25th July 2013
Interview by Jane Playdon
Bombus are a metal/rock quartet from Gothenburg, Sweden who received excellent reviews for their self-titled, self-released debut album in 2010, making it to number 12 in the Swedish review charts. Their sound is mostly based around classic rock, metal and punk influences (Motörhead, Metallica, Melvins, Poison Idea, WASP), which is then built upon with a mix of eclectic contemporary sources.
Their new album, The Poet and the Parrot, is due for release on 26 August. Feffe, one of the lead vocalists (there are two) joined us by phone from Sweden to talk about the creative process, what happens when you scream for too long, and the importance of having enough length to your guitar leads!
Hello Feffe, and thanks for joining us today. To give the readers some background, it says on your Century Media (the label they signed to in April) page that you want to create “no bullshit metal and hard rock served with a slice of punkrock energy?”…
I did not write that, but it’s OK. We don’t want to stick to one genre, we’re not interested in being in a club in that way, we’re kind of mixing stuff up, everything we’ve been listening to while we were growing up, you know? And that includes punk, metal, hard rock, WASP, we’re huge Melvins fans…so we like to mix things. Often we go back to the old stuff, like the older bands and the classic stuff. There’s been a wave of retro stuff lately…a trend of hard rock.
What modern influences do you have, either musically or non-musically?
If I’m trying to come up with new material, I cannot listen to music that sounds similar to what we do. I don’t go to Black Sabbath to get inspired to write a new song; I listen to stuff I don’t really understand like trance or stuff that I’m not really into, just anything just to get inspiration. I like listening to strong melodies and hooks and good beats. It could be stuff from the radio, not the sort of thing that I like or would want to put on myself, but stuff that can inspire me maybe more than the other stuff.
Is there a specific theme to The Poet and the Parrot?
No, just everyday life. The poet refers to someone who creates something, not necessarily just poems, and a parrot repeats without knowing what it means. It could be about the music industry or journalists or media or politics, just anything.
How do you think it compares to the previous album, Bombus?
I like it much more because we put more time and effort into it. The first album’s good, but it was just quick in and out of the studio. It’s still good for a first album. Generally the first album a band makes, it’s a bit…you haven’t really got the direction of the band yet. Still trying to find what you’re actually going to be. In that aspect I like the album, but this new album, it’s more coherent. We started it about two years ago. We were in and out the studio, touring at the same time as we were writing songs. We mixed it and remixed it, redid the bass, we redid a lot of stuff. So we’ve been redoing stuff…it’s been a long process.
Who does the songwriting?
I write the songs, but in the studio everyone gets input. I don’t tell the bass player what to play. We talk about it. I bring the ideas but then we finish it in the rehearsal room.
What made you decide to have two lead vocalists?
It’s really just because when you’re in the studio you dub your vocals. In the studio we don’t do the vocals just once, we always do a dub and we use that in the mix because it sounds better. Our voices are quite similar, mine and Matte’s [the other lead vocalist], so that was the idea. It sounds better in the studio so why not overdub each other all the time live?
There’s a dramatic difference in cover art from the 70s style lettering of Bombus to the rocky image. What’s the meaning of the image?
That’s by our former bass player (Ulf). He’s done our other covers. He actually built that in clay, baked it in the oven, and put lights on it to photograph, so that thing on the cover actually exists. It took ages. He likes challenges; he doesn’t want anything to be easy. It has nothing to do with the album really. He just wanted to do it because it looks really cool.
So you signed with Century Media Records in April, but they first saw you perform in early 2012, so it was a while before you were actually signed. Why the long wait?
I didn’t know they saw us in 2012, I heard this afterwards. I think that was a small show. The first album was released on my label (Mourningwood Recordings), so we did it all ourselves. With this latest one, we wanted a proper label to do it because I didn’t want to do all the work. So we talked to a few labels and just contacted Century Media earlier this year. They thought we were signed already…to my label, and I said, “no, that’s just my label, I’m not signed”. It was pretty quick after that. We just sent them a few songs and they went yeah!
Did they have any input at all in the production of the album?
No, they’re really cool like that. They just give us aesthetic freedom to do whatever. They like making new music and that stuff shines through. They’re fans of their bands so that’s cool. The only thing they said was that they wanted “Apparatus” to be the first single. That’s it.
So what will the second single be?
It will come out soon. Ulf has made a really cool video, which is amazing. So we wanted that song, “Enter the Night”, because the video is mind-blowing! But they never saw the video, and they wanted “Apparatus” to be the first one so we just shot the video in a few hours, so that was a quick fix.
You have Qstock festival in Finland coming up, and then the Getaway Rock Festival back in Sweden…will you be playing much of the new album?
Actually the whole album, because they want us to play for an hour, and generally we don’t play for that long. So we’ll play the whole album and three or four songs from the last album. We’d better start practicing playing that really…you know when you record an album, you don’t necessarily practice it after; you just record it and then leave it. Now we have to get to know the songs again. For Getaway festival, they want us to play for 50 minutes, so we can just cut two songs out or something. We like to change the set a bit because it gets boring to play the same songs in the same order. I don’t think anyone else cares but just for our own sake it’s good fun.
Should we expect a tour in support of the new album?
That’s the plan! We want to do our own headline tour. Not necessarily for months at a time though. We’d like to do support tours as well…just to play as much as possible live. Mostly in Europe, Britain and the Nordic region. We definitely want to go to the UK. For a band, it’s a good place to go. You can’t miss the UK market.
On your YouTube channel it shows footage of Matte collapsing after a sustained shout at a gig…does that happen often?
Haha, no. I think that was our first official gig that we played! He kind of got so pumped, he was so pleased…that in the last song I think, he was thinking “great, now I do the scream, and I’m not going to stop screaming because it feels so good” and then he just collapsed! He could have really hurt himself because the stage was a metre high and there was a fence in front of it but he just crashed through the fence and landed face down.
What’s been your best gig so far?
Metaltown in Gothenburg was good. We’re a small band and we played the main stage and had a good slot. That was the biggest stage I’ve ever played in my entire life! That was ridiculous. Our guitar leads weren’t long enough, so we had to cramp the amps together and push it all forward and push the monitors together. That was the first night as well so all the people weren’t hungover or too tired yet.
Thank you so much for your time today Feffe.