On October 15th Punknews caught up with The Bombpops at the London stop of their UK/EU tour. As a sort of follow-up to the Punknews interview of Jen Razavi and Poli van Dam last January, Editor Jeff Sorley focused his interview on the other half of the band, bassist Neil Wayne and drummer Josh Lewis. Check it out below.
Hello, this is Jeff from Punknews.org. I’m sitting here with Neil and Josh from The Bombpops. Sitting in also but, possibly joining in, is Poli and… I’m not sure I know your name…
Neil Wayne: This is our friend Dave.
Josh Lewis: This is our friend Dave.
Poli van Dami: I’m gonna be quiet now.
van Dam: It’s hot in here, so I might get out.
It is kinda warm, isn’t it.
The first question, really, I have for you guys is: how has the tour been so far?
Wayne: Man, being our first time back in Europe after two years ago when we did this on our own, it’s been fucking awesome. It’s like everywhere, all the people are amazing. Good beer, good people (laughs).
Lewis: Great shows.
Wayne: Great shows, yeah.
Lewis: It’s been a great run, for sure.
Excellent! Now, this is the second time The Bombpops have been over to Europe, correct?
Wayne: Yes, first time in the UK, though.
So when you toured before, it was just the EU?
So, you two joined the band in 2012, and have been consistent members since so, five years now. And I know previously there was a lot of turnover in the bassists and drummers. Do you feel you gel well with the concept of the music and everything? It seems like you guys play very well and come up with the music together pretty good.
Wayne: Yeah, I joined the band in 2011, and then we got Josh in a year later. And it just makes sense: Josh and I have been playing together forever…
Lewis: Sixteen years…
Wayne: …and between the two of us…
Lewis: But who’s counting?
Wayne: …and the girls knowing each other for as long as they have, it just makes sense that everything has just gelled very well ever since.
I kind of, I mean, no offense to the music: it’s always been fun, but I sense listening to the albums with you guys on it there seems to be a little more cohesiveness.
Wayne: I think in just in general the band has grown. Me and Josh like to throw in our two cents when it comes to the writing, and we’re a big part of the last record with how things were put together. But all of us have grown together in the past five years of being a band… just, you know, through trial and error.
Yeah, definitely. You two have at least been on the Can of Worms EP, and the Fear of Missing Out full-length. Do you see any difference between playing the songs that you have actually been a part of, as opposed to the previous songs that were written before you?
Lewis: Not really, I kind of took the songs and played what I heard as a drummer. My parts are extremely different than what Dylan played on the old stuff. But it still works with the songs. I just hear things differently sometimes and I thought that there could be more dynamics at certain parts: “this needs to be accented more with the guitar lines,” or whatever it may be. Just kind of tighten them up a little bit. They were good songs, but they’re better songs now. We pride ourselves on our tightness and Neil and I, especially, we have a very long history. And if you don’t have a strong foundation, you can’t build a house.
Lewis: We work well together and the writing on the last two records we have done, it’s been a lot of fun being able to… as a drummer, a lot of drummers aren’t a huge part of the writing process. They’re like “here’s the song, figure out your parts and let’s play it.” But in most of the bands I’ve been in my opinion is respected as much as everyone else’s… and it’s nice. Everybody has a slightly different idea on what this could do and that could do, and if you don’t try them all, you’ll never find the best. And we’ve gotten good at working with each other and knowing each other…
Wayne: And we’ve been playing the old songs for long enough now and they feel like our songs, too.
Wayne: I’ve never felt once like “hey, this isn’t my song,” you know? We’ve been playing them for years together, so you know it’s all, as a collective, its still The Bombpops.
Wayne: Not “who played on it…” (laughter)
That’s really cool, and it does lead me in, with the previous (Punknews) interview with Jen and Poli, they talked about how you two came into the band and seemed to get along so well with everything that you were actually an integral part of the song-writing, especially on the full-length that just came out earlier this year. So I wanted to kind of get a feel from your perspective, and I think you may have just answered that question, you know. Sometimes it’s just like being a part of the song-writing process and, as you said (gesture to Josh), sometimes drummers just fill it in. And I think, from a listener’s perspective, such as myself, I can hear that.
Lewis: (murmur of agreement)
Now, in regards to you singing to Fat. I mean, that’s a really big thing for a lot of punk bands…
Wayne: HUGE for us man…
Lewis: You know, at the end of the day…
Wayne: I mean, Fat Wreck Chords has been part of my life forever, man. (laughter)
Lewis: …that was the end-all for me. That was like “holy shit, if I could ever get there,” and now we’re here and now like “let’s see what we can keep doing.” It’s a great … it’s a life-long dream come true. We’re signed to the dream label that we’ve always wanted to be signed to.
Wayne: If you can’t tell from the music! (laughter)
Definitely. I’m from Chicago and I know a lot of those bands and, like, when Brendan and The Lawrence Arms, when they got signed to Fat everyone was like “hometown boys done good!” So I’m sure you guys kind of feel the same way, it’s like the be all, end all and that… With signing to the label, do you feel prior to the, the self-released titles and Red Scare Industries, do you feel more support on recording the album?
Wayne: Definitely. Just in general, Fat Wreck Chords for us… because I’m one of those kids… everything they’ve ever put out I’m just like “I fucking love it already.” (laughter) And that is clear all around the world. Everywhere we’ve been, the UK tour and Europe, and home… Fat Wreck Chords has its cult following.
Wayne: It’s really cool to see…
Lewis: It definitely helps. It’s been a great boost in everything. It shows, for sure.
I see that as well, just the production itself sounds really good, which you’re gonna get when you get a label like Fat putting out your album. In the previous interview Jen and Poli talked about the support from Tony Sly…
Wayne: Yeah, that was an incredible moment. We were all just blown away when he came to us talking about it but, you know, unfortunately… it was cut a little short. But we still kept pushing for what we wanted, and he gave us a lot of really good tips. He talked to Jen for a long time and gave her a lot of good, inspirational tips, and what we should be doing with the band. I think we would’ve made him proud. (laughter)
I’m curious if, and this may not be the case, but if you had ever felt that kind of support before?
Wayne: Well that was actually right around the time when I joined the band, maybe a year after. I know, with the girls, they’ve had support the whole time they’ve been doing this. And everyone has had a lot of, through family and friends, the support’s always been there. It’s really cool to see us trying to kind of live up to their… what they thought we should be doing.
Now, with the “Be Sweet” song, I’m not gonna lie: Brandon Carlisle’s hospitalization and death for some reason hit me incredibly hard.
Wayne: It hit all of us incredibly hard. It still hits us. Every night we still get emotional when we play it.
I was thinking about that… The lyrics had been written, and the music had been forgotten… no fault to anyone, it was a long time ago, 2009. What did it feel like when you took all of those lyrics you had, did you want to honor his memory by writing a song together that really felt like a Brandon Carlisle song?
Wayne: Yeah, exactly what we wanted to do. I mean, we were all amazed that Jen had these lyrics saved in a shoebox…
Lewis: …on a napkin! (laughter)
Wayne: Yeah, on hotel paper. And we all knew that we have to do this, and if we’re gonna do it, we have to do it right. He was just a…
Lewis: It had to be done right!
Wayne: He was one of those people who, like I was saying, had always supported us and always gave us tons of moral support, you know. Just was always on our back and, when we were writing the record, Jen pulled out the lyrics and we were “we have to do this!” And we wrote the song in the studio with Chris Fogal (The Gamits), and it just came together and it was kind of amazing how, of all the songs, that one fell into place so perfectly. It was really exciting, and we were all crying in the studio.
Lewis: I still cry every time we play it. It fucks me up.
As soon as he was hospitalized I picked up the shirt that had been drawn for him, and my daughter still says “is that your friend,” and I say “well, I’ve only met him once but, yes: he was everyone’s friend.”
Wayne: Yeah, we were on tour with the Swingin’ Utters when it happened, and by the time everything was happening, we were in San Francisco, and the green room just fell apart.
(incoherent, emotional mumbling from each of us)
Umm… moving on: I know that you’ve played at Live from The Rock Room and also…
Wayne: Yeah, they’re so awesome. Mike’s a great guy.
…and the Bridge City Sessions…
Lewis: Yeah! Those dudes are great, too! All those guys!
…and so I wonder what your thoughts are on bands in the modern internet age, if you will… that sounds so, like, 2005 when I say that (laughter), but how do you feel that that is one step bands should do…
Wayne: I think its great for people who want to see you play and that gives them an opportunity in an online age: everything is on YouTube and Facebook, and those places like Live from The Rock Room, Bridge City Sessions, they’re just getting it out to more people and its really cool. I watch those all the time. I watch all the bands, I get super-stoked when they come out! I’m like “fucking awesome,” man. Its really cool, its like a nice setting: you’ve got and actual mixing board, everything’s mixed down… its just cool seeing bands live…
Lewis: …you get a live performance from your living room…
Wayne: Mike does it from his basement, its pretty rad!
Lewis: Yeah, its pretty rad!
Wayne: He had the best-stocked fridge we’ve ever seen (laughter). It was like in Pulp Fiction when he opens the briefcase (lots of laughter)… Mike’s fridge, man. Every soda and beer you could ask for (continuing laughter)…
Looking a bit forward, you’re touring in support of the new album, which I enjoy immensely and, as I’ve said my daughter loves. Certain songs she doesn’t get to listen to a few of the songs due to language, but what can I do? She’s five! (laughter)
Lewis: My cousin has a ten year-old who doesn’t listen to certain songs as well. So.. I get it. (laughter)
So what do you see in the future for The Bombpops as well as, I don’t know if you have any side projects individually going on?
Wayne: No, this has been all of our time and effort. Josh has another project going on called Murderland but, they play local shows and…
Lewis: We’re weekend warriors (laughter). But when the rest of the band decided they didn’t want to do it for real, myself and the rhythm guitar player- and the lead guitar player, for that matter- kind of started going everywhere else. Tony (Caraffa) plays guitar for Versus The World, and we just wanted to keep doing this. This is my life, this is all I want to do. And when I realized that the one thing I wanted to do… this was three years before this was even an option of joining The Bombpops or another band… I mean, I’ve constantly been joining another bands since, ‘cause I just want to play. But at the moment all I’ve got going on is The Bombpops…
Wayne: We’re just super-busy, man. And that’s all our goal is right now is stay busy, we’re gonna keep touring and keep supporting the record and, later down the line, go back in the studio… record another one.
Lewis: I am whore, though. I’ll play drums for anyone (laughter). My boys in Get Dead needed a drummer in Canada the last year so I went up and played a show up there with them. And my buddies in Neutral Boy in Washington, I play with them on occasion. I just want to play drums and hang out with my friends, man.
Makes sense. Now, in prep for this interview I read through some of your old interviews to refresh myself and (pointing towards Neil), you said you’re a graphic designer. Do you still do that?
Wayne: Yeah, I work for Guitar Center, actually. It’s like my day job (laughter). The golden ticket, the fact is that they’ll let me tour, so…
Yeah, especially with the States, you know, like, living abroad we were in France before this and now in the UK here with so much vacation time, a lot of bands are able to just take a holiday and go tour; it’s a bit harder in the States, so that’s super-cool…
Wayne: Yeah, we’re fortunate to have that.
Now, I’m gonna finish up. This is a stupid throw-off question that I use for work interviews, you can’t answer “neither.”
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Lewis: Star Wars.
Wayne: Star Wars. That’s pretty easy.
Lewis: It’s a little harder for me because my uncle was a super, super-fucking huge Star Trek fan. But, at the end of the day, it’s my fucking decision (laughter)…
What do you think of the new trailer?
Wayne: For Star Wars?
Lewis: I haven’t seen it.
Lewis: Neil saw it, I’ve heard of its epic-ness, but I haven’t physically seen it myself.
Wayne: I don’t know how you get goosebumps from a trailer? I’m like “oooh!” (laughter) That loooks so good man, I’m excited. I can’t wait to see it. I’m glad I… Oh fuck, I think I actually am on tour when it… DAY OFF!
Lewis: DAY OFF! (laughter)
Wayne: Day off, go and see it! (laughter)
Once again, thank you very much! I promised this would be a short interview, and if there’s anything else you’d like to add for our readers and/or listeners…
Wayne: Just thank you for being there for us. We appreciate all of the support and love we’ve gotten, especially here in Europe back for the first time supporting this record and… fuck. It’s been awesome! (laughter)
Lewis: It’s surreal sometimes.
Like, did you imagine yourself doing this?
Lewis: I always did…
Wayne: Of course I did!
Lewis: I always did, but did I see it coming to a head… no… (laughter) I heard horror story after horror story. I moved to Hollywood for two years to go to music school with Neil, and our band at the time, because I thought we were going to be fucking rock stars (Neil laughs)… and boy was I fucking sadly mistaken (laughter). I got a slap in the face real quick and it was like “uh-uh, this is really how it’s going to be, idiot! You gotta work for this shit!” So it’s, I always pictured this, yes…
Lewis: … but did I ever think that, this is our second, no third international tour…
Wayne: You should give a shout out to Ricky Frankel (Punknews editor)…
Wayne: … he’s always there for us. He’s a great man, and he’s always doing things on air for us. Shout out to Ricky.