Bowling For Soup, a pop-punk-rock band that performs Sunday at Lava Cantina in Baton Rouge, formed in 1994 in Wichita Falls for a few good reasons.
“We knew that musicians got free beer,” singer Jaret Reddick said.
Being bored and having nothing to do in the small Texas town was another reason for forming, he added.
“We practiced six nights a week,” he said. “It was go to work, go home, eat dinner, go to practice, go to bed.”
But at that time, audiences in the band’s hometown had no interest in Bowling For Soup. Looking for greener pastures, the band moved in 1996 to Denton, home of the University of North Texas.
“Denton embraced us,” Reddick said. “It’s a college town and an amazing music town. We found a home there and all of the outlets we needed to take it to the next level.”
Bowling For Soup’s third and fourth indie albums sold between 12,000 and 15,000 each. The band got radio play in Dallas and other Texas towns. A visit to a music convention in Atlanta led to signing with Jive Records, the home of mega-stars Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.
“We were an experiment,” Reddick said. “They were trying to see if they could take a rock-pop band and do something with it.”
Bowling For Soup broke in the U.K. first, and in a big way.
“Touring numbers were crazy,” Reddick said. “Our videos were going straight to No. 1.”
The U.K. success helped make the band’s second Jive album, “Drunk Enough to Dance,” possible. When the single “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” crossed over to American pop radio after failing on rock radio, Bowling For Soup had its foothold in the U.S.
“Then we got nominated for a Grammy,” Reddick said. “It was just insanity after that.”
Bowling For Soup stayed with Jive until the label dropped the band during cost-cutting moves in 2009.
Being cut from the label was a disappointment, Reddick said, in part because the band had just released a new album, “Sorry for Partyin’.” The group believed the album was its best yet, and a big launch for a new single was planned for January 2010.
“We made Jive decent money,” Reddick said. “But they made the decision to commit manpower to projects that were making them a lot of money.”
Reddick doesn’t fault Jive for doing what many companies do, going for maximum profits.
“But we still love the ‘Sorry for Partyin’ album,” he said. “Then, we got back to work and started going down the path of doing it all ourselves. Sometimes, if something seems horrible at the time, it ends up being a blessing.”
Bowling For Soup still has three original members, all in their early 40s. Now, the band can release music and play shows as it sees fit. Years removed from the Jive release, Reddick said things are pretty sunny.
“Everybody’s got lives and families and pets and things like that,” Reddick said. “But we’re still having fun when we’re out there. I used to always say, ‘I don’t want to be U2 big. I want to be Everclear big.’ We got pretty close.”