Swedish heavy metallers Bombus are currently gearing up to release their fourth album Vulture Culture via Century Media Records on November 15th. A gritty and no-nonsense traditional metal record, the album marks the first with new guitarist Simon Solomon. Taking a break from prepping for their upcoming gigs, frontman and founder Feffe had a chat with us about both the new album and his dream touring lineup.
You’re currently gearing up to release the new album Vulture Culture. How do you think the response has been to the songs released so far?
Overall really good. We’ve got these songs out and folk have been really liking them. There’s a few other songs which we might release to fill the gap between those released and the album dropping so people can get a better picture of it. But, overall very good.
This is also the first album with new guitarist Simon. How has it been working with him?
Really good. It’s been quite different to have three guitars in the band. He’s a brilliant guitarist and probably one of the best musicians I’ve ever played with. He’s got good taste, a great ear and is really good with arrangements. Part of the reason we brought him in was because I’m doing all the vocals now and I wanted to focus more on them. When you play guitar and sing, it can often mess up one or the other and I felt as though the vocals suited me better so we brought him in. We wrote the album for three guitars as well so it adds additional depth as opposed to just having 3 rhythm guitars. Even though we have three guitars now, we don’t want it to be too guitar heavy and balanced between all five instruments.
But yeah, he’s been super great. Even though he wasn’t involved in the writing per se, he helped a lot with the arranging of the album. He adds a lot to the band.
As you mentioned, having him in the band is probably going to make playing live a bit easier.
Yeah, exactly. By playing and singing at the same time, it strains the vocals a bit more. I noticed that on the last album when we toured that it was a bit tougher to sing and the vocal cords felt a bit rough on some shows. We’ve done a few shows with him and it’s already made it much easier.
Was the production for this album any different to the previous one?
We recorded with Daniel, the same guy as last time, and he served as producer as well. We then had Jen’s Bogren do the mix as well as the master this time. He only did the master last time so having him do the mix this time as well was cool. Working with Daniel was really good as well as he has a lot of good ideas and super-energetic. Every time we work with him he always has new ideas and ways of doing things differently. He’s super creative and has some super-crazy ideas which end up on the album. We re-amped everything on this album as well. Even the drums. We recorded the drums and then rented this big venue where we played the recording and re-amped them in there. It ended up sounding super cool. We really enjoyed our time in the studio and got to put some super ideas in before we sent it to Jens. We got the formula just right this time I think.
How many of the songs ended up having last minute tweaks in the studio?
We had about 70% of the album done before the entered the studio but every song ended up having some tweaks. We always leave something as it’s such a good environment to work in. I write pretty much all the music at the home and record simple demos into Cubase before sending it to the guys. We rehearse it a bit and then head into the studio where we really get some cool ideas. So yeah, every song was almost done before we went it but the last touches were made when got in there.
We still use valve and tube even though we re-amped everything. I think in the end we used the EVH 5150 and Marshall JCM800’s which ended up sounding really good. We still use valve amps and not kempers in the studio. I really like the idea of re-amping as you can set the sound in the mix and not have to worry a lot about finding the tone before tracking. The JCM800 I have is kind of modified in some way which gives it a really killer sound. I used a telecaster on some parts along with an SG as well. We used a Rickenbacker bass on this one to give it a bit more punch this time around. We have a Sandberg bass which we used on the last album and sounded good, but this around we wanted a bit more punchy bass so we ended up using the Rickenbacker.
What would you say inspires you to write music?
I get inspired by everyday life and I always get new ideas. There could be one song that comes on the radio or I hear something that suddenly gives me an idea for a song. It can be one of those cheesy commercial pop songs, but those hooks can give me an idea for a song. This time around for this, I was really into the classic older albums such as Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper and Queen which was really cool. I think albums of that era are really eclectic and now, 45 years later, it’s still hard to beat those albums in terms of composition and arrangement. Even though we play heavy metal, they are still very inspiring and were the ones I was looking at when I wrote this new album.
If you had to pick your three favourite classic albums from the era you just mentioned, who would you pick?
Oh man, that’s tough! I was thinking about that the other day and I’d probably have to say Master of Puppets by Metallica for one of them. I think that’s the best thrash metal album of all time and is so complete. You know how some albums have some really good songs and a few fillers, this album is fantastic with no fillers at all. I would probably pick Queen II as well for another and probably Pink Floyd’s The Wall. If I’m allowed to pick another, I’d pick Alive by Kiss as it’s an amazing live album. That list changes over time but those are the ones I would pick at this time. I got the question the other day as to what album inspired me to pick up the guitar and play and it was a really difficult one to answer. I picked Creatures of the Night by Kiss as well as it was the album that, as a kid, was the first one I heard which was awesome.
What are the band’s plans for the next 6 to 12 months?
We’ve a few dates in Germany which is going to be really good. You always want to get on the road with the new album and the new setlist. The year is short so we decided to do a short run there and a few other shows here and there which will be good. It’ll be nice to get playing again after having been waiting to play the new stuff for a while. We don’t have to change any of the songs from the new album to the live setting as it was more live sounding and can be played as it is. It’ll be really easy to just play the songs and will sound good from the start.
We’ll be doing some more touring as well over next year. We’ll be making a video for the song “All Over” around the end of this year and early next year as well which will be nice. We’ve already started to write the next album as well with recording ideas. I’m always writing and have ideas from quite a few years ago that I brought back and finished off. We’ve been doing the band for 10 years now and I’ve got quite a few fragments of songs that I can put together and finish off. I don’t really have a set writing period but I do spend some time arranging and tracking to make sure the ideas turn into songs.
What advice would you give to a new band that’s just starting out?
You’ve got to find your niche and stick to it. At the start you might have ideas to separate you from the herd and you might have a sound that people might not want at the time but you should stick with it. Don’t fall into the trap and copy what others do. Stay on your own track and even though it will take a few years, it should pay off in the end. Stay true.
If you had to put together your dream touring lineup, which bands would you pick?
I think the band we’d like to support would be Judas Priest as they are so legendary and still so good. They are not like a few of those old classic giants who are not as good as they think they are. They still kill it even now and when I saw them a few years ago at Download festival they were amazing. I think if we had Mastodon on the bill as well that would be great. So if we had us, Mastodon and then Judas Priest that would be a fine evening. I like Mastodon in the way that they have those classic rock riffs and other things in there. High on Fire would fit nicely as well. I think they are one of the most underrated bands around at the moment. They deserve more than they have at the moment.