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Interview with Bombay Black

Bombay Black Interview, MRF2 - Sunday, May 2, 2010

Q: Since (May) 2006 and attending the Kiss Expo in 2006 where I met John Kivel and then saw Bombay Black perform, I was totally blown away and have been a fan ever since. I am remiss to say, however, I do not own the last two CDs…but thanks to Ty (Sims), I now have proper copies of each…so thank you for that.
Q: (directed at Ty): Besides the upcoming Talon release, what other recordings have you been working on?
 
TS: The new Farcry record. We tracked all of the instruments for that in New York in February (2010) and I fly out May 16th to Las Vegas to track Mark’s vocals. We just wrapped most of the new Talon record, we still have a few things to do on Thursday and then I’m going out to finish Mark’s vocals. So those will be the next two albums out, plus Seven Days, a band from the UK, whose album will be coming out probably in July or August.
 
Q: Are you producing/engineering records exclusively for bands signed to Kivel Records or are you working with bands that have no affiliation with the label?
 
TS: Well, I do a lot of local work and it is starting to spread out more...I guess as people get to know me or whatever…like Brian from Metal Mayhem is talking about me doing some work for him and stuff like that…but I am doing a lot of John’s stuff right now just because we have a system worked out
 
Q: Excellent. I guess that has been working out rather well?
 
TS: Yes it has, and it has been building up for quite a bit for the last 2-3 years.
 
Q: Any plans for Bombay Black to embark on a multi-date tour outside of the Arkansas area?
 
Rob McCauley: Right now, we’re doing as much as it gets...we did the two dates here {Bombay Black performed at another local venue on Saturday night with a start time of 1AM, and then perform at MRF2 the next day with a 12:45PM start time!} and then back (home) with Bang Tango and then we’re flying out Thursday to Los Angeles to play The Whiskey on May 7th and then back to AK. Also, about a month ago we performed in Dallas, TX…it’s sporadic, but we try to keep it rolling as much as we can.
TS: It’s been pretty busy since the new record (Love You To Death) was released on April 9th. And we are trying to put something together but it’s hard to be on for 2-3 weeks together cause everybody has got families and other responsibilities at home, so we do a lot of, you know, 2-3 days here and 2-3 days there. Being in Arkansas, almost in the center of the country, makes it easier. We can go just about anywhere and be there in a reasonable amount of time. So it’s none of that driving for 3 days to get to a gig or anything like that…but of course the upcoming LA gig will be the worst part {from a distance standpoint}.
 
Q: The Bombay Black (intertwined “bb”) logo is one of favorites that I’ve seen in a long time. So I’d like to ask who the brainchild was behind the Bombay Black logo?
 
Erik Turner: One of the other bands from AK, Evanescence, has a Sanskrit logo that they’ve got on their stuff and I thought we should have something for ourselves. And I was just playing around with this one design for a minute that I had and took one thing, flipped it around and just combined it in different ways and then it just happened to resolve into that…and I had about 6 different versions of this thing and I sent it out and we all hooked on it.
TS: …and then we put it on EVERYTHING. {laughs}
RM: It’s really just two, lower case B’s lying on their side
 
Q: …but it has the spurs on it!
 
RM: Yeah, a kind of tribal motif (kind of thing)
TS: It’s actually a font called Tribal II. It’s just an open source font…it’s free.
 
Q: It’s very cool and I also really loved the Anger Management artwork…the bullet through the heart…
 
TS: Rob did all that…Rob did the layout on that.
RM: We picked the basic pieces for it...we all struck on this idea when we ran across this metal heart image…and since I do artwork in addition to playing drums (Owner/Designer of Cazdude Designs), I influenced this direction with (John) Kivel and got to do the layout and cover on that album. I also do stage gear...I’m a graphic designer as well.
TS: Yeah, all of the stage scrims, drum wraps, drum bass heads and amplifier grille cloths for a lot of the bands performing at MRF2, like Farcry, Talon and Eden’s Curse…Rob made all of that stuff.
RM: I got busy with the production pieces like the stage stuff and sitting behind the computer for 6 hours at a crack working on things like that just wasn’t in the game plan for me, so I now let someone else handle all of the artwork stuff for the CDs.
 
Q: It seems that the sound for Bombay Black has grown increasingly darker. Was that a conscious decision or is that simply a culmination of all your life stories…you know, life through the eyes of each of the members, contributing material and it is just coincidence to be going in that direction?
 
ET: Yeah, it’s just that it was the way that it was going. I think the only time that we made a concerted effort to do something particular was with Anger Management, where we really tried to make a melodic rock record
TS: We tried to lighten that one up and make more of a straight ahead rock record, not as heavy…that’s probably our least heavy record, in sound and tone and everything.
RM: Well, it really depends on what you’re talking about when you say, “heavy” because a lot of people say the guitars weren’t heavy on the first two records, but to us, {the guitars} on the first two are heavier. It all depends on what you’re listening for. Erik writes most, if not all of the material…and the evolution between when it {the band} really started was all Erik, but we’ve been playing so long now, things have gotten much easier in terms collaborating than it use to be. Even if we’re not gigging, we’re always practicing.
TS: We’ve been together for six years now…
 
Q: Speaking of Anger Management, it seems that the record featured more overt sarcasm and humor in the lyrics and yet, that doesn’t seem to be the trend. For me, Mercy (1st album) seems to be more of a true melodic rock record than even Anger Management. It seems that you have just gotten consistently heavier across the board. In terms of the lyrical content, with tunes like “You Suck” and others, there was just a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and it doesn’t seem to be that way any more. Was that a conscious decision and/or the departure from that?
 
ET: That’s just life in SoArk! [that’s Southern Arkansaas for those not native to the area]
TS: The record sort of takes on a life of its own…it gets a tone and we go in that direction. We let it do what it wants to do.
RM: We already have a couple of tracks, talking about the next one where we see it going into this other place and we keep that in mind and continue writing in that direction.
Jim Perry: There’s a little sarcasm and some funny stuff at the end of New Psycho…
ET: [Title Track] Psycho Magnet was a really fun song. A lot of the writing on those first two records, as I did the lion’s share of writing, your personal relationships influence your life and sometimes more than you want to admit and it got to the point where the early question, once asked was, “When are you going to write a song for me?”…and I’m like, {silence, then laughs}
RM: She didn’t know
ET: She had to have known, I did all of the call out and she would have known when I fell off the couch laughing when she said that.
TS: But the sarcasm really did come out on Anger Management…
ET: We’re no longer together. She has since gotten married and I’ve really been enjoying life a bit more…then I start plumbing different depths of things, looking at other avenues
TS: An interesting side note. When I was uploading all of the new material on CDBaby.com, they force you to list the genre, sub-genre and all these fields describing the music and one of the last ones that came up as far as the mood of this album and none of it really fit, and there was a “sex music” choice and Perry was actually sitting there with me, and I said, “Well, why don’t we choose Sex Music.” He said, “You don’t want to choose Sex Music…” I then went down the list and all but one song is about sex.
ET: …which is unusual because that has really not been where we’d ever gone before.
TS: I didn’t even clue into that until the record has been released and I’m uploading it on CDBaby.com and didn’t even realize that, wow, we wrote a record about sex {laughs}
ET: It’s darker, the pull my hair, smack my ass kind of thing {laughs}…and then there is the, “pull the shades down, light the candles, pull my hair, smack my ass” kind of thing
JP: …Shackles and Chains
TS: And then there is the “put on the leather and the studded facemask then pull my hair and smack my ass” kind of thing (laughs)
 
Q: Yeah, take a ride on the Tower of Power (pun intended)…
 
TS: From that standpoint, it’s a little sick on this new record
ET: You’re welcome {laughs}
RM: That’s what you get when sit in a strip bar all night
TS: In the next to last song we played tonight, Shackles and Chains, my favorite line in that one is, “The norms don’t understand the love in my whip hand.”
RM: Yeah, that’s one of my favorite ones too.
ET: And I still haven’t the foggiest idea where the hell that lyric came from!
RM: It’s just, I was like, wow, lyrics like that really captured the essence of what, in talking about it there because there is that twisted sexual thing he {Erik} really captured it.
TS: Yeah, it makes you look at Erik and go huh? {complete with baffled expressions}
ET: Actually, there was a girl that I’d been seeing on and off for about a year who had a cutting issue at one point and she was very, very uptight and it wasn’t until very recently that she has started getting over it and getting on with life so…she still has the marks. She went through some serious mental situations…but life goes on and you find your way the best you can.
 
Q: Yeah, absolutely. Well I’ll say on a personal note, the not meaning to but meaning to introduction on Anger Management never ceases to entertain...I think it is fucking brilliant!
 
ET: Pure accident
RM: What’s funny too is when he sent that to us, he said he wanted to send it to John…and when we agreed, ET said, “No.” And we responded with, “DUDE, you’ve gotta send that to him, that is so great!”
ET: John thought we should have an intro and I’m like…what are we going to do?
TS: We were going back and forth with it and we were talking about that one night and we all decided to do the anti-intro
 
Q: Yes, the anti-intro, and how it so perfectly segues so into the first tune. And it is so entertaining that, although it is easy enough to just skip to track 2 on the CD, to listen to it over and over again just never gets old for me.
 
RM: We even worked up a live version. We started the Junk Food live session like that…it was a completely live performance of that intro. It was the whole thing reenacted on stage.
 
Q: Very similar was the way you started the set today when Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is playing through the house PA and, on cue, all pick up the tune mid-verse. I thought that was very effective
 
RM: It works well when you pick a tune that is very identifiable, one that you can really get into and get everyone interested really quickly.
TS: Crank it up…everyone knows that the show’s about to start, right? That something is going to happen and then you jump into it and use it to segue into one of your own songs
JP: What are we going to use? Anything by AC/DC {laughs}
TS: Everybody knows AC/DC.
 
Q: Probably the last question: Does the lack of formal distribution from Kivel Records stand to be a point of frustration? I have a wonderful independent record store near me where I can go and get CD’s released by Frontiers, Escape Music and MTM (when they still existed)
 
ET: Where are you from?
 
Q: New Jersey…and Kivel Records is based in Ardsley, New York and probably less than an hour’s drive from where I am located, and you cannot find anything {from Kivel} in a store.
 
TS: Well, our arrangement, and this is no secret, with John Kivel hasn’t changed. Up until the release of Love You To Death we were a Kivel Records artist. We are on our own label now and he is licensing it. We’re handling that stuff ourselves now. So, the short answer to your question is “Yes.” {laughs} We wanted to explore some avenues that it seemed like he {John Kivel} just wasn’t necessarily interested in. He’s got his own way of doing things and he does what he does very well and we literally have no problem with John Kivel, we love him. He’s a great friend and we’ve done a lot of things that we never would have done had we not worked with him. But, through working with him, we have gotten to the point that we don’t need to work with him. Although we still do and it works that way and we want to. We didn’t just want to walk away because there is absolutely no animosity between the band and him. I mean, obviously, he licensed the record and we’ve been hanging out all weekend and I still do production for band after band after band for him.
RM: And I still do all the artwork for the stage items. So we approached it like a…there’s some stuff we want to do, there’s some stuff you already do…let’s find out where we don’t crossover and then we can maintain being business partners and friends. And John was fine with that arrangement.
TS: He even talked us into trying out this arrangement.
RM: …let’s try to do more {collaboration} and see what happens. We work some much and are so self-sufficient…and everyone’s package, I could do the artwork and Ty the production, we told John to not waste his money going elsewhere for things that we can do already…so let’s see if you can expand through us, out into different areas.
ET: Plus, as you mentioned, there is the current {economic} depression. From Mercy to Love You To Death, it’s gotten darker, it’s gotten heavier…Anger Management was a specific push towards that whole {commercial, melodic rock} thing…I listened to what I had read on Wikipedia…first mistake, never listen to anybody! {laughs} When people are bitching about what they like or they don’t, just don’t listen to them…don’t do that because Anger Management is a result of that. There is some great stuff on there where I wouldn’t change a note but then the general review was, “this is derivative.” This is what you wanted, but you don’t want it now. And at that point, we thought, screw this, we going to do what we do. As it happens, you see it’s getting darker and heavier which is further and further away…
RM: You kind of get afraid that you might get tapped out on that Melodic Rock genre. You find yourself in that bucket and then get so heavy that they {fans, critics} begin to dismiss you since you no longer fit the mold.
ET: We needed to expand.
TS: We play a lot of shows for people who have never heard of melodicrock.com. We play in the genre, but we play 80% of our shows to crowds outside of the genre. Our most upfront, rabid fan base are all…I have a daughter that is about to turn 16 and her friends absolutely love us. They’ve never heard anything like it. Because we’re heavy, we have the harmonies, we’ve got some melody stuff going on and you don’t get anything like that on the radio right now, so they hear our material and they dig it. So the only people who say, “you guys sound ‘80’s” were around in the ‘80’s. Yeah, we’re influenced that way…that’s were we came up, that’s where we picked up what we do but all the songs on the latest CD were written this year. They’re new songs, it’s new production…A/B it.
RM: Like anything, there is a real fine line between…
 
Q: So, any last words for fans and readers of Rocktopia before we adjourn?
 
TS & ET {in unison}: Thank you {laughs}
ET: Thanks for listening, thanks for reading, thanks for coming out to the shows
RM: For everything that I sign, I tell that person “Thank you,” and a handshake if I can…thank you for buying the new CD and supporting the band. In this scene, I don’t find many big attitudes.
TS: We have a blast coming to these things and want to do it as long as we can…and just being able to come out here play shows like this…Andrew (McNeice) letting us play this show, that’s huge.
ET: He’s had a good thing going for a while and I find it interesting that there are so many great gigs that we want to go see and play…and they put it together and there are costs, unfortunately there are costs involved but those that can still get out here and do it and try to keep this music going…and luckily, there are bands out there where they say, “hey, we want to play this”

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