Interview: Wade Walston, United X Bombs Debut Album ‘West World Crisis,’ progression from US Bombs

The longest-running members of US Bombs, guitarist-Kerry Martinez, drummer-Chip Hannah, and bassist Wade Walston linked up last year, with Aggrolites vocalist Jesse Wagner, to spawn a new band with roots in a classic punk rock and roll sound.

UnitedXBombs released their debut album West World Crisis this year through Demons Run Amok Entertainment. Initially the band established a social media presence and utilized various platforms to hint at what was to come. Short clips of music played over edited video montages and distorted images, leaving many to wonder what they were hearing and specifically who was involved?

L to R: Chip Hannah, Wade Walston, Kerry Martinez, Jesse Wagner.

Wagner’s vocal delivery is instantly recognizable and he’s found a solid balance of maintaining a velvet-smooth style with a new aggression. The same can be said about the sound of Martinez’ playing. His style is undeniable, if not iconic, and one that has been sorely missed by fans. Whether technical scales or a firm four on the floor foundation, Walston and Hannah continue to be a rhythm section to be reckoned with, and provide a backbone of steel to this debut album.

The sum of these equal parts created an instant buzz and excitement online. In July of 2019, UXB released a seven-inch that quickly sold out, before embarking on a quick but effective nationwide tour. While the tour was a way to solidify these new songs, the band hoped to establish a connection with new fans and simultaneously wrangle in fans of their previous work.

The Aggrolites continue to be one of the best ska-reggae bands around, meanwhile US Bombs have descended from a punk rock necessity to socially negligible. Lineup changes went from the occasional stand in to an unrecognizable group, with only a familiar front man. One who continued to make odd and disparaging remarks online, much to the chagrin of fans.

Once people understood that United X Bombs was one a their favorite band’s lineups with a new figurehead, many expressed their instant adoration of these musicians and the band were off to the races.

If you’ve seen the 1984 Roger Corman classic, punk rock film Suburbia, you might recognize the character of young Joe Schmoe as the bassist of United X Bombs, Wade Walston. Recently, Wade was kind enough to fill us in on what’s new in the land of Bombs as well as what’s lies ahead, should the smoke ever clear.

For those unaware, you used to play in US Bombs, and the last we heard or saw from that crew was myriad of different versions. What happened? 
The US Bombs have always had an influx of musicians coming and going. If I were to list everyone that played in The Bombs at one time or another, we would need a lot more paper. But it has always been Kerry and DP. The last version was just Duane and some hired guns. I thought the record was OK but definitely didn’t have that Kerry Martinez “Ten Fingers of Doom” sound. Some people called it US Bombs Light. I tend to agree. 

Duane has been making some less than positive waves; any thoughts or opinions there? 
He and I have always had our issues and have gone to fisticuffs more than a few times but after a couple decades on the road together I feel like he’s a fallen soldier. The song “Think It Over” is a pretty good reflection of where we stand … I hope he does well and eventually finds peace with himself. 

credit: Rick Bain, Dave Rev

What has everyone been up to since the break; personally, and or artistically? 
I know we’ve all been taking the time to focus on family and navigating this pandemic. We’ve been working on new demos and have another seven-inch ready for release later this year. Jesse has been recording with The Aggrolites as well. 

How did the new band come together? Was it an idea that had to snowball or one day came the incarnation? 
Kerry, Chip, and I had two albums worth of material ready to record with the US Bombs. When it was apparent that it wasn’t going to happen, we decided to record the music regardless. We recorded some demos and started to audition singers from all over the world. When Jesse showed some interest and recorded a couple tracks we knew right away this could be something special. 

Was there a focus or plan once everything seemed solid or just taking things as they come? 
The plan was just to record and play together. Chip, Kerry, and I have had a certain chemistry that never went away. We could go years without playing together and once we get in the studio it’s like a snap of the finger and we’re off and running. Jesse just adds to that exponentially. 

Are you having more fun now and are there any noticeable things different than when US Bombs were going strong? 
We are a bit older and more mature now. I think that shows in the songwriting and performance. It’s a lot less stressful now for sure. 

Do you guys all play and write together or is it a piece by piece of individual ideas for the songs?
Usually piece by piece. Kerry writes most of the basics, and when we get together we all add and take away. We like to collaborate with other musicians as well. Tommy Leroy from The Heartaches (Belgium) wrote the lyrics to “It’s Only Life.” 

The new album sounds really good, where and with who did you record? How long did everything take to complete? 
We recorded at Kitten Robot Studios in Los Angeles. Paul Roessler did an amazing job engineering and performed keys on the record. It took about 10 days total. 

You did a tour last year, with plans to do more. Was that the first time you’d all played live together and road tested the songs? 
It was the first time playing these songs live. We wanted to get in front of an audience and give the songs life before we went into the studio. We will definitely hit the road when it’s possible. 

What kind of responses have you received both on live shows, and the new record, so far? 
Everything has been really positive so far. I think that is because we are doing it for the right reasons and people can see that. West World Crisis is really about PMA, acceptance, tolerance, and mutual respect for each other. Hopefully that resonates. 

Do you have a favorite song or two out of the bunch? Playing or listening? 
Oh man … not really. It changes daily. I really like “Phoenix” right now. It has that Steve Jones vibe to it. 

What have the last six months been like for you? Everyone seems to have a different yet unified experience. 
My experience has been much like everyone else’s. Just trying to get through this pandemic with some sense of balance and sanity. I try to focus on perspective and self awareness. There’s a lot of people not doing well at all. 

Have you rediscovered any old music, books, or movies that you used to dislike but have come to enjoy? To that end, any new art in similar categories hit your radar? 
I feel like the ’70s was the best era for music. Rock, punk, new wave. The best music, album artwork, shows. I’ve been recollecting all my old vinyl. Bowie, Stones, Cheap Trick, Cars, Ramones … it’s fun and cheap (mostly). 

Off-subject, at the end of one of the compilations by Disaster Records, there was a small sample of Chuck Briggs singing and playing a song … is there more of that, and/or more recordings of his work?
I have a picture of Chuck playing piano on Warbirth on my desk. I was a fan of Chuck’s when he was in The Dischords. We miss him dearly. I’m not aware of any additional recordings by him. 

How often do you receive Joe Schmoe references? 
Ha! Almost never. That was two lifetimes ago. 

What’s next for the band? Pandemic be damned, what’s talked about, even for a hopeful agenda? 
An EU tour as soon as possible to promote West World Crisis. We released on Demons Run Amok label in Germany, and they’ve been great at promotion. We would like the record to do well for them. We will record a follow-up some time next year.

If you’re interested in owning your own copy of the West World Crisis, it’s been reported that the first pressing has sold out on most record shop websites. Fear not, as a second pressing with alternate color has already been announced. Stay tuned, and keep on rockin’!

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