|...And of course punk rock was no different, but for some it was just an honest fluid emotion climaxing from the first note to the less than 60 second conclusion, and I am sure that still holds much truth over 25 years after the media -labeled “punk” music broke onto the scene... but almost 30 years later, it’s the year 2001... “how long can it maintain?” I ask. With the beginning of President Reagan’s Administration the musical underground was saturated with bands from The Ramones, Blondie, and The Dead Boys to Social Distortion, Circle Jerks, and X. As these early years moved along, we saw surge in bands such as Bad Brains, Descendents, Minor Threat, and Cro-Mags who all took the sound and made it specifically their own. With the ending of Reagan’s 8 year term, most of those bands seemed to coincidingly fade away with an unsuspecting cavalry not far behind... what I call the “second wave of american punk music.” It is here we find The Bouncing Souls high upon its unfaltering crest... The Bouncing Souls, as a band, were born in 1989 in New Jersey where they made New Brunswick their home for 5 years. Here we could see them throwing parties regularly and accenting the events with an outdoor collection of local bands, including themselves. They immediately drew a faithful regular crowd that would follow them to local pub gigs or other New Jersey venues. Things continued in this fashion for sometime until they began throwing caution to the wind by writing music and lyrics which were spontaneous, whereas before they seemingly over analyzed by viewing their songs from all too numerous points of view, and by allowing such a revision, were able to present a more honest and non-contrived piece of music which sparked a drastic change in their entire attitude and how they approached not only song writing, but by negating their ego, they were able to let forth a unfiltered being which saturated every aspect of their lives. Fueled by such a new found freedom, they began a rapid succession of musical collaboration and produced their first collection of songs that represented such. Their first full length cd entitled The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle was self released on their own label Chunksaah, so named after a friend Tim Chunks who had simply lent them cash for its production. Shortly after its release, they embarked on their first transcontinental tour playing some good shows, some bad (as any first tour is always unpredictable), but never once was there any question about their focus and determination to continue writing and touring which they did as often as any opportunity knocked. They quickly delved into the touring circuit aided by their still ever-present booking agent Margie, with their off time finding them rehearsing the old songs while pumping out new and fresh material. After their 5 year residency, New Brunswick seemed to lack the flavor it once had for the band. Some minor discussion and planning was had to solve this dilemma and when the dust settled, they chose to make the metropolitan area north of them their new found base with Hoboken and New York City their new home. It was during this time that they received a phone call from BYO records in Los Angeles telling them that BYO was interested in signing them to a two record deal which included The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle. The band, already familiar with the label, agreed to a deal and while touring, completed their second album, Maniacal Laughter. The year is now 1996 and with only one member having a stable rent paid home, they began a more than long touring stint which encompassed most of the year. They toured and opened for such bands as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, NOFX, and the Descendents while headlining their own tours whenever possible. Having recognized some of the luck in their lives as well as being ensconced by everything they love and enjoy, they brought to the stage an undisputedly passionate playing which not only engulfed the audience, but earned the respect of the elder headlining bands as well. It became so evident that The Bouncing Souls knew where they were headed, that more and more attention was brought to them. One such man to notice was Brett Gerwitz, founder of Epitaph Records. Late in 1996, the band was approached by Epitaph and asked if they were interested in signing a three record deal with them. The band deliberated on it for some time until they flew out to Los Angeles to witness what occurred in the offices and see how the label was run and it was shortly after this visit that they agreed this was the perfect label they needed. Little changed in their approach to their music. As a matter of fact, nothing at all changed other than their hope that perhaps more people would hear their music through wider distribution, but left that to the record label and held up their part by touring incessantly and writing new songs which found their place on their first Epitaph self titled release in 1997. The progress continued with various gigs from numerous headlining tours to The Warped Tour festival and Epitaph’s own Punkorama tour. They found their older songs upholding the test of time, becoming punk classics while their newer songs received a pleasantly warm welcome. The fan base began to grow and spread with new faces taking the crowd while the old faces remained adamantly in tact and ever present showing the consistency of both audience and band... and the touring continued... while at home they both individually and as a group began to spend more and more time in New York City. As a result, they made the city their official home base for practice, meetings, and residential living. It was here during a temporary lull in traveling, they wrote their fourth full length cd, Hopeless Romantic in 1999. After touring to follow up its release, The Bouncing Souls found themselves at the end of the year undergoing something they never experienced before... serious inner turmoil. By the beginning of the year 2000, they found themselves short one drummer, but quickly recovered within a month’s time as they found what (or more appropriately who) was the perfect solution to such a dire problem. This was their first ever line up change since their incarnation, but with their renewed vigor, they crammed practice after practice, and took themselves back out on the road in the United States, Europe, and Australia before confidently settling into the summer months to write their next album and most recent. Upon its completion in early September, it was appropriately entitled How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The band themselves describe it quite accurately as “simply the best album we’ve ever written,” and by the crowd response in Europe while opening for Greenday recently, it may very well be. Currently The Bouncing Souls await yet another tour with Greenday in Japan come March 2001 before the official May 8th release of the new album. Dedicated as few bands have been to a life of music, The Bouncing Souls have always been concerned with the basic questions to which living opens itself... questions about love, about sorrow, about fate, and about personal freedom. Although some of these questions may still remain unanswered for the band, there never has there been a more honest and melodic presentation in their music than How I Spent My Summer Vacation... And even though The Bouncing Souls’ music has not “imperiled the whole state” as Plato’s quote on new music expresses, they have accomplished something more severe. They have affected the more drastic self-induced institutions... emotions such as fear and self-doubt... negative emotions which kick against the flame of a good man or woman. They have enabled people to recognize their flaws on one hand while reaching forth with the other to amend such. They have and continue to display to their fans (and others) where the process of individual thought can take a person. What the future holds for any of us is always uncertain and the same holds true for the band, but if the “second wave of punk rock” finally breaks, I can’t help but to believe they will simply ignore the forever fickle trends of the masses, roll back, re-converge, and march forth in the purest of musical form...|
- ROB SANTELLO
The Bouncing Souls are...
Greg Attonito: Lead Vocals
"The Pete" Steinkopf: Guitar and Vocals
Bryan “Papillon” Kienlen: Bass and Vocals
Michael McDermott: Drums