A Q&A with Alexander Jones of Bombay Harambee | Rock Candy

A Q&A with Alexander Jones of Bombay Harambee

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With a brand new cassette-only release and a full-length LP on the way, Little Rock band Bombay Harambee is about to have a busy year. Members include Spaceman Dave on bass, Jason Griswold on drums, Alexander Jones on vocals and guitar and Trent Whitehead on guitar and vocals. Trent currently plays with Swampbird and The Uh Huhs. Jason’s also in the Uh Huhs and has played in The Tricks with Alexander and before that he was in bands like No Hay de Que, Pink Drapes, and Richmond Bread Riot. Alexander played in The Tricks and War Chief before this project. Alexander is the main songwriter in Bombay Harambee, so this is his main focus at the moment.

Bombay Harambee play Fayetteville tonight (Jan. 16) at Lightbulb Club with Fayetteville bands The Chads and LLinda. They play tomorrow (Jan. 17) at The White Water Tavern in Little Rock, presented by KABF’s Shoog Radio, with Tyrannosarus Chicken, Michael Leonard Witham and Amyjo Savannah. 

Here's a Q&A with Alexander Jones to get us up to speed with the band in 2015.

I saw The Tricks a few times and really dug it, which is why I was interested in this new project of yours. How long had you been together when I first saw you at 8-bit Taproom in 2013.

David and I started jamming together in December 2012, the band began to coalesce over the first few months of that year. Our first show was either late March or early April of that year. So maybe two or three months? Miss that venue, what a steal on those dollar beers! That also was our first show with one of our favorite locals Radradriot.

I enjoyed your first album. What's the story behind releasing a new cassette tape and does the name "Wolfman Fellowship" have any significance you'd like to explain? Was this new one recorded at Wolfman Studios with Jason Tedford like the last one?

Thanks! After some extensive back-of-the-envelope research, we concluded that cassettes are the cheapest per-unit method to manufacture physical copies of music. Turnaround time is also far shorter than vinyl (up to 18 weeks for any bands looking to release on vinyl). Wiener Records (Fullerton, CA) is a subsidiary of Burger Records, and Wiener releases exclusively (so far) on cassettes. It was a perfect fit for us. Some of these songs are remastered versions of their counterparts on 2014’s “You Know Better.” Those were indeed recorded with Jason Tedford at Wolfman Studios. For the previously unreleased tracks, those were recorded with Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound. All were mastered by Patrick Haight out in California.

I've heard you a few times recently on Shoog Radio. How did you get involved with them and what does it mean for a band to do a "shoog radio presents" show like tomorrow at WWT?

For Bombay Harambee, if I remember correctly it was in advance of our release of “You Know Better” early last year. I had given Aaron an advance copy of the EP and they invited me on the radio show to promote its release show at White Water Tavern. We always have a really great time in the KABF studios. That radio station is one of the coolest things in Little Rock. Listen to 88.3 FM people! As for the show tomorrow, we’re honored to play it. Shoog Radio is such an integral part of the Arkansas music scene that it sometimes goes unmentioned. Most obviously, Shoog provides bands both big and small a wonderful platform to connect with new listeners. Less obviously though, Shoog affords bands with a community space to discover one other and collaborate together. It’s a great resource, and we’re happy to help keep it moving forward!

It’ll also be really fun to play with Tyrannosaurus Chicken for the first time. One of my fondest memories of that band is watching Rachel and Smiling Bob play a two-hour set in the Brickhouse at Hendrix College with Swampbird back in like 2010. What a night!

What are your thoughts on the Little Rock music scene circa-2015?

Little Rock is a treasure, but sometimes you have to know where to look. It isn’t Brooklyn or Portland, but that’s OK. I feel like I learn more about its ins and outs the more I go to shows. The size of our city allows music to percolate in an interesting way. Punk commingles with country, soul, hip-hop, and jazz. I’m not sure that’s the case everywhere else.

What can we expect from the performances tonight at Lightbulb Club and tomorrow at The White Water Tavern?

For starters, on each night the first fifty people through the door will receive a free copy of “Wolfman Fellowship” on cassette, so bring a friend with a tape deck in their car! We will also have three brand-new songs to play. They were recorded this week and haven’t even finished mixing. I’m heading to the studio after this interview to work with Jason Weinheimer on final mixes.

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What are your influences (local and globally)?

I’d say we all really appreciate punk rock, and that I ascribe to that term a very broad definition. I have listened to Pixies and Pavement probably more than any other bands. I love the Talking Heads, Silver Jews, and more. Trent is the biggest Prince fan I know. David loves QOTSA and evil old-school punk. Jason loves weird, weird, weird music – all of which is awesome. He hosted house shows of both Kurt Vile and Ty Segall back in the day, so he knows his stuff.

As for the Little Rock scene, my first show at a club was an American Princes cover-up show of the Pixies. I was 14 and went with Gabe Smoller and Andrew Balay. The Princes are probably what I’ve drawn most from.

People like Isaac Alexander and Adam Faucett are inspirational if not quite as sonically “influential” for Bombay in particular.

Another thing that’s sparked my interest is the artwork on your flyers and, apparently, on your new cassette as well. Who's behind this cool artwork?

Gus Carlson does almost all our artwork. He is based in Fayetteville and publishes several cartoon series online and in print. He does terrific work! Anyone in need of design work for events or music should hit him up. Working with him has been an absolute pleasure.

What are your touring and promo plans for this year?

We actually have a pretty big year lined up so far. The biggest news is that we’re releasing our first full-length LP on vinyl in May. In advance of that we’re releasing a double 7” single “Check, Check, Checkmate/Dotted Line” in March. We have planned (for us) a big tour in support of its release that will take us up to New York and back. Then, we’ll be playing 7” release shows around the state. Here are tour dates:

March 5 – Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
March 6 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement
March 7 – Charlottesville, VA @ Sidetracks (in-store)
March 7 – Charlottesville, VA @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
March 8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Bar Matchless
March 9 – Manhattan, NY @ Cake Shop
March 10 – Lexington, KY @ TBA – (Anyone know cool bands in Lexington or Louisville?)
March 12 – Hot Springs, AR @ Maxine’s
March 13 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern
March 14 – Fayetteville, AR @ Smoke and Barrel


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