Bomb Factory. To the casual eye this could be any bolshy punk band, with lots of shouting, angry lyrics … and some more shouting.
True, there’s some angry lyrics, some very angry lyrics in fact, and some shouting. But Bomb Factory are a few notches above the passionless punk-by-numbers brigade, the self-proclaimed political bands who put noise before content.
Bomb Factory are out of Cambridge, one half of that mythical Oxbridge colossus, but, outwith the centuries-old college area, a typical south of Birmingham town with plenty of working class estates for the students to avoid.
With an elitist educational system, the plush, Georgian buildings of the city centre, and all manner of plummy accents abounding during the university terms, this East Anglian town offers plenty of inspiration for an agit-punk band offering thoughtful insights into our society like Bomb Factory.
But then so does so much about the world. Religion, CCTV, the invasion of privacy, the consumer society, and on it goes. Rubbish, rubbish, everywhere. Not just in beautiful Cambridge but in every town in the UK and beyond.
So, Bomb Factory offer a bit of a push against the perpetual shove, an antidote to the poison we’re dealt with every day.
I first came across Bomb Factory while working on a newspaper in Suffolk, when a colleague mentioned a corrosive, explosive band from nearby Cambridge. They were still congealing at this time, and I moved out of the region before getting a chance to see them live, alas.
A demo EP was released in 2006, called White Noise! White Noise! White Noise! [In The Heads Of The Girls And The Boys], a cracking wee gem that resonates with anger and purpose but with a maturity that belies the, well, maturity of the band.
There’s been bugger all since, but on November 2, Bomb Factory have a new self-titled EP, issued on CD and as a download. It’s reviewed in Lowdown On The New 8, the previous column.
See their website for details of how to obtain it: http://bombfactory.blogspot.com/
Ahead of its release, I caught up with vocalist Ranting Jack to find out more.
Porky: Bomb Factory, sounds like a tabloid headline. I can imagine some shifty looks, and a long Cambridgeshire police file.
It is a tabloid headline. It’s an attention grabber; a big ‘fuck off’ to anyone who doesn’t like it. Some people might laugh and think it childish or maybe cartoon-like, but when we chose it there were bombs going off on tubes and buses and it wasn’t very funny. But when you turned on the radio all you got was Snow Patrol or some such vomit. So we wanted to talk about what was going on and we wanted to use the songs to reflect it back at people. This is happening outside your window; this is how we spend our time and money; this is what we look like, and It. Is. Fucked. Up.
Porky: If a radio one DJ, or similar moron, asked about Bomb Factory, what would you tell them, in one minute, the philosophy of the band is.
I’d say it was about trying to live, to really live for just a short while instead of going through the motions. The rest of the time what we call living is like a trip to Ikea – traipsing along, following the arrows painted on the fucking floor in case we see something we shouldn’t; gawping at all the shit in shiny wrappers they dangle in front of us to keep us quiet. Bomb Factory is about wanting to feel something. No self-pity, no bleeding hearts. Noise and truth. Love and hate. Blood and fire.
Porky: You’ve played a lot of gigs in Cambridge and East Anglia. Has this built up a fanbase that supports fanzines, webzines, and groupies?
*laughs at thought of groupies*. We do get people who like us though! At almost every gig there will be one or two people who come up at the end slightly breathless with an odd look in their eyes and tell us they really liked it. Really liked it. They tend to go out and do things like painting our demo covers on to the backs of their jackets and changing their Myspace names to our song titles and stuff.
Porky: The lead track of the new EP, Tapes is about “a descent into one man’s paranoia at surveillance society Britain as he sits at a kitchen table covered in nails and wires.” What inspired this track?
This started out with a guy from Cambridge called Miles Cooper who was driven over the brink into obscene acts of violence against randoms (people – ed) by his paranoia at ‘surveillance society’. The guy was sending letter bombs to people at the DVLA and other organs of oppression. As if blowing the hands off single mothers earning a crust in some shitty post room somewhere is going to change the world. Miles got caught and sent down, which is how we know his name, but he left us with a song idea. Just a little glimpse into the mind of a guy who can sit having a cup of Rosie while stuffing nails into a jiffy bag. You can empathise with the sentiment if not the actions. That feeling of total suffocation. The sense that there’s no escape from the electronic eyes stripping the skin off you – leaving your internal organs and all your crappy little secrets exposed to some fat bloke sat in front of a CCTV screen eating crisps and wanking.
Porky: Explain the thinking behind the cover, which features a man that initially appears to be in a terrorist headgear – but is actually a Tesco supermarket carrier bag?
It’s about suffocation again. All of us slowly suffocating inside the carrier bags they stick over our heads when we’re born. All chained together in the funeral procession at the checkout while, inside your head, there’s all these emotions, all this love and hate and joy and rage waiting to burst out. What’s first? Do you let it all out or does your head explode inside the bag? Would anyone notice if it did? You’d still be stood there in the bag only there’d be nothing inside it, just a lifeless lump of flesh. Come to think of it, how many people do you know who that may have already happened to? There’s also something slightly sordid about that image isn’t there? I mean, what is he doing?! Look into his eye…
Porky: There’s been numerous politically-motivated bands over the years, the punk acts, Crass, Easterhouse, the Redskins, Nofx, Public Enemy and so forth, and countless others that, if not overtly political have been quite independent and forthright (Manic Street Preachers for example). Do you feel that pop has the ability to change minds or at the least to get people to think?
I don’t know if we are political. Maybe. It’s more about the personal as political I suppose. Aristotle said man was a ‘political animal’. Like I said before, it is personal for us. If it becomes personal for other people too then maybe that makes it political. Discuss. The point is the songs have to be about something not just how big your dick is or how girls/boys might like you if only they knew the real you. Boo hoo. Dry your eyes, mate, and then fuck off.
Porky: Is this tradition still alive in Britain?
I’m sure it is. People will always want to give vent to their frustrations. It might not be on the Chris Moyles show but ’twas ever thus. If you want something better then go and look under some rocks.
Porky: The first ‘proper’ Bomb Factory release was in 2004 and there’s been various releases in various formats since. But no album. When will that anomaly be rectified?
When we earn enough money from selling our organs for pet food to afford the studio time. This is the first recording we have been able to get professionally produced and mastered so it has raised the bar. But listen to it. Listen to how good it is! I tell you what; if I owned a record label I’d be throwing cash and bodily fluids at these guys to get them on it. How about you…?
Porky: Best moment on tour or at a local gig?
There are a few to choose from. Scaring about 30 Welsh bikers out of a boozer in darkest Norfolk maybe? Or the time we played with the Towers of London and the amps caught fire and their lead singer got nicked; that was good. Then there was the time our guitarist threw himself at the drum kit, missed, hit his head on the wall and knocked himself out. Every gig is good in its own way.
Porky: Who’s your biggest opponents?
Apathy, ignorance and the trash celebrity elite they set up on plastic pedestals for us to worship and aspire to.
Porky: God Loves Us and He Hates You is an obvious favourite of the band’s. It sounds like Ranting Jack, and the whole band, detest religion. Is this viewpoint from a personal experience or inspired by a particular event?
No event in particular. Pick an atrocity. The Siege of Jerusalem? 9/11? It’s about the bastards who think they can bomb the world into thinking like them or into not thinking at all. It’s about the people who strap explosive belts to children and the mentally ill. It’s about cretins who think being gay is evil or think they have some exclusive access to the VIP room at the afterlife party.
Porky: You once played with Half Man Half Biscuit, which sounds like a curious mix. What was that like?
As it turns out, that was a storming gig. The HMHB fans were well into the post punk guitar clatter. The band themselves were good people too.
Porky: Can Bomb Factory bring down the capitalist system and replace it with an economic system based on equality, peace, justice and cream cakes for all.
All we can hope to do is burst the apathy bubble. Everything you do, say or feel can be a revolutionary act if you live your life and don’t let other people live it for you. Stop getting your emotions in a multipack from the supermarket. Turn off ‘I’m a Celebrity… Shoot Me in the Face’, throw Jordan’s autobiography into the cleansing flames and step outside. Bomb Factory is waiting for you…