Roadside Bombs are another gem out of the Northern California punk scene. If they haven’t made your radar yet, they should now. These guys give zero fucks when it comes to expressing themselves through their music. Giving the proverbial finger to those in the business of oppression, fear mongering and trying to divide the masses they are supposed to represent. Their music is catchy, thought-provoking, and melodic without losing the edge that you expect from a solid punk band.
Who are Roadside Bombs? Well, they’re Ben Coleman fronting on vocals, Jeremy Catrambone & Rich Webb (guitar), Zach Newbrand (bass), and Eric Strand (drums). While the lineup has changed slightly, Roadside Bombs have been around for about 10 years… although the first 5 years were spent mostly drinking, not really playing beyond a five-block radius of their practice spot.
When the guys decided to get a little more serious they recorded and released their first LP My Side of Town. They began touring to support the album. The band then made a video for the single “War on Love”, also releasing it as a 7” record. 2018 found the Roadside Bomb releasing their second album Rise Up… which is quite a stellar collection of songs.
Recently, Ben and Jeremy took some time while packing for their Euro tour to chat with us at the Punk Lounge. We talked about what they’ve been up to lately and their newest video for Rise Up’s track “45”
In the Beginning…
Ehrin: What made you all decide to start Roadside Bombs? How did you guys come together?
Ben: Roadside Bombs came out of a band called the Muggers. While playing with them I started hanging out with Harley, who was The Bodies drummer. When the Muggers kind of evaporated we were looking for some other local folks. He was good buddies with Jeremy (The Burdens). We hung out at Harley’s house because he was on house arrest and his ankle bracelet wouldn’t let him go far. We started writing new stuff, and we had Morgan (Modern Action, Sharp Objects) playing guitar with us at that point. We’ve had a lot of guys come and go.
Ehrin: The lineup you have now is pretty solid though. Will you be sticking with it for a while?
Ben: Yeah that’s the hope! Our bass player, Zach, is having a baby so we need to replace him for a little while. I think we have Shawn Travis (Love Equals Death) coming in for him, but we’ll see what goes on.
Ehrin: I’m curious about the name. My husband is a Marine, so I automatically associated it with the military when I first heard the name. What was the inspiration behind the name Roadside Bombs?
Ben: None of the guys in the band were military. But if you look back to when the band was started, it was about 5 years into the Afghanistan War. I was just hearing those words over and over again. They were stuck in my head and it felts like it was becoming a part of the lexicon in a fearful way… like that was the new weapon for terror. Being completely anti-war myself that term just resonated with me. We were looking for something that we could stand behind and that would resonate with us. I wanted to take a bit of the power out of that and make it a word that we use instead of making it a word of terror.
Jeremy: We wanted to turn a negative into a positive.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Take the negative and turn it into a positive thing.
Ehrin: You mentioned you are anti-war and I get that from the new video for the song “45”. I think it’s fair to say that you are definitely anti-Trump. But does that mean you are also anti-government in general?
Ben: (laughing) I think that’s definitely fair to say that I’m anti-Trump. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-government though because the antithesis of that is just… I mean, what would we have? But what I can say is that I don’t feel like the current administration is representative of me or my values at this moment. Of what I believe to be American values. I feel like we’re always talking about this slippery slope. For instance, we can’t mess with the second amendment because it’s a slippery slope to taking away guns completely. But I feel like we’re on a slippery slope with this administration towards totalitarianism. Toward something very different than the democracy we’ve all come to love and expect out of our system.
Ehrin: Do you think the press and social media has a part in the problems that are going on? I mean, Trump and the current administration definitely demonize the press, but the press also kind of shoot themselves in the foot as well.
Ben: Absolutely. It used to be that you’d get to know somebody and maybe eventually you would get to know their politics. Before, if you and I met we’d have no idea what that other person was about until we had a conversation. But now everyone has already got an opinion of what somebody’s identity is before they ever meet. I think the media is using all of its tools to sell air time and they don’t care what the product of that it. They don’t care that they are selling divisiveness. They feed into it.
I’m kind of an old guy. It used to be that when we watched the news, we assumed the news was the news. Now there is such a blurred line between news and information, entertainment, and opinion. Half the time what you see as a news source is just someone’s weekend job trying to get likes on Instagram or Facebook. So, I definitely believe that the media feeds into this and it polarizes us and puts us on one side or the other. But really, the world is not black and white it’s all grey, ya know?
Ehrin: I personally don’t even watch the news anymore. Unless it’s important, I can’t be bothered doing research on every story they show to see what’s legit and what’s not.
Ben: Right?! And that’s the thing, if you don’t [research] you get fooled. If you just take it all on face value, you don’t know what’s behind their motivation. If you just read the headlines people would still believe Barak Obama was born in Kenya because they just want you to click. And every click their market share goes up and they can charge more for advertising. That’s all it is now.
Ehrin: And you can definitely see that’s one of the points you’re making with your new video for the song “45” too.
Making the “45” Video…
Ben: For sure. We had a great time making that video, too. Our buddy Paul Stevens has been really nice and made all of our videos for us. He had this idea to stick us in a box. He basically wanted to cram us all into a box and then shoot it from above. It was rad but when we got done we realized that we were used to the world moving faster than that. So, we ended up expanding from there and making some changes. But it was a lot of fun to make and I think it turned out pretty good.
Ehrin: It was a lot of fun to watch actually. I found it interesting. I liked the way you brought in actual clips of things we have seen a lot on social media and the news.
Ehrin: The “45” video was from the newest album… is this what you’re currently focusing on? Or do you guys have something else that you’re working on?
Ben: The song “45” is on Rise Up so it’s what we’re currently promoting. But we just recorded just short of a full album worth of songs. We thought we’d just find some bands and release them as splits. We were trying to get one going before we got on the road this time, but life happens and we couldn’t get it worked out. So, we are bringing the old stuff with us on tour.
EuroTrip… No, Not the Movie. The Roadside Bombs Tour.
Ehrin: When you go overseas are you just playing the UK or are you going to be travel into Europe?
Ben: We land in Zurich on Friday, August 3rd and will play the Blood, Sweat & Beers fest. We’ll take sat off to come to Blackpool and we play the Arena stage at Rebellion on Sunday at 5:05 pm. On Monday we have a travel day. I’m not sure where we’re at Tuesday. But then we’re in Essen (08.08), Eindhoven (09.08), Köln (10.08), and the last show is on Saturday, Aug 11th with Agnostic Front in Lindau.
Ehrin: Agnostic Front is so much fun. They’re such a great band to watch live.
Ben: Oh yeah, one of my all-time favourites.
Ehrin: They came to Philly last year and played this one club. It was the smallest crowd – the venue only held like 150 people. They had recently come back from being overseas playing some festivals. But they played this tiny club with the same energy that they played with for 10,000 people that they did for the 150. It was crazy. They are so amazing.
Ben: Roger, Stigma, Mike and all those guys… this is what they’re all about. No one has put more time and energy and more of their life into punk rock and hardcore than Roger and Stigma so it’s a good stuff for sure.
The Roadside Bombs’ Road to Rebellion…
Ehrin: When you guys get to Rebellion, will you be spending the entire day there? Are you going to try and catch some other sets? What are your plans for Rebellion?
Ben: Yeah! We’re going to be there all day on Saturday and Sunday. There are a bunch of bands I want to see. I set up a whole itinerary for Saturday and Sunday of the bands I want to see. I want to see PiL and am really looking forward to seeing the Adolescents. But I’m really looking forward to the whole thing. I haven’t been to the UK in years.
Ehrin: Is this your first time playing Rebellion?
Ben: Yeah! This is our first time playing Rebellion! Cocksparrer came over here last year and did some shows in our area and Darryl said “Hey man, you really need to come to Rebellion next year”. I started making that happen and then I realized holy crap… everyone is over at Rebellion. It makes the tour kind of tough because there are like 300 out of town bands in the neighborhood but we’re looking forward to it.
Ehrin: Do you think that festivals like Rebellion are important for the punk scene or do you think they aren’t really as useful as they were in the past?
Ben: I think that they are really important simply for the fact that you can go and fully immerse yourself for four days. everyone has a different idea about what they’re punk rock experience was and where they started and what it means to them. But anytime you get the opportunity to see that many amazing bands in one place I think that’s great. Personally, what I like to see is being in a room like you were talking about with Agnostic Front where there’s like 150 people and no stage and it’s so hot that everyone has their shirts off and it’s just madness. That’s my personal favourite but I’m not going to sit and judge someone for spending more on one ticket price to see like 40 bands in one shot.
Ehrin: If you were setting the lineup for Rebellion and you could pick one band past or present to headline, who would it be?
Ben: My wife is whispering Cocksparrer from across the table here [laughing] cause I’m a huge fan. They are going to play next year so I’d make a list that would probably not happen. I don’t know, maybe Operation Ivy. That would be fantastic. Man, I don’t even know if Rebellion has enough money to make that one happen. That would be a big deal.
Ehrin: I don’t know…I’d kill someone to go to that I think [laughing].
Ben: I know, right?
Ehrin: Yeah Op Ivy was the first punk band I ever heard when I was like 11 and it just kind of set me off from there.
Ben: They were the gateway band for a lot of people. There’s nothing about them that isn’t good.
Ehrin: They really were. It’s weird to think that they were together for such a short period of time and they made such an impact. It’s crazy. What’s the one thing you will bring to Rebellion that you just can’t go without?
Ben: For me, it’s a razor! I go two days without shaving and I turn into a really unhappy human. Other than that, cell phone so I can call home and talk to my wife.
Jeremy: Shower sandals. I got trench foot last time, so definitely shower sandals.
Ben: It’s funny because we have some weird things that we bring on tour with us now. The first year we went we realized that we were sitting in the van for a really long time trying to cut cheese and salami on our laps. So, the next year when we got there, Rich pulled a cheeseboard out of his luggage and we were like so excited. Another time we got to a hostel and they needed to hang up the wet clothes they had washed. Rich had extra shoe laces with him. So, we tied shoelaces together and strung them up to make a clothesline. You never know what you’re going to need over there.
Ehrin: Do you guys normally stay in hostels over hotels when you’re overseas?
Ben: We’re some equivalency to nobody over there so we’re not demanding much as far as guarantees. We’d rather get the trip paid for and not come back with debt by staying in hostels than staying in really nice hotels. There’s a couple of nights on each tour where we’re like ‘that’s it’ I need a hotel room but that’s it.
Ehrin: You guys spend a lot of time in your van on tour. What do you listen to and who gets to decide on the music?
Ben: Usually what happens is one person, our roadie/manager guy who is not coming this time, just muscles his way in and puts his stuff on. So, we listen to a mix of the Bronx and anything made before 1990 for most of it. But we are pretty democratic. We don’t have prima donnas in the band. Everyone is happy to be there and no one is all that grumpy. Plus, us old guys have 120 years of combined musical interests so it’s hard to find something that nobody likes.
Ehrin: What are you listening to right now? What’s on your playlist?
Ben: That new Filaments record out on Pirates Press is really, really good. The new Bar Stool Preachers album (Grazie Governo) is really good.
Ehrin: Oh, that one is sooo good. I just love it.
Ben: Isn’t it though?
Ehrin: TJ sent me a link a couple weeks ago to do a review and I fell in love with it.
Ben: Exactly, it’s hard not to love. And you know punctuate that with a bunch of Cocksparrer and Social Unrest and stuff from way back when and I stay happy.
Ehrin: Do you have anything else you’d like to add about the Rise Up album or the upcoming splits you want to do?
Ben: I’d just like to say go out and see some live music. For us, recording music is just a way to get people to listen to your stuff so that they will come out and see you live. Most of the musicians I know, they love that live experience. So I would say go out and grab the record so that you have an excuse to come out to the show next time and you can sing along. Come out and see us and if you do come up and say hi.
The best part is meeting new people at these things and finding new bands! When we were overseas last time and met Tomas from Steel Town Records out of Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany. He has this amazing co-op that he runs. It’s a non-profit club and non-profit printing company because his area of Germany doesn’t really have a scene. So, you meet these amazing people when you’re on the road.
Ehrin: Your songs are definitely sing-along type songs that would be great live. They all seem to be really easy to get into when you’re at a show.
Ben: That’s what I hope for. Going to see live music and singing along and losing yourself in that is what it’s all about. If we can make a few songs that other people can do the same I think that’s awesome.