Early this summer we stormed the Warped Tour and got a chance to talk with some awesome bands about the Rock Band Network. The Bouncing Souls were prime interview candidates: they had just released their track "Gasoline" in RBN and they just happen to be one of my favorite punk bands around today.
We met up with Greg, lead singer of The Bouncing Souls, and he filled us in on everything from Muddy Waters to their bid to get their tour van in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check it out!
HMXHenry: Hey guys. HMXHenry here. Still at Warped Tour. Still muggier than we would like it to be. With Greg, from The Bouncing Souls.
Greg Attonito: How's it goin'?
HMXH: We're here to continue hanging out, shooting the breeze with people within the rock star lifestyle, which is not at all what we do backstage here at the Warped Tour.
GA: It's not what you think it is. It really isn't.
HMXH: We wanted to grab Greg and talk about The Bouncing Souls song "Gasoline" that we have in Rock Band Network. Did you guys have a hand in picking that song? Was it kind of a group decision?
GA: Well Kate, our manager, really worked that whole thing of getting us on Rock Band. I don't know. I guess it was chosen off the new record. It was one of the most popular tunes. I think that's probably why.
HMXH: Yeah, that seems reasonable. That's very cool. Now, would this Kate be Kate of "Kate is Great"?
HMXH: The one and only?
GA: That's right.
HMXH: I actually had heard this story for the first time yesterday. I was wondering if I could get the story straight from the source. Could you confirm that Kate is great because she would let you sleep in her futon store when you guys did not have a home?
GA: Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
HMXH: That's just the beginning of why Kate is great.
GA: If I had to tell you why Kate is great, we could be here all day. And I'm not just saying that to kiss your ass, Kate, in case you're watching. It's true. She literally is the gel, but much more than that, the person that holds The Bouncing Souls ship on the track. She holds down the label. She manages to get the song on Rock Band. And she's sometimes our tour manager. She does a lot of the accounting. So many things. She takes care of so many things. And it enables us to make music and go on tour. So, there's a million reasons why Kate is great. That's one of 'em. Back in the day, when we worked and made futons in New Brunswick, and Kate was the manager of the store, she was kind of our boss. And then we kind of became her boss, which is kind of funny. And we slept, sometimes, at the futon store. We'd work late making futons, and then sleep there.
HMXH: That's pretty amazing. So you guys are, hopefully, no longer sleeping in futon stores while on the road at Warped Tour.
GA: No. We're actually sleeping in our famous vehicle, the White Castle, which has been on the road since 1996. Right now we're working on trying to get it in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
HMXThrasher: That's amazing.
GA: We had a connection - I met the curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I'm talking about this because I want it to happen.
HMXH: We will do anything we can to help. We'll get it on the Rock Band Forums. We'll get a fan position going.
HMXT: Today is all about us taking videotape of things so we can make them happen.
HMXH: Yes. We are going to make all sorts of magic happen.
HMXT: Crazy awesome things.
GA: So we talked about it for a couple of years because we played the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the Warped Tour had an exhibit there. And I talked to him. And was like, "We have the vehicle for you." And he was totally open to it.
GA: And he said, "Okay, cool. Let's check it out. I want to see it and know more about it." So I'm going to get in touch with him now because the Castle is in its golden years. It's been since '96. It overheated on this tour. We were in the desert in Phoenix for a whole afternoon and night. We watched the sun go down. The moon came up and [there were] little animals in the desert while we waited for the tow truck to come. Then the next day after the truck got fixed, twenty minutes later our Uhaul trailer got stolen.
HMXH: Oh no!
HMXT: Oh my God!
GA: So it's been a wild ride this tour.
HMXH: That was all on this Warped Tour. I thought this was like a retrospective.
HMXT: Who steals a trailer?
GA: No, no. This just happened. It's just part of the rock and roll life here at Warped Tour.
HMXH: That's intense. I mean, you guys are no stranger to the Warped Tour. You guys are all-stars. You've been around...do you know how many years this is?
GA: Nine years.
The Bouncing Souls at Warped Tour
HMXH: Nine years. That's amazing. So where does this crop of bands, how does the crowd this year pan out against nine years of history?
GA: I've had this question a couple of times and I've wrestled with it, like what's the difference between now and then. I don't know. The spirit of it is the same. And that essence is that there's a whole bunch of different stuff out there. Just a pile of different things in here. And all these different people and bands and music bumping off each other. That's the spirit of the Warped Tour. But the huge difference is, when we first started out on the Warped Tour in '97 or '96, in that area, we were all the same generation. The biggest bands down to the newest bands were all about the same age. Which made a huge difference. We were all kind of in the same territory, musically and what was going on in our lives. But now, it's like, I could be the dad of some of these bands.
GA: I was walking around one night and was like, "Okay, I think maybe this is how my dad feels when he comes to my shows."
HMXT: That's fair.
GA: But after that, I felt more at peace with it, because I realized, that's how generations work. Like, my dad has his life and stuff. They all hang out and they're from their time. And it doesn't mean you're old, necessarily. You have your time and your space and everyone grows in that time and space. Just like, making that observation, I completely felt more at peace with it, because it's definitely not the Warped Tour I used to be on, and a lot of people that have been around don't feel as connected to it as we did. I made it make sense to me. I might be rambling a little bit.
HMXT: No, it makes perfect sense.
GA: But it's perfect now. Because these kids have grown up at the Warped Tour. When we were starting the Warped Tour, it was just starting to hatch. These kids don't know...their entire high school career, they've had Warped Tour each summer. Which is really cool.
HMXH: That is pretty amazing.
GA: And then, a lot of kids that are in bands are like, "You're the first band that I saw on the Warped Tour! The first time I jumped off a stage into a pit it was you guys at the Warped Tour. And now I'm in a band on the Warped Tour!" So that's just a wild thing. I never imagined it.
HMXH: Are you getting a lot of that? Like bands like the punk rock vanguard, bands like you, Alkaline Trio, Reel Big Fish, that have done Warped Tour year after year - are a lot of other bands turning to you guys for tips and tricks, advice on what to do?
GA: I think that all just happens. A few just come up to me from random bands, "I'm in this band, blah blah blah blah. We're playing on this stage. I'm a big fan. Thanks a lot." I get a lot of that.
HMXH: That's great. What would you tell someone if they were coming to Warped Tour either as a band or as a spectator, what would be your survival kit? What do you absolutely have to have when you go to a summer show?
GA: Coming out to see the show, or just being a band and playing?
HMXT: Either one.
HMXH: Either one. Like what do you need to make it through a Warped Tour?
GA: I think. I've been asked this question too, before. What it is, to have success as a band, no matter what level, no matter how well you do, take one little step at a time. Like, get on the Warped Tour. Do it as best as you possibly can. If you have the opportunity to record and release something, do it the best you can. But just take one step at a time. That's how the Warped Tour happened. That's how the Bouncing Souls started. We wrote a song. We demoed that song. Then we did a show at a hall. We rented out or someone gave us a hundred bucks to rent a soundsystem. We made flyers. And you have to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it and the people you're around, then just think about why. Is it you? Is it them? Then you go from there.
HMXH: That's really good advice.
GA: It's as simple as that. And sometimes I get myself confused. I'm like, "Well, maybe you could record and release digital downloads and make a website and all that stuff." But when you break it all done, I realize it's always the same thing. Regardless of the internet, digital downloads, CDs, this or that. It's still the same thing. And I've confused myself on this subject, but it still breaks down to the same thing. You don't have to write out your mailing list anymore by hand and then post 'em all and put them in the mailbox, but now you can make a mailing list and email it and all those kinds of things, which makes it easier. But do it for fun. Don't count the money. It doesn't exist. 'Cause it's not gonna exist. Believe me.
GA: There's a very small amount of it. And there's bands out here that are making a ton of money but most of them aren't. So go for the experience and then you walk away and you will not regret it.
HMXH: That's really cool. We actually, we work with a lot of younger up-and-coming bands. The Rock Band Network is our tool that allows up-and-coming bands and already established bands like The Bouncing Souls to put their own music in Rock Band. And I think that's something that a lot of these younger bands should definitely hear about. About the fans that we reach through Rock Band Network.
GA: And isn't it true, I'm not sure, but people find their music most now on your video game.
HMXH: Yeah, we've been hearing a lot of that.
HMXT: We keep hearing that. Which is awesome for us.
GA: You guys know more about that than I do.
HMXH: Well, we have almost 1,500 songs in Rock Band.
HMXT: Actually there's 1,700 after today. Surprise.
HMXH: Wow. Well, 2,000 songs by year's end. A lot, a lot of stuff. And it's such a great charge to spend time on the forums to be able to hear from people say, "I bought Rock Band 2 and knew like 30 of the 84 songs, and now I know all this great stuff." And there's a lot of great stuff that I've picked up on playing Rock Band. It's like, oh Boston, I don't want to play classic rock. Then you start doing these bar nights and it's like "More Than A Feeling" is AWESOME. This is super cool. And hopefully more people pick up on music. I think wherever people can find it is great.
GA: Yeah. It's interesting.
HMXH: You know, you hear the songs. You start playing Rock Band. Start your own bands. You'll go from sleeping on a futon to...
GA: Could be...
HMXH: To being a lifer on the Warped Tour.
HMXT: I had a quick question for you...speaking of generations like you were talking about before, are there any younger bands in this year's tour that you feel like have a lot of potential or are really interesting?
GA: Like I said, I wish I could say, "This band's pretty cool or this band's pretty cool." But there are a whole lot. I know, they're not even really a new band, but All-American Rejects are pretty cool. Like, I get it. They have songs that are pop and rock and they're pretty fun. There's a whole lot of bands out here that I do not connect with. But, like I said, I'm my dad and that's ok. [laughs]
HMXH: Different strokes for different folks.
GA: To everyone their own thing. It's totally cool.
HMXH: So who would you recommend that people check out now? If they're not bands on the Warped Tour, what are you guys listening to right now?
GA: People ask me, and I always...I just love so much of the classic stuff. I listen to like, the blues. That's where all this stuff comes from, and I could throw out a couple of new things, but listen to Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. This is where all this came from and it's so fun to find the mood of rock and roll. Even if you've heard it, it never is old to me. In a sense, if you want to hear fresh new music, and I have a craving for that now and then, but I think I'll always like...there's so much stuff that happened in the '80s and that's when I grew up. It's inspiring. Everything, there's so much different stuff. The Cure. That whole side of things. So that's what I've got.
HMXH: Stick with the classics.
GA: You know what I mean?
HMXH: There's nothing wrong with that.
GA: That's what I've got.
HMXH: You've gotta start somewhere. I think that's great to hear. I think there's a lot of kids kind of take that whole "punker than thou" attitude, and to hear from someone like you [saying] "Listen to Muddy Waters" it's kind of mind-blowing.
GA: And those people that have an attitude...I remember when we first started out pfft, the blues, blah blah blah, it's like you wouldn't know how to play the guitar without the blues. Just completely ignorant. Anyone who's playing guitar, you should...here I'm being like Mr. Preacher Man.
HMXH: No, preach on.
GA: But if you really wanna know where things come from, it makes it more original. It makes it more real. It makes it more feel like you're something part of way bigger when you learn where all this music came from. And I'm just always a proponent of that.
HMXH: That's amazing. Talkin' blues, here at the Warped Tour. Muddy Waters, headlining at the main stage today.
HMXH: That's fantastic.
GA: It's the hidden thing that's always here. It's always in rock and roll. It's not always old people that are into the blues. There's a lot there that's really awesome. When you hear it in new music too. A lot of kids don't realize.
HMXH: That's fantastic. Thank you so much for spending the time talking with us. The Bouncing Souls.
HMXT: Thank you.
GA: Thank you.