It’s our pleasure to speak with GAMA BOMB. The Irish band, for those who don’t know them, is well known for their fresh thrash metal style and their lyrics, in which they usually speak about zombies, robots, ninjas, monsters and any other kind of being we could see at a classic horror movie.
Subterráneo Webzine: You are going to come to Spain and Portugal this summer, where you are playing, among other festivals, at the Otero Brutal Fest. Will it be a short trip or will you add some other gigs to the tour?
GAMA BOMB: It’s a short trip – right now we’re very into that, because some of us are still taking care of our little bambinos at home, so yeah, it’s a short one. Short trips are awesome – you can really give everything to every show, every night, and you can party pretty hard without worrying about burning out.
Subterráneo Webzine: It’s been ten years since Citizen brain was released, an album that included GAMA BOMB classics like “Hammer slammer”, “Bullet belt” or “Thrashaholic”. As artists I suppose you may want your new songs to be listened. Have you ever felt tired of playing old material or pissed about leaving some new one out of a setlist?
GAMA BOMB: Not really – we’ve seen enough bands we love trot out full new albums at gigs, and while we respect that as a way of keeping a band vital, it’s not that exciting. Our shows really are SHOWS; we want to give the people what they want, and that means playing hits from all of our albums equally. Sure, we’ll include new tracks but we don’t resent playing old songs. We love all those old ones, and they’re usually easier to play than the new stuff so that’s good.
Subterráneo Webzine: On several occasions you have allowed people to download your music for free, not only singles but an entire album! Obviously, any fan would be thankful for that. Then, why do you think there are still people blaming the internet for the deterioration of the musical industry? Do you think the days of the CDs are numbered or can they coexist with digital music?
GAMA BOMB: CDs will always have their place, but it’s going to be a niche market – people who need something to listen to in their car, I guess.
I think conversations about the internet killing music were always over-hyped, usually by the industry itself. In one way, we’ve ended up in a tragic place where the great democratisation of music, where it’d all be free at the point of consumption and totally supported by fans in a way that kept musicians in their job, never happened. Instead we’ve got several major platforms that control most access to music, and who set paltry artist rates in cahoots with the labels. The internet didn’t kill music, but it has narrowed opportunities to ‘make it’ as a musician. Physical music is here to stay though – vinyl came in and saved it. Who on Earth would have predicted that?
Subterráneo Webzine: Your song “Racists!” says “It didn’t work in the ‘forties, it’s not gonna’ work now!“. Why do you think the far-right parties are ascending all over Europe?
GAMA BOMB: Don’t get me started. I think Europe has always flirted with the far-right, especially in its mainstream, pro-market parties. This new breed of right winger has found favour, I think, because of the gap between rich and poor people. Generationally, people are worse off now than their grandparents, their parents. They’re poorer, have less chance to settle and fulfill themselves, because wealth is being more and more concentrated in the hands of the few. By 2030, the richest 1% of people will own 2/3 of the world’s wealth. It’s absurd. A system this distorted makes people desperate and because they’re ill-informed, or angry, or stupid, they look for the answers in nationalism and racism. The world’s money men -of all races and nationalities- have condemned us to this nightmare, and we’re not going to wake up from it until a fairer way of living has been wrenched from their hands.
Subterráneo Webzine: You’ve been on tour presenting your album Untouchable glory for few years now, you likely have written new material. Will we see lyrics about social or political criticism on your next album? If so, will those messages be disguised or not?
GAMA BOMB: I’d say it’s the most political album we’ve ever made. It has four or five songs, depending on how you look at it, about topical stuff. The environment, the alt-right, social media conformity, the equality gap, it’s all there and it’s not really disguised. We love to have fun, but we’ve never shied away from saying what we think loud and clear. Small as it is, we’ve got a platform here and want to use it to fight for decency, just as you would in your normal life. You can be a party band AND say “fuck racists, fuck the elite“. It’s easy.
Subterráneo Webzine: Okay, let’s set aside the serious topics. In the metal scene, and thrash metal is no exception, we often see this severe expression on musicians’ faces. You, conversely, are almost always conveying good vibes. Were you, at the beginning of your musical career, afraid of being criticized because of that?
GAMA BOMB: We’ve never been afraid of criticism, because we’ve always attracted a LOT of it (laughs). Ever since day one, some people would sneer at us even while others loved us. It’s nothing new.
Those people who criticize, they’re either just bystanders who couldn’t do what we do, or they’re other bands who couldn’t do what we do. So why let them get to you? I personally was nervous when I joined the band, of course. I had to hide behind a mic stand, sometimes even turn my back to the band in rehearsals. You can feel very naked as a singer when you’re not used to it. I never really worried what people thought, though. The love of doing it, the laughs we had as a band, always outweighed that. You don’t like this fun, positive thing we’re doing and enjoying? Good for you.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks to the scissor suit you’ve achieved Philly’s red leather jacket looks like the most formal outfit ever. Whose idea was it?
GAMA BOMB: Mine of course! I had pineapple pants for shows -they were actually Joe’s mum’s pants from the early 70s- and people seemed to like them, so I expanded into other gear. I saw Hayley Elsaesser, who’s an amazing designer in Canada, and makes clothes in the same style. I got in touch and it turns out she and her husband are fans, so they sent me a suit! Nice people, and a damn nice suit. I think it’s very fetching.
Subterráneo Webzine: I still keep the ticket of the first gig I saw you live, you chose the artwork from the movie Aenigma for its design. For those who do not know, you are classic horror and action movies enthusiasts. What can you tell us about having worked with Graham Humphreys?
GAMA BOMB: He’s a lovely man, a really sweet and kind person with a wicked, impish sense of humour. I’ve even met his mum, who’s a lovely lady! Graham is a real professional and a genuine lover of punk, goth and horror, a real old school Soho man who’s held out against all the millionaires who live there. He works there, drinks there, eats there, is a part of the place. We’ve been very lucky to work with him and call him a friend. I’d love to work with him again someday.
Subterráneo Webzine: I started watching classic horror movies thanks to you and I was truly lost at the beginning. Which movies would you recommend to those who might be discovering the genre? Be very careful with your answer, you could change some people’s lives with it.
GAMA BOMB: Wow, what an awesome burden! I think there are some basics – Dawn of the Dead, Suspiria, The Exorcist, The Omen, The Shining, Frankenstein (1931), Night and Day of the Dead too of course. Some Cronenberg too –Videodrome, Rabid, The Fly– and some slashers like Halloween. Beyond that, do your homework and you’ll find the gems. That’s part of the fun of being a horror fan: you’ve got to dig up the good ones.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks a lot for the time you’ve spent with us. We hope everything’s going well with you. Is there anything else you may want to say to our readers?
GAMA BOMB: I dunno – brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time? That’s good advice.
Thanks, guys. X