Metal Express Radio caught up with Little Rock, Arkansas’ Bombay Black before they headed out to tour Spain.

Erik Johnson is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and writer of the band Bombay Black, hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. The band recently released their second album (Anger Management) on Kivel Records. Metal Express Radio was fortunate enough to catch up with Erik before the band left the States to tour Spain!

Erik, thanks for taking the time to speak with Metal Express Radio!

Thanks for taking the time for us!

For the benefit of our readers who are unfamiliar with Bombay Black … how did you guys choose your name?

The name is a term for East Indian Hash. However, our inspiration for it came from a trip to an office supply store. It’s a color of fountain ink. I saw the name and thought “Hey, that would make a cheesy band name.” I threw it out at a band meeting and no one laughed, so it stuck.

The “Intro” on your new release Anger Management is unique. Without giving too much away how did that manage to creep onto the final release as the band seemed against including any type of intro?

That was just me being a sarcastic ass. It’s hard to come up with a memorable intro or at least one that sets the tone of the album without sounding retread. I didn’t want to have an overture and I didn’t want to write a skit per se, so I threw it together as a joke and sent it to the label.

Was there a “theme” to Anger Management? The release’s title coupled with seemingly “angry” situations and relationships and a cover depicting “a bullet through the heart,” all seem to compliment one another.

It’s really more luck how that all came together. We never set out to make any kind of concept album or anything with a theme. I just wrote a little from personal experience and a little from the top of my head. We had been working on an idea that John (Kivel) had suggested and found the cover while looking for stock photos for the other idea. John came up with the title Anger Management several months prior, and when we found the cover shot, everything just fell right into place. Call it serendipity, I guess.

The thirteenth track on your release could have easily been named “You Suck!” Any story behind why this track was left off the track listing or was it merely a printing error? It appears to be listed in the CD booklet at the bottom of Page 3.

The label felt it would make a fun hidden track. Thanks for letting the cat outta the bag, jerk! (laughs) We did post the credit because we felt even a hidden track should be credited. I kinda wish we could’ve hidden it in the same way a song was hid on the Music Inspired by The X-Files. You start track one, then hold down the reverse scan button and there’s a hidden track on cut zero. It also says in the liner notes: “Remember, zero is a number, too.”

What’s the symbolism behind the shape created by the bullets on your CD’s label tray liner? It also serves as the “welcome mat” to your Web site.

We wanted to have a cool symbol to “leave our mark,” so to speak. Contrary to what religious fundamentalists might tell you, there’s absolutely no spiritual link with the icon. It’s two-letter b’s stuck back-to-back using a particular font I’ve got on my computer.

Anything learned from putting together your debut release Mercy, that you targeted to do better when putting together Anger Management?

We definitely went for a smoother, more focused sound this time. One thing that’s been brought up is that we were heavier on Mercy. I think the guitars were more “Metal,” but the songs aren’t any heavier in the writing than on the new disc. Plus, I took more chances vocally than before. I’m thankful that there weren’t any cameras in the studio during vocal sessions because sometimes you have to make the most God-awful faces to achieve the result you’re after. I probably looked like a total dork half the time! Singing live is totally of the moment and whatever happens, happens. In the studio, I like to go for that perfect performance because that is what I’ll have to live with from here on out.

If you could do it over would there be anything you would do differently in writing, recording, etc. for Anger Management?

Not really. I think it’s a natural progression from the first album and the way we do things next time will be a progression from this one. It’s all building on each session.

The band is on their way to tour Spain … with the band and Kivel Records being based in the United States, why Spain? How did this opportunity come up and does Bombay Black have a fan base there?

The label is financing the trip/tour for us. They are really behind us and want to help get this band and album really noticed. On a very positive side, we are heading out on the road a week after the release of our second album, and we have been told that both the album costs and the tour expenses have been recouped already and we are in the “black”. All due to really strong sales in its first week.

Now, it just so happens that Nemelrock was being put together. The label contacted the promoter, Jose Herrera at Necessary’s Productions, and they were receptive to having us come over. Simple as that really.
As far as why we’d go to Spain … why not? We’ve also been building up/increasing our fan base through It’s gotta be one of the best, if not THE best, ways to get the name out and make contacts and such. And, the more contacts you make, the more you get. I think if we weren’t a quality act that we’d not get near as much attention as we have been, so it’s also a bit of a validator as well as a useful networking tool.

The band is from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, which is a Southwestern State. Was there any pressure either growing up or being musicians to play “Southern Rock”?

The only pressure I’ve considered was to play more “angsty,” Nu-Metal material, which seems to be the thing for local bands around our area. I tried to write in that mindset and guitar vocabulary and I just couldn’t do it. I wear a lot of black and look rather evil in all black and a pair of my favorite cheap shades, but I get along with my parents very well and didn’t listen to much Green Day, so I can’t identify with the current musical flavor of the month. If you live in the South and play more than a handful of gigs, there’s always that one guy at a gig that’s been drinking the bar dry and screaming “Play me some Skynyrd!” I’d often play the opening riff of “Gimme Three Steps” on bass just to be a jerk.

Any music worth mentioning that you guys listen to today?

I’m a major fan of King’s X, Journey, and a lot of the “Hair Metal” bands, but I also listen to bands like Pantera, Type O Negative, and Ra. Comes With The Fall is another band that I’ve really dug a great deal. They’re a very raw band in the studio. Not a lot of finesse, but a lot of attitude and emotion.

What’s next for Bombay Black? Any projects you can speak about that are in the works? Any more tour plans?

We’re working on some dates in France, Portugal, and Brazil right now. There are promoters that are interested in the band. We might do some shows overseas with Snake Eye, another band from the label. We would love to be able to play Japan and the UK.

There’s been a couple projects bandied about but right now we’re concentrating on playing out for the Anger Management CD and taking care of Bombay Black. Unlike what I’ve seen in Europe, I think there’s a bit of a refusal with a lot of people in the States to accept new Eighties rock influenced bands because we’re not Crüe or Poison or Cinderella or Firehouse. I think if that stigma could be done away with, things would be much different.

Thank you Erik for taking the time to chat with Metal Express Radio!

Again, thank you for your attention!

As a side note, watch the Metal Express Radio Mailflash for announcement of Bombay Black being featured as the “Hair Apparent” in the coming weeks on our “Hairbanger’s Hairpsray” show!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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