THE BOUNCING SOULS with
THE MENZINGERS and LUTHER
Monday, June 18 at 7 p.m.
Freebird Live, 200 N. First St., Jax Beach
Tickets are $16
Punk rock’s aversion to change can be viewed as a negative or a positive. Critics deride the genre for hewing to the standard three-chord line. But devoted punk fans treasure consistency above all else. That’s why New Jersey quartet The Bouncing Souls has thrived since the late 1980s. Incubated in the notorious basement scene of New Brunswick, the band has changed members only once, parting with original drummer Shal Khichi in 1999. They’re even still traveling in “White Castle,” the junky Ford box truck that’s clocked well over 300,000 miles on the road.
The Bouncing Souls have changed things up ever so slightly this year, recording “Comet,” their ninth studio album, with celebrated punk producer and former The Descendents and Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson. “Comet” is still full of The Bouncing Souls’ upbeat, energetic, fist-pumping anthems — and that’s fist-pumping in the original hardcore sense of the word. After all, The Bouncing Souls have been plying their punk-rock trade since The Situation was still in diapers.
Folio Weekly caught up with bassist Bryan Kienlen to talk self-released material, waving the Garden State flag and living in the moment.
Folio Weekly: You just got back from Europe and then played The Bamboozle Festival in your New Jersey backyard. That must have been a nice prelude to the crazy summer tour you have planned.
Bryan Kienlen: It was great. That was our second time overseas this year, and we’re going back at the end of the summer. We’re maniacs. But man, I wish I could ride my beach cruiser to every show like we did at Bamboozle.
F.W.: Your new album, “Comet,” was recorded with acclaimed producer Bill Stevenson in Colorado. What was that experience like?
B.K.: Inspiring from start to finish. I don’t know how we went this long without working with Bill. He’s an absolute genius, and part of his genius is how he’s assembled a few other geniuses working symbiotically in his studio. We were able to get a lot done in a short amount of time because we set out to make a simple, direct punk record — nothing extravagant, no over-bloated budgets, just real, DIY, simple and old-school.
F.W.: Most Bouncing Souls albums have been released on the band’s own label, Chunksaah Records. But you’re doing “Comet” jointly as well with Rise Records. Why?
B.K.: We just want as many people as possible to know about and hear this record. They’re very well equipped at spreading the word, so it feels like a really great partnership.
F.W.: In the early days, was self-releasing all about just getting your music out to fans without waiting on label support?
B.K.: I couldn’t have said it better myself. We didn’t want too many hands in the pot telling us what to do. Early on, we realized we were wasting our time waiting on help. So we just borrowed money from friends and did it ourselves.
F.W.: Long before “Jersey Shore” mucked up the Garden State’s reputation, you guys were vocal adherents of your New Jersey stomping grounds. Have you had to disprove stereotypes from the get-go?
B.K.: Even as far back as the beginning of The Bouncing Souls, we were catching sh*t about being from New Jersey. So you create that attitude: “Yeah, I’m from Jersey — f*ck you.” You get tired of people thinking about only Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. It’s a lot of fun representing New Jersey. Telling people to f*ck off fits like a glove.
F.W.: The Bouncing Souls have been at this for almost 25 years. Is there an endpoint in sight? Or do things feel just as fresh as they did at the beginning?
B.K.: We get the same rush from every show that we’ve always gotten — that’s what we keep coming back for. As long as we keep having fun, we’ll keep doing it. Our whole deal has been never spending too much time dwelling on the future. We try to make the most of the moment — if the moment’s good, we go. “Comet” is like a big gust of wind in our sails that’s going to carry us through the next year or two. We’re stoked to spread the word about this record and just play it like a motherf*cker.