Two decades is a long time by anyone’s account, but to a punk band, it’s a couple of eternities. And so the Bouncing Souls have good cause to celebrate their second decade together as a band, and celebrating they are: The act’s midway through a batch of tours to mark the occasion, and a new set of songs—released digitally one by one at the beginning of each month—has also kept its catalog fresh for fans throughout this anniversary year. With the Souls bringing the party tomorrow night to the Gothic Theatre, guitarist Pete Steinkopf spoke with The A.V. Club about how getting older means being more family-friendly.
The A.V. Club: By the time a lot of bands hit the 20-year mark, they’re just rewriting old songs. How do you keep from repeating yourself?
Pete Steinkopf: We made a point to only keep on going if we think something we’re doing is cool. We don’t really follow the rules of how you’re supposed to be a band. You just have to do what comes naturally. For us, that’s staying the same kind of band, but progressing as people. If people like it or they don’t, we don’t have any control over that.
AVC: The Internet’s changed the way that bands approach making music, but particularly the way punk groups market themselves online. Has technology made it too easy for startup bands to focus on marketing themselves rather than perfecting their craft?
PS: Like everything else, there are good parts and bad parts. I think it’s cool that it levels the whole playing field. Anyone can do it. A thousand bands can post on Facebook, but only the ones that are good are going to have people care. When we first started, it was like hand-to-hand combat. We would go out on tour and sell cassettes and 7-inches and then CDs to people hand-to-hand. We would write out mailing cards to people. It was all very grassroots. Now you can get a hold of 10 thousand people with just the push of a button—that’s the [same] DIY spirit I grew up on, which is why I like it. It’s all about how hard you want to push yourself.
AVC: Why did you choose to release one song a month this year rather than just putting out a traditional album?
PS: We just wanted to do something different this year for our anniversary. If you put a record out, it’s out and people are really interested for a couple months, and then they move onto the next thing. This way, we can have a song a month and just stay in people’s ears.
AVC: Punk’s generally a youth-dominated style. Do you feel fortunate to have a large portion of fans that are roughly the same age as you?
PS: We have people our age and kids who are just getting into it. We have people our age bringing their kids. We have families that are all fans, like the kids are fans and the adults are fans, and they’re all together. It’s the coolest compliment that people want to share us with their kids.