Nicky Bomba

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Nicky Bomba

2014 for Nicky Bomba was a massive year. Between the release of John Butler’s new album Flesh and Blood, of which he still played on (although not being an official member of the trio), to releasing an album with his own band Bustamento, looking back at the year that was as we chat on Christmas Eve, it seems 2014 will go down in the book as an active year. “Between some really big gigs, ARIA nominations, and releasing new albums, there really hasn’t been any time to stop … I just hope that 2015 is twice as busy.”
If you watched the 2014 ARIA awards in November last year, you will have seen the Melbourne Ska Orchestra back Sheppard as they played through their #1 hit song ‘Geronimo’. Bomba is still excited that the Orchestra were able to jump up on stage and join in the party. “It was a big honour for the band because we only released an album in 2013 and with everything that has happened since has just been fantastic. It’s testimony to the energy that the band puts out. In a matter of speaking, it feels that we are doing something right.”
A couple of weeks before I am on the phone chatting to Bomba, the Ska Orchestra had been added to the phenomenal line-up of Bluesfest 2015 over the Easter weekend. With such big name acts such as The Black Keys, Ben Harper, Paolo Nutini, John Mayall and Counting Crows amongst others, Bomba puts out the feelers for what would be the most amazing set of music experienced at the festival. “If Lenny Kravitz and The Black Keys want to jump up on stage with us, they would be most welcome. We’ve done Bluesfest three years in a row, and it is the reason why we are such a big band now. We are now in that international limelight and that is because of the experience that we can give to an audience on that level.
“To be asked to return there is simply an honour. We will have some new material out by then and we have had two years solid touring all around the world. We are able to mix it with the best of them and I think what makes our show so memorable is that we have the opportunity to go anywhere with it. We have some amazing players in the band and we are able to go off on a musical tangent at the drop of a hat.”
When a band releases a highly successful debut album, there is a certain pressure that might sometimes come into play with producing the follow-up. The self-titled ARIA-nominated album featured some great tracks, including renditions of the Get Smart theme and ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’, which was featured on an advertisement for free to air TV. Talking about the second release from the band, Bomba feels there is no pressure and it is going to be an extremely fun process heading into the studio to work. “I think that this time around we have a lot more things to say as a band. The thing about the ska music that we play is that there is an unlimited number of combinations that you can make. We try to mix up all our different influences and styles to create something new.
“We are writing at the moment for the new album and can’t wait to share what we have created with everyone. If your intention straight-up is to just make really good music, then the stresses of making a follow-up album don’t exist.”
Being a busy man with so many bands and different projects on the go, the idea to leave the John Butler Trio allowed Bomba to concentrate fully on the Ska Orchestra and Bustamento. Talking about the decision, Bomba feels that it was the right move at the time due to all of the big offers that the Ska Orchestra were receiving.
“There were a few conflicts when I was in the John Butler Trio because I would be overseas playing and we would be getting all these offers to play festivals and I physically wasn’t in Australia and there wasn’t the possibility of quick travel all around the world to make it work.
“When you have your own songs and music and record label to push, that obviously takes its own priority, and we are all still friends and I have worked on Flesh and Blood with John and will probably be guesting on albums and different bits and pieces into the future.”
One of the biggest shows the John Butler Trio played whilst Bomba was with the band was the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. “That was an amazing place. I remember doing my drum solo and saying I feel like I’m in a slingshot about to be catapulted into space. With the rocks on either side of me, I felt invincible. It was a perfect time for me because I wanted to tour the world playing drums to lots of people. It was a well-oiled machine, and that is John’s thing.”
As part of the entertainment for the Great Australian Beer Festival, Nicky Bomba and friends are set to perform a high energy set that will definitely bring the party to the annual event that is set to be held on the 21st of February at the Geelong Racecourse.
“It’s going to be a really fun set playing down there I think. The thing about playing in Bustamento and the Melbourne Ska Orchestra is that there is the possibility for anything to happen. I don’t write a setlist and I think for those that are coming along to the Beer Festival, they should bring their dancing shoes, because what we have planned is a high energy, no holds barred, dance set. Get ready Geelong, we’re coming!”
When&Where: Great Australian Beer Festival, Geelong Racecourse – February 21
By Tex Miller