The year was 1989. The first George Bush had just been inaugurated President, and yours truly was turning ten years old. Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel and Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 were in near constant rotation on the Panasonic cassette player in my southern New Hampshire bedroom. Elsewhere in the world, bands like The Cranberries and 4 Non Blondes and Wilson Phillips and The Black Crowes and EMF (remember them?!?) and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and Right Said Fred and SHeDAISY were in their formative stages. And down the I-95 corridor in a central Jersey college town, a group of four high school buds, Greg Attonito, Bryan Kienlen, Pete Steinkopf and Shal Khichi, had started a new musical project and were playing the first shows in that new band’s tenure. That band, of course, is The Bouncing Souls.
Fast-forward to 2019. With but a few changes to the role of drummer in their history (Khichi would be replaced by Michael McDermott in 1999; McDermott would in turn be replaced by Hot Water Music’s George Rebelo in 2013) the Souls have at this point carved out a career that includes ten full-length studio albums, countless splits and 7-inches, and long-ago established a reputation as one of the hardest-working groups in the punk rock scene. All the while, the band maintained – and even strengthened – reputations as genuinely good dudes, establishing personal friendships and relationships with fans across the globe.
To celebrate the Herculean achievement that is maintaining a band over the course of three decades essentially without interruption, The Bouncing Souls have a whole slew of special events planned. There are somewhere between 40 and 50 tour dates that’ve already been announced, featuring support from such heavy hitters as Swingin’ Utters, The Bronx and Off With Their Heads. Yesterday brought with it the announcement of Stoked For Summer, the band’s annual outdoor throwdown at the Stone Pony, located along the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey. All tour dates can be found here, but you’ll have to wait a little while longer for the full Stoked lineup.
But perhaps most intriguing amongst the 30th Anniversary festivities is Crucial Moments. Due out this coming Friday, Crucial Moments is a six-song EP of new material and companion 100-page book that culls stories and pictures and anecdotes from all stages in the band’s career. It’s a compelling trip down memory lane, regardless of when and where you first encountered the Souls on your own musical journey. There are requisite stories from longtime friends of the band like Tim Barry and Dave Hause and Benny Horowitz and Mark Stern and Kevin Seconds and Jack Terricloth. If you’re a longtime Souls fan, you’ll recognize some of the stories from the likes of Dubs and Wig and Johnny X and Matt Gere and Pedro Serrano and, of course, the mighty Kate Hiltz. There are myriad stories, most of them short and sweet, from fans, the true believers and hopeless romantics from all corners of the globe. There are even a few surprisingly poignant stories from the likes of Shanti Wintergate (Greg’s wife) and Dr. Neel Khichi (Shal’s younger brother).
We caught up with Souls’ frontman Greg Attonito via phone from his snowy Idaho home this past weekend to talk about both new releases. As always, we found Attonito to be open, honest, reflective, and pretty fired-up to chat about the legacy that he and his high school buddies Pete and Bryan (with assistance from Shal and Mike and George) over the course of the last three decades. Head below to check it out! While you’re at it, you can check out the first two singles from Crucial Moments here and here. The album is due out on Rise Records; you can still pre-order it here.