In the wake last year's two-disc retrospective live album, the veteran American punk-rockers are looking ahead to new material. Interview by Steve Tauschke with singer Greg Attonito.
Displaying a Ramones-like dependability since the mid-80s, the tri-state area's other long-standing punk brudders the Bouncing Souls last year delivered Bouncing Souls Live, a two-disc, career-spanning compendium highlighting the quartet's enduring passion and punk energy.
Recorded at various shows in 2004, including US Warped tour dates, the 29-track anthology also serves as a retrospective that cleared the band's collective attic, so to speak. In its aftermath, the Bouncing Souls found themselves taking stock and casting an eye back over almost two decades of 'hits' and memories.
"All of a sudden it was there in our faces, it was like 'wow, we did all this stuff'," enthuses singer Greg Attonito on the phone from his home base in New Jersey. "And that was just the tip of the iceberg, just a summary of our live show over the past 15 to 20 years. It's a document I guess you could call it."
The double album set, inspired by their favourite live record, the Meatmen's 1988 farewell show We're The Meatmen & You Still Suck, ("there's few bands whose live record is better than their studio record but they're one"), also offers an insight into the Souls' in-house camaraderie and honesty with their fans.
"I've just followed my heart to put it simply," shrugs Attonito, who has spent almost half his life in the group. "I've learnt so many lessons in so many ways over the years. One big thing has been to look at myself and my experience of being in the band and how so many people in the world would love to have that; making music and traveling around the world under that context.
"I've learnt to appreciate that, to have that appreciative perspective on life. I think as the band goes on I appreciate it even more and that's a big part of this record that we're doing now, I think it's really coming through in all the music and it's been a lot of fun doing it."
The rear-view image of Bouncing Souls Live also prompted the band to shift their vision forward. In January this year, they began work on their first studio album since 2003's Anchors Aweigh, on Epitaph. Tentatively titled Gold Record, the album is slated for a 06.06.2006 release.
"The live album was a good way to start writing the new record because we looked at all these things we had done and with that completed we wanted to go on and do some new stuff. The new album's going really well. It's been a labor of love I guess you could call it but I think we've really honed in on our songwriting as far as making it better. I think this time around our eyes have opened up even more because we're trying to constantly better ourselves. We approached a lot of the music we appreciate and that is inside of us on this record and we looked to a lot of that and kind of ran with it.
"I think the songs are definitely more mature although I don't like using that word. I don't want to say we're growing old but we're growing up and definitely taking our young spirit and putting it into the more experienced songwriters in us. We just kind of poured the passion of the moment into this album. You know, we've been a band for almost twenty years and we were thinking 'well, what do we care about now? Why do we want to still do this?' I think bands who've made it that long certainly have their own character because of that."
Before hitting the road for local shows, Attonito says the band plan on performing their first shows in China.
"I know NOFX went to Beijing recently," he says, "and I spoke to William Wilke who did merch for them and who does merch for us too and he said it was a really good experience and that they got a good response. He heard of some people who knew of us and were interested in coming out to the shows so it should go pretty well."