Half Empty, Since 1998

Part 2 of Robert Towell’s Bowling series, "It Wouldn’t Kill You To Stop."

It's No Gimmick: Interview with Bowling For Soup

Robert Towell. August 17th, 2001

When someone gave me Bowling For Soup’s CD, "Let’s Do It For Johnny" this Xmas I was already familiar with the band, having read a review in an Ottawa weekly back in the summer. However the reason I was given the CD was because of my own personal bowling stigma and or fetish if you will. Bowling seems to be this voiceless backdrop in Popular Culture; films like the Big Labowski, Kingpins and Buffalo 66 use it with no real development. However, unlike many ex-zines, Hollywood Film or dumb ass filler commercial, Chris from Bowling For Soup explains this North American pastime is not just a Schtick.

TOWELL: Why use bowling imagery as a platform for your promotional material?

CHRIS: Cuz its a badass sport, very synonymous with small-town Texas life in which rock and roll has always played a big part. Buddy Holly’s first gigs were at bowling alleys in rural Texas. Bowling represents not just a sport but an activity where peoples lives all make for one big soap opera at the Lanes on any given night. Plus, it’s good for really cool shirts and stickers.

TOWELL: You’ve named your band "Bowling For Soup" can you explain the soup part?

CHRIS: Well soup came into play because the original was too risqué. Our grandmothers would have never liked us playing in a band called Bowling for Shit and you cant very well put that on a flyer and hang it at a mall. So we wisely went to the word soup instead of shit and I think it was a wonderful idea. The original Bowling for Shit came from Steve Martin’s "Wild and Crazy Guy" album. He claims to have written several books…one of them entitled Bowling for Shit.

TOWELL: Your outfit runs out of Dallas, is bowling big there?

CHRIS: Yes, we are out of Dallas as well as a town just north of Dallas called Denton. Its all part of the Metroplex. However, we first came out of a small town a couple of hours northwest of Dallas called Wichita Falls. We lived there the first few years of existence. We’ve been together about 6 and a half years. Anyway, Bowling is one of the few things to do in this small Texas town and a lot of peoples lives center around the lanes. Bowling is pretty big in Dallas, but its not the same as in Wichita Falls. In dallas there are other things to do. In Wichita Falls, bowling is about it.

TOWELL: How do you as a band view bowling, is it just a gimmick for you?

CHRIS: Its no gimmick, I grew up around it playing it not necessarily as a competitive sport but as more of a social stepladder to meet girls and hang out and be cool. I still suck at bowling to this day, do I care … hell no, do I still bowl, hell yes, I love it.

TOWELL: Is there as important as soup?

CHRIS: Soup is good, who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup!??!? They must be a total asshole if they don’t like soup … have you seen those cute Campbell’s Kids!?!?? Bowling and Soup are 2 very important things in our life and our culture and neither one of them gets their proper props.

TOWELL: What kind of soup exactly?

CHRIS: I am more into creamy soups. Like cream of broccoli, cream of mushroom, clam chowder, but i am a sucker for any kind of soup actually.

TOWELL: Last bowling related question. Do you think bowling has this sexually repressed, or sexually underated reputation, in terms of the way its made fun of in television, etc. Or is that just itsplace on the social pyramid?

CHRIS: Bowling is and always will be the common guy’s common ground. Just look at it … its nothing fancy, you roll a ball and the point is to knock as many pins down as ya can … piece of cake. You can drink beers while ya do it too, and hit on chicks. You cant do any of that in a nice baseball or basketball game. Plus, it doesn’t matter, anyone can play. Unless your gut is so big that you cant move your arms … and even then they’ll prolly have some kinda device to help ya out. Its the activity for "everyman."

TOWELL: You covered famed Canadian pop icon Bryan Adams’ love song Summer of 69 in what I feel is a better or at least up-beat version of this classic 80’s tune. Did you know he was Canadian and do you have any interest in Canadian music?

CHRIS: Yes we all know he’s Canadian…we love Canadians, you guys are way too nice and you have all that beer and cheese. We have hockey playing homies and we also are pals with the SUM41 children. Those guys will be getting their boobies soon. I grew up being a total Rush fanatic. Plus I used to listen to Bryan Adams "Cuts Like a Knife" and "Reckless" all the time, those are great Rock and Roll albums … its too damn bad that the only thing a lot of people know him for is the cheese-tune from Robin Hood. Although I gotta give that song props because it gets panties droppin everywhere and he did make a shit-load of money with it. We loves Canadian music though, you icy bastards really know how to rock. Chixdiggit, Rush, SNFU, Aldo Nova, Metalwood, Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), and even that Ann Murray bitch.

TOWELL: Do you think a lot of bands take themselves to seriously?

CHRIS: Of course I do. I know that some seriousness has to exist otherwise we’d all be the same but I think Rock and Roll was created to be fun, and fun to watch live too. We have so much fun when we play and sometimes it doesn’t matter if there is a crowd or not. We can just play to each other and have just as much fun then if we’re playing to 10, 000…although it is pretty damn sweet to play to 10,000. The point is, we just get up there and do our thing, regardless and have fun. I know not all bands can be like us and have fun. Some music is inspired by other things other than laughter … pain, sorrow, joy, solitude, anger. Not us though, we like happy music. We want people to smile and to walk away feeling good about us and themselves.

TOWELL: Does a band’s presentations says a lot about the way you want to be approached?

CHRIS: Well, we just want people to feel like we are one of them. We are … all of us are pretty goddamn dorky in our own way. I do this because I love people and I love meeting people and interacting…the last thing I want is for someone to fear me because I playin a rock and roll band. I know I look and act a little bit scary sometimes. I’m a spaz actually, but i hope that people know that there is a big heart behind the big man-titties. Same as the other fellas, we all have pretty big hearts. All four of us are like brothers … we fight sometimes, but thru it all we love each other. Even when we are fighting, there is still not really that much anger … because we know that when its all over, we’ll still be riding together in Van. Nothing in this world is worth jeopardizing the relationships with the ones you love.

TOWELL: "Let’s do it for Johnny", the name of your new LP is a line from the film "THE OUTSIDERS" is it not?

CHRIS: Of course it is, nice job! Johnny is actually Ralph Macchio, who played Johnny in the film. Matt Dillon actually makes the statement "Let’s Do it for Johnny!!" right before they kicked the rich kid’s asses. For us, its a symbol to just go out there and kick ass. We’re from Texas, that’s what we do best, we just go out there and kick a lil ass … and maybe sometimes get our asses kicked in the process. Its all good with us.

TOWELL: Matt Dylan if I’m not mistaken?

CHRIS: Yes sir.

TOWELL: What other pop culture icons, imagery are you fond of?

CHRIS: The Beatles, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, as well as sports icons, Pete Rose, Babe Ruth, lotsa boxers, basketball players, baseball players, football players, hockey players, golfers, tennis stars, auto racers…I’m a total sports nuts, then there are lots of actors/comedians who I totally adore, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Eddie Murphy, many others …

TOWELL: Have you ever played in Canada?

CHRIS: No, but I did take a shit at the bathroom on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls … nice toilets by the way … great plumbing.


It Wouldn’t Kill You To Stop

  1. Bending The Medium
  2. It’s No Gimmick: Interview with Bowling For Soup
  3. The Final Nightmare