It was close to a decade after The Bombpops formed that they finally delivered their first LP, Fear Of Missing Out. And, despite the line-up changes, the fits and the starts, the result was wildly satisfying. As a reward for their patient fans, the L.A.-based band are now quickly following up that debut with Death in Venice Beach, out today via Fat Wreck Chords. It’s an equally impressive album, albeit one with darker themes.
Poli van Dam, co-singer and guitarist for The Bombpops, admits these songs came to the band pretty quickly.
“Recording Fear Of Missing Out, a couple of the songs there were older, a couple came quicker leading up to the session,” she says. “But [this time], since we had done it already, and we had the experience of recording before, we had a bit of a fire under our asses. And the excitement was there as well.”
Van Dam notes that after assembling in the recording studio this time around, everything seemed to flow better for the band.
“I wasn’t as freaked out or scared,” she says. “For me, at least, it gets super overwhelming in the beginning. But we’d been through this before, and I knew we could get through it.”
The band left their native California for Colorado to record, as they did for the Fear Of Missing Out sessions, linking up with producers Chris Fogal (The Gamits) and Yotam Ben Horin (Useless ID) once again.
“With Chris Fogal and his family there, they’re like family to us you know?” van Dam says. “When we were there recording the first time, they were talking about having kids, and this time around they had two babies. It’s like home there. That comfort that we felt there is so important.”
It was within that family atmosphere that the band felt secure enough to tweak the music they’d spend the last year working on.
“I think that any human being has those moments, especially as an artist,” says van Dam. “Where you think you’re married to your song, and you’re a little unsure about taking suggestions. It’s so humbling, but it’s not like you’re completely changing the songs, it’s just adding that sparkle, the arrangement that it needed. At the end of the day, it’s our choice whether or not we want to make those changes. In the end, everyone just cares so much, so we’re throwing out ideas, but it can get to be a lot when there’s six people in a room and everyone has their opinion.”
The result is a remarkably cohesive album, one that doesn’t lose any of The Bombpops’ fun pop punk sound, but has a cautionary tale about life in its lyrics.
“It is darker,” says van Dam. “We’re portraying that love, but also the dark side of Los Angeles. And I was also going through a bit of a thing at the time. Looking back at all the songs, it totally makes sense. I was drinking too much, and being depressed, and dealing with anxiety. It’s a trip listening to that. It’s real, and it definitely has this theme. You can feel this uneasiness.”
In one of those songs, “Double Arrows Down,” van Dam describes living with Type 1 diabetes, a struggle she has dealt with since being diagnosed at the age of 16. In particular, she talks about a seizure she had on tour in the fall of 2018, an incident that could have killed her.
“Before now, I’ve never written a song about being diabetic and what that entails,” she says. “Diabetes is something that I have to deal with every fucking day. It’s something that’s always on my mind. I never feel one hundred percent. I think sharing these types of things ultimately brings people together. They can relate.”
Surprisingly, Jen Razavi, who co-founded The Bombpops with van Dam, came up with equally dark lyrical material for her songs, despite never discussing the content with her partner in crime.
Both chalk it up to coincidence. That, and the fact that Razavi had been re-watching movies by David Lynch that frame L.A. in an ominous light.
“Jen and I are so close, and we go through a lot of the same stuff,” van Dam says. “I don’t want to speak for her, but I struggle with anxiety, and this is the way I channel it. And Jen is channeling these movies in a lot of her lyrics, which I think is really cool. We both love Los Angeles and we love where we are, and I think we’re in the same vibe. We’re best friends and we spend a lot of time together.”
Death in Venice Beach is out now, buy it here