It’s All a Go With Bombargo
Saskatoon band aims to make music while staying themselves
Bigoa Machar, Arts Editor
While spontaneous road trips are something usually reserved for cheesy teenage comedies, Nathan Thoen’s life was completely changed by one shortly after he was introduced to his new friend Spencer Chilliak.
“Spencer and I met when he asked me to go to a music festival because a friend of his had backed out on going to Sasquatch last minute,” says Thoen. We got to know each other pretty well on our long drive down to Washington State and we took in a ton of amazing bands. We were stoked on seeing so many bands we idolized for so long.”
Like any music festival, the surreal atmosphere of everything got Thoen and Chilliak excited and after a day full of seeing famous bands, the two decided to take matters into their own hands.
“After seeing all this, we were sitting around a fire and thought ‘Hey we should totally start a band.’” Says Thoen. “I play guitar and sing a little bit and Spencer decided ‘Hey, I’m going to get really good a guitar too’ and started practicing a ton.”
The two wasted no time when they got back to Saskatoon, and Thoen says the flow of everything really just took off after then.
“When we finally got around to writing, we liked the way it all sounded. We wrote like four songs the first day we started writing and it was all super rad. We still play some of those songs to this day.”
With the effort obviously there, Thoen and Chilliak were still a little shorthanded. After an unexpected coincidence, the band Bombargo was born.
“One day, Spencer was telling me how he wished his best buddy Phil Kashap was still living in Canada at the time,” says Thoen. “He had been living in California until one day he kind of just showed up at Spencer’s door and was like ‘Hey you wanna play some tunes?’ The three of us started jamming and really enjoyed that for a long time.”
Kashap, who filled the void of drummer for the band, was now on board to join full time. After the trio released their first sampler, another one of their friends hopped on the bandwagon.
“Graham Tilsley officially joined the band after our first EP. We were doing some side projects at the time, but after that he joined the band full time. His experience in the music scene really helped us out. He knows how to tour and play every instrument.”
With the expertise of the technical side of music now on their side, Thoen says the band is now more diverse and motivated as ever, with all of their ideas coming to life.
“Being in a band is like painting on one canvas and every guy has a paintbrush. You have a few different ideas going on but it’s all art when it comes together if you have four guys who are all determined.”
Despite their new found success, Bombargo proudly chooses to stay as an independent band, with everything from their tour schedule to their album prices all determined on their own. Thoen says that this lines up with the original ideology of the band.
“We don’t want anyone to tell us to sound a certain way. We want to play the songs we play because they sound good and make us feel good,” says Thoen. “At the end of the day, we really want our music to come from an authentic place. That’s really the best way for a musician to stay grounded and true to themselves.”
Although they haven’t completely ruled it out, Thoen also mentions that he’s fine with anything as long as Bombargo is able to stay as happy and free flowing as possible.
“It’s really tough to say. You hear some of the good and some of the bad. I think record labels are fantastic for exposure but as soon as they get in the way of your creative process, then I don’t know if that’s something you want to be dabbling with.”