Interview: Dying Scene talks with Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls at Warped Tour

Interview: Dying Scene talks with Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls at Warped Tour

The Bouncing Souls have been a staple in the punk rock community for 20 years now, and show no signs of stopping. The New Jersey natives have formed their own record label, released countless albums, and toured incessantly over the past two decades, and last week Dying Scene was able to catch up with the guys at Warped Tour during the Mountain View, CA leg of the tour.

It was a sad, stressful day as the band and I watched the US soccer team battle their hearts out against Ghana, ultimately falling in the tiring hours of extra time. But the sun was shining and there was good music to be heard, no time for tears. After the game I sat down with Greg Attonito (singer) and talked about their love for soccer and the US’ performance this World Cup, as well as the craziness from their recent tour in South America, their new album, and how the band has evolved over the years. Check out the entire interview here.

The Bouncing Souls’ latest album Ghosts On The Boardwalk was released in January on the band’s own label Chunksaah Records.

The band is still on tour with the Warped Tour, so be sure to check out their Dying Scene Shows page to find out when you can catch them near you.

What did you think of the US soccer team’s performance today and throughout the tournament?
I missed a couple of the first games because I was traveling, I didn’t get to watch them, but I thought they did great. I think it’s the best they’ve done in the last two World Cups and I think they’ve shown that they’re really a team to be reckoned with, somewhat, which is great.

How was opening day for Warped Tour yesterday?
You know, it was a little shaky, but I think the show and the energy was great. I was having trouble singing cuz it was so dry. So stuff that I could normally sing was just not coming out. But it didn’t matter it was totally fun, there was a lot of friends there, and we all had a good time.

What are you most excited about for Warped Tour?
The bands, the shows, you know. It’s always fun to see, you know for us it’s our 10th year [on the tour], so it’s fun to meet all these bands that are into The Bouncing Souls, and it’s sort of like this meeting place, and you get to see like, wow, we really made a huge impact on musicians and people who love us, and then there’s always new people. That’s what’s great about the Warped Tour, I mean it’s hard, especially now to reach new people, and they’re all here at the Warped Tour ready and open to check out new things. That’s the best part. And you know, seeing all my friends.

Are there any bands you really dig on the lineup?
Actually, I want to go see The Dickies today. I’ve never seen them.
No shit? I was lucky enough to see them last year or two years ago at Rebellion Festival in England, it was awesome!

What are your plans for after your leg of the tour?
I’m going to take some time at home because I’ve been away for quite awhile. So I’m looking forward to most of August just being at home, and then The Souls have a couple of things in September – a festival in Seattle, and a couple of things on the east coast – and then we’ll see. Oh yea, Australia in December.

I’ve heard of bands running into travel document problems while trying to tour Australia, have you gotten all of your paperwork squared away?
Well we’re lucky, Kate, who’s our tour manager/manager, is really good about helping us securing all that stuff. She’s on it.

You’ve toured all over the world over the years, do you have a favorite place to play?
Um, of course New Jersey and our hometown, and playing at The Pony on the holidays, that’s something special to us; it really has the family and friends vibe to it. That’s kind of always there to some degree.

Favorite song to sing?
No, I don’t. It varies, it always changes. True Believers, Hopeless Romantic, the classics you know. A lot of the sing alongs. Yea, and that’s a big part of it, if more people are singing along, that definitely makes it more fun.

Memorable tour event?
There’s so many things, it’s hard to remember sometimes. But, a really awesome tour was the True Believers tour, with Flogging Molly – they were opening for us, it was like when they were first starting out. Last year, we went to South America for the first time. That was really cool. We played Mexico City, Costa Rica, Bogota, Colombia, Lima, Peru, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and right outside of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

How was the turnout at those shows, how were you received?
You know [the scene there] is a little bit more underground in most countries we felt. Mexico City was probably the biggest one, the kids came from all over the country because we had never been there. So it was a cool experience to play for all these people that knew us for a long time, but have never seen us.

Did you experience any riots or conflict that are common in cities like Mexico City or Bogota?
A little bit, like at one show we played in this big old church. There was probably like 500 or 600 people inside, and they locked the doors, which was like this huge 20-foot wooden door that was probably like a couple hundred years old. So they had these doors locked cuz there was probably something like 200 kids outside. So we had sound checks earlier in the afternoon, and then we left just to go hang out and get something to eat and sit around before we played. So we show up, and there’s 200 kids outside, and the doors are locked and we’re like, we can’t get in, what do we do ? So we’re standing at the door, and finally the promoter comes out and he’s arguing with the cops for like 10 minutes. He’s trying to tell the cops like ‘hey this is the band that is playing this show, let them in!’ They didn’t want to budge at all. That was kind of funny. And then the show was just like explosive; I’ve never played a show where people have been waiting to see us for years.

Do you have any plans to go back to Central or South America in the near future?
We’ve talked about it, but nothing concrete. I mean, we knew as we were there, we were like, ‘if we ever go back, it would be probably not for the next two years.’
You guys are pretty well-booked.
Yes, and plus like, we didn’t do well enough to make money. You know, we weren’t THAT big in the other countries, so the few countries that did real well paid for the ones that didn’t do as well. But it was kind of like an experiment, to see what would happen cuz people have been asking us to play there for years so finally we’re like, let’s actually do this and see how it goes.
It took you several years to get there and it might take you several more to get back… Yes, we went there, we did it, and now we can be like okay we went for it, everybody who wanted to come and see us had that chance at least.

What was it like celebrating your 20th anniversary? Did you ever imagine you would still be making music?
It was great and no. It was just fun for us, and fun to do the single releases on the first of every month. That kind of made it cool, gave it anticipation, and we got to kind of ride that wave. Everybody got into it and people told us how excited they were for the first of every month for something new.

How has the band evolved over the years?
Well, I guess we’ve evolved in our lives and learning through experience, kind of brought that into the band, brought that into the music, and I think we’ve always loved so many different kinds of music and now as the years go by we’re able to bring that in more and more, do different things more.

Did you feel in the past that you were confined to the style of NJ punk you helped create?
Yea you know we had kind of created our own little style, and had success with that. I mean, when we first started out, nobody knows who you are they don’t care, they don’t want you to be anything or not want you to be anything. There’s no rules and that’s actually a good thing; you’re very free. Once you establish yourself and then there’s success and people expect you…like alright they’re like ‘I want a hamburger with cheese [apparently Greg doesn’t know these are called cheeseburgers], that’s what I want and if you’re not going to give it to me then I’m going to be unhappy.’
But, if let’s say, it’s a veggie burger with cheese that kind of resembles the hamburger with cheese then maybe people are like ok, it’s kind of similar I might check it out.
Hahahaha, and that’s I think….like walking that line where we’re playing True Believers and we’re doing this and we’re doing that, and we’re going to release like an acoustic song or something like that, then I think anyone who is a real music fan is going to understand that. Do you really always want to do the same thing over and over?

Do you feel more comfortable spreading your wings so to speak with musical experimentation?
Yea, definitely and I think we’ve never been a one-dimensional band. Like we’ve never been just a hardcore band or anything like that, we’ve never been just a punk band; and I think that’s why people also like us.

How has the new album been received?
Good, it’s been really good. There’s some mixed reviews, some people have been like ‘it’s a little bit slower tempo’, but I kind of expected that. It’s been cool.

What is the inspiration for the album title, Ghosts on the Boardwalk?
It’s sort of a like, harking back to Asbury Park and the boardwalk area there is where we wrote the record, and it’s sort of our home base. It’s sort of like an ode to that and that inspiration of the past and what’s happened in that place to bring us to our musical inspiration.

Now in the beginning days of The Bouncing Souls, you guys had a very sort-of hooligan/soccer oriented style. Over the years you have kind of strayed away from that, are you still as attached to the game and the hooliganism aspects of it?
I think we’ve always loved the comradery part of that, not the negative parts. That was what attracted us to it, that musical side of it, and the friendship part of it. All of those things are what have always been the theme through all the little different things we’ve gotten into in our day. And I think that’s why people keep coming back because that’s what it feels like at a Bouncing Souls show. We love to be a part of it.

What do you enjoy doing most while you’re not working with the band?
I like to be at home. I like being with my wife, I love being creative, doing art, doing music. What kind of art? I paint, I do lots of visual art. Do you exhibit any of your work? Um, well I’ve sold a few things, I haven’t really gotten focused or made a website, which I may do eventually but I just haven’t had the time. I really enjoy it, in fact my wife and I wrote a children’s book together. She wrote the story and I did the illustrations on it. It’s been out a couple of years and it’s actually done pretty well.

Have you thought about doing another book?
We have some ideas, but again it’s a matter of being focused, having the time, and getting it done. Actually, my wife and I, we just did an acoustic tour where we rode Vespas from show to show. Individual Vespas, what colors? Yea, we each rode one, I had a black one, she had a red one. And it was a blast, we did something like nine shows from Philly to Boston.

Did you ride with all of your gear?
We couldn’t do that because of the wind, it was too dangerous but our friend who was doing the show with us had a van and had all our stuff. It was totally an adventure getting to each show.

Did you guys have walkie-talkies in your helmets?
We thought about doing that but we didn’t have the money; they’re real expensive. But it was really rad, we made some video of it and hopefully we’ll get some of it up online. We might release a little video cuz it was a pretty fun adventure. A friend of ours kind of documented our adventure of getting from place to place. We got lost a few times, you know.

Do you have any tattoos you regret? Any plans for new ones?
Nah, I don’t think so. Haven’t really felt the inspiration for any new ones lately.

Besides the upcoming tours and what you’ve already mentioned, what can fans expect in the future from The Bouncing Souls?
We usually look pretty short-term. We try and keep it within this year and the next year you know, see what happens.

Thanks again to Greg for taking the time to talk with us. I’ve been a fan for the past decade, and look forward to another 20 years of The Bouncing Souls!

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