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The thump of Bump

Robert Downes - October 19th, 2009
the thump of BUMP

Detroit rockers get a bounce from new CD & film

By Robert Downes 10/19/09

Check out Bump’s stage set-up and you’ll have to agree with their claim of being one of the hardest-working bands in America. In addition to a touring schedule that has covered 600 shows in 35 states, Bump packs enough electronic gear onstage to give a Radio Shack manager the giggles, with a spaghetti tangle of wires and sequencers augmenting their guitar-driven sound.
The current lineup includes Yorg on keys and guitar, Chris Sterr on guitar, Clint Carpenter on drums and sequencing and Bryce Carroll-Coe on bass. All four join in the vocals and the band prides itself on its harmonies, “progressive tones” and art-rock approach.
With a new CD and the thrill of performing in a new film, the band rolls into Northern Michigan this week with a show at the Loading Dock in TC this Friday, Oct. 23. Here’s the latest on the band:

NE: What’s new with the band?
Bryce Carroll-Coe: a lot actually. We released our new album Forward, we’ve been all over the country promoting it since February -- and, I mean everywhere -- we started writing new material for our next release, and we were also cast in an upcoming movie called Little Murder starring Terrance Howard, Josh Lucas, Lake Bell and Deborah Ann Woll. The director liked our stuff enough to put a few tracks on the soundtrack, including “Appolonia” and “Last Chance.”

NE: How did you land your part in Little Murder?
Carroll-Coe: our good friend, Mike Livanos, who was the second assistant director, called us up and let us know they were holding auditions in Detroit for local musicians to fill those roles. We and a few of our close colleagues went in and laid it down. The rest is history.

NE: What did you enjoy about making the film?
Carroll-Coe: Just being a part of making a film is cool.
It would be tough to say what really hits you most when you’re part of that sort of creative/time-sensitive project. But the best part for us was the dinner break. The director called dinner after our first scene was done shooting and everybody bolted for catering. We lazily go off stage and Terrance Howard walks up there and asks Chris if he can play his guitar. They started jamming a little and before we knew it we were all geared up and jamming. He had some really cool song ideas and laid ‘em on us. A few oil-cans of Foster’s and we were done arranging this sweet Latin groove he’d come up with... Waaaaayyy better than any dinner they coulda cooked up for us.

NE: Your third album Forward just came out. What direction did you take with the music?
Carroll-Coe: The simplest one -- “just write really good songs and make the most of the parts you use.” Now, I’m not a song writer. My responsibilites lie in arranging and stacking vocal harmonies. But watching Chris, Clint and Yorg write. I saw what was motivating them. They clearly weren’t trying to invent the direction of the songs or the album but, rather, trying to find a way to write that would convey the emotion and style of the songs to a broader audience. This is not an easy task when you’re walking that fine line of more eclectic creativity and trying to be understood by the masses.
NE: Where do you fit in with America’s current music scene?
Carroll-Coe: Tough one. I don’t want to make a comparison to other bands specifically, but there’s a lot of good music popping up all over the place that’s musically focused like we are. Good classic composition, solid instrument tones and quality ensemble vocal arrangements. It’s pretty cool that most of it is rock based.

NE: Are you working any particular musical genre at the moment?
Carroll-Coe: Nah. I don’t think so, but everytime there’s an idea someone will say: “You know? Kind of like that part in that song by so and so.” Having said that, our musical genre ideas are more specifically based on each part rather than each song or album.

NE: When you see relative newcomers like Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear making it big, do you ever say, “Why not Bump?”
Carroll-Coe: Hell no. This is a tough business but thinking like that will keep you down even longer. Envy is an ugly emotion and it can make you petty and unappreciative of whatever success might come your way. Look, we get to travel, meet new people, see new places and play music everyday. If you’re not in this business for the love of music and entertainment, why are you in this business?

NE: You recently did a show covering the songs of Beck in Detroit. What was that all about?
Carroll-Coe: It’s actually coming up tomorrow at The Majestic Cafe. We’re gonna do half Bump for the first set and half Beck during the second set.
We were having a band meeting and our manager Joe Choma of Grand Circus Media wanted us to brainstorm about some cool show ideas for Detroit. Bump’s been playing in Detroit for a very long time and as dedicated as our fans are it’s nice to treat them to a new experience and a special show. All we needed was the right idea. Covering Beck seemed like a great idea because the music is original and killer and instrumentally we’re capable of it.

NE: Your shows always feature an incredible number of electronic instruments. How did that evolve?
Carroll-Coe: That, I think, was a bit of a collaboration between Clint and Bump’s original bass player NADZ. They got interested in some of those sequencer sounds and grooves and started toying with them. Before they knew it “The Box,” as we call it, kind of became the fourth and a half member of Bump.

NE: Considering the 600 shows that Bump has performed over the life of the band, isn’t it tough hauling all of that gear around and setting it up?
Carroll-Coe: Tough?! Try fun! No, no -- gear is tough but that’s part of the whole thing. As much fun as music is it’s still our job. We get up and go to work like any free-lance opportunist, only we get free drinks at work. Our live FOH engineer, Jay Minger (of Aural Pleasure), said it best: “Loading gear in and setting up is part of the physical rhythm of the night.” To be frank, I wouldn’t feel the same without the heavy lifting.

NE: Bump also has a cover band. What’s that all about?
Carroll-Coe: There are a lot of nights to fill and a lot of places that only have cover bands. Playing as ‘The Hogan’s’ gives us a chance to jam some of our favorite songs and try new things. There’s a bunch of cool classic rock, reggae, funk and folk out there that people love to hear and we’re always in a position to please.

NE: Any future projects in mind?
Carroll-Coe: We’re an ever-growing machine and new ideas and projects are essential to our evolution and success. Like I mentioned earlier, even though we’re still currently promoting Forward we’re already looking forward -- pun intended -- to the next album. We’ve got so many quality ideas and foundations really early in the songwriting process that we’re all really excited to get down to it. Other than that? Look out for Bump wherever you’re from ‘cause chances are we be playing in your backyard real soon.

Bump performs Friday, Oct. 23 at the Loading Dock in TC; tickets $5 at the door.

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