Dropping bombs on a sold out show – It’s Bombshell Royal!
Inspiration, or the outcome of being inspired, typically results in motivation to take purposeful action; to create or do something new or achieve something previously considered unlikely.
We draw inspiration from almost everything that touches our senses, and are compelled to act upon it, though being ‘inspired’ does not instantly and effortlessly result in the creation of ‘something’. It comes to us spontaneously and unexpectedly in most instances, and is converted into ‘something’ through motivation and hard work!
Philadelphia based artist, Bombshell Royal, clearly demonstrates that dogged determination and motivation, and became a source of inspiration for me after hearing his track ‘Caught In The Rain’ towards the back end of 2020.
The track instantly drew me in with its bold acoustic guitar intro, pinned down by a distinctively ‘Manchester Indie’ type distorted guitar lick and had me gripped from the first seven seconds, rooted for the remaining four minutes and something I’d describe as ‘a bit like Oasis… but with massive balls’. I craved for more, and fortunately there were a few other tracks to listen to at the time, all equally as appealing as the other. Over the past year, Bombshell Royal has written, recorded and distributed his debut album, ‘The Originals’, and now working towards the follow-up.
First off… ’Bombshell Royal’ what was the source of inspiration for the name?
‘Bombshell Royal’ was actually one of my most beloved accidents. I was sitting up late one night trying to design a logo for my project before taking the important step of coming up with a name for it. I was having a really hard time thinking of something memorable or significant so I gave up and started mindlessly scrolling the web page I was on. It was all news stuff and I had accidentally scrolled past all of the articles that I would have been really interested in and ended up in the tabloids.
I saw a headline pertaining to the royal family and the only words that I read were ‘Bombshell Royal’. Somehow these words just jumped out at me. The way they were placed in the sentence made them stack one on top of the other in the middle of the sentence. It was significant for me because I found it in a place that I would never have otherwise found myself. I was really lost in thought at the time, frustrated that I was having such a creative block. It felt like what I really needed at that moment was to not think about it so hard. It was completely by accident but it’s certainly my favorite mistake.
When you’re not creating music, what other things fill up your time?
I am a full time Engineering student attending Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I really enjoy living in the city and I will definitely stay if I can help it. In my free time, I enjoy riding my bike while listening to music. I enjoy all styles of music and I think people would be surprised to see what is on my Spotify playlists. I consider myself a genuine thinker and, while I do enjoy the company of good people, I take my times of solitude very seriously. Most of my best work has fallen into my lap while my world was actually completely silent.
“Caught in The Rain was written to remind people that tough times always give way to easier times if you can just face the storm head on”– Bombshell Royal
Tell us a little bit about your musical background and where you draw your influences from?
I first got into music when I was about 17. A friend of mine wanted to start a band and asked me to be involved even though I had never picked up an instrument. Having already found a guitarist, he asked me to play bass. Ever since that day I was in love with the instrument. I’ve never really considered myself a songwriter, even now. I still identify as a bassist, just one who also writes songs. My main musical influences are actually extremely varied. I am a huge fan of industrial metal and have always loved Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. I’m a huge fan of what I like to call the British Sound. I don’t quite know what it is, but any time I hear something I like but can’t identify, it ends up being a band from the UK. I am a big fan of Stereophonics, Blur, Oasis, The Sneaker Pimps… the list continues. I absolutely identify with the more general Rock genre but I like to keep my genre identity pretty loose.
“My motivation comes from sharing my music with people. I really enjoy when people tell me that my music has made them happy or has helped them in some way.”– Bombshell Royal
You mentioned that you’d not played an instrument until you picked up the bass at 17 – what other instruments have you learned to play over the years?
I play bass, guitar, tambourine, harmonica, drums and keys. I am most proficient with a bass guitar, next would be guitar, then keyboard. I am the least proficient with harmonica and drums. I’m still learning both of those instruments but I have much more respect for drummers since beginning to learn.
How would you describe your style or sound?
The music I tend to write is very rhythmically driven. I think I’ve gotten this from industrial influences. I love the sound of acoustic guitars and violins and often incorporate both of them in my music. I’ve heard people refer to my music as very large and I would have to agree. I write music with the specific intent to move the mind, with a major focus on instruments as the driver of the emotion. I love problem solving, and I feel like every great song is already written- it just needs to be unlocked by a songwriter.
Tell us a bit about your creative process and how you approach writing a song.
Normally, when working on a new track, I start with my acoustic. I never have an idea of what I’m going to do but I slam around on the guitar until something catches my ear. From there, I usually record a riff or two on repeat and start writing basslines. After that, I plug in the guitar and just play things until I like what I hear. During this entire time is when the lyrics are written. I usually just take words that are swimming in my head at the time and make phrases that portray my feelings in the moment. In the middle of a guitar riff, I’ll feel something interesting and immediately record vocals. Sometimes I’m surprised at what I say and it tends to be something like therapy for me.
In terms of the overall composition, what is your favourite song and why?
I would have to say Don’t You Know? That song contains a lot of really great accidents. When I’m writing music, I sometimes have this habit of trying to best myself on each and every recording. This song was the opposite of that and ended up turning out great. This was the first song that I wrote with absolutely no idea in mind. I picked up my guitar and started playing. After a few minutes I was looping this progression that ended up being the main riff for this track. I was happy with it. It was simple, it was fun, and it sounded great. I recorded it and started rambling into the microphone “… your heart smiles when your mind is gone…” and followed it up with “don’t you know?”. I felt like I was teaching myself something so I just kept going. The music fell into my lap and the words followed. The very end of the song is the real magic for me. When I had run out of things to say on the track I improvised using the mood I was in at the time. I was having so much fun and wasn’t ready for the song to end so I started the “na na na” part. I was so excited to get that one finished I ended up recording the lead guitar over top, retracking all the other instruments and releasing the song in less than a day. For sombody who is often overcritical of his own work it was a very refreshing outcome.
I note that you‘re passionate about production, often releasing alternative mixes of your work – what are you listening out for when trying to make improvements?
I write music that I also really enjoy listening to. When I’m listening to a track I made, I am constantly critiquing and studying what I’ve done with the mix. My main concern while mixing is to try to get everything in my tracks to be as well balanced as possible. Something as simple as a hihat hit that is too loud will send me back to my computer. My music tends to be very bass driven and I often listen to make sure that the bass guitar is not being drowned out by other instruments when its needed the most. My music also has a consistency so to speak. I like to call it the song’s ‘life raft’. I love to write parts of songs that have a very repetetive predictable life raft.
In Hard to Breathe it would be the organ stabs, in Sold out Show, you have the piano note on the offbeat. I like to make sure that when its time to recover from a big chorus or get ready for a big change, you’ll know that you’ll be able to feel that life raft. I have a tendency to go back and turn those up right before or after something big.
I think it’s comforting. Vocals get a ton of attention from me as well. I always make sure to automate vocal levels as much as my attention span will allow me to. Some people listen to lyrics and some people don’t. I try not to focus on making every word stand out but on making every word have its place in the melody.
I’m interested in what your set up looks like – what equipment and software are you currently using?
My equipment is very basic honestly. I have an old Alesis Multimix 8 as my interface. They don’t even make those anymore. My main instrument mic is an SM57 and all of my guitars have been recorded with that single microphone. I almost always double track and hard pan my guitars for as much stereo space as I can get so I can adjust them later or have backup tracks to fix mistakes I find in the mix.
Essentially my rig consists of a small Marshall practice amp with a roughly 6 inch speaker and my SM57 micing the cab. The overdrive and compressor pedals are cheap Amazon purchases. I normally play with my Epiphone LP Florentine Pro on rhythm, Gretsch G2420T on lead, Yamaha acoustic, and an Epiphone Thunderbird bass DI’d into the interface.
All of my drums are either VSTs or sequenced samples depending on the feel of the song. All of my synths are done in my DAW, Studio One 5 Pro. I have a midi keyboard where I workshop all of my keyboard and synth sounds before ultimately sequencing them when I find a good idea.
For recording vocals, I actually rely on the techniques I picked up from listening to industrial metal. In particular, the vocal recording style of Marilyn Manson. The double tracked vocals with the underlying falsetto is something I first heard in a much darker style of music but it works very well with my voice in the style I write. It’s a borrowed technique but you can definitely tell it’s me which is pretty cool. The great thing about recording vocals this way is that I can pick and choose takes depending on the mood of the song or whether I made mistakes. It makes for much more work in mixing but it’s rewarding if you can put the time in.
What can we expect from you in future?
I am currently working on my second album actually. It remains unfinished at the moment but I feel like this one is going to have much more emotion behind it and much larger soundscapes. I would say that its similar to my first album but I feel like the sound is a little more refined.
Final thoughts from you?
I would like to say that I’m thankful for all the people who have supported me on BandLab. I’ve been posting music for less than a year and I feel like part of a huge family there. So… thanks BandLab!
You can find Bombshell Royal on Bandlab here as well as all the usual online streaming services.