While punk rock imparts certain timelessness to its eternal youth anthems, there are things that weather the seemingly immortal youth anthems. Drug overdoses, band breakups and worse reunions, covers of classics recognized as the original song and, worst of all, time and its passage all affect the 40 oz. fountain of youth from which punk springs. Compared to the ’70s and ’80s, the early ’90s aren’t that far away. Or are they? Regardless, that’s where New Jersey born-and-bred outfit Bouncing Souls got their start and keep it until well established while bands in the same genre grew into full-fledged rock stars — or total sell-outs, depending on who you talked to. Regardless of how old the dental floss holding the patch onto your stained and stinking denim vest may be, you’ve probably danced, drank and maybe even seen a Bouncing Souls show since the band began touring the pre-9/11 border into Canada.
“We decided to reissue albums because mostly, we haven’t repressed them in a long time,” says singer and frontman Greg Attonito. “I don’t do the day-to-day at Chunksaah [Records, the Bouncing Souls label], but I know there’s been requests for a steady flow as of recently.” The reissued albums include, The Good, The Bad and The Argyl, Maniacal Laughter and the self-titled Bouncing Souls offering, and are sought-after items for a reason.
Given that the band is banging out two shows in Calgary, it begs the question: what will make two shows, or even one of them, different from any of the last Bouncing Souls show you may have caught. “At our shows last year,” begins Attonito, “we performed our entire discography, it was all old songs. This year, we’ll be doing some new songs as well as some classic Bouncing Souls songs. At least six to eight new songs as well as some good-spirited older songs people know and love.” Of course, what then makes a classic Bouncing Souls song? “It’s never the same with any two people,” Attonito states. “Everyone has their own opinion on what the best record is! People tend to agree that ‘True Believer,’ ‘Kate is Great’ and ‘Hopeless Romantic’ are some of our best. But, honestly, as long as people are happy to hear them, we’re happy to play them.”
Beyond the “classics,” one pervading aspect of Bouncing Souls songs has always been their sense of humour and the light-hearted take on life that some bands swing at and completely miss. “A sense of humour in life just makes sense,” according to the singer. “It’s part of who we are and what feels good. Otherwise we never would have written songs like ‘I Like Your Mom.’” Which, like some of the best juvenile cracks, prove you have to be highbrow to make such lowbrow jokes.
A stand-out example from the Bouncing Souls wisecracking is “These Are the Quotes from Our Favourite ’80s Movies,” which is exactly what it sounds like it should be. In terms of films themselves, Attonito says, “We’d love to be in a coming-of-age teen movie. The Breakfast Club is my favourite John Hughes movie. We’ve had songs in all kinds of things but we’d totally do something like that if it ever came up!” This statement is delivered with as much enthusiasm as the quotes in the above song.
Just as how coming-of-age teen movies have changed (do they even make those anymore?), so, too, has punk rock come. As Attonito says, “This is such a huge subject, I could spend hours on it. But, the main thing is punk rock used to be so much smaller, the amount of people into it, the amount of shows, the amount of bands. Now, there’s so much more, kids have so much more music awareness than we ever did. Now, kids are into everything. YouTube lets you discover whatever and whoever you want from whenever. With me and my friends, we had a pile of records and the radio. We’d have to take a train, change trains, get to the record store and then pick out one or two records and then decide which one record did we really want?” he says frankly. A quick scan of YouTube proves him right, with no fewer than seven pages of Bouncing Souls material, a mix of live material and albums, including songs from their soon to be reissued records.
“When I think of touring without cellphones or email,” recalls Attonito, “I think, ‘How the hell did we do it without them?’ I mean, I guess what’s important is we still got there on time, every time.” Bouncing Souls’ first Canadian tour was opening for Face to Face in the mid-’90s and they still have fond memories of touring Canada. “With Face to Face, it was our first time in Canada. That tour was so amazingly cold because our van had no heat and we had to take it across the country. But, the shows and the crowds were always great. That’s why to this day we always love going up to Canada.” Clearly, with two back-to-back shows coming up this month, Canada, and Calgary, loves them back.
The Bouncing Souls will play the Republik on October 10 and 11.
By Spencer Brown