Columbus, Ohio’s New Bomb Turks have been making pedal-to-the-metal, jet-fueled rock ‘n’ roll for 30 years now. While they don’t tour quite as much as they used to, the band is still kicking. Today, the band drops a 20th anniversary release of Nightmare Scenario on Bandcamp. The LP is New Bomb Turks’ fifth full-length album, and is presented in a “Diamond Edition,” featuring unheard mixes and a bonus track, all re-mastered by Jim Diamond.
The reason behind all of this, says the band’s singer, Eric Davidson, ends up being a pretty simple one.
“Crypt did a reissue of our very first album [!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!] back when that was the 20th anniversary and overall, for the four of us, [Nightmare Scenario] or that are basically just about the band’s favorite album of ours,” Davidson says by phone from his home in Brooklyn. “Nightmare Scenario was also the first album and the first stuff that we did with Sam [Brown], our drummer, so we thought, ‘Well, why don’t we try to do a 20th anniversary of that?’”
As Davidson explains, originally it was just an idea but then, at the beginning of 2020, the band realized that there was an original mix that engineer Jim Diamond did in Detroit when New Bomb Turks recorded the album.
“It’s how we usually do it,” Davidson continues. “We usually tend to record the album and whoever was the engineer at the time, we make them do kind of a quickie mix over the weekend or whatever and send it to us. We go home you know and maybe we have a rough mix with us, but we let that person do a final mix. That’s what Jim did: he did his own mix of the whole album.”
Of course, after that, the Turks got back to Columbus and wanted to do a few more overdubs: a piano here, some hand claps there, some background vocals there:
“Maybe we had to fix a bass thing here or add another guitar part — you know, just some basic overdubs,” says Davidson. “The whole point of the album was that we spent a lot of time and a lot of overdubs on At Rope’s End, the album right before that. We spent a lot of time: recorded in two different studios, and we put a lot on that record, like guest backup vocalists and horns and everything else, so on this one we wanted to trim it back a little bit and just be a little more raw.”
That was another reason the band gave Diamond instructions to just mix it himself but then, according to Davidson, it just turned out that when the Turks went back to Columbus for those “few little overdubs,” the thing happened that always happens with a band.
“You know: you think you know it’s done and it’s good enough, but then we threw these other overdubs on,” Davidson continues, a little embarrassed. “We had a good friend in Columbus that we recorded with before and we thought, ‘Well, maybe we’ll remix that one and maybe we’ll kind of remix that one a little bit,’ and then, of course, it all gets remastered.”
That’s not to say that the band is upset with what happened — as Davidson said, the band’s favorite album is a tie between Nightmare Scenario or !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! However, when the Turks realized Diamond had that original mix, an idea started percolating. When Diamond found them on a DAT, he emailed the band’s bassist, Matt Reber, and got the ball rolling.
“A lot of this kicked in because of the Coronavirus,” Davidson admits. “It was, I think, all of us being home and having to sequester and all that. It was another idea that kind of got rolling again — like, ‘Hey, why don’t we see if we can do this?’ So, Jim sent us back these mp3s or mp4s or whatever the fuck they were — WAV files? I don’t know. I’m an analog guy. But anyway, when he sent them back and we listened to them, we’re like, ‘Wow, yeah — those are noticeably raw and really loud.’”
Again — and Davidson reiterates the point a third time — the New Bomb Turks love the original mix but, as he points out, it’s always fun, if you’re going to do some kind of anniversary thing, to find something different. In this case, it’s a different mix with an extra song (“Theme from Nightmare Scenario”), which was an instrumental that Davidson never really figured out a vocal part for and was mixed into the original album between a couple songs.
“So, basically with the Covid thing happening, we got rolling a little bit,” Davdison says. “We have a little New Bomb Turks text thread going and we just thought, ‘Yeah, let’s see if we can do this.’”
For now, it’s a digital-only benefit record available only on Bandcamp. I rang up bassist Matt Reber a few days after I spoke with Davidson to find out why the band chose the recipients they did: the Black Queer & Intersectional Collective (BQIC) and Columbus Freedom Fund.
“We do this a lot,” Reber explains. “We’re just like, ‘Okay, what can we sell to generate money?’ because our personal finances are kind of tight. If we want to donate, we’ll do that.”
Reber offers up the past example of guitarist Jim Weber’s 50th birthday party which they turned into a benefit for the Democratic Socialists of America and their brake light program.
“When George Floyd happened, there was a couple organizations that sprouted up in Columbus and one was the bail fund,” says Reber of the Columbus Freedom Fund. “We decided that we wanted to donate there, because there’s people that need to get out of jail when they’re protesting.”
As to the BQIC, Reber works at Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts, which is where he’s met and known people from the BQIC since it started.
“When they formed, it was these black trans people who had stepped in the middle of the Stonewall Pride Parade — which in Columbus is a big corporate event now,” Reber continues. “They were protesting that the police were part of it. They got the crap beat out of them. It was an ugly situation between these people of color and some Stonewall people. They got thrown in jail and nobody bailed them out but then, the collective formed out of that activism.”
While the band is aware of other organizations out there, Reber and the Turks wanted to keep it local. With the exception of Davidson in Brooklyn, the other three members still live in Columbus, which is also where the band formed.
“It just seemed like the money that we raised from this could you know benefit them significantly,” Reber says as we wrap up. “There’s not a big pot of money that people are handing out and I felt like we could do some more good locally.”