Catching up with chief boom and lead vocalist, Aaron Ross, from Vancouver's very own The Boom Booms
As deep as our Scrimshaw roots go, the soulful music of The Boom Booms has been playing since day one. The six-man band from East Vancouver bring the rhythm wherever the road takes them. The band consists of lead vocalist Aaron Ross, his brother Sean Ross on the keys, Geordie Hart on the bass, Tom Van Deursen on the guitar, percussionist Theo Vincent, and Richard Brinkman on the drums. Their eclectic vibe is perfect for a sunny afternoon on the roof, yet just as easily gets your foot tapping during your morning commute. Within their collection of singles and EPs, the Canadian fellas have two incredible full albums, ¡Hot Rum! (released in 2011), and their sophomore debut, Love Is Overdue (released this past Fall 2014). Having traveled the globe, the guys are currently in a dash around the Northern hemisphere for their Love Is Overdue North American Release Tour. And if you’re going to be over the border in Canada for the 4th of July, we’d suggest scooping up your tickets to The Boom Booms’ very own music festival: East Van Summer Jam. With the likes of AB-Soul, Mayer Hawthorne, Kelela and many more joining the jam, this year’s fest sounds as if it’s bound to be the biggest yet. Scrimshaw Collective recently caught up with chief boom himself, Aaron Ross to learn a little bit more about the funkadelic bands that’s got the continent ablaze.
Scrimshaw Collective: Hailing from the East, we aren't as familiar with the West Coast, let alone Western Canada. What was it like growing up in Vancouver with all the guys? Did you all actually live within a few blocks of each other? And did your mutual love for music bring about the start of the band?
Aaron Ross: Western Canada is known for it's amazing forests, lakes, rivers and of course the Pacific Ocean. A lot of people enjoy the outdoor sports life out here. We grew up together in East Vancouver, which was a great place to grow up and still is a really tight community made of up people from everywhere. I love living in a place where I can walk down the street and see people I've known my whole life. Basically the band started when I recorded my first album, Butterfly Man. Geordie and Theo did some recording on it and we started performing live locally as a trio. After some months of that we met Tom, our guitarist, in a tree planting camp we worked at. I think he was 18 at the time and would always be shredding in the mess tent. My brother Sean joined around that same time, and also at first we had two lovely ladies singing in the band as well. The last piece of the puzzle was our drummer Rich, who joined last minute after our drummer Ben decided he didn't want to tour to Panama with us. We called him the day before departure, asked if he wanted to join and he said yes! Ha ha!
SC: You've been categorized as reggae, soul, groove, funk, with rock elements, but what would you categorize your style as, or do you now wear more than one hat?
Aaron: We've definitely tried a lot of styles and part of that is the band having fun experimenting while finding our sound. The album ¡Hot Rum! was very inspired by our trip down south so you get the reggae, latin and beach vibes. The record we have been touring, Love is Overdue, is basically a throwback soul/funk record with a couple different sounding tunes in there. We all love that style of music and we wanted to make an album that stayed more in one genre than ¡Hot Rum! did. Also, working with Chin Injeti doing production, that was the common ground for us all sonically and where we felt inspired to work in.
SC: You drove from Canada to Panama... so you're accustomed to life on the road. And from what it sounds like, in a variety of vehicles! Have your travels “south-of-the-border” influenced or inspired your musical style?
Aaron: Absolutely. Personally, I was tremendously inspired the first time I went south, especially New Orleans and Cuba but then later many other countries. It was the joy and just all the feeling that went into the music and how switched on everyone was when they started to play, the whole culture around the music and the dancing. When the band started in Vancouver we thought that that type of bright music for having fun was lacking in Vancouver so that was our vibe, our mission you could say. We wanted to bring that Caribbean street party vibe or whatever to our shows. Musically on a technical level I think we all learned about syncopation, all the crazy rhythms they use in Latin music, the African percussive roots. When we travelled to Brasil we got to soak in and learn about samba, which had a big effect.
SC: Could you tell us a little about your side project, The Music Tree? The mission is really amazing - has this been a good outlet for you amidst all your work?
Aaron: The Music Tree is our way of giving back. It started with The Boom Booms and our good friend Levon Kendall who plays professional basketball - in Spain at the moment. We started throwing the block parties back in 2008 and they soon began making money so we decided to support one local charity and one international. We get to connect with and support lots of great projects and now the Boom Boom Block Party has evolved into the East Van Summer Jam thanks to the hard work of our team led by Angus Ramsay. We want to give back to our neighbourhood and be an active part of making it's future, but we also love reaching out. We've been so lucky to travel and learn from people abroad, not to mention been fed by, heard their stories, etc. So it's important for us in the band to reach out, and I think everybody connects with that idea of it being important to reach out beyond your borders.
SC: We saw in an interview with Grandpa Boom Boom explaining that your bus clanking "bang-bang" through a town, brought about the name "Boom-Boom" name? Is this the real story behind your name?
Aaron: Ha ha, I do like that story! There are a few competing versions of how the name came to be but I think it's pretty self explanatory, ha ha!