They say you can tell if you are a bad person by how much time passed from the towers falling on September 11th to the next time you masturbated. Good people waited at least a few days. In Louie CK’s case it was between the first tower falling and the second one falling, because as he says, if he didn’t do it then the terrorists win. Seems reasonable. It is much more difficult to tell if you are a good person however. With us it’s easy, the music speaks for itself. When Bach wrote music it was like he was speaking to God. When Mozart wrote music it was like God was speaking to Mozart. But when Bombskare writes music it’s like God speaking to Black Jesus, who texts Thor, who emails Zeus, who leaves a post-it note on the fridge for Satan, who leaves a garbled voicemail for Cthulu, who tweets Zeus, who then leaves an ad in the classified section of the Metro for Bombskare, and the results speak for themselves. Look on our works, ye mighty, and despair. Unholy chaos from beyond the grave, better known to you as Bombskare aka the Ska Bastards of Despair. You’re welcome.
It’s good to be in 2012 at last, because 2011 was a stone cold bummer. In China it was known as the Year of the Migraine. It was like a 365 day long Hearts and Hibs football match; or a 52 week long hernia operation. I would have preferred to have spent the entire year locked up in solitary confinement in Guantanamo Bay, handcuffed to a radiator, listening to the Smashing Pumpkins non stop. However this year I have high hopes and no, it’s not the looming apocalypse although that is certainly cheering me up, or the new Van Halen album which is certainly cheering me down shall we say. This year has already started better than last year for a number of reasons.
First, the government has promised to help all the victims of the recent defective boob job scandal. Brilliant news. I hate defective tits. The last bunch of tits the government bailed out were the banks of course, which were then part nationalised so I’m assuming the taxpayer will own all these augmented breasts, and so the question on everbody’s lips is do we get visiting rights? I realise that nationalising all these boobs might be viewed as controversial, but if they are anything like the railways then privatisation is bound to be a fiasco and far more costly in the long run. Lets nationalise these boobs now and at least they’ll run on time.
Second, it’s only the middle of February and we have hit the ground running. Gigs all over the place, Inverness and Aberdeen within a week, both were excellent. We played at the Knockengorroch Winter Warmer in Dumfries with Mandy ‘Do Mandroids Dream of Electric Soup’ Clarke on bass guitar, and Captain Waz ‘The Waz’ Wazzster on drums which was an excellent night also. Super Adventure Skare. We had our old friend Jane up doing vocals on ‘Do All Dogs Go To Heaven’, which was a hoot and a holler. It was a great night and once again our hats are off to Mandy Clarke, aka Papa Joe 2.0.
Thirdly, we went to Shetland, and then some. It was the most memorable week that we can hardly remember. We didn’t have Murray for this trip so we brought Phil Hopwood with us, or as we call him, Diet Murray. It was a pretty rough crossing this time around, fourteen hours of giant waves and recycled air. As mentioned we were going up to play a gig on the Hop night in Lerwick, and to see the Up Helly Aa itself of course, but that was it. Subsequently we were then approached by one of the squads who take part in the actual procession, to accompany them on the night itself as their ‘backing band’. They had been rehearsing their dance routine to ‘Fistful of Dynamite’ which coincidentally we wrote and recorded, fancy that. Obviously we agreed to accompany them right away without a moments thought, but we had no idea what we had let ourselves in for, nor how much of an honour it actually was as non-Shetlanders can’t usually take part in the Up Helly Aa. Basically, after the Up Helly Aa procession, each squad goes around the different halls, twelve maybe, and does their little dance routine to twelve different crowds, from 9pm until around 8am. Forty five squads in total, between twenty and thirty guys to a squad, squad number one being the Jarls squad. Those guys are the Vikings and the squad who actually drag the boat through the streets. Our squad was squad number forty, called ‘This is Ska’. We gradually managed to figure out was going to happen on our first meeting with the full squad on the Monday evening after we arrived on Shetland and realised we were going to do Bombskare – The A Team style, with bits and bobs lying around the garage which we then build into a devastating weapon to ambush the bad guys. In short we borrowed some portable battery powered amps for the guitars, had already brought a melodica for Matt, and jerry rigged a snare to Sam with his hi hat and a clamp for a splash cymbal. We then jerry rigged a floor tom for Andy to operate like a kick drum, and voila, Orkestra del Instant Bombskare, just add ungodly amounts of alcohol. It was almost too easy. We pity the fools.
I should mention at this point that I have no fear of vikings. So what if you’ve got a big fucking axe? I’m not impressed. And what’s the big deal about raping and pillaging? Back in the day they knew how to deal with vikings; a big mass of naked hairy Scotsman with broad swords and pikes, full of whisky, charging down a hill screaming. Yes, it was a different time in the Seventies. The squads are transported from hall to hall inside buses or in our case steel containers on the back of articulated trucks. I’ve long advocated using cargo containers for transporting Ska, but there is no way that it is legal to have fifty guys being driven around in the back of a cargo container with crates of beer as furniture, pure genius but definitely not legal. One of our squad mates told us that every few years Shetland gets a new chief of police, who after discovering what the Up Helly Aa actually involves, tries to shut it down, or throw the health and safety rulebook at them. But they are soon persuaded through some Shetland Jedi shit that one night a year, all bets are off. And sure enough, one policeman up there tried to sell me weed. At least I think that’s what he said. At each hall we went in with our squad and performed a stripped down version of ‘A Fistful of Dynamite’ followed by another tune so that our squad could then get a lady up to dance. The tradition is you can’t buy a drink in the hall, so you have to dance with a lady who then gives you a drink. So you can imagine what that was like, I mean, who the hell wants to dance with a ska band? Idiots, that’s who.
The night itself is a blur. I can remember halls number one through to eight, then a blackout, then the last hall. After that we were dropped off at Jeffs where some of us got some sleep and the rest kept going. It was either one or the other because our gig was that night. I was one of the dafties who just kept going, by Thor.
The gig itself was excellent I’ve been told, from a reliable source. We had excellent support from The Buckfuddies and The Revellers who were incredible. There was some concern from some quarters, not us, that we wouldn’t be match fit for the gig after the Up Helly Aa night, but they misunderestimated us. Damn the naysayers to hell. We played a ninety minute set fit for Odin himself to a packed crowd. Some members of the Jarls squad joined us onstage for ‘Inspector Gadget’ which probably added an extra tonne of weight onto an already buckling stage. We kicked them off the stage after that one song, axe or no axe. I’m definitely not scared of vikings. I have a moat around my house. One of the Jarls squad tried to sell me his two headed axe after the gig but I wasn’t interested. I hardly use the two headed axe I have already. After the gig we went back to Jeff’s and it was at that point the blur just becomes a dark haze of pure mystery. It’s possible we were drinking.
The following day Colin, Mike and I had to fly back to Aberdeen so we could be driven back to Edinburgh, because we had a gig in Darlington with This R2 Tone the following night. It felt like being airlifted out at the end of a battle. The rest of the guys stayed on Shetland until Friday night, taking the long way home on Saturday. We were picked up by our old friend John Ross at the airport, and he was a sight for sore eyes, no mistake. Fans of ancient history may recall that John Ross was once the singer in Bombskare, back in the twentieth century. Nowadays he contents himself with laughing at us, especially the condition of us when he picked us up at the airport. It was an amazing week and would not have been possible without Jeff Ampleford, a giant amongst men. Thanks to Jeff and all the Amplefords; Helen, Mike and Cal; thanks to Steve Hook and Amanda as always for making us sound good; thanks to the Buckfuddies and The Revellers; thanks to everyone who came to see us; and a big thanks to Squad 40. Skol.
And finally, now that we have returned to some semblance of normality our next mission is a live recording down at Chambers Studio, just round the corner from our HQ in Granton. It’s where we recorded our first single ‘Dance to Ska’ back in the day. This time we will be recording live, straight to two inch tape, all analog, no computers, no overdubs, just pure unadulterated ska. We’ve written some new material for the occasion which is coming together nicely. Just you wait.