Bryan Kienlen and his spouse, Nicole, have a brand new routine. After they first get up, they offer bottles to their infants, Cora and Layla. And earlier than taking up their each day duties, they dedicate high quality time for cuddling, crawling and enjoying.
“All 4 of us have this actually lovely morning,” 51-year-old Kienlen says. “It’s how I begin daily. It’s the best factor.”
Twenty years in the past, The Bouncing Souls bassist usually spent his golden hour stumbling house from an evening of partying in New York Metropolis, groggy and regretful as commuters drank espresso and made their method to work.
However many years faraway from his interval of downtown debauchery, the domesticated punk has discovered stability and serenity by means of his 30-year musical journey, as a profitable tattoo store proprietor and as a household man. He says being a father and “giver” is the best factor he’s ever performed.
“You discover how rewarding it’s,” Kienlen explains. “There’s such a stark distinction from being a ‘band man.’ Once I was a younger, single maniac writing songs and touring—I didn’t understand till I may see issues from my present perspective—however I used to be extra self-centered. All the things revolved round me. Now, that stage of my life is over and I’m right here to serve and maintain my children and my spouse. And I’m so pleased with that. It’s not all about me anymore, in a great way.”
Loads has modified for The Bouncing Souls, the cult-followed New Jersey punk band which shaped when Kienlen, vocalist Greg Attonito and guitarist Pete Steinkopf had been excessive schoolers in Basking Ridge, NJ.
Within the 90s, the band lived in chaos at a sequence of “punk homes,” every full with a revolving door of ill-behaved 20-somethings, drunks and miscreants.
Right now, Kienlen and Steinkopf have settled down in New Jersey, whereas Attonito arrange store in small-town Idaho. And miraculously—as all three musicians have entered their fifties—they’ve all, nearly concurrently, grow to be fathers.
However a lot has stayed the identical, too. Final yr, the band celebrated its thirtieth anniversary by touring North America and England, performing songs from the blokes’ 10 full-length albums and latest EP Essential Moments. Three of the 4 unique members stay, save for the position of drummer. George Rebelo, from in style Florida rock band Scorching Water Music, joined in 2013.
And 2020, with its personal distinctive set of circumstances, has inspired the Souls to understand the previous whereas embracing the brand new in each their musical and private lives.
In October, the band launched Volume 2, a file of reimagined songs starting from the group’s latest single, appropriately titled “World on Hearth,” again to fan-favorite “Gone,” from the 2001 album How I Spent My Summer season Trip. And on Saturday, December 12, the band can be internet hosting a livestream efficiency of the album in a digital live performance referred to as Live at Studio 4.
Whereas the group didn’t count on an web broadcast to exchange its annual Asbury Park Residence For The Holidays residency, Quantity 2 itself was born beneath precarious timing.
Recorded in March throughout two one-week classes in Philadelphia, the band accomplished the file simply as America was blindsided by COVID-19. As time handed within the studio, the specter of the oncoming pandemic rapidly went from negligible to worrisome.
“After we first went within the studio, I’d simply heard the murmurings of coronavirus,” 50-year-old Steinkopf says. “I used to be like, ‘What the f*** is that?’”
“The second week was extra intense,” 50-year-old Attonito provides. “The restaurant above the studio closed on our final day. The loopy factor about it was, we had been having such a constructive expertise. We had been joking about how we had been spontaneously creating from our outdated songs that we love and the world concurrently was cinching in with darkish gloom. These final couple of days, we didn’t wish to go away our bubble of happiness. We knew we had been strolling into this chaos of the unknown.”
“Even the week that issues had been getting actually bizarre, we had been hyper-focused and making an attempt to remain off our telephones,” Steinkopf says. “However from time to time, somebody can be like, ‘Did you see this!?’ What the f*** is going on?!’”
Regardless of the approaching doom, the Souls discovered the studio classes to be fruitful. The band was in a position to recompose basic tracks, respiratory new and surprising life into staples and offering beforehand underappreciated songs with a second likelihood.
Attonito was in a position to sing from a extra mature and managed vocal perspective—leaving the guttural belting for the following fast-paced punk file—permitting him to place a brand new spin on songs he’s chanted 1000’s of instances.
Steinkopf was in a position to give a nod to the 80s tunes that encourage him, drawing power from bands like The Remedy, fairly than specializing in a guidelines of sing-a-longs and “woah-oh-ohs.”
The band was even in a position to squeeze in some foolish instrumentation, utilizing a “tacky” 80s Casio keyboard and toy devices on the tune “Hopeless Romantic.” At Kienlen’s burning request, they even included a french horn into “Favourite All the things.”
However because the recording classes wrapped up, the band scrambled to make journey preparations to get house to their households.
“Everyone stated goodbye,” Kienlen says. “And the world was by no means the identical.”
The blokes returned to their houses in New Jersey, Idaho and Florida. They stored in contact, however had been simply as anxious as the remainder of the nation.
Kienlen, like many different People, was pressured to shut his tattoo store in Bradley Seashore, NJ, Anchors Aweigh Tattoo Studio, for 3 months because the battle in opposition to COVID-19 took a stranglehold of the Northeast.
Within the mountains 100 miles north of Boise, Attonito’s small resort city felt seemingly unchanged on the onset of the pandemic. However within the pink state of Idaho, many remained immune to masks, whilst a surge of vacationers in RVs flooded the realm and brought about a spike of constructive instances.
Early on, Attonito felt depressed that band-life was on maintain. Ultimately, he began changing into aware of mask-wearing in his goals. And Steinkopf started to appreciate how a lot he missed the issues he used to take without any consideration.
“Somebody despatched me a Souls present from a very long time in the past,” Steinkopf says. “I used to be watching it and I obtained actual emo about it. There’s loads of stuff I don’t exit and do as a lot as of late, and now I’m like, ‘Man, I’m gonna go do all the things once I can once more!’”
However, within the meantime, the band tailored and located inventive shops to maintain the spirit of the Souls alive. They began holding weekly Zoom conferences to catch up and launched the Can You Keep in mind? podcast through Patreon, an endeavor they wouldn’t have pursued in any other case.
And together with their new initiatives, the blokes are starting to see a tentative semblance of “new normalcy.” Steinkopf is again producing within the studio once more and Kienlen is booked up with tattoo appointments effectively into 2021.
Whereas the band is glad to really feel productive and are desirous to return to dwell music, they acknowledge what a novel alternative the pandemic has provided them as new fathers.
Kienlen and his spouse adopted their first child, Cora, as a new child in December of final yr.
“On the time, I had one new child, whom I hadn’t had the possibility to bond with as a result of we adopted,” Kienlen explains. “Sooner or later, you go from no child to child in your home, actual quick. I nonetheless had touring by means of the tip of the yr and was booked out with [tattoo] appointments each different day that I wasn’t on tour. We by no means had a paternal go away or hardly a maternal go away, both. It was fairly tough. When the lockdown occurred it was a blessing for us as a result of we obtained to remain house together with her and really bond daily.”
Then Kienlen went from having one child to 2 infants simply as rapidly. In October, lower than a yr from Cora’s adoption, the couple was contacted with the chance to undertake a second little one: a seven-month-old who they named Layla.
“We obtained that decision on a Wednesday afternoon out of the blue,” he explains. “We picked her up that Friday. Speak about no time to plan! We scrambled to play catch-up slightly. However I believe we’re lastly settling right into a groove.”
Whereas the couple had been undoubtedly hoping to undertake a second little one so Cora would have a sibling, they had been pleasantly shocked by the timing.
“We anticipated to attend a yr or two,” Kienlen says. “That’s usually how lengthy it takes. However I’m glad that it occurred this manner as a result of they’re gonna be in the identical grade. It couldn’t be higher.”
Attonito and Steinkopf have additionally loved their time house with their youngsters. On the finish of their convention name interview with Forbes, Attonito was adorably approached by his son, asking to say good day to “Uncie Pete.”
“For those who’re gonna be locked down in a pandemic,” Attonito says. “Chances are you’ll as effectively be in a interval the place your little one is beneath two or three years outdated, essentially the most invaluable moments to be with them on a regular basis. In that sense, the timing is fairly good for all of us.”
Fortuitous timing is only one instance of the kindred connection between the members of The Bouncing Souls. Not solely did all of them enter their fifties collectively—Attonito and Steinkopf simply days aside—however fatherhood, too.
Round three years in the past, Attonito and his spouse, Shanti, welcomed their child boy, Ever. Just a few months later, Steinkopf and his spouse, Keira, birthed their son, Lux.
“Serendipitous is an efficient phrase,” Kienlen says. “It describes your entire existence of our band. None of us had brothers rising up. Possibly on some deep stage we discovered one another and bonded right into a household and stayed collectively for all times as brothers.”
They’re already rising collectively as dad and mom, too, each of their capability to like and overcome their fears.
“You would say 1,000,000 issues about having a toddler,” Attonito says. “However it pushes your capability to look outdoors your self and maintain somebody. It pushes you to these limits in a approach that, I don’t suppose, you possibly can presumably expertise with out having a toddler.”
He continues: “I’m so glad I waited till I used to be in my late forties. The concept of getting a toddler terrified me to no finish. I felt like I might by no means be there for them. I’d be on tour on a regular basis, that might be the worst. I wouldn’t have the ability to get pleasure from one or the opposite. I’m so glad it labored out the best way it did. The truth that we’re all sharing this on the identical time has been tremendous particular.”
“I used to be all the time essentially the most terrified to have a toddler,” Steinkopf agrees. “I don’t know if it was the individuals I used to be with, my relationships or simply being a egocentric younger man. I might’ve been a s*** dad [laughs]. At this level in my life it simply felt completely proper. You spend your entire life being introspective and studying about your self, however as quickly as you’ve got a child, that’s magnified by a thousand. You concentrate on your previous, the way you don’t wish to impose stuff in your child. It’s heady, however your coronary heart is so f***ing full on a regular basis. Essentially the most irritating day now’s like one of the best day I’ve ever had.”
And the punks are embracing full-blown maturity with sarcastic allure. Steinkopf insists he’s by no means felt higher, as he and the singer provide a collective tongue-in-cheek, “F*** you, I’m 50!”
It’s the identical confident confidence that the band tapped into whereas reconstructing basic Souls songs. Whereas many had been picked pretty arbitrarily, the group did make an effort to develop tracks on the idea of lyrics they felt had been neglected.
Take “Argyle,” off the 1996 album Maniacal Laughter, which was written by Attonito, however admired by Kienlen for its phrases. Whereas the singer calls it a private tune that was “undoubtedly written from the angle of a mid-20s-year-old individual,” he’s glad his bassist pushed to incorporate it.
One other throwback featured on Quantity 2, “Say Something,” dates again to the band’s 1997 self-titled file. The Bouncing Souls was launched simply because the band’s collective way of life of punk home squalor got here to an in depth.
“It’s effectively romanticized as a result of it had moments of glory and moments of pure annoyance,” Attonito says laughing. “There’s a motivation there that’s type’ve unexplainable. When you hit your forties, you’re like, ‘How did I maintain up?’”
Steinkopf provides: “It’s similar to chaos, however it was chaos in a approach that we had been so f***ing motivated to do all the things. We had been gonna print shirts. Do that, try this—all collectively. It was intoxicating.”
Wanting again, Attonito sees the period as a wave of power and focus that propelled the band right into a lifetime of performing. The primary decade of madness and perseverance allowed for an precise profession in music.
Whereas most of The Bouncing Souls could have taken a step again from the craziness in 1997, it took Kienlen just a few extra years. As all of the members moved to New York, then moved on, their bassist remained and stored the “get together” going the longest.
Whereas recording Quantity 2, he was in a position to revisit three songs he wrote throughout a tumultuous time, a tough patch that served because the blueprint to the band’s beloved 2003 launch, Anchors Aweigh.
“Freeway Kings,” “Children and Heroes,” and “Easy Man,” all made the brand new file—and reignited emotions within the studio. They had been additionally given a second likelihood musically.
“‘Easy Man’ was written in a reasonably darkish place for me,” Kienlen says. “It was a prayer to the universe for simplicity again in the midst of what was a little bit of a storm in my private life. To revisit a few of these lyrics, I felt extra just like the returning conqueror. I’d survived. Now I can face these songs from a happier place.”
However when Kienlen first penned lots of the songs to Anchors Aweigh, he wasn’t simply experiencing love-life woes, however a “main life flip.”
“A complete actuality was ending mainly,” he says. “It wasn’t only a relationship, it was a whole actuality that I had constructed across the relationship. All of it simply ended immediately and I used to be let out. However it was simply me and my demons impulsively and no governing drive.”
The bassist describes it as the proper storm of a single man who’s going by means of modifications with nothing however time and money in Manhattan’s Decrease East Aspect. He went out and partied each night time till the next day. He’d get going round 10:00PM, then go away bars and afterparties because the solar got here up, feeling like a “ghoul.”
“It was the darkest I’ve ever felt,” Kienlen explains. “I used to be essentially the most depressed I’ve ever felt in my life. Then, the next night time it could simply begin once more. Any happiness was produced by substances and all the opposite shallow crap that goes with that life. Night time after night time. You’d get so excessive and so joyful, however probably not. Not actual happiness. If you heard that first hen chirping, that’s while you realized you f***ed up once more.”
He continues: “And the issues I used to be doing had been undoubtedly gonna get me killed. I used to be driving my motorbike up the FDR [Parkway] going 120 miles per hour—that f***ing excessive—in the midst of the night time with whoever on the again that I may’ve killed. It was simply insane.”
Kienlen regularly hosted afterparties at his personal residence, too. As cliché because it sounds, he often felt alone in a room full of individuals.
“All the good things was gone,” he explains. “All my associates had been simply fellow ghouls—nightlife individuals. I felt fairly alone. Being other than Greg and Pete throughout this was additionally a part of the despair that I used to be feeling. That’s once I wrote ‘Easy Man’—most likely about six within the morning on a park bench. Simply a type of nights.”
After 15 years of dwelling in New York Metropolis, from squatting to a city-subsidized residence in Alphabet Metropolis, Kienlen determined to desert the F Practice and return to New Jersey dwelling.
He’d fallen out of affection together with his gentrifying neighborhood and was sick of his personal conduct. He additionally mourned the lack of the Previous New York punk scene he as soon as so loved. The times of brown-bagging beer on his BMX bike and bouncing from CBGBs to Coney Island Excessive to The Continental had been over.
For years, the Jersey-born transplant by no means imagined leaving New York Metropolis, however his Anchors Aweigh turning level was vital to an end-game he by no means imagined: a home, a spouse, two children, a canine and his personal enterprise. The album’s cowl, as all the time designed by Kienlen, is symbolic: a ship crusing off into the darkish distance, marking the tip of a chapter.
In that regard, it’s appropriate that so many tracks from the album populate the ranks of Quantity 2. The band’s following launch, The Gold Document, marked a brand new “golden” age for the Souls. The 2006 file additionally established that after years of noodling throughout the Hudson River, the band’s homebase would ceaselessly be the Jersey Shore.
Regardless of Attonito’s option to commute from the sticks—and a drummer change or two—the remaining, as they are saying, is Jersey historical past. It might be generational, however there are few acts that evoke an affiliation to New Jersey fairly like The Bouncing Souls.
Bruce Springsteen requires no clarification. Bon Jovi isn’t far behind. The Misfits are, for some purpose, inextricably linked to their hometown of Lodi. The New Brunswick boys in The Gaslight Anthem (with a co-sign from The Boss) have grow to be hometown heroes. My Chemical Romance has immeasurably left its mark on the world, however one way or the other holds down its Backyard State credibility.
However, for Gen X and Millennials, solely The Bouncing Souls—with tracks as indicative as “East Coast, F*** You!” and the aptly-titled “So Jersey”—can conjure the sensation of the boardwalk beneath your ft, the scent of the Atlantic Ocean and the thrill of The Stone Pony.
In a yr as unsure as 2020, no less than followers have the consistency and renewed spirit of The Bouncing Souls—31 years in—to distract them, if just for a couple of minutes.
“Name it naïve, however we dedicated to doing this for our entire lives,” Kienlen says. “I assume we took that dedication severely. However we didn’t know what this meant, we didn’t have an image in our head. I’m glad we made each choice from our hearts.”
Fortunately, his bandmates are equally as enthused.
“It simply will get higher on a regular basis,” Steinkopf says. “Now we have extra enjoyable as we become older. We’re in such a cool place. Turning 50 and feeling that approach, I’m fairly f***ing stoked.”
Attonito provides: “When you make it to 50, you possibly can see the world and perceive the worth in having relationships that lasted this lengthy—with one another and the viewers. That is so unimaginable that we will do that. We find it irresistible. And due to the pandemic, once we get again, we’re all gonna recognize issues much more.”
Observe me on Twitter at @DerekUTG.