Bombon: All Girl So-Cal Surf Trio
**This interview was first published on my Juxtapoz blog, but since the link is broken, I'm putting the whole thing here. This interview is outrageously old. My apologies—I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to post it. But a little sunny surf in dreary December isn't so bad, eh?
In July, Bombón (marshmallow in Spanish) played Jackson, Mississippi—part of their first tour ever!—and I snagged them for a chat after the after-show Waffle House refueling.
Bombón is: Paloma Bañuelos on bass, Jerico Campbell on drums and Angela Ramos on guitar. They’re a surf trio hailing from the notorious punk tradition of San Pedro, California. Jerico and Paloma grew up in San Pedro, Angela in Anaheim, and now all three ladies live in a big house on 15th Street—along with the band Killer Dreamer—that doubles as a live venue and the Cali Mucho studio and screen-print shop.
Bombón traveled with Hippie Riot from San Pedro and Alabama’s Rise Up Howling Werewolf and/or Pine Hill Haints—whichever Jamie Barrier-fronted band felt like playing that night. On the road, the ladies hawked their gorgeous (aurally and visually) debut LP, Las Chicas del Bombón, recorded on 1/2-inch tape at Cali Mucho. Hmn…did somebody say perfect holiday gift?
Cheree: Okay Bombón, how y’all get started?
Jerico (to Angela): It was you.
Angela: I asked Jerico if she wanted to play some music, so we started to jam out, and then we asked Paloma to join us. Paloma started playing bass. Jerico used to play guitar, but she picked up the drums for Bombón.
Jerico: Yeah, so Angela had this great idea for a surf group, so I tried to learn drums for her, and Paloma took up the bass so we could play together…Paloma and I went to high school together, we’ve known each other for awhile. We met Angela later, through shows and stuff…
C: Where did the surf thing come from?
A: I’m a huge fan.
J: I hadn’t really heard surf music, but Angela showed me the good stuff, the Link Wray and the Trashwomen. She had the vision.
P: I listened to some surf, we’re big fans of the Trashwomen and of course, the Ventures. But basically it was Angela. She wrote our first songs, but our new songs, Jerico and I are also writing, now that we’ve been a band for a year. And even on Angela’s songs, we made up the bass and drum parts.
A: Yeah, everyone definitely collaborated. The songs belong to all of us.
C: What are your musical backgrounds?
P: This is my first band.
J: I was in a band where I played guitar. I played drums a little, on two songs. So this was a very new experience for me.
A: I was in two bands before. The first band was the Alphabettes, it was an all girl band, and the second band was No Man, also an all-girl band. But those bands were a different style of music, more punk…
C: What about the mythical San Pedro scene? What’s it like being a part of that?
J: All of my friends, pretty much everybody plays music in Pedro.
P: And then meeting Kevin and Rawl and living in the same house with them, they do so much for San Pedro. They have their whole silkscreen business, they put out a lot of music, they bring touring bands to Pedro, put on a lot of shows, we’re really fortunate to be part of the San Pedro group…
A: I grew up in Anaheim, but I moved to San Pedro because my parents like to move around a lot. I’m really glad that happened.
P: It’s how we came together. I had known Jerico for a long time, but the Pedro music scene brought me and Angela together. I met her through Kevin and Rawl, well we all met each other at the same time through going to shows…Angela lived in a really great house on 13th street that had a lot of really awesome shows, so…
C: What about the all-girl thing? Does that ever seem to overshadow everything else?
J: It’s hard to get away from the all-girl thing. People think maybe we’ll be up there trying to look cute but not really knowing how to play our instruments. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the whole all girl thing.
P: There aren’t many all-girl bands in our immediate area.
J: Yeah, people see us and they think oh, cutesy, but we work really hard to prove them wrong, to be good on our instruments.
C: But don’t the matching outfits encourage that cutesy thing?
J: Yeah, that’s our shtick.
P: It’s part of the nostalgia. We’re playing nostalgic music, they [vintage surfer chicks] used to do that, dress up…it’s just part of the tradition.
C: And the Spanglish mix?
P: When we started the band we knew that we wanted to sing in Spanish or at least Spanglish, just because me and Angela are really in touch with our Mexican roots, so we wanted to have—
A: —some splash of it!
P: Especially because Angela’s really into Spanish guitar, so we wanted to include that, too. Our songs have been a mix of languages—Spanish, English, French…
C: Spanish guitar?
A: I love flamenco music, so I do try to incorporate some of it. Some of the fast picking and the strumming.
C: Bombón’s been together about a year. But how long have you all been playing individually?
J: I’ve played drums seriously about a year. I was a guitar player before. I bought a drumset just so I could play with these gals. I started playing guitar when I was about 16, and I’m 22 now.
A: I’ve played guitar for over eight years. I played drums in No Man for a year, then went back to guitar. We used to switch off, drums and guitar.
P: I started playing, really, just a year ago.
C: So how’s your first tour going? I heard you broke down in Texas.
A: Even though we’ve had some bad luck, we’ve had a lot of good luck at the same time. We broke down in Texas for a couple of days, but we met awesome people that helped us out, and we keep meeting really nice, awesome people. I feel like it’s going great right now.
J: Everyone in the south is awesome. Mississippi, Alabama—we love everyone down here.
P: It was such a bittersweet thing, being in Texas. We were like, oh we gotta get out of here, but at the same time all the people we met just wanted to help us and be our friends. So we didn’t want to leave.
C: Why are you only playing the south this tour?
P: Because of the Pine Hill Haints. They come to Pedro a lot, they came last summer with Ming Donkey and played on the Rocket Boat, and we had just barely started to play. And then they came in February, and we played with them at a bar in Pedro, and they were like ‘you guys are great, come to Alabama, we’ll set you up with some shows.’ So we basically planned a tour around getting to Alabama and playing shows with the Haints.
J: Because they’re one of our favorite bands.
A: Because they’re amazing and sweet and kind and just the greatest people ever.
P: So we came out here to visit them, and they’ve been showing us around and getting us good shows, and it’s been a lot of fun since we’ve been here.
C: Who are you, individually, beyond being part of Bombón?
A: I go to school. I’m studying to be a chemist. I do research at Cal State LA on solar cells and renewable energy.
J: I work for a school district with kids from kindergarten to 5th grade. I do before and after-school care, summer camp counseling, tutoring and art club. I love young kids, and I like music in general. I like playing guitar and autoharp, I’m learning ukulele.
P: I have three jobs. I make children’s clothes out of vintage fabric, like old tablecloths from the 50’s and stuff. I work for this lady, it’s basically me and her, and it’s her company. We sell to boutiques around town and there’s a boutique in Japan that sells our stuff. And we sell through Etsy and her website, Kelly Hart creations. That’s basically just my hobby.
I also work at a hair salon, and that’s what I’m striving for, to finish my cosmetology degree so I can get my license and eventually do hair and have my own chair. And I work at a café and I make coffee, and it’s an awesome café, and I love it there, but hopefully soon I’ll end up having my own chair and doing hair and that’s it.
C: And how did y’all record the album?
A: It was recorded at our house in San Pedro.
J: We live in one big house, it’s three different apartments, big enough for at least a dozen people. Our house is also Cali Mucho studios. We’re under the label 45 RPM Records, which is run by our roommates, Kevin and Rawl. They recorded us, they got our records printed, they printed all of our record covers and our t-shirts, our tape deck covers, everything.
P: It’s all very homemade.
C: Highlights of the first tour?
J: I think we’re just happy to be here.
P: We’re happy to have made it and to have made new friends.
A: There’s so many amazing people here, we’ve had a great time playing and just hanging out…and if anybody ever wants to come to San Pedro to visit us, that would be great, too!
Check out Bombón on myspace and Cali Mucho.