With Ace of Cups gig looming, New Bomb Turks looks back

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Surprisingly little has changed with New Bomb Turks' high-energy live show since the influential garage-punks first surfaced in 1990.

"We're still loading our own gear onto the stage, and packing it up afterwards," vocalist Eric Davidson said in a recent phone interview. "We're essentially the same band. We only changed drummers once, so we really are the same people playing those same songs. It's not me and [guitarist] Jim [Weber] and a couple of 20 year olds up there."

One thing that has changed, however, is the frequency of the local band's performances. With families and careers taking precedence, appearances have dwindled to a few select dates a year, including this stop at Ace of Cups on Wednesday, Oct. 29. In advance of the gig, Alive presented Davidson and bassist Matt Reber with photographs from three distinct eras of the band and asked for their thoughts. Here's what the two had to offer.


Matt: We're all smiling in this one, so I'd say it was near the beginning of the tour. That was our first tour, and [our goal] was really just to get through it. We'd never done more than two shows at a time, [and] we had maybe three days off the entire tour. I got deathly ill in Germany [with] some kind of food poisoning that took a week to work its way through my system.

Eric: We were supposed to meet this photographer from a big magazine kind of described as the Rolling Stone of Germany, and it was like, "Ooh, wow, a guy with a nice camera." He said to meet at this corner bar at 11 o' clock in the morning. There were seven or eight old men who just looked over at us, and it was like, "Oh boy, the loud Americans just walked in." When the photographer showed up he told us, "This bar is kind of known as a hangout for old SS guys." We were like, "Oh … can we maybe do this interview somewhere else then?" On the way out we made sure to be extra obnoxious.

Matt: We walked around the corner with the photographer after the interview into some obviously broken down part [of town]. It was '93, so there were still a lot of shot-out buildings. I think there are outtakes with Jim holding a tire, but I'm not sure what we used those for.

Eric: We ended up playing 54 shows in 60 days on that tour, and it was probably one of the early things that convinced us - and you don't say these things out loud - but it convinced us maybe we should stick with [music]. My parents had never been to Europe, and here I was going there twice in one year - and playing to decent crowds.


Matt: That was taken when we recorded our first album with [current drummer] Sam [Brown], Nightmare Scenario. We recorded in Detroit at Ghetto Recorders, which was the studio run by Jim Diamond. This was the equipment lift up to the studio.

Eric: I think the band felt reenergized. Everybody was in a good way after some low personal points, which I won't go into. I honestly feel we were as good live right then as we ever were, and I really liked the new songs. Personally, I think it took me that many albums to figure out how to not write so many goddamn words.

Matt: It definitely looks like our black phase. At that point you stop wearing colors because they show stains more clearly. You could wear a dirty shirt onstage 10 nights in a row, and if it's black it still looks good - at least until the salt stains from the sweat start coming through.

Eric: I think physically we were in the best shape we'd ever been in as a band. Everyone was in a good place then. For rock bands it probably means you're in a good mood if you're trying to look all mad [laughs]. That's the classic rock thing: the angrier you look the more fun you're actually having.


Matt: Independents' Day was one of the coolest settings we're ever had [for a concert]. The sound was weird - it was the first time I saw a guy use an iPad to run sound at a place - but the whole vibe was great. We got done and I got to walk across to see Lydia Loveless, and my son got to watch us play. It was awesome.

Eric: Now that we live in different places and have kids and jobs, we still have fun getting together a few times a year. And maybe that's good. We can save up all that energy and aggression for those couple nights.

Matt: In '93 we were just figuring out what we're doing, and now we know. We're finally confident we can play a good show. [The biggest difference now is] we might approach it like, "Hey, let's play early so our kids can come out and see us."

Eric: We have something like 10 or 11 albums of material we put out … so that's pretty good. Overall I'm pretty happy with how we ran our career. Yeah, there are always things you could have done differently here or there … but musically I'm fine with [our legacy].

Matt: Respect to anybody else I've been in a band with, but I've never been in a band that's this easy to do. There's nothing like it. I'd love to make another record with New Bomb Turks, but right now it's geographically impossible. There is this nagging feeling, though, just because we do have a good time together. I don't know if we will [make another album], but we all talk about it.

Ace of Cups

6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29

2619 N. High St., Campus