People occasionally approach me and say ‘Hey! Aren’t you him that plays guitar in Bombskare?’, to which I reply ‘Bawbag! that’s my Indian name, and by the way, your grammar is shocking‘. They sometimes follow these semi-coherent outbursts with the revelation that, they too, are in a band. ‘You don’t say!; It’s like we’re cousins!;’ followed by, do I have any ideas or advice on how I can make their band more Bombskare-tastic, to which I always reply, sorry pal no idea. I don’t even know how to make us more Bombskare-tastic. I suspect it has something to do with duct tape.
Just to be clear: I yield to nobody in my outrage over bad ska bands, and yes indeed, there are one or two of them. I won’t go into details but I can offer some general advice and opinions on the subject of ska bands to anyone who cares. I don’t know much but there are a few definite do’s and don’ts in my opinion. First thing you’ll need is a drummer, any kind will do, but preferably a ginger, and if not ginger then at least make sure that he is a dangerous bastard and that he can count to two. Next up you will need a saxophone player, two if you can get them. You can find saxophone players in a number of places, lurking about pubs in Leith busking for pickled eggs, in Universities, almost anywhere. I like to get mine in Sainsbury’s. Watch out for trumpet players; in my experience they are prone to violence and are complete bastards. If you can get any other brass or woodwind, all to the better. Next up, you will need a singer, someone to front the band, represent your ensemble and also, most importantly, kill time and distract the audience between songs whilst everyone else tunes their instrument, or refills their drink. It was once the case that your front man had to be attractive to members of the opposite sex/gender/persuasion. Thankfully that is no longer the case, although you should take your time in selecting a vocalist, as they can sometimes be hopeless idiots. If you do decide to go down the hopeless idiot route, try and emphasise the idiotic aspects rather than the hopeless aspects. Singers usually range in size, from the behemoth twenty stone variety (the Nebuchadnezzar), the fifteen stone variety (the Jeroboam), or the eleven or twelve stone variety (the Magnum). If you are going with the Magnum variety, best get two. After that you are almost ready to go. You will need an assortment of other personnel in your band to take up space between your singer, your horns and your drums. They will be required to play guitars, keyboards, lifting stuff, water carriers, etc. These nobodies can be in shape or condition. Best just to get them at the Job Centre; you can decide what instrument they will be playing once you get to your first rehearsal. If the Job Centre is quiet, try the Hospital, or else the Zoo.
Of course, then your pain has just begun. You’ll need some songs. It’s easiest just to get the most unemployed member of your band to write the tunes as it’s a tedious, thankless task. Most people in their ignorance think it takes about three minutes to write a ska tune, after all, that’s how long it takes to listen to one. In my experience it usually takes the same time it takes to smoke a fag, and maybe drink a small coffee to write a ska tune, depending on how long the song is of course and how good you are. As for the actual song itself, history and tradition dictate that only two or three chords are required in the composition. Any more than three or four chords and you risk being called jazz, and you don’t want that. Also it’s best to be in the key of G major, because everyone likes G. It’s the vanilla of musical keys. After that all you need are a few words, in any language. Lyrical content, or libretto, can make or break a tune, as good songs can be about anything; love, revenge, super lager. So choose wisely. Bombskare lyrics cover most subject matter; string theory, comparative female anatomy, alien invasion, and so on in that fashion, but my advice is stick to what you know.
Well that’s about it I think. After that you’re all set. Put everyone together in a small room, preferably with little air conditioning, and just add alcohol. You can use any kind but we like to use refreshing Charisma Artois. Once you’ve had a rehearsal or two, you’re all set. Time to get straight to that very important first gig, where your new ensemble will perform their debut, stunning the unsuspecting public with sheer raw ability and musical talent. After that you are on your own. By the way and for the record, I saw an early incarnation of Bombskare in 1998 at one of their first gigs, and it was so bad it nearly gave me cancer. I was puking blood, it was that awful!
That was then, this is now, and these days we don‘t suck so bad. We’ve got a busy year lined up for 2008, even compared to 2007, and last year has been a pretty busy year. We met The Skatalites and played two gigs with them, we met Lester Sterling and of course our patron saint Lloyd Knibb. Not many people can say they have met their patron saint. We met and played with Toots and the Maytals in front of a thousand people at the Arches in Glasgow. We played with Lynval Golding and Pama International. We played two dates with Jerry Dammers. Very strange. We played with Buck Hingley and The Toasters. Not to mention all the other amazing bands that we played with such as the excellent Underling, Taking Chase, Junction Pool, Tyrant Lizard Kings, Root System and loads of others. We also played Knockengorroch Festival, the Sound of Rhum Festival, the Wizard Festival and the World Justice Festival. We’ve met loads of new people, loads of new friends. A big thank you to all of them, and of course all youse lovely people who keep coming back to see us jump around like clowns. Still not bored, eh?
One other thing. We are also in the process of putting the finishing touches on our new single. Before we make any rash promises about when we will be releasing it, lets just get this appearance at Big Hand’s album launch out of the way first. It’s on the 8th of February and it will be an early one. Should be exciting stuff. Maybe.