Bowling for Soup singer Jaret Reddick didn't have to look far for help explaining the band's new single recently.
"I'm watching CNN right now and the biggest story is not the war, not that the president has done four somewhat ridiculous speeches in the last few days. The biggest story in the world right now is that Paris Hilton blew .08 last night," Reddick said, referring to Hilton's bust for allegedly driving under the influence (see "Paris Hilton Arrested For Suspicion Of Drunk Driving"). "Are you freaking kidding me? It just proves the point: High school never f---ing ends. Who's sleeping with who? Who got caught doing what? That takes precedent over pretty much everything else."
And that's the idea behind the song, aptly titled "High School Never Ends."
"It's got an actual message, sort of," Reddick said of the pop-punk tune, which he wrote with Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger. "Well, I don't know if you could ever say I write songs with messages, but close enough."
"High School Never Ends," which ships to radio stations September 25, is featured on Bowling for Soup's ninth album, due November 7. The final title (there have been four contenders) is The Great Burrito Extortion Case.
"We originally were gonna call the album All My Rowdy Friends Are Still Intoxicated," Reddick said. "We were sorta working toward that with Drunk Enough to Dance and A Hangover You Don't Deserve and maybe one more, and then greatest hits becomes Bowling for Soup Goes to Rehab. That would have been funny to other people, but if you live with a joke like that constantly, it becomes less funny. It becomes more like baggage."
The band then moved on to the self-deprecating We're Not Fat, We Just Have Big Heads, but again thought the joke could get old. Reddick also toyed with I'm Gay (As in Happy), a reference to a song called "I'm Gay," before stumbling (literally) onto The Great Burrito Extortion Case.
"We were making the record in Atlanta, and every day our schedule was exactly the same," the singer explained. "The bar opened at 11, so everybody stumbled down at 10:55 and had about four drinks. One morning CNN is on and the sound is off. [Guitarist Chris Burney] looks up, and the screen says 'Burrito Extortion Case.' And if you're ever in the room with us and something that random pops up, we can talk about it for an hour, all the different things it could be. Right then, I wrote an e-mail to [the label] that said we're changing the title."
That was before Bowling for Soup even figured out what the real burrito extortion case was. "It turned out somebody put a mouse in a burrito and tried to extort money from a restaurant," Reddick said.
Along with Schlesinger, Reddick wrote The Great Burrito Extortion Case with Zac Maloy (of '90s alternative rockers the Nixons) and Butch Walker (the Marvelous 3 frontman-turned-producer) before reconvening with Bowling for Soup in Atlanta.
"It was a cool process because it was the first time we ended a tour and everyone went their separate ways and I went and wrote an album," Reddick said. "You read these interviews where bands are like, 'We just took six months and made an album,' and we're like, 'Holy crap, you took that long!' But that's about how long it took to make this one."
After recording for two weeks in Atlanta, Reddick brought the band to Maloy's Tulsa, Oklahoma, studio for two weeks and Walker's L.A. studio for another.
"That's where they're doing 'Rock Star: Supernova,' " Reddick said of the latter. "And the guys actually sang gang vocals on a Supernova song. I was tracking or working on something and they failed to let me know they were going to sing with Jason Newsted. I'm the only guy who still listens to that. I have four Flotsam and Jetsam albums in my freakin' iPod, are you kidding me! But anyway, it was a cool process because we never got bored."
Bowling for Soup have yet to shoot the video for "High School Never Ends" but they've narrowed down the concept to five different treatments.
"We set the bar so high with '1985' and made a really funny video for 'Almost,' " Reddick said of their last two singles (see "Bowling For Soup LP So Upbeat, 'It's Like Being Licked By Puppies' " and "Bowling For Soup Follow Up '1985' With 'Almost,' An Almost Love Song").
"The only hint I can say is we're not doing the obvious thing and going to a high school," he added. "The 'Almost' video was in a high school, so we've sorta been there, done that."