"It's the worst song we've ever written," he claims, only half-jokingly. "The chorus obviously is so fun and awesome. It's great that it's become a thing that everyone sings every time we play a show, but I wish we just sang the chorus 100 times in a row; the verses are terrible."
"For the life of us, we could not come up with a verse," Attonito adds with a slight laugh. "So, we battled with that in the studio and never really loved it. That's why we ended up, later on, not playing the song for years. Then, because we liked the 'Ole' part so much, we ended up creating this thing live called the 'Ole Fakeout' so we could actually enjoy that part. We were like, ‘Let's make a big, buddies, beer-drinkin' song.’ The lyrics are completely silly. We just went with it. Maybe it could have turned into something else, but why bother? It was just about yelling 'Ole' and being happy."
It wasn't all bad, of course. Steinkopf maintains that one of his favorite songs in the band's entire catalog is "Night On Earth," the five-minute nostalgia trip that slices the record in half, both in earnest and with reflection. Meanwhile, Attonito begins to laud "Kid" and "Fight To Live" before catching himself sizing up the tracklisting and exclaiming, "There are some good songs on here!"
Indeed. No matter the good, no matter the bad, no matter the mistakes and no matter the perspective, it's difficult to deny the impact Hopeless Romantic left on the Bouncing Souls. It was their final record with drummer Shal Khichi, and it would also mark the final time the group collaborated with Wilson. By the time 2001's How I Spent My Summer Vacation came around, it was clear the guys felt the dawn of a new era was in full effect.
"It was a crossroads," Attonito asserts. "It's like this middle. We spent 10 years almost learning everything there is to be about a band: performing, songwriting, recording, translating all that back to performing and then learning it all over again with new songs. We kind of hit the mark with Hopeless Romantic."
And as for its legacy as one of the premiere summer records in pop-punk history?
"It's one of the ones that people come up and talk about most for me," Steinkopf says with enthusiasm. "And I think that was the record of the summer for a certain person of a certain age. It's one of the soundtracks of the summer of ’99 for a lot of people, which is cool because I had those kind of records when I was growing up."
"It was a turning point for the band," Attonito concludes with his usual blend of affable humility. "It was a landmark. I always feel like that in many ways. It was Shal's last record. It was that time in music history—a hugely pivotal moment in music history as far as how everybody was dealing with the music industry. And it was a level of growth. Looking at the song titles and the way the songs are kind of all very different, they're not just punk songs. There's a cool dynamic to it, lots of ups and downs.
"The imperfections make it perfect," he adds. "It was a moment in time and that's what recording music and making art is about. It's about a moment. And you put that moment down, and that's the charm in it, too—the imperfections and humanity in it are what make it...” His voice trails off before snapping back from a wistful moment of wonder. "Are what make it good." ALT