Interview: Tsunami Bomb
Tsunami Bomb burst onto the punk rock scene in the early 2000’s, filling a much-needed gap somewhere between peppier pop-punk and the quickly rising emo/screamo sounds of the day. Their singles “Take the Reins” and “Dawn On A Funeral Day,” several Warped Tour performances, and buzz-worthy direct support spots on major tours, all helped keep their momentum rolling – until it abruptly came to a halt in 2005 when the band parted ways. After some successful one-off reunion shows, the spark was lit again, and the band officially reunited in 2015 - with a few new members (vocalist Kate Jacobi and guitarist Andy Pohl). It’s been 15 years since the release of their last full-length album, but 2019 will see them releasing The Spine That Binds in November. We had the opportunity to chat with Kate Jacobi and Dominic Davi (bassist and co-founder) about what you can expect to hear on the new album, the lead single “The Hathors,” working with punk rock icon Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles for the release of it, and much much more!
1. You release your brand-new full-length album The Spine That Binds this November (2019). Tell us a little bit about the album.
Kate: When we set out to write this record, we wanted to find the next chapter of Tsunami Bomb that would bridge to our very eclectic discography.
Dominic: Exactly. Considering all the different previous chapters of this band, it felt like this album needed to be able to reflect all the different places as a band we had been with our writing, and at the same time move ourselves forward. I think people will be surprised with how familiar it feels, but at the same time it is undeniably the start of a new chapter. Even for us coming back, it's been a minute. It's also a far darker album then it initially appears.
2. It’s been 15 years, and a few lineup changes, since your last album release. Even though you’ve released some songs since reuniting in 2015, what can fans expect to hear on this album that’s different than what they’ve already heard from the new lineup, and what similarities will they find between the then and the now?
Kate: Cohesion. When we started writing for this album, we were also still at the start of our friendships. We are very proud of our first two singles and they were the beginnings of the five of us collaborating as a band. Throughout the record you can hear each of us coming together in every song.
Dominic: The passion is the similar thread running through this. Everyone in this band takes being in this band very seriously and is here because we love Tsunami Bomb. It's important to us and we knew we would have a lot to prove. There has never been an assumption that people will just accept whatever we do. We knew what we were getting into and we only took that on because we love it. So, I think as we very clearly come together stronger than before on this album, you will still hear a band that is very driven to prove itself and cares deeply about what we are doing.
3. Is there an overall theme or feel to the album that you were looking to create with it, or is this just the best songs of the bunch and you want the world to hear them?
Kate: There is definitely a theme of finding yourself and interacting with the world around you as you do. It’s a journey of building confidence and crippling insecurity while understanding that we, as people, affect each other and have to be responsible for our actions.
4. You’ve signed on with Alternative Tentacles for the release of this album. What ultimately made you decide that this was the perfect home for your new material?
Dominic: I was actually really surprised to find out that Jello Biafra is actually a Tsunami Bomb fan from way back, his favorite release of ours is the 'Mayhem On The High Seas' 7" from '99. So, when we had started looking around at who we might put out the album with, he called us out for not considering Alternative Tentacles. I told him that I hadn't considered him because it was pretty catchy, and I didn't think he would like it. He was like, "I don't care if it's catchy! We work with Pansy Division and they are really catchy! I care that it's not boring! Is it boring? Are you a boring band? Send me the fucking demos!"
We may be a lot of things, but we try not to be boring... so we sent him the demos and to our surprise, he loved them! He asked us to come to Alternative Tentacles for this album and we were flattered. I think from his perspective, while we may not be exactly be the sound most people think of when they think of Alternative Tentacles, Tsunami Bomb does have a unique sound. It's very distinctive and I think that makes us fit since AT is traditionally and legendarily the home for the unique. We are pretty honored to be a part of it.
5. In the past you’ve worked with Kung Fu Records, also a label owned by artists. What aspect do you find most endearing about working with artist owned labels that you don’t feel you’d get anywhere else?
Kate: Artists understand artists. Both Kung Fu and Alternative Tentacles have understood that we do this because we love it. For us, we balance our music with very busy lives that we live on opposite sides of the country. Touring can be challenging and so can recording but our labels create space for us to stay doing what we love.
6. You chose “The Harthors” as the lead single for the album. Why did you feel that this was the best song to first introduce your new music with?
Kate: The Hathors is honest and raw.
Dominic: It is. It also felt like a good introduction since it felt very much like a classic Tsunami Bomb song. If you are an old fan of Tsunami Bomb, you'll hear this song and recognize that it's us. These are the people who wrote that music. If you are new to Tsunami Bomb, to Kate's point it's sincerity really grabs you. Kate's putting her heart out there on this track! Plus, we all just really love the song.
7. If someone is still on the fence about purchasing the new album, what other two songs from it would you suggest they check out to help sway them and why?
Kate: I’d say check out “The Spine that Binds” and “Last Call.” We really feel this record brings out the different elements of Tsunami Bomb. Spine and “Last Call” are two different pieces of the roots of TB. Sometimes angry and in your face and other times catchy, fun and will stick in your head.
Dominic: It's really tough for me to pick two because there are a few that really stand out for their own reasons, but I'd say “Sinkhole” and “The Spine That Binds.” One will show just how infectious our songs can be, even when singing about having a hard time. The other will show you how hard the band can punch back. They stay in my head a lot.
8. We mentioned your reuniting in 2015. What brought that on and why do you feel that it was the perfect time to do it?
Dominic: I honestly would have never thought this would happen. I had long accepted that Tsunami Bomb was over. The idea to play shows again came up a bit unexpectedly from the conversations with Kung Fu Records regarding collecting all of our out of print early EPs into an LP collection, 2016's 'Trust No One'. We just wanted to play a few shows to bring some attention to that record coming out and have fun together. Not everyone wanted to come back, but we felt that we had enough of the writers of the music to move forward, and when we played together it just was obviously Tsunami Bomb. It's honestly always sounded like Tsunami Bomb when we played together. It was obvious we weren't anything else then what we had always been.
Then the shows just went so well, and they kept going so well. We kept getting asked to do more and more, it's all been because people kept asking us to keep going. It's been incredibly humbling and surreal experience.
A big moment though was on the 2016 Vans Warped Tour, when I was walking around watching all the other bands play that day. We had been completely blown away by the response to our show. We had done a signing and just completely stunned by how many younger kids who didn't know who we were at all, came up to talk to us about how much they loved it. So many people had Tsunami Bomb tattoos. It was just really moving. Then I'm walking around that day checking everyone who is playing out and realizing that no one else sounded quite like us. We were still different, and we still had a voice that didn't come off as too dated, or out of touch. There was still a place for us in the scene.
9. You’ve added some new members, including lead singer Kate Jacobi. What do the new members bring to the table that has helped elevate your sound the most from what was known of it previously?
Dominic: Everyone who has been involved with this band over the years has brought so much to it. We've been so lucky to work with the people we have and that hasn't changed. We knew when we came back, we had to find someone who could fill some really big shoes, and Kate has just been so amazing. She's incredibly brave, like the bravest person I've ever met. She will try anything and always does so with such grace and class (though I'm sure she's rolling her eyes at me right now), and her writing is so honest. She holds nothing back. I think people are just starting to figure out how powerful of a vocalist she really is and that's really fun to watch.
As for our guitarist Andrew Pohl, he's been a friend of the band's forever. He was actually in the audience at our very first show, so it's easy to forget he's "new". He really understands the band and his guitar style brings so much depth to our music. He has this layered, anthemic approach to all the songs, and is such a mechanic about it. He's always tweaking and fine tuning what he's doing. Trying to make it bigger and better... we wouldn't be doing this if we hadn't found the right people to move forward with, and when you hear them you understand why we felt that way. It's just been amazing to work with them.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band today?
Kate: Believe that you can do it before you expect others to think you can. Being in a band is hard work. Practice, planning, negotiating, and resiliency are so important. But if you don’t love it, no one will.
Dominic: Totally. Just play. Instead of racing to see how many followers you can get, or how many songs you can throw out, or who you can meet that will hook you up, focus on making a project you can be proud of and build a real connection to the people who care about it. Make each of your shows a unique event that matters and feels special. Start there and the rest will come.