“We got a lot of songs out there that made people smile” — Bowling for Soup’s lead singer talks family, growing up and overcoming depression

“I never thought I’d get to 40 and still be singing about farts and girls. Now, I’m a 45-year-old man doing songs about high school.”

Jaret Reddick, frontman of pop-punk band Bowling for Soup, muses on his 23-year career via FaceTime from his home in Dallas, Texas.

He calls just after eight in the morning, having been up early to do the school run for his children.

“We’ve got our teenager, who’s becoming more adult every day, then our middle boy who keeps us guessing and laughing all the time.

“Then there’s the little guy. He gets everyone’s attention. It’s a lot of fun.”

His children like Bowling for Soup’s music, but listen to a range of genres from what Jaret calls the ‘hits’, to Eminem.

As mainstream music like Eminem’s grows increasingly political, I ask Jaret if he’s ever been tempted to spin an agenda into his lyrics.

“I never felt like we were the ones people wanted political advice from. Even Lunch. Drunk. Love. [released in 2013], our angriest album, still had moments where it was tongue-in-cheek,” he says.

Their 2013 farewell tour of the UK left pop-punk fans bereft, but Jaret insists it was not supposed to be goodbye forever.

“We were just sending ourselves on a nice long break! Everybody had some personal stuff. Gary [Wiseman] was having a baby. Me and Erik [Chandler] both went through divorces. There was just… life.

“We needed to slow down and take a breath. It was either that or implode, like a lot of bands do. That break gave us new life. It recharged our batteries. We came back stronger than ever. I think it extended the life of the band for as long as we want to do it.”

The music scene has changed dramatically since the band formed 23 years ago. Users of Spotify and Apple Music have 30 million songs at their disposal.

Streaming services have broadened tastes with the access they provide, but this has also changed the way artists produce music. Drunk Dynasty, released in 2016, may well be the last full-length album Bowling for Soup release.

“I’m super proud of that one. We got a lot of songs out there that made people smile,” Jaret says.

“But streaming really affects the way we do things now. We got unlucky in that our big hits came after people started stealing music.

“Had we come out three or four years earlier we would have probably been financially where people think we are, but we’re not. We’re not these rich rockstar guys, we’re dudes who work our asses off to make a living. It’s hard for people to grasp that notion.

“Now, because people’s attention spans are so short, it doesn’t make sense to do more than one song at a time. You’ve got to keep things in small doses and as frequent as possible.”

His only regret is over the mediocre success of 2006 anthem High School Never Ends. Their label pulled support for it, opting to promote ballad When We Die.

“I knew High School was a hit, but it wasn’t. In hindsight, it sucks. It’s our third most popular song and even people involved in those decisions look back like, ‘Man, we really fucked up.’ The song didn’t get what it deserved.

“But, I am one of those dudes who thinks everything happens for a reason.

“I don’t regret any songs–I love every single one I’ve ever done. I hear old songs and wonder how the hell I came up with that line, what in the hell was I thinking?

“That’s cool, because I’ve left this legacy–19 albums worth of shit for my grandkids to listen to someday and just say, ‘Man, that guy had a lot going on in his head!’”

During the band’s last tour, Jaret was suffering from severe depression and anxiety, having just finalised his divorce.

“It was a really rough tour for me. Because I’m the happy guy, to everyone else I’d be like, this is a great time! And then I’d get in my bed and just fuckin’ wanna die.

“I don’t think you’ll meet anybody who thinks I’m reserved because I’m not, but this was more of an internal thing. It’s nice to get it out because then people understand it can happen to anybody.”

His decision to speak out about his mental health problems was spontaneous.

“It was a roll of the dice.

“I expected to hear, ‘The funny guy’s depressed!’ It was exactly the opposite: message after message, letter after letter of people saying thank you. I stayed in touch with a lot of those people, and encouraged them to get their shit together, go talk to somebody, get on the right medication.

“I’m glad because people can look back and understand what was going on.”

Now Jaret is itching to return to the UK, where the band kick off a nine-date tour in Glasgow on February 9.

“Before we first went over there I’d get emails from kids saying their favourite bands were Bowling for Soup and Rage Against the Machine and I’d think, that doesn’t make any sense!

“But it does, why can’t that be a thing? Why can’t you have it both ways?

“That movement of just being able to enjoy everything was there before it was anywhere else. There’s no audience in the world like a British audience– it’s just the energy that crowd gives.”

The Get Happy Tour feels appropriate.

“Now I’ve got my anxiety under control it’s nice to be able to enjoy it again, to be happy, to have people come backstage and be genuinely excited to see them. It’s a happier existence to be on the road these days.

“The good thing about going to some of these bigger places is it opens the door to do a bigger production, more of a show.

“In the places that’ll let us do fire, there’ll be fire.

“In terms of what you can expect from us as a performance? Same shit: bunch of jokes, bunch of songs, a pretty long night.

“You’ll be quoting us for weeks. That’s what we do.”

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