your music teaches?
PETE: I don't really think it is a lesson. I just hope kids will walk out of our shows feeling good, like they could do whatever they love to do.
SKRATCH: How do you guys write your songs?
PETE: Everyone has these notebooks full of ideas and we collaborate all of our ideas together. There is no set way we do it. It's just whatever comes out.
SKRATCH: What influences your writing?
PETE: Whatever we are going through in life influences our writing. Sometimes I will discover a new band and that will influence me but for the most part it is just life.
SKRATCH: You started off as high school friends. Have your friendships grown stronger or do you think touring, recording, and everything else have worn on those friendships?
PETE: At different times our friendships will get worn on but we are all better friends now. We have grown together. It's hard not to be good friends through all of this.
SKRATCH: How do you think the band has managed to stay together for so long?
PETE: It's what we love to do. I couldn't imagine it any other way. I want to express myself and this is the way to do it. Why stop when we love it so much?
SKRATCH: A lot of your press describes your new album, ANCHORS AWEIGH, as evidence of maturation in you and your music. What do you have to say about this?
PETE: Every record is a step for a band. We are getting better all the time. This record is another step in our journey. I think that "mature" is a good word for this album because it does have heavier themes since that was what was going on in our lives at the time we wrote it.
SKRATCH: What is life about for you?
PETE: Living, learning, and trying to give something back. I think it is about creating stuff not just taking stuff. It's giving, learning, and a little taking too. It's meeting people along the way, falling in love, learning about people, and just living it.
SKRATCH: Do you have any regrets?
PETE: No. The one thing we always do is to try really hard to get through things together so we don't have any regrets in the end. Also, if something feels weird, we don't do it.
SKRATCH: If you didn't have this band, what would you be doing?
PETE: I can't imagine it any other way. I don't know, maybe a barber or maybe a mechanic. Actually, I'd probably be in some other band.
SKRATCH: How could you summarize what The Bouncing Souls is?
PETE: We are a bunch of guys on our own path trying to be a band and to make something of ourselves. We are creating our own world with our own rules.
SKRATCH: What do you see for the future of Bouncing Souls?
PETE: More of the same but bigger and better!
The Bouncing Souls' newest release, ANCHORS AWEIGH, is a perfect representation of its devotion to music and to love of life.