New Bomb Turks
I interviewed the New Bomb Turks at their recent San Diego show. Eric looks a lot like Afghan Whig Greg Dulli. More on that later. The conversation lasted about an hour. I was wearing a bullethead smiley face t-shirt.
State your name and age for the record.
E: I'm Eric, I'm 26 and I sing.
M: I'm Matt, 24 and I play bass.
J: I'm Jim, 18 and I play guitar.
E: Bill is with his uncle, but he's the drummer.
M: He's 18 also.
So how did the Bomb Turks start?
E: Well, let's see, there was the Bomb Turks but there was a band with that name already ...
M: There was another group from the East End called the Bomb Turks so we decided to change our name to the New Bomb Turks.
E: But we're not sure if that's going to work.
M: So we'll probably change our name back to the Bomb Turks.
E: But then we figured, 'What's the point?' so we changed our name to the Originals.
J: Probably about four years we've been around I think.
And then after that your drummer choked on vomit, although you were never quite sure whose vomit.
E: Because you ... can't dust for vomit.
M: Believe me, our drummer does choke on his own vomit.
E: Yeah, he does.
M: He doesn't die though. He's passed out on his drums and stuff. Seriously.
So you've been around for about four years. How did you get together?
M: Well, we all slept with the same girl and kind of met that way.
J: It was a weird thing. She was my girlfriend first, and then she dumped me for Matt because he had long hair ...
M: At the time.
J: And then she worked at this radio station we all worked at, it was kind of like a revolving door kind of thing, we kind of met through that because we all got in this big fight one day.
E: And then she came out and ended up going out with a girl that we all used to go out with.
E: That's how Columbus is, it's very incestuous, all the band members play in other bands and stuff so it kind of works out that way.
You've put out an album, an EP and a bunch of 7" singles during the time you've been together. What's going on with all that?
M: Well, the shit's still selling.
E: It was more for fun for awhile. It didn't get really serious until we got the album done. We probably all figured it would just be another Columbus band in the dollar bins or something, and then we started getting a couple of good reviews and seeing people that we liked wanting us to come out and play somewhere, then it started getting more serious. That was almost two years into the band. Since then, a lot of people have asked us to put out singles and it's pretty cool to have people ask, but now we have to watch that we don't put out stuff that's not any good.
M: We just recorded an album that'll be out in September and there'll probably be some singles too.
E: A Sympathy single.
M: Yeah, a Sympathy single, a Rise single. We recorded the record in Austin so we kind of wanted to keep the Austin connection going because Austin is such a cool town.
Where did you record it in Austin?
J: Bismo Studios? It's kind of a country studio.
M: Owned by the guy from Asleep At The Wheel.
E: Garth Brooks recorded there.
J: Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson.
M: Dolly Parton. We were probably the only rock band to ever record there.
E: We were going to try to take a picture of us in cowboy hats or something, or give them this photo we have of Bill mooning. Have you seen those posters of our drummer mooning around here? There's these autographed pictures on the wall of nice little country people smiling.
So Eric, have you ever gone around impersonating Greg Dulli?
M: He gets compared to him, I get compared to him.
J: If you combined both of them, you'd have Greg Dulli.
E: We're going to join this service where you can do celebrity lookalikes for parties and stuff and walk around acting pretentious and misogynistic and stuff like that.
J: Clay Tarver from Bullet LaVolta looks like Greg Dulli.
I'm not sure exactly who writes the lyrics for the Bomb Turks ...
J: Is that going to be one of those things like people call Pink Floyd, the Floyd?
E: Floyd, like the Bomb Turks?
Not really. It's just shorter. I picked it up from a friend in a record store who raves about the album. He kept saying, 'You've got to hear this! The Bomb Turks are great!'
E: Really? Cool. So people have heard of us around here?
M: Well, we played here already.
Yeah. There's a sign on the bin where your CDs are at the record store that says 'If you're punk rock, buy this.' Some of the employees push your stuff.
E: Thank them for us. What's the name of the store?
Off The Record.
E: Off The Record! That's the New Bomb Turks' favorite record store in San Diego!
It's the best record shop here.
E: What do you think of all this stuff they say about a scene here?
I think it's a crock.
M: There's just a few good bands.
There's some good bands who play some good shows and people say 'Look! These bands are all playing in the same town! There's a scene!'
M: There's a scene everywhere. It doesn't mean the bands are good. There's good bands from here. I like some bands from here.
E: It doesn't mean there's any collective artistic statement going on.
M: People said that about Columbus too, there's a big scene in Columbus.
M: Yeah, there's no scene there, there's no scene in Dayton, just some good bands, you know?
E: Columbus has more than one good record store. There's a lot of artistic folks around, there's always good bands. There's a lot of students so it's pretty fun, but sort of pretentious when you start looking around for a scene.
You said there's a lot of record stores and stuff, what about places to play gigs when you're starting out?
E: There's a regular club, it's like the main club. Then there's a deli that has a basement on the side that has bands. It's easier to get shows there. Then there's a pizza joint that has shows which is even easier. You just ask them to play and they put you on. There's a lot of opportunities, all on the same street.
J: You could walk to each bar.
M: Within two miles of each other.
E: There are towns like Cleveland where you have to know somebody to get a show but in Columbus, any schmuck can get a show.
So what questions do people normally ask you?
M: If we were in a street fight with '79 era Van Halen, who would win.
M: We said '79 era Van Halen.
M: I wouldn't want to fight them because I'd be afraid they wouldn't put out a couple of records.
J: I wouldn't want to hurt David Lee.
E: Let's see, what else do we get asked? That shit about Greg Dulli has come up lately. How did you get the bullet hole in your shirt? That's another one. What else, when you started, stuff like that. Most people who interview us even up until this point, it's still like a lot of basic questions because they don't know a lot about us. A lot of people say stuff like, 'You guys really came out of nowhere,' I guess because they're used to bands that have managers and all this promo behind them and they say, 'You came out of nowhere,' but we've been around for four years.
That has to be irritating after everything you've done.
E: Well, I can see what they mean if they're used to bands that have big managers and that kind of stuff. Bands get noticed sooner like that. But I don't care. If somebody wants to interview us, I don't care if they've heard of us or not.
What about lyrics? I haven't seen any lyrics sheets yet.
E: We might put the lyrics in the next record because when we got to Europe, a lot of kids said they couldn't understand the words without a lyrics sheet. Since the label is based over there, it'd be nice to have a lyrics sheet.
Take a song like "Born Toulouse Lautrec." It sounds like a worker's anthem Killdozer might cover. What's up with that?
E: Oh, the title just popped up in my head and sounded kind of funny so I went with it. Some of the sentiments are honest, some are a little bit funny. It was just about certain people I knew in Columbus who took themselves too seriously about what they do and put down others if they just worked a job or something. I really hate that because there's some people that have to work a job, it doesn't make them bad.
Do you guys work day jobs?
M: We just make fun of people who do.
So the band is self-supporting?
M: To a very small extent.
E: Bill works in a runaway shelter, he's in grad school, and I'm trying to do a little writing for a local paper, but otherwise, the band's starting to take more time and local people know that you're going to be going on the road a lot so it's hard to get another job.
Especially when you have take a month and a half off to tour.
M: Right. You get there, you get your job and two weeks later you're like 'Well, I need these weekends off, and three months from now, I'll be gone for four weeks.'
E: Luckily, Columbus is super cheap to live in, because we live mostly on money from touring and some from the record. It's been enough to get us through the last year, but we're probably going to have to start getting extra income somewhere unless something drastic happens,and it doesn't look like it will.
"!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!" lists what people would have if they bought it on vinyl. Do you buy vinyl?
E: That's what we mostly buy is vinyl.
M: When we're buying music. If the only thing I can get it on is CD, I'll buy it on CD.
E: We didn't do the liner notes for the CD, but we're pretty much in agreement with that. Vinyl's usually cheaper and if you've got a decent system and take care of your records it sounds fine. But again, however you can find the music.
M: I don't go out of my way to buy CDs, but I know a lot of people that buy music who only have CD players.
Going back to the punk thing, are the New Bomb Turks punk?
M: We're punk to a fault sometimes. We just consider ourselves rock. We play fast, we play slow, but all we want to do is rock. We don't care much about punk. Some kid thought he was punk and ruined my bass amp. He poured water on my Ampeg and I don't think punk is that cool because of that. So we're punk by fault.
E: We're a rock and roll band and that's all, and we have fun. We like a lot of punk bands, but you shouldn't make a definition, you should just have fun and play loose and that sort of thing.
M: And we like stages. We love stages. I love stages. Maximum Rock and Roll set up this new rule that it's not cool to play on stages because it separates you from the audience. And they obviously don't care about the short people in the audience that can't see the band because there's no stage.
E: A 30-foot stage stage inside a huge colosseum is different than a six foot stage at a club. It's no big deal. I don't see why it's worth wasting your time and energy, it's so silly. Just go and have a good time.
Eric, you were jumping off the stage, handing the mike to audience members so they could sing, wandering around in the crowd and so forth. It seems like you were ignoring the "boundary" of stage and audience.
E: I don't even think about it much, I just do it. We just play and have fun. I used to goad people into jumping up on the stage, but a lot of times, it's just technical. If they swarm on, equipment can get fucked up and we don't make enough money to buy new instruments all the time. Matt's amp got fucked up on the last tour. It's kind of fun if people want to get up there as long as they watch it. You can still have people get into it and have people up front, not step all over each other and elbow each other, but jump around, have a good time and get involved. I like it when it's one big mess, the whole room is just sort of getting it on together. That's fun. I don't know if that happened tonight but I think it did.
So was it a good show?
M: Well, my playing sucked, but that's inconsequential to the entire Turks sound and probably plays a part in it. I think the monitor system kind of blew and there was a little frustration onstage, but I don't think anybody really noticed. I think it was a good show.
E: I think we tried and got through it pretty well. Like Dan from the Supersuckers said, 'No one's going to say this was a totally shitty show.' We might think that, but I think overall it was okay. If I had seen this tour come through our town, I would have had a good time.
M: I think any show that we come out alive from without any broken bones or broken equipment is a good show. If nothing gets fucked up, if we come out okay, it's a good show. And especially if we make our money that means it's a good show.
This sounds like the football play-by-play after a game.
M: Yeah, well, you know, sports and music are a lot alike. There's a lot of wagering, you have to work out to be able to play right. There's big money involved, you have to have a good coach and you have to be able to block.
I don't want to know what you mean by that.
M: You know, if Jim's going to get tackled by some stage diving kid, he can count on Eric or I to block or set a pick or something. We'll set a pick for Jim so he can move out of the way.
E: You know, with the World Cup you should use some soccer terminology.
M: Yeah. There's a goal, and it's to get through the set and get the ball in the net.
Eric, you jumped around like you were possessed. Is that standard?
E: I don't know. Every show's different but if it seems like the audience isn't gettting into it, I tend to yank on my hair more. It gets frustrating. I don't really think about it consciously, I just go out and play. Hopefully people will like it, maybe form their own band or hate it and complain about it. As long as they talk about the show or thought we were crazy or I did something dumb or the playing was good or bad or something like that, as long as there's something that catches them and and they think about it and talk about it later, it's cool.
I was standing in front of you when you kicked the monitor over.
E: I don't want to fuck with the monitors, I just kind of slipped and fell a little more than usual.
So what formative experiences caused you to start the New Bomb Turks?
M: I think we didn't have anything better to do when we graduated from college so we sent in our resumes and joined up in the band. That's how we were formative.
E: Yeah, Columbus was pretty dull at the time, there weren't a lot of fun, crazy bands so we just thought it would be fun to get a chance to play and just try to come up with some songs, get some free beer and have a good time with friends.
M: Give a formative story about us. I don't know what that means.
Bill: We just started up and started playing. Is it taping right now? I'll tell you, the toilets in France, you know, just those pits. I was the first Turk to shit in a hole.
E: The toilets in France!
B: And I shat in a hole and made a mountain. I was a mountain man for a moment.
M: Let me explain that a little bit. In France, instead of toilets they have places to put your feet and holes, and you have to kind of aim and lean back and shit in these things. They're Turkish toilets, and that's what he means by shitting in a hole. I don't understand the mountain.
You make joining the band sound almost like joining the military.
E: What are you talking about?
B: I was in the military, what's wrong with that?
E: Fuck that!
M: That's why I like war so much.
B: I spent two good years of my life on a submarine.
M: That's why I got my hair cut.
E: What did we just say that had to do with joining the military?
Matt was talking about joining up because there wasn't much to do.
E: No, it was kind of fun. We had other things, we were in school. I mean, we're not total nincompoops.
B: I just got tired of the military after I was on the submarine. It was like so much death and destruction that I finally figured I'd get out and take it out on drums and that was it. The military was fun for a while but I just got tired of it. I got tired of eating shitty food and showering with naked men all the time and looking at naked men. There was this guy James. He was in the military, but that's another story.
M: That's the other level.
E: Yeah, that's the other level.
What other level?
E: Don't get us started.
M: We don't want to get started at the other level right now.
E: That's a Geto Boys reference.
M: That's a whole other level of the game.
That's right, I forgot. You guys are the Geto Boys of punk.
M: No, the Dwarves were actually sort of, because we're not sexist or racist. We're kind of nice guys. Not that the Dwarves were racist, because they weren't.
E: Lucy's Fur Coat! They suck! They're a shitty fucking band!
M: Yeah, but the Geto Boys, the Dwarves are more like the Geto Boys than we are. We just like both bands, the Dwarves and the Geto Boys.
E: Yeah. But we hate Lucy's Fur Coat.
B: We should start making up little multiple choice questionaires with Geto Boys lyrics on it.
E: It's a good idea.
M: Yeah, we should do that. They'd have to take an IQ test, our kind of IQ test.
B: Dan Bolton, IQ 25.
I can see it now, the New Bomb Turks multiple choice quiz.
M: I don't want to think about it.
E: You can see it now, but if we took your glasses off, you couldn't see shit!
M: You wouldn't be able to see it then.
Actually, that's true.
E: How bad are you? I wear contacts.
I have no idea.
B: You can't surf without those things can you?
I can't do anything without them.
E: Do you surf? Do you ever go to the beach? We went to the beach today.
M: Yeah, we all got sunburned today.
No, I'm one of the chalk people.
E: Hey, careful with that Bill.
Hey, get that pool cue out of my face!
E: We all need our hearing, you know? Go do that to Jimmy.
B: Makes you paranoid, doesn't it?
E: Go do that to Jimmy.
B: It's kind of like being high.
M: Go do that to Jimmy, Bill.
E: We wouldn't know about that. We really wouldn't.
M: Yeah, we really don't. We should probably get rolling though.
E: Yeah, we should probably get rolling. One more question.
M: Yeah, let's have one more question, this is fun.
Okay, when you're on the road and it's in the middle of the night ...
E: Road question!
M: We're driving in the middle of the night.
E: We're lost.
B: I was jacking off last night.
M: Ask your question.
B: I did. You guys didn't even know.
Back to the question. Everybody in the van is hungry. You have the following choices: a donut shop, a 24-hour Mexican food stand or Chinese takeout. Where do you go?
M: We go for the Mexican because that shit would keep us awake forever.
E: Yeah. I like Chinese food a lot, but we eat a lot of Mexican food on the road.
M: I had a nice mahi mahi salad too.
Any final comments before you go?
M: Commas? I like exclamation points.
E: Clean that damn shirt up.
M: Yeah, it's got blood on it.
It's just a little blood.
E: Oh, okay. That's good. Umm, just have a good time and think for yourself sort of stuff.
M: And support Rocket From The Crypt because they're a great band.
E: They're a pretty fun band, although the rest of this town sucks! No, I like this town. It's a nice town.
M: The good bands in San Diego are good, the bad bands are bad.
E: Just like any other town.
Yeah, the bad bands in San Diego are in L.A.
M: Well yeah.
E.: That's true but so is Motorcycle Boy.