Author: Susan Proctor
The Bombpops exploded into the punk scene in 2007 and have no intentions of stopping now. Founding members Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam share duties on lead vocals and interchangeably deliver hard hitting guitar riffs and impressive solos. Don’t be fooled by their sweet looks, these girls hold their own with edgy, yet melodic punk vocals. Joined by Neil Wayne on bass and Josh Lewis on drums, the rhythm section skillfully delivers the solid skate punk sound that is The Bombpops. Opening for major punk acts such as NOFX, Bad Religion and more, the band has held their own alongside the legends they grew up listening to. Currently the band is on a quick tour of California and Las Vegas with Direct Hit. By the Barricade was on hand to interview The Bombpops after their September 5 show at The Slidebar in Fullerton,CA. The following interview transcripts shed some light on what this explosive band has in store for the future.
Jen Razavi – Vocals
Guitar Poli Van Dam – Vocals, Guitar
Neil Wayne – Bass
Josh Lewis – Drums
By the Barricade: What inspired you to become musicians?
Jen Razavi: My dad played guitar but it was mostly background noise to me. I moved when I was twelve years old from LA County and the place where I grew up to a new place in San Diego. I felt really alone at and though I had known about punk and had listened to The Vandals, The Offspring and Neil Wayne:, but didn’t know until this time that was what I totally identified with. I was at that age when I was young and angsty and wanted to hang out with my old friends. I played guitar so much at that time because I hated everything else and wanted to play guitar.
Poli Van Dam: I’ve always been into music. My parents put me into piano lessons when I was five. My dad used to play drums and he’s kind of a rock ‘n’ roll guy and he kind of grew me up on it. I just wanted to do it. I was younger than everyone else and then I met Jen and thought it was so cool to hang out. I was like 13 and in bars and stuff. I knew I had to do this
Jen Razavi: Also, I didn’t remember this until recently but I went to see Weezer with Tenacious D and Jimmy Eat World. It was a school night and it was a show my parents dropped me off. I used to write notes all the time back and forth with my friend. I just reconnected with her and she has gone to college and works in high finance. I thought it was so cool that she was doing so well while I was playing in a band and working in a restaurant on the side. She said, “That is so cool! I have this note that you wrote me after we went to see Weezer and Neil Wayne:. You said, I know what I am going to do with the rest of my life, I’m going to play in a band and I’m going to be on that stage.” For her to reiterate that to me was cool because I didn’t remember that note.
Neil Wayne: I started at age 14 when I got my dad’s bass from my uncle. I just started playing it. Josh and I have been playing in bands together for about 14 years now. We grew up together and we have been doing this forever together we moved down to LA in a band and we were the only two to stick it out and next thing you know we are with The Bombpops.
Josh Lewis: I started playing drums when I was eleven years old and was going into middle school. I picked up a pair of drumsticks and it was pretty much over from that point. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it has consumed my life ever since. In high school I had a very tough decision between baseball and music. I chose drums and I am glad I did. Honestly, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Poli Van Dam: Like Neil said, there are so many people that don’t stick it out. It’s about the work ethic and that is what we all have.
Jen Razavi: It took a long time to get this band as it is. We’ve been through many drummers and bass players and finally we have it.
By the Barricade: How did the four of you get together?
Poli Van Dam: My baby daddy/fiancé is a singer in another band that he (Josh) plays drums in. The Bombpops played with them in LA and we met there.
By the Barricade: So The Bombpops? How did you land on this for your band name?
Poli Van Dam: We were practicing at our old drummer’s house and we were going through so many names.
Jen Razavi: We already had a band and we had played a couple shows but we really couldn’t find one. Naming a band is a hard thing.
Josh Lewis: The hardest thing about being a band is coming up with a name. It really is. It’s not fun. I’m just stoked when I can come in to something that is already named and I don’t have to deal with that.
Neil Wayne: And one day you get a popsicle and you have a name.
Poli Van Dam: One day we were just chillin; and it was hot and we were playing in our old drummer’s garage.
Jen Razavi: The ice cream van would come around. Our old drummer actually named the band. He ordered a Lickety Lick Bombpop.
Poli Van Dam: At first were were thinking The Lickety Lick Bombpops. Then The Bombpops.
By the Barricade: How would you describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard you in five words or less?
Jen Razavi: I always say we are reminiscent of 90’s skate punk.
Josh Lewis: All day. 90’s skate punk says it very well.
By the Barricade: You guys have already played with a lot of big name bands, but if you could create a dream tour line up, what bands would you pick?
Neil Wayne: NOFX.
Jen Razavi & Poli Van Dam: Green Day.
Jen Razavi: Alkaline Trio, Descendents.
Josh Lewis: No Use For a Name.
Jen Razavi: Yes, No Use For a Name is a band we have had the honor to play with. I can honestly say that we have a handful of bands that we have been able to play with that we idolize and grew up listening to. I always love playing with NOFX. They are so awesomely-amazing and fun and kind. We will play with them any day.
Josh Lewis: To answer that question is very difficult. Every band that they have listed off is definitely on my list.
Poli Van Dam: Let’s go on a Green Day tour. That would satisfy it.
Neil Wayne: One day.
By the Barricade: Any crazy happenings you can report from a show or tour?
Jen Razavi: We do. Hmmm, ones we want to share….
Josh Lewis: Let’s keep it PG.
Jen Razavi: A significant thing was the first time we did play with NOFX. It wasn’t on the west coast. It was in Allentown, PA. And the first time we played with Bad Religion.
Josh Lewis: These are bands we grew up idolizing.
Poli Van Dam: The second time we played with Bad Religion we were walking in during their sound check at House of Blues on Sunset and we were loading in our stuff. They said, “Hey Bombpops! How are you?”
Jen Razavi: I could also say that having a real heart to heart conversation with Tony Sly after we played with them at Punk Rock Bowling in 2012. He had been really encouraging to us. This was the third time we had played with them. On the fourth time he did his acoustic set. I was picking his brain on his influence, punk rock and what he envisioned about our band. I still get goose bumps thinking about that. That was really cool. I will always remember that conversation with him.
Neil Wayne: That was great, and memorable.
Poli Van Dam: In our last conversations through email, we were sending him songs. He was going to help us write some songs and I think we were his next little project.
Jen Razavi: He is one of our favorite songwriters and to have him approach us in that way still gives me goose bumps just talking about it.
Neil Wayne: That same night I got to play with Joe Raposo from RKL and Lagwagon. We just sat down and played bass together for about an hour. He was teaching me all of his songs and we just got to play all the ones I grew up learning. That was awesome.
Josh Lewis: That was an incredible night, it really was.
Jen Razavi: Also all the backstage hanging out, with NOFX, it’s just fun. That is why we love it so much. We meet bands that we grew up and they are just nice, genuine and encouraging.
By the Barricade: As an aside, I have found in this genre, most musicians even big name musicians are just kind. Even to people like me who are not musicians.
Jen Razavi: You can be anywhere in the world and see someone with a (Teenage) Bottlerocket shirt or whatever, you can already talk with them and make some sort of connection.
Neil Wayne: That is what is so great. The scene is so small. We have the music in common and we get along right away.
Jen Razavi: If you are a jerk you really don’t make it. It’s all about being nice to people.
By the Barricade: You have a series of shows this month with Direct Hit, any other tours in the works?
Neil Wayne: After this we are pretty much just writing. That is our main goal and to hopefully get into the studio and finish up our full length.
Jen Razavi: That is happening in the beginning of the year. We are playing with Descendents and Off! on September 28 at the Fox Theater in Pomona and that is huge.
Jen Razavi: Then it’s getting to the grind and writing new material.
By the Barricade: Which leads into my next question, there are rumors that you guys are working on some new material for a record. Can you tell us anything about that? You gave us the timing, any themes?
Poli Van Dam: I had a baby a year and a half ago so we took a break when I was pregnant and did only a couple shows here and there. A lot of songs were written about that. The break was good for our band in a way. Our new songs are more thought out. We are working with a producer.
Jen Razavi: We are thinking about the lyrics and songs also. We are a skate punk band but we are also slowing things down, getting a little more pop, pop punk. Not all the time, but we are throwing those songs in there. A lot of it is learning, a lot of stuff happens between Poli having the baby and just being a band for seven years. You just get to a point in life where you decide this is what you want to do so bad. Once you get over the fact that if you can’t just have fun playing in a band with your friends what is the point in playing. That is fundamental. It doesn’t matter if people have other things going on in their lives, we know this is what we are doing. Everyone has struggles but this is where we came to and it’s all good.
By the Barricade: Besides Tony Sly, Is there a particular person or event that you feel has been a lucky break or helped you with a milestone?
Neil Wayne: Lawrence Katz. He is our producer and the guitar player for Mighty Mighty Bosstones. He has been one of the biggest influences on all of our writing material. He’s been there to take us under his wing and to take time with us.
Jen Razavi: He saw that in us and we were waiting for that for a while. We wanted to find the person that believes in your music enough to put their time in with you. These are busy people.
Neil Wayne: He believes in us and it is awesome. It is the greatest thing that could happen to us and he’s fun.
Jen Razavi: Lawrence Katz and Kent Jamieson. We love Kent.
Poli Van Dam: Kent is our guardian angel.
Jen Razavi: We have had a lot of people step in. Toby Bean has been really helpful and kind.
Josh Lewis: Yes. Lawrence Katz. I agree and can’t think of anyone else to add.
Neil Wayne: Music has consumed my life.
Poli Van Dam: I love to just get stoned and watch reality TV. *laughing
Jen Razavi: I’m in school right now so that takes up every other moment that I don’t have. Also, going to the beach.
Josh Lewis: I skate, I snowboard and I surf a little bit. I have been golfing a lot lately which is a new found love. We stay busy no matter what we are doing.
Neil Wayne: I am a graphic designer and I get to do that every day. It’s always fun.
By the Barricade: Anything else you would like to tell the readers of By the Barricade?
Poli Van Dam: Just be patient with us. People are looking for that album. It is coming.
Josh Lewis: We have a lot of stuff going on. We are staying busy it’s coming soon.
Poli Van Dam: We are figuring things out.
Jen Razavi: Instead of rushing things we are taking the time and it took a while for Lawrence to come into our universe and our stars to align with him. We are having fun and taking the time doing it. We aren’t forced to do an album. We are behind every song we put out.
Neil Wayne: I agree with that. We are trying to make it the best.
You can follow The Bombpops on Facebook and @thebombpops on Instagram for the latest news and upcoming shows.