I had the privilege of speaking to Bouncing Souls lead singer Greg Attonito before their concert at the Metro April 24, 2004. Due to the fact that I'm still in high school, time has not been kind to me, and I have been lax about getting this interview up.
I and a couple friends were watching your DVD last night and the beginning of it is the part that your parents don't really want you to see like the you Bryan I think got into college, but just decided not to go. That's something I could never do, I guess I could never take the life you chose but I respect you for doing it.
Are you saying we did what our parents didn't want us to do'
I don't know what your parents did or did not want you to do, but if I had that choice between putting off college and going into a rock band and going to college I would probably go to college.
Everybody's different, you know. That was a choice we made because we were following our hearts, that's all you can do. Do things because you want to do them, don't do things because someone else wants you to do 'em, that's the part that a lot of people don't pay attention to themselves, they don't think about what they want to do with themselves.
I'm a junior..
High school. so I'm thinking oh no colleges, but I want to put off growing up, but I know I have to.
Yeah, that's the trick of life, it comes down to that we all have responsibilities in life, it's a matter of balancing your responsibilities with fun and being a kid. I think no matter what you do, whether you're working at any job or doing music or any job, whatever you take care of your responsibilities and then say 'I want to have fun with it, or at least go do it and make fun of it and enjoy it one way or another instead of letting it consume me'. That's the trick, its not easy to do that, but you try. You might be a little young to understand that concept, you might not. 'Cause we have responsibilities too. Know what I mean'
Yeah, I think I do. I don't want to make this sound too much like philosophy hour backstage so
Right. Maybe we should move on.
I need to keep up my credibility so oioioioioioioioioioi. Oi oi.
For Rolling Stone's review of Anchors Aweigh, they didn't do their homework with you guys.
You picked something up'
Yeah. They said something along the lines of 'You can tell the influence of their parents Bruce Springsteen records on Night Train' whereas anyone who watched the DVD or did a cursory background on you guys knows you like Springsteen.
Well, that's not too bad of a flub. There's been worse.
Yeah. Like 'Dewey defeats Truman'.
When the Chicago Tribune printed the headline 'Dewey Defeats Truman'.
G: Oh, that's a massive flub. Incredible, huge flubber.It was at this time that someone else came in to interview the Souls, and Bryan (the bassist) came to take this person. I think it was for a magazine, but which is beyond me. However, they were pretty loud. I hope theirs went well.
If you guys had the technology available to you now when you guys started out, do you think you guys would have come out any better or worse'
You know, I really don't know. I know that it took a lot more effort to do things than it does now. I don't know how we would have come out. I know that everything else is easier to get done, for sure. But, its hard to say
When you guys got to meet a bunch of bands you loved would you have changed the way you acted around them now'
Funny that you asked, it's a good question. I've thought about that. When I first started out I looked up to and idolized people who were in bands and then after meeting a lot of them, being in a band, had people starting to idolize me, and I would see how they acted, and I would think this is weird, and then I saw it in myself it made me feel like 'why do I think they're all better than me, why are they on a pedastal, or why do I want to be on a pedastal, why do I want to be better than you, so it made me see all that and question it in myself.
It's one of the things that's been great about being in a band that makes you question who you are and where you stand on things like that. I see that all of us are on different paths in life no ones better or worse than anyone else.
In retrospect, I definitely would have been a lot less fanboyish around Ian MacKaye when I tried to call him for an interview last year for high school.
You found out that you were acting like a big fan around him'
At the same time too, don't beat yourself up about it those people also, they did stuff that we really loved, so you get excited about it, I do too, I love music, and when you meet those people you say 'you made that song that I loved'. As long as you get it in perspective, we're all just people, its not like they're some god way above you or us.
Unless, of course you're Billy Corgan, in which case you just think you're a god.
*laughs* Oh yes
What he did recently he played around here, or here actually, a couple weeks back, just him acoustic stuff, and the ticket price was 36.50.
Wow. Just for him, huh'
Okay, that's a bit much.
How's your Easter'
I spent time at home, relaxed, it was really good. I spent time with my wife, it was really good, very relaxing. If you want to you can check out her website, she's a musician, shantimusic.com throw a plug in there.
Could you do that again, just for the shameless plug'
Sure. Shameless plug. its *very slowly* shantimusic.com. S-H-A-N-T-I-M-U-S-I-C.com. Shameless plug.
What's it like playing on a boat' Do you get seasick, or
I didn't get seasick, but we rocked the boat, literally. You're standing there, you're rocking and the boat's rocking.
Was that one of those moments where you think 'oh shit' at the time but now you think 'Hell yes, we rocked the boat!''
There were some, you were standing on a moving boat and you're playing music.
You guys were on Conan, and you looked freaked out of your mind.
I was. Before the act, we're backstage and we're relaxed, I'm singing a little bit, and I was pretty relaxed. I was like 'ok, we can do this'. And I sang for ten minutes, because at a regular show, you get warmed up and its pretty easy, but you go on cold and its really cold in there, so I warmed up. I walk on and instantly was like 'aaah, everything is strange. There is Conan O'Brien, like 80 cameras, people, moms and dads are all off in a corner, and there's like Max Weinberg, and instantly I was like' * he slowly moves his hands down his face to show that wave of nervousness had come over him* wave of nervousness overcame me and I made it through by sheer experience, doing it a million times. It was a dream come true, actually, being on that show, it was a lot of fun. Besides the nervousness.
Was Conan nice'
Yeah. It was really fun to watch the rehearsal. It was funnier than watching the show, actually.
Did the kids come in for the show' You know, the mohawk guys next to tourists or whatever..
There were very few of those kids there, under 10 that made it in, it was our friends and family pretty much..
People always seem to get nervous when there's a video camera around, do you ever wonder why'
I think its because people are self conscious, you know' People are going to be watching how you're acting or saying, so instantly you become defensive, not being yourself
Speaking of which, what did you think of Mrs. Rice's performance'
She is its scary how good of a bullshitter she is. She's so convincing and so charming and so, I think she's awesome, incredible, she should get an award for being a bullshitter.
There's nothing wrong with being convincing its just when what you're talking about is so bad.
You're lying right in people's faces and constantly doing it. I think its one of the worst things you can do.
Have you ever not wanted to play a show, but faked happy anyway'
So how is that different, besides the fact that there's the answer why over 3000 people are dead'
Because I think there's a hidden agenda and its entirely different than what she's putting across to the people and saying. You know one thing is to say I'm having a bad day, I'll do the best I can here, and then there's another thing to literally lie to people to say one thing and then do and believe another and try to make people believe something that's not true. There's a big difference.
I think its really basic, whatever political ideology there is, you need to have some honesty in there, and that's the plain facts You can't believe anything, I can't believe anything the way it was handled in Iraq, all the different comments, who'se saying what, who'se doing what, and now when its all over, 'Well, maybe we shouldn't have..' There so much of that and so many conflicting stories about everything, to me it points me back to myself, I'm just going to be how I want to be, cause that's all I can control. We all should be aware, do the best we can because it seems really overwhelming.
How did you guys get on the BYO split with Anti-Flag'
We had spoken with Shawn Stern many times, he wanted us to get on it, pretty much like 'You guys gotta do the split', and we'd say 'We'd love to do it, we need to figure out when', and it just worked out. The timing finally worked out, we could do it now, Anti-Flag could do it then, we met them, and it just worked out.
Kevin from 7 Seconds said 7 Seconds was supposed to be on the split, but they couldn't get their songs done in time, so you guys
You know Maybe a long time before we had a talk like that, I don't think that was..maybe it was..yeah.
What was the tour with Hot Water Music like' I imagine it would be pretty nice, plus, there was not much loading or unloading time between sets'
It was fun, it was fun doing music together, it was a good time.
Damnit! That guy back there got my next question from Bryan. Once again, this is idle talk, but you guys, Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio should tour.
We've talked about that in the past, but it never worked out.
Fan boys and girls everywhere, keep your pants on. There are no plans for this tour. But it would kick ass.
What's your favorite color of M'M'
Red, but I don't think they taste much different.
No, they don't.
So its just an asthetic thing'
Yeah. What's Brett Guerwitz like'
He is full of stuff, always got something going on, when I first met him, I was very impressed by him. He loves music, he loves what he was doing, as far as the label and how he was doing it. I think that is the fuel to his fire. It's fun to see someone who really into what they're doing, that's what's very striking about Brett. He said 'I'm a musician, I want to make a label for musicians, by musicians' and that was what made me go 'This is cool, this is different. this isn't a label that'
Here, Greg just stopped the sentence, since I got the idea and moved on to a different, but related thought.
Music labels were evolved out of people who were businessmen and the musicians were like employees, and they're treated like Instead of being like 'I created the music, I should be my own boss, you should work for me, or not work for me, work with me' as opposed to an employee.
As opposed to being somebody who just a quota, which in this case, happens to be a CD.
Right. Exactly. Takes the life out of it. I totally believe in that idea that musicians should
He just stopped that idea there, and moved on to
and what their music is is as important as how they put it out in the world. It's the same thing, its all part of the same thing.
Okay. This is a question I've been meaning to ask for a long, long time. You guys, Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms I think did a West Coast tour'
We did some shows, yeah.
Was that tour put up by a beer company'
That's really hard for me to believe.
For the record, I don't drink. But yeah, it may as well have been a big commercial, for sure.
I thought that was in the job description, must be willing to destroy your liver five or six times.
Yeah, that was the part of it that I was like 'this is too typical, I don't want to be typical'. Had to pave my own little way in this world.
Little' *jokingly* How much does Matt Skiba drink'
I have no idea.
And would anybody pay to see him singing about stuff when he was sober' No.
I don't know
I don't mean to rag on him too much. This will kill any chance of me getting to interview the Trio but I worry about the future so much, damnit. I need to be a lot less paranoid.
Well, what are you paranoid about'
I guess I just don't want to close any doors I don't have to or not burn any bridges.
You're afraid of saying the wrong thing'
I can relate to that.
You can' Did you ever piss anybody off'
Yes. Many times'
Really' Go on.
Well, nothing interesting, just basic stuff, being an asshole, it's a phase everybody goes through.
Okay. Once again, another shameless plug moment. (Though that was actually a question.) Your van burned down, the hovelpod, I can say that now because I watched the Bouncing Souls DVD. Plug plug plug.
The Bouncing Souls DVD the Bouncing Souls DVD plug.
*jovially* On sale for 19.99 at the venue! I guess I'm just entertained by the interview going on behind us, its not that you're not interesting, its just that is very different.
It's something completely different.
Do you have kids'
If you did, would you play your records when they were two or three'
If they were interested, I would play them. It'd be kinda weird though.
Do you like playing here better or at the Fireside Bowl'
Or is it two different places that really can't be compared'
Yeah. Comparing is sometimes pointless, because everything's a different experience. I would say this is more comfortable and easier to hang out in, so comfort, I'll stay here.
There's actually a backstage here.
One more thing before you go. You guys met KISS, how cool is that'
Do you want to hear the story'
We were sitting outside the studio recording Maniacal Laughter and a black Range Rover pulls up, and a guy walks out, walks up to us and says 'Hi, who are you'', and Shal said 'Fine' and he said 'No, who are you'' and we said 'We're the Bouncing Souls' he said 'I'm Gene, great' and we said 'You're Gene Simmons from Kiss.' Again, the famous person thing, we're like 'dude, its KISS' and since then we've ogled and ogled over it cause they were doing an acoustic unplugged thing in the other studio and we ended up just chatting with them, and they ended up visiting our studio, it was pretty cool. But looking back, Paul Stanley said 'You make some records, you pay the rent' and I'm like 'Dude, I don't know, I don't pay the rent' and then the talk was over.
Did you have them do gang vocals on that record'
*laughs* No. That would have been cool.
Have they been to a show since'
I think Gene Simmons is a bit too noticeable.
*laughs* To put it lightly
Did he have the makeup on'
I'm sure I could not recognize those guys on the street without their makeup, and you have things to do, so yeah.
Thank you very much.Once again, thanks to Epitaph, Mr. Attonito and to Avail's Tim for getting my cell phone.