Interview with Bomb Cats

We chat with Indianapolis-based punk rock quartet Bomb Cats, recently featured with their Third Street Melody EP.

Your new EP, Third Street Melody, consumes with a meshing of rock and punk-driven sounds both familiar and new. I’m reminded fondly of Television. Was there a particular artist or album that had a big influence during the EP’s recording sessions?

JAMES: I don’t think there was a particular artist that had a big influence on this recording’s sessions, but as a band I think we all look to 70s, 80s and 90s influences.  Particularly Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy, and Social Distortion

RUSS: Funny because people have told us Television basically since the beginning as a band. We take it as an immense complement! The only thing that comes immediately to mind are the bells we used on Third Street, and as a band we love Thin Lizzy. That’s a constant influence for us.

CHRIS: First off, I’m a big fan of Television, so that comparison is an honor! Influence is hard to define sometimes because it’s not that calculated. We don’t set out to sound like anyone specifically, it just comes out in our music. We love the attitude and DIY nature of punk, but we also love the technical musicianship of rock music. Blending those gives us our sound.

How did the band decide to embrace a fairly heavier sound on Third Street Melody, compared to your previous work?

JAMES: I think it happened naturally.  What you hear on all our albums is a natural progression of the band’s sound.  When we first started, we were more psychedelic, jammy, and swampy sounding.  We’ve moved more towards a power pop sound the last few years and heavier, crunchier riffs and chords.

RUSS:  It’s always been there, but we’ve just focused more and sifted out some of the other styles of music which we’ve always flirted with. A lot of the early material Chris wrote before the band existed, and now as we have moved past that material our overall sound has evolved with it. The whiskey helps as well.

CHRIS: I echo what James and Russ said, especially the whiskey part. Also, the recording process itself makes a difference. If you were to hear us live, we put out a lot of sound! But it doesn’t always come out that way from a studio. We spent more time on the recording process of Third Street Melody making sure it represented us properly.

You’ve played across a variety of venues, from Chicago and Milwaukee to Louisville and Nashville. What is your favorite musical venue and/or city, either to perform or witness a show at?

JAMES: My absolute favorite place to play is 3rd Street Dive in Louisville, Kentucky.  The crowds are always fun there and it’s just a great place to do a gig.

RUSS: Third Street Dive has always welcomed us, that’s why Chris wrote the song for this EP. But The Melody Inn, State Street Pub, and Third Street Dive are our places man. Honestly any venue willing to take a chance on us is my favorite venue.

COLIN: My favorite venue to play is the 3rd Street Dive in Louisville. Nestled in the heart of downtown Lou, you never know who’s going to pop into your show and get the dancing going. March Madness fans, a bridal party, or some rowdy tourists fresh off the Bourdon Trail. Always such a great time.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

JAMES: Usually Chris and/or Russ will come up with the basic chord progression of the song, and then the band will jam on it to flesh it out.  Sometimes it ends up sounding quite different than it started out.

Chris: The thing that’s always worked well for us is to record practice demos of new material. It gives us a chance to listen to what each other is doing and how well all the parts fit together (or don’t!).

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

JAMES: I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient music, Tom Petty, Tool, and the Ramones lately.  I’m all over the place musically I guess

RUSS:  I listen to a lot of the Ramones, but also the Get Up Kids. Limbeck is one of my all-time favorite bands. The classic fallbacks for me are Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, KISS, AC/DC, but also Green Day. And hip hop when I work out.

CHRIS: Right now, I’ve been enjoying the new Black Keys record, Son House, CSS, Lord Huron. Honestly, by the time you read this I’ll probably be listening to twenty other things, too.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

JAMES:  Brian Eno.  I think he brings a unique sensibility to every project he’s involved with.

CHRIS: I’ll go with David Bowie. I love that he wasn’t afraid to change musical styles even after immense success.

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

JAMES:  I love collaborating with other musicians.  It’s always a unique mix when you combine different personalities, musical tastes, and playing styles

RUSS:  For me it’s a creative outlet. I work in a highly technical field and doing something creative in my down time is amazing. I get a kick out of everything involved, writing and performing, recording, practicing, working on cover art, graphics for social media, all of it.

CHRIS: James stole my answer.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

JAMES: Getting people to pay attention to what you’re doing.

RUSS:  Cutting through the noise of content to get someone to see you. And none of us are that social media savvy. I see other bands getting into TikTok and Youtube and I just don’t see us doing that. Content creation has become a full-time job, I see us more as musicians and live performers rather than wannabe influencers.

CHRIS: It’s never been easier to listen to music. There are literally millions of songs available at your fingertips pretty much at every time. Standing out from the crowd is a challenge.

What’s upcoming for the project?

JAMES: We have another EP worth of material already.  We’ll probably start recording it this coming winter

RUSS:  Chris and I have kicked around doing a full-length album, and possibly throwing in a cover or two. It’s something I have wanted to do for a few years, and I think I might have him convinced.

CHRIS: We are so happy with Third Street Melody and the recognition that it’s gotten us. It inspires us to keep going and we certainly don’t want to lose momentum. We feel we’ve raised the bar for ourselves and creating a full-length album of worthy material is a worthwhile challenge.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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