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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

HOT SOUP

Life on tour isn't what it used to be for Bowling for Soup

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left, Chris Burney, Gary Wiseman, Jaret reddicke, and Erik Chandler of Bowling for Soup. From left, Chris Burney, Gary Wiseman, Jaret reddicke, and Erik Chandler of Bowling for Soup.
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Don't believe the hype. Not when it comes to most first-round draft picks. And certainly not when it comes to the glamorous touring stories of rock bands.

"The days are really long, and there's a lot of times when we're sort of stuck wherever we're parked," said Jaret Reddick, a guitarist and lead singer for Bowling for Soup, a veteran punk-pop outfit that has logged thousands of miles on the road, driving from one show to the next. "I mean, you can go four or five days without a shower sometimes ... it's definitely not glamorous. But again, the payoff is every night you get to play songs and people sing along to them and it makes it all worth it."

Bowling for Soup used to be a warhorse when it came to touring; its four members -- Reddick; Chris Burney, guitar and vocals; Erik Chandler, bass; and Gary Wiseman, drums -- would head out for 18-month stints at a time. Marriages and kids, though, understandably have shrunk the number of days the guys spend away from home. On most occasions it's a two-weeks-away, two-weeks-home schedule, the same as the run of dates that has the band playing Monday night at Headliners in Toledo.

Spending so much time on the road, Bowling for Soup has come up with some simple rules to live by. For one, you'll almost never hear Reddick say the name of the city where the band is performing during its show. The cities, along with the days of the week, tend to be a blur, making it a risky proposition to even venture a greeting such as, "How's it going, Cleveland," lest you be in Cincinnati.

And if you do get to meet Reddick or someone else in the band, please have something to say.

"It's one of those things to where someone will be really, really excited to meet you and you can be very excited to meet them too, and there could be all this build up, whether it's e-mail or it's Twitter ... and the minute they're in front of your face there's absolutely nothing to say," he said. "You're like, 'Hey, how are you doing?' 'I'm fine.' 'Are you excited about the show?' 'Yes.' 'All right. Good talk.' "

Bowling for Soup formed in 1994 in Witchita Falls, Texas, a city of 100,000 best known for a devastating 1979 tornado, and for Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Larry McMurtry, a native and still-resident of a small town, Archer City, about a half-hour south.

Reddick said he and the others started Bowling for Soup "just for something to do recreationally, I guess, to keep us out of trouble. It was never anything that we set out to make a career out of."

But things developed quickly for the band, which played its first show within a month and released its first CD two months after that. Two years later, a club audience was singing along to Bowling for Soup's catchy, quirky songs, often front-loaded with cultural references. That concert was the band's epiphany.

"We looked at each other in the dressing room and said, 'You know, I think we could actually give this a shot,' " Reddick said.

The group relocated to Denton, Texas, a college town between Dallas and Fort Worth, and worked tirelessly for years to get noticed until it signed with major label Jive. Despite some hits, including the band's best-known song "1985," Bowling for Soup struggled financially, sometimes with as little as $100 to split between the four members at the end of a month.

"Not that it was ever about the money, but that can get really tough on you especially when you're out there every day delivering and coming home after a month or six weeks or sometimes 18 weeks on the road and not really having anything to show for it other than a few war stories," Reddick said. "It can get to you."

Bowling for Soup left Jive in 2010 and self-released its latest record, "Fishin' for Woos," earlier this year. But Reddick isn't bitter about the split, saying he's not a "label hater." In fact, he's quite content with the band's here and now.

"To be honest we're really comfortable where we are ... [and] that we are able to make a living doing it and we're playing the size places we want to play and are selling the amount of records that we feel like we should be selling. Things could not be better, to be honest."

Bowling For Soup will be at Headliners, 4500 North Detroit Ave., Monday night. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance ($18 the day of the show) and are available at all TicketMaster outlets, charge by phone 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com, and at Culture Clash, 419-536-5683, and Ramalama Records, 419-531-7625.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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