You can keep Bing Crosby and "White Christmas" - in Asbury Park, the annual Yuletide soundtrack to rule them all is a bit louder: the yearly Home for the Holidays shows by Jersey's own punk rock legends the Bouncing Souls, now in their fifth year and returning to the Stone Pony Dec. 27-30.
"It's become like a citywide holiday party," said guitarist Pete Steinkopf.
Along with the dependably epic evenings of musical joy at the Pony, this year's planned festivities also include after-parties on Dec. 28 and 30 at the Asbury Lanes on Fourth Avenue, an after-party at the Watermark on the Asbury Park boardwalk on Dec. 29 and screenings of the punk rock fatherhood documentary "The Other F Word" Dec. 28-30 at the ShowRoom movie theater on Cookman Avenue.
"It's a time of year where there's not really that much happening here because everyone's doing holiday stuff, there's not a lot of shows and the streets are kind of dead, so now (with Home for the Holidays) there's something to bring a bunch of people to town to hang out and do stuff in the whole town," said Steinkopf.
The band, which originally hailed from Basking Ridge more than 20 years ago before making its name on the New Brunswick scene and then relocating to the Asbury Park area, spent most of 2011 touring the world behind a concept that got its start at the last Home for the Holidays celebration: performing all eight of its studio albums, from 1994's "The Good, the Bad and the Argyle" to 2010's "Ghosts on the Boardwalk," over four nights in cities from Philadelphia to Vienna, Austria.
"There were lots of songs that we'd never played, the albums came out as long as 15, 16 years ago," Steinkopf recalled. "So we took a good week, went down to our practice space and just learned 30 or 40 songs for the last Home for the Holidays. And once we knew them all, once we started doing it, we figured we'd take it on the road and do some more cities."
However, the Home for the Holidays shows ran into some interference from the elements in the form of last year's Boxing Day blizzard that caused the shows to be rescheduled to this February. New York City-bred hardcore band H2O, one of the bands that was originally scheduled to open for the Souls at last December's snowed-out shows, will finally get the chance to play with our hometown heroes on Dec. 29.
"I love playing Jersey, there's so much history in Asbury Park for H2O and for the Souls, that's like the home," H2O frontman Toby Morse said in an interview last year.
Other acts set to take part in this year's festivities include reuniting Boston punk crew the Explosion, who will perform on Dec. 28, and New Brunswick-based hardcore band Detournement, which will be taking the stage for its final show on Dec. 30.
While the Souls may have spent much of 2011 looking back, they will soon be hitting the studio with a punk rock legend to begin work on their new LP: according to Steinkopf, in January the band will be heading to Colorado to record with Bill Stevenson of the Descendents and Black Flag.
"We're super excited to do that," he said.
Along with being part of one of the leading forces in punk for decades, the members of the Souls have found time over the years to pursue side projects: singer Greg Attonito released his first solo effort, "Natural Disaster," in July, bassist Bryan Kienlen is an in-demand tattoo artist and drummer Michael McDermott has kept busy playing on a number of projects, according to Steinkopf.
For his part, the guitarist has done plenty of work behind the scenes, recording and mixing North Brunswick native Glen Burtnik's recent Asbury Park-saluting single "Where Music Lives," and engineering, mixing and producing "Lenny Lashley's Gang of One," the 2010 EP by Lashley, formerly of Boston-based punk and ska band Darkbuster.
"It's cool that we can go off and do our own thing for a little while and then we reconvene and get our heads back together all stoked again," Steinkopf said.
The Bouncing Souls’ Fifth Annual Home for the Holidays show
WHEN: Doors open 7 p.m. Dec. 27-30
WHERE: Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
TICKETS: $22 each night