As the guitarist for The Bouncing Souls, Pete Steinkopf has made the punk rock scene and the state of New Jersey proud for continuously delivering on every record and at every show. I got a chance to catch up with Pete to discuss what he’s been up to as of late, the future of The Bouncing Souls, his punk rock roots, his biggest influences and more.
Alex Obert: So I understand you’ve been doing some work in the studio with Up For Nothing, can you fill readers in on that?
Pete Steinkopf: I went with them a couple weeks ago into the studio that I work at in town a lot called Lakehouse. We recorded about fourteen songs and we’re gonna go back and do overdubs in a couple weeks.
Alex Obert: What do see in them?
Pete Steinkopf: I’ve known their singer, Justin, for years. He’s got great catchy songs. I’ve always liked those guys. I did an EP with them a couple years ago too, just good dudes. Great music.
Alex Obert: Who are some other new bands that you’ve gotten into lately?
Pete Steinkopf: I was recently working on an EP with this band called The Moms. They’re a Jersey band, a really good band from central Jersey. Little poppy, a little edgy. Cool shit.
Alex Obert: How do you feel that the New Jersey music scene has evolved throughout the years?
Pete Steinkopf: Geez man, who knows? (laughs) It seems that there’s always stuff going on. I live right by Asbury Park and the music scene down here is awesome. There’s always something new going on. Always new bands coming up in all kinds of different scenes happening that you keep discovering all the time. If you’re from New Jersey, it comes out in your music.
Alex Obert: And speaking of which, the Bouncing Souls have a show coming up at the Starland Ballroom on July 17th. What memories do you have of playing there?
Pete Steinkopf: We haven’t played there in a long time, it’s been at least ten years. We started doing our Home for the Holidays shows here in Asbury Park at the Stone Pony. And we’ve been doing it for eight years now. Since then, we haven’t really been playing other New Jersey shows. But we did play Starland Ballroom a bunch of times back in 2002-2004. It’s a great place to play. There’s always good shows there, there’s tons of kids around in the area. It’s always a good show at a packed house. And a good vibe.
Alex Obert: Outside of the United States, where else do you like to play?
Pete Steinkopf: One of my favorite places to go is Australia, such great place to go. There’s good people and good shows, it’s a great vibe.
Alex Obert: How is the food there?
Pete Steinkopf: I don’t think the Australian local cuisine is all that great, but they have great Thai food and great Japanese food there. Some of the best sushi I’ve ever had was from Australia.
Alex Obert: Which places do you always make sure to eat at when on the road?
Pete Steinkopf: We used to be really into Cracker Barrel a long time ago, but kind of over that now. I love going to California and going to Del Taco, that’s pretty good. When in California, I go to In-N-Out Burger. Can’t beat that. When you’re on the West Coast, you’ve gotta go to In-N-Out Burger.
Alex Obert: Now that it’s out for three years, how do you feel about Comet when looking back and really reflecting on it all?
Pete Steinkopf: It’s one of my favorite records of ours. Some of the songs are real cool. It’s pretty heavy, some longer songs. We’re starting to work on a new record now and getting the songs together. The whole goal is to write short, fast, fun songs. The goal is to get back to that. It’s about doing something different because that’s we’re at right now. At the time with Comet, the matter was heavy and the songs were heavy. The whole thing was heavy in a cool way, but we now want to go more lighthearted and personal and fun.
Alex Obert: Who do you feel paved the way for the band?
Pete Steinkopf: I saw bands in high school like the Ramones and The Replacements and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. Those were the bands whose shows we would always attend. That’s what our motivation was, to get in the van into just go tour or at least play. These are bands that changed our lives and they meant so much to us. And we’re like, “Fuck it, we can do that. Let’s go do that.” (laughs) We started doing it and somehow, we’ve just kept doing it for a long time.
Alex Obert: Being a big fan of the Ramones, what are some of your favorite songs by them?
Pete Steinkopf: Bonzo Goes to Bitburg. Cretin Hop. Teenage Lobotomy, can’t beat that. Pinhead. Dude, there’s so fucking many. I Just Want to Have Something to Do. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. I could probably name you about thirty because they’re all so great.
Alex Obert: Who would you say are some of the guitarists from any genre that influenced you the most?
Pete Steinkopf: So many, man. Growing up, I learned to play guitar by listening to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. As a kid, my older cousins listened to that. I hung out with them and listened to their record collections. That’s the kind of stuff that I learned to play, old fuckin’ rock and roll. Then I discovered the Ramones and learned how to play in a more simple way, just playing cool chords that are super catchy. I think The Edge from U2 was a big influence, he’s just so innovative and he does cool shit with effects. I went through a big U2 phase. Guitar-songwriter guys like Paul Westerberg played chords in a different way and that’s what influenced me the most.
Alex Obert: So I understand that the band has a relationship with CM Punk.
Pete Steinkopf: He’s a good guy. He comes to our shows and he’s a big supporter. It’s awesome.
Alex Obert: How did it feel to know that he came out to Night Train for a big match ten years ago?
Pete Steinkopf: It was so cool, man. It’s just awesome to have someone like him use our music as his fuckin’ hype music. It was cool as fuck.
Alex Obert: Sami Zayn was well-known for using Ole as his entrance theme in the past and now the crowd chants it in support of him and as an acknowledgment to that.
Pete Steinkopf: It’s really cool. I love that kind of shit. I remember in the Vancouver Winter Olympics, every time the US hockey team scored a goal, they played that. I thought that was fuckin’ cool.
Alex Obert: If it were to all end today, how would you want the Bouncing Souls to be remembered?
Pete Steinkopf: Just by what you saw. You came to our shows and got the feeling to go home feeling good about life, that’s what we sing about. We sing about our lives, the good parts and the bad parts. It’s a celebration. Hopefully people go away from it feeling a little bit uplifted and hopefully we just made this world a little better place by doing something.
Alex Obert: You’ve definitely done a great job with that.
Pete Steinkopf: Thanks, man.
Alex Obert: I’d love to thank you so much for your time and a great interview.
Pete Steinkopf: You got it, man.