Bowling For Soup on high school, Neil Young and getting angry

Following the release of Bowling For Soup’s greatest hits compilation, ‘Songs That People Actually Liked’ – the first in a series documenting and celebrating the Texas quartet’s two-decade long career – we caught up with Jaret Reddick to discuss their enduring appeal, and how he manages to successfully front a pop punk band in his 40s.

**IT SEEMS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL HAS NEVER REALLY ENDED FOR BOWLING FOR SOUP. HOW DO YOU TAP INTO THAT PART OF YOUR LIFE AND WRITE ABOUT IT SO CONVINCINGLY? YOU’RE 42… **“In American culture, high school is the most important time in everyone’s life. It’s a really big deal. Those six years pretty much shape who you’re gonna be; what crowd you’re gonna be in; all of those things. It’s such an influential part of your life. Plus, I grew up in the ‘80s, so John Hughes movies were big. And music was just crazy at the time because it was this transition from like Foreigner, to Wham and Madonna, to Mötley Crüe. It was just this wacky period. I don’t know if everybody was lost, or what. It was almost like we were free again. So it’s easy for me to tap back into that.”

DO PEOPLE FROM SCHOOL EVER CONTACT YOU? “I’m the guy that if somebody hits me up on Facebook and they’re like, ‘Hey man, do you remember me from high school?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re the kid that could suck the spaghetti noodle through one nostril and pull it out the other one and floss your nose!’ They ask me how the hell I remember that stuff, and I tell them I remember everything! So yeah, it’s super easy for me to tap back into that time and the feelings I had then. They were great!”

**IT MUST BE A GIFT TO TAKE THOSE FEELINGS AND TURN THEM INTO SONGS THAT SO MANY PEOPLE CAN RELATE TO… **“You know, [bassist] Erik [Chandler] is a fan of Neil Young, but I’m not. I just never got into his music. But I heard an interview with him recently and he was talking about songs. And every songwriter jokes about waking up in the night with an idea in their head – one that they probably think is the biggest hit in the world. But Neil Young said that every song idea that pops into your head is a gift; it popped in there for a reason. Like, you’re walking down the street and you start whistling a happy tune. That’s a gift! Whistling and walking on the sidewalk makes people fucking happy, right? What he was basically saying was that our job as songwriters is to accept these gifts. So if something pops into his head, he stops whatever the hell it is he’s doing and he accepts it.”

IS THAT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU REGULARLY? “If I did that all the time, I would have no life, because there’s always shit in my head; there’s always songs in there; there’s always lyrics in there; and they argue with each other. So I can’t explain it – but I’m not saying that I’m gifted, by any means. But when a song pops in your head, it’s a magical moment. Music is nuts. But it’s awesome!”

**TELL US ABOUT THE LAST ALBUM, LUNCH. DRUNK. LOVE., BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T SEEM YOUR USUAL SELF. **“I’m not trying to steer into anything nutty, but I just had a dark couple of years. And I think it was weird for me, and weird for the fans. When I wrote Lunch. Drunk. Love, my manager listened to it for the first time on his way to vacation and he called me and he just said; ‘Dude, I hate these phone calls, but this isn’t a Bowling For Soup album. You’re fucking angry and nobody is gonna want this. They want My Wena. They want Almost. They want this and this, not this.’ And I love him, because he is 100% the greatest manager in the world, but I told him he was wrong, because my fans feel these feelings too, and they know this is coming from my heart. And they’re gonna get this fucking album and they’re gonna go; ‘Holy fucking shit!’ And that’s exactly what happened. And it felt good because I wrote it all from my heart about all this bullshit that I was going through in my life; just trying to be a happy person; a good father; a good musician; and whatever the fuck I am. I’m a happy person and I want to be happy all the time, and at that time I wasn’t. So I decided I wanted to fucking let people know. And so I fucking did it and I’m in such a good place now. I’m super happy. And I have happy kids, and two awesome dogs. And I love all my bands. And I love my jobs. It’s just great, man. I put on a few pounds so I gotta lose those, but once the belly is gone I am full on, back in charge.”

Click here to listen to TeamRock Radio’s in-depth interview with Jaret Reddick, on the stories behind Songs That People Actually Liked and his two-decade tenure fronting the perennial pop punks.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.