Melbourne Rockers SKYBOMBERS are definitely doing well for themselves. Having recorded their debut album ‘Take Me To Town’ in Los Angeles last year the band is now proving popular in the US gaining airplay on numerous commercial radio stations and currently touring both the States and Canada. Phoning direct from the SKYBOMBERS tour van en route to Detroit, frontman Hugh Gurney checks in with NZRock to provide a rundown on the band’s progress. The most logical question to ask first, how has the US and Canada been treating the band?…
Hugh: It’s been good. We’re driving to Detroit and we’ve been driving all day. We’re in the van right now! The whole trip is pretty much in the tour van. Every day is a new city, every night is a new venue so there’s a lot of driving and it sux HAHA! The tour van is so full of stuff now there’s nowhere to put anything! We went to a cool party last night and they had a spa on the roof of this massive place and that was fun, so now we’re all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. They introduced us to this brand of rum which proved to be my undoing HAHA! It was something called Sailor Jerry and it was actually quite tasty… and also quite full of alcohol HAHA!
NZRock: You guys have played a few shows with FLOGGING MOLLY over there, how did they go?
Skybombers Take Me To Town Album CoverHugh: Yeah we actually had a FLOGGING MOLLY show last night as well. We did a few shows with them. They were awesome, such an awesome band. The shows went down really well. We played sort of to their crowds and their fans go nuts to them but their fans really seem to enjoy us as well. It was great, like 4000 people shows! I had no idea they were so big but they’re huge over here FLOGGING MOLLY.
NZRock: SKYBOMBERS seems to have taken the US head on straight away. Are you guys looking at Europe as well?
Hugh: Well it wasn’t really like a choice as such that we chose to say ok, let’s play in the States. But the radio started playing us over here out of the blue. So the choice was kind of made for us and the legwork was already done because we were getting played on the radio. That was really cool and so the choice was made for us by that. We were like ok, that’s cool let’s do it, let’s tour and see America which is what we’re currently doing.
NZRock: How did the band get that initial airplay in the US to begin with?
Hugh: It came about because there is this guy in Los Angeles who runs a show called Passport Approved and he picked up a demo of ours and started listening to it and he liked it. He played it on his radio show in Los Angeles and it got the station record or something for the number of requests for a new song and it actually got to the like the number four most played song on that station. And this is like a pretty big station as well and like a lot of other stations started playing it as a result. So that was how that all happened, pretty much by accident which is pretty cool.
NZRock: You recorded the SKYBOMBER’s album with Rick Parker, how did he come to be producer?
Hugh: Yeah that was last year and that was a pretty crazy experience, it was awesome. We loved all the artists that Rick has worked with and the records he’s produced like the BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB records. So we met him and went to his studio and said we like this stuff and he was like oh cool, cool. Then he came to our gig and after he saw us play he was like yeah I loved the show guys. So he sort of wanted to work with us and we sort of wanted to work with him so it just ended up being a perfect fit and it was really easy and worked out really well I think.
NZRock: I read somewhere that you’d recorded about 19 tracks for the album…
Hugh: Yeah we actually did 20 tracks in there I think. They got culled very early.
NZRock: Did the non-album tracks not get released or will they be released eventually as b-sides and that sort of thing?
Hugh: Yeah, actually, 19 of them got released. I think a couple of them will be like bonus tracks and stuff like that and a couple of them we’ll hang on to for future use, maybe some for the next album or just like a one off single. Band’s dont do that anymore, the one off single. I kind of like that, it’s cool.
NZRock: What about the idea of releasing some vinyl? That’s a big part of the bands that you’ve said influenced you guys like NIRVANA.
Hugh: Yeah exactly! Some vinyl would be awesome! We want to get – because our record cover is red – you can get red vinyl I’ve seen, so we want to press some red vinyl. I reckon that’d look cool! That’d be cool wouldn’t it! HAHA!
NZRock: Who was it that came up with the idea for that album cover and who did the artwork?
Hugh: That’s this guy from Melbourne called Ken Taylor and he’s a friend of ours who has done most, probably all of the SKYBOMBERS artwork. And we kind of just came to him with the idea that we wanted a kid on a leash… we came up with that idea in Tasmania of all places and we were like yeah! And he said ok then he came back with that. I don’t know how he made that image happen but it’s cool.
NZRock: With your CD I got a card from A&R Manager Danny Keegan. Is he the man who spotted you guys back over in Aussie to begin with?
Hugh: Yeah Danny is our A&R guy. He heard the demo that we did. We recorded five songs and he liked it so he signed us. That’s how it happened yeah. He’s a cool man Danny.
NZRock: SKYBOMBERS has the rest of the US tour to go. What’s the plan for the band after that?
Hugh: Well after the tour we have about three weeks off and then we reconvene in Melbourne. We’re going on like holidays, well I am and Sam is and then we’ll hopefully do some more touring and hopefully see some more places and more faces.
NZRock: Any plans for New Zealand shows?
Hugh: Well we were just talking about that before because we would like to come back to New Zealand and it’s like pretty easy for us because we all live in Melbourne. So hopefully we’ll get to come to New Zealand before the end of the year, that would be awesome. We loved playing there in Auckland, we had a great time.
NZRock: That was at the FOO FIGHTERs gig? How was it performing along with Dave Grohl and his band?
Hugh: Oh it was crazy. It was really scary. We met Dave but he was such a nice guy, he was really cool. But it was like a big honour to play with them, especially since Dave Grohl was in NIRVANA and FOO FIGHTERS are just a great band in their own right. And it was cool because actually the FOO FIGHTERS had a touring guitarist and it was Pat Smear, the other guitarist in NIRVANA for a while so it was like half of NIRVANA which was pretty cool. I guess, if you consider that four piece NIRVANA at the end which they had HAHA!
NZRock: You guys have met quite a few cool people now. I heard you even caught up with VELVET REVOLVER and ex-GUNS N ROSES guitarist Slash at one stage stage?
Hugh: Yeah Slash! Slash was cool! We’d just played a gig at the Viper room and we were like yeah cool! And then these like wild rumours spread around bar that Slash was there and it was fucken weird as. And then everyone was oh my god, its Slash! Then our manager, she goes up to Slash – because were were like, “we’re too scared to talk to him” – and she goes, “I’m from Brooklyn, I’ll talk to anyone”. She just walks up to Slash and says “would you like to meet the guys”. So we got to meet him. He didnt have his top hat though HAHA! But he still had big curls HAHA!
NZRock: Have you got anything you’d like to say to us Kiwi’s before you go?
Hugh: We’ll be back as soon as we can and we really want to come and see more of the country because we only saw Auckland and we want to play in the other towns as well. So hopefully we’ll get there as soon as we can so hang out, we will return.