December 10th, 2010 | Interviews

ramon felix

Bombón plays ’60s surf-inspired garage punk, and recorded their debut LP, Las Chicas del Bombón, on 1/2-inch tape at Cali Mucho in San Pedro. They just returned from their first tour of the South with Pine Hill Haints and Rise Up Howling Werewolf. They speak now from the Liquid Kitty in homemade matching sailor dresses. They are patiently waiting for their phone call from Quentin Tarantino. This interview by Lainna Fader.

What are we watching?
Paloma Bañuelos (bass): Liquid Kitty let us do our own projections for the show, and we brought this ’60s go-go girl DVD but we hadn’t seen all of it and turns out it’s full of naked ladies!
Yeah, I think your crowd might have been a little distracted—what would’ve been your second choice?
Jerico Campbell (drums): Definitely horror films! I’m really excited—on Saturday I’m going to the Hollywood Forever cemetery to see Night of the Living Dead. I love horror movies.
Angela Ramos (guitar): I wanted to see Rosemary’s Baby there.
Why did you choose the South for your first tour?
PB: We wanted to go to Alabama.
AR: That’s where our music family is! And it’s a big family. We stayed at this big house where all the bands that Kevin [Carle, Cali Mucho Studios] records hang out when they’re in town. Every time any of the bands tour they stay there, and we’ve all become close really fast. We have music families in other places though. We have one in Fullerton—the Burger Records family.
PB: Burger put out our tape before we even were really a band. We had only been playing for like a month at that point.
How’d you get a record label to take you seriously before you even really considered yourselves a band?
PB: Angela’s from Orange County and she’s friends with them.
AR: It’s funny because it was only once I moved to San Pedro that I started hanging out with those guys. We actually talked about taking a food truck on tour while we were on this tour. We’d see bands sponsored by like Dickies, and we thought, ‘Who needs Dickies? We should be sponsored by a food truck!’
Which food truck do you want to tour with?
PB: I think we’d take the one down the street.
PB: San Pedro has a lot of Mexican taco trucks, but we grew up with them. Everyone’s used to them because they’ve been here forever. They’re all popular in L.A. now. Maybe we should take one of them from home.
Are you the tip of the surf iceberg? Are there a dozen more surf bands in San Pedro?
PB: No! Not at all, actually. There’s like no surf bands.
AR: There’s a lot of amazing bands in San Pedro but there’s no surf bands. I think there’s some in Lawndale. We’d probably be playing punk music if we weren’t playing surf music.
PB: I like Black Flag, and of course the Minutemen.
JC: We like whatever’s fast and got a good beat.
You definitely got a few people dancing tonight.
PB: Yeah! We get one random really old guy dancing at every show.
It’s always the same character?
AR: Or a tranny.
PB: Yeah, an eccentric old man or a tranny. It’s always one or the other.
AR: Our best show was when everyone danced. We had a couple of those where I guess everyone was just in the mood, and it made us play better. I wish people knew that—bands play better when people dance.
PB: At Awesomefest everyone was dancing.
AR: I think it really makes a difference. When I was singing ‘La Playa,’ I couldn’t hear myself singing because the entire crowd was singing over me, and everyone was dancing.
How do you decide whether to sing or not in a song?
AR: There’s only three songs with lyrics, and they were written to have lyrics. People always tell us to sing on our songs, but we play surf music—it’s the other way around.
PB: I think we just concentrate on playing good, on the music quality and making something crazy—not so much vocals.
Some of the best surf bands, like the Astronauts and Trashmen, played their best music without the actual experience of going surfing first. Does surfing spoil the inspiration to create surf music?
AR: It’s irrelevant. I’ve always been athletically challenged.
JC: I think we’re all athletically challenged.
PB: I don’t run very well.
JC: We ride bikes sometimes.
AR: The most athletic I get is riding a bike. I don’t like to run around at all.
PB: Angela’s blind. Well she’s not blind, she just can’t see very well. So surfing’s kind of out of the question anyway.
Is surf music nerd rock? Do you get geeks coming up and asking you to play obscure Fender Four songs or album cuts off Surfaris albums and getting pissed if you don’t know what they’re talking about?
PB: Oh my god, definitely! Lots of nerds.
AR: All of the surf bands, all of them are nerds. One of the guys in Man or Astroman? is actually a scientist, and I’m a chemist, so I think that’s awesome. I think guitar in surf music gets pretty technical and mathematical so that leads to a lot of surf music being nerdy.
Do you have to be good at math then to be good at making surf music?
PB: I’m the worst at math!
JC: I think surf music’s more about the rhythm so I think we’re OK.
In our last issue, we interviewed Roky Erickson and he said ‘exploding stars’ is his favorite sound. What’s your favorite?
PB: That’s a good one—I love Roky! That’s a hard question.
JC: This is going to sound corny, but I work with kids, and I love the sound of kids laughing. That’s the most awesome noise in the world. I work in a kindergarten.
PB: I love the sound of Pop Rocks.
How would you even describe the sound of Pop Rocks?
PB: (Laughs) You hear it in your head!
AR: I haven’t really ever thought about that.
PB: Wait. I have a question for Roky. Has he ever heard a star explode? Really? How would he know what an exploding star sounds like? I think Roky’s a little crazy now. Doesn’t he have to listen to five radios and ten TV shows all at once to fall asleep at night?
Besides Roky, who’s making music that you’re inspired by?
PB: We’re all big Holly Golightly fans. All three of us. I really like Billy Childish.
AR: We have very different taste for the most part, though.
JC: I like Rilo Kiley, Weezer, the Soft Pack. Angela’s the one who showed me surf music.
PB: Yeah—Angela had the idea of doing a surf band. Me and Jerico knew the Ventures and the Trashwomen but that’s pretty much it. I had a couple surf comps but I’m much more into ’60s psychedelic. Angela inspired us to get into surf music.
What do you bring to the table that the Trashwomen haven’t already done in the ’90s?
PB: We play our own songs!
JC: We’re 100 percent original.
What’s next for Bombón?
PB: We want Quentin to call us back!
AR: We want Quentin Tarantino to call us back! I was going to stalk him, but I’m too lazy.
I think he’d be kind of easy to stalk. He’s around.
PB: Great! I hope he listens to our record.
AR: I think he’d really like our record. I like Pulp Fiction a lot.
PB: We always thought our songs would be so good for his movies. We just found out today that Angela sent him a copy of our record last week.
PB: People always tell us we’re like a combination of the’s and the Ventures, so we’d be great!
AR: I think our goal for next year is to just make more songs. I don’t know if we’re ever going to be in a Tarantino movie, but we can hope.
PB: But I really hope Quentin calls us back!
JC: Yeah, even if it’s just to say, ‘Hey, I like your record!’ That would make us so happy. Call us back, Quentin!