Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan are set to hit up the UK for a string of dates in February 2020, 17 years on from the first time they toured the country together. So we got their two frontmen together for a bit of a chat.
From meeting for the first time to blowing up on the mainstream stage, all the way through to the things they have learned over the years of being in their respective bands, we gave the duo a chance to reminisce on their friendship. This is Jaret Reddick and Pierre Bouvier, in discussion.
ON… TOURING TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME BACK IN 2003
Pierre: "For me, we’ve always felt so grateful that Jaret and Bowling For Soup took us out in England that first time back in 2003. It was such a fun tour. BFS have such an incredible fanbase and we had none at the time as we were still up and coming. For us it was so cool to be able to come out and play for this incredible crowd. It gave us that foot in the door for our own fanbase to grow and then set about building on our own. It’s something that we never forget. On top of being able to support them at so many amazing places, they are the coolest and nicest guys. We would party together and drink together and hang out together. It was one of those tours that come along every once in a while where you feel immediately welcome. It’s not like, ‘Oh, there’s the headliner over there, they’re a bunch of dicks’. Everybody was instantly friends. I can count on one hand the tours in my life where I have felt that connection."
Jaret: "Before the UK we did a nice little run just around Texas and we just really hit it off. We had the best time. Also, in the middle of the tour my wife had our daughter AND we got nominated for a Grammy. Then we did England together. Then we did Warped Tour together. We spent like a year on the road together."
Pierre: "I don’t want to say that we’ve matured, but I feel like this UK tour is going to be a really good time. I think it’s going to get a little bit wild because of our history together. It’s going to be hard to stop ourselves from having a blast."
Jaret: "We used to consider you guys our little brothers. We’re all around the same age but we had already been in a band for nine years when we met you so we somehow felt older."
Pierre: "It felt like you guys were really taking us under your wing. Now we’re family. And to be able to do it again now feels like a proper full circle moment."
ON… LEARNING THINGS FROM EACH OTHER
Jaret: "When we met the Simple Plan guys they already had their own clothing line. They were so smart. They all wore their own shit all the time. If you look at the band as all individuals, they are all so successful in what they do in and out of the band. These dudes toured the world and hit places as hard as they could, and that was super inspiring to me."
Pierre: "For me the thing that I picked up from Bowling For Soup was the entertainment value. When I go and see a show I want to be entertained. If I can laugh or see a bit of the band’s personality come out, then even better. There are a lot of bands out there that are so serious about their art and about what they do, but for me I like to have a good time. When I saw BFS for the first time, it was more than just a concert. I think it’s a huge part of why their fanbase is as big as it is. It’s because they don’t just go to see the songs but they’re also going to have fun and let go. We’ve always tried to infuse a bit of that in our show. We’re not trying to be Nirvana after all."
ON… BLOWING UP AT THE SAME TIME
Jaret: “We were pretty much on tour together for the best part of a year, and what made it cool was both our bands were blowing up at the same time. We were flying out to radio shows and we would be the only two actual bands on the bills. Everybody else sang to tracks.”
Pierre: “What was that big one in New York where Mariah Carey had to use the bathroom?”
Jaret: “Oh man. That was Zootopia.”
Pierre: “Yeah, there were such big artists like Jennifer Lopez there. We were all hanging out by your bus and this army of people and bodyguards came and knocked on the door saying ‘EXCUSE ME, MARIAH CAREY NEEDS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM’. You guys were like, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ but they said, ‘You’re going to have to exit the bus though’.”
Jaret: “The thing is that Chris stayed on the bus. One bodyguard went on to the bus and cleaned the bathroom. Then Mariah Carey comes up into the bus with Chris still sitting there. She stopped and started looking at all his tattoos and said, ‘Oh you’ve got that, that’s nice’, then she went in the bathroom, used it, came out and said, ‘Thank you’ and off to the stage she went.”
Pierre: “That’s such a good story.”
Jaret: “But yeah, there were different sorts of bands in our genre at that time. There were bands that would get played on rock radio and there were bands that would get played on pop radio. Once you crossed over into the pop world, you’re blocked in. You can’t really go back. Both Simple Plan and us really had to earn our way back in with the cool kids because we had songs on pop radio and were going out and doing shows with Beyoncé. It was genuinely crazy. Like at least Simple Plan stayed on Warped Tour around that time. We did it a couple of times and earned our way back in. It feels like our longevity was what showed that we were for real.”
Pierre: "It was exactly the same for us. The only way that we could get over that was with our longevity. I feel like I’m a Warped Tour kid but being one of those bands that had success on pop radio put us in that category of ‘Pop Band’. We walked around Warped sites in the first 10 years of our career going, ‘Oh shit, there goes Avenged Sevenfold, they probably think we’re so lame’. We were so self-conscious about it. Yet then we did Warped in like 2014 and all these bands were coming up to us and saying, ‘Man, I love your band’. Like, really? Us?’”
Jaret: “We had the exact same experience! We did three dates of Warped Tour in 2014 and all of these heavy bands were coming up to us saying, ‘Dude, you’re the reason that I play guitar’.”
Pierre: “The thing is when you first come out on the scene people need something to hate and you become that target. Then after a bit they go, ‘Actually, they’re pretty good and I did listen to them in middle school and I did like it’. Now when we did the last Warped we ended up being one of the biggest bands on there.”
ON… NOT AVOIDING THE BIG HITS
Jaret: “Neither of our bands run away from our hits. There are bands that avoid them and play their whole new album or something. You need to have an understanding of what people are there to see. Like maybe we will play one or two songs off our new album, but that’s not why people bought the ticket. Fortunately and unfortunately for bands like us who had huge hits in 2003-2007, that’s what people will come to hear.”
Pierre: “Yeah, it’s true. We both still make new music and if something sticks then we will put it in the setlist and maybe keep it there for the rest of our career. If an album or a song doesn’t stick and you know the fans don’t really want to hear it, then play the songs that they do want to hear. It goes back to wanting to be entertained.”
Jaret: “MC Lars famously said back in 2005, ‘Music was a product, now it’s a service’. When you’re putting out new music, that’s a completely separate thing from your live show as far as I’m concerned. It’s a completely different product. So if you want to hear ‘Lunch. Drunk. Love.’ you can go listen to that. Yet if we have 2500 people at a show where about 100 give a shit about the songs on that album, you’ve got to go with the majority.”
Pierre: “I want the crowd to have no chance to think about going to the bathroom or the bar. I want them feeling like they can’t miss a single moment. That comes with playing the hits.”
Jaret: “I don’t get it when people say to me, ‘Aren’t you sick of playing ‘1985’ or ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’?' I’m not sick of it at all. Standing in front of those crowds and watching their faces when that first note is played, that’s the reason that for 22 hours a day I’m away from my family, eating like shit, drinking, trying to keep myself sane. The reason is that moment.”
Pierre: “I think that mentality is why we both get on so well.”
ON… KEEPING THINGS ENJOYABLE
Jaret: “I think you sometimes need something or someone to come in to jar you or wake you up. You never want to make this feel like work. I always want to be happy to be there and for people to see that on my face. From the break that we took in 2013 to Rob [Felicetti, bass] joining the band, we’re very lucky that we’ve had those little moments that have helped us keep things fresh.”
Pierre: “I think what keeps it fresh for us is when the crowd in front of you is having the best time. Every night when we walk offstage we comment on how the crowd was and when they are losing their shit in front of you then it’s always more fun. As a band it only makes sense to do everything you can to make that crowd go apeshit every night. That’s the fuel. That’s the thing that makes you say ‘I can never get bored of this’."
ON… THE TOUR LIFE / FAMILY LIFE BALANCE
Jaret: “I always just had to deal with having a family and being on the road. I was the first of us to have a wife and kids. The jumpstart to everything was the tour with Simple Plan with the Grammy nomination and my daughter being born at the same time. The thing was when Gary [Wiseman, drums] had kids everything changed. We were already successful enough to be able to say, ‘This is how much we’re going to go out and this is how much stuff we’re going to do’. There are two different models for this and you’re talking to two guys with two different models. Simple Plan have remained road warriors. They go out and do it and I don’t know how they’ve found that balance. It’s impressive as shit.”
Pierre: “You know, when you have kids you need to have a support system at home who can take care of stuff when you’re not there. Having a partner who can be there when you’re not there is essential; otherwise you simply can’t do it. For me, I like it when I’m home because I’ll have like four weeks where I have nothing else to do but be with my kids. I have two daughters and when I get that time I get to wake them up, make them breakfast, take them to school, pick them up from school, go hiking, play with them. Even when I am working in the studio or something they can come in and play and bash a tambourine or something. I was writing some songs with Chuck [Comeau, drums] and Travis [Clark] from We The Kings and my daughter came in and she helped us with gang vocals on a track. It’s just awesome to be able to do stuff like that.”
ON… WHAT THEY'RE MOST PROUD OF
Pierre: “I think it’s the same with both Bowling For Soup and us. It’s not just the fact that we are both still active bands but that fact that we’re both still successful. We’ve got healthy careers that have lasted this long, and I think that’s the ultimate test on a band. Not just having one hit song or album but also still being able to do it 20 years later in front of thousands of people.”
Jaret: “Speaking for both of our bands, we’re all still best friends. Being able to go and conquer the world with your boys is unlike anything else. Being able to say to my kids that I’ve seen and done all of these things over the years is unlike anything else. It’s all about that legacy. We didn’t realise it at the time, but we’re pioneers. We got in on this shit early and set about being able to help create this pop-punk world that we exist in now. To be able to bask in that now is an absolute blast.”
Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan are set to hit up the UK for a massive tour in February 2020, with support coming from NotYourGirlfrienz. Check out all the dates below:
10th - GLASGOW Academy
11th - NEWCASTLE Academy
12th - BIRMINGHAM Academy
13th - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse
14th - LONDON Brixton Academy
15th - BRIGHTON Centre
Tickets are available from here.