WHAT IS PULSE?

Pulse Music Journal is Saskatchewan’s hub for music enthusiasts. We ‘eat/sleep/breathe’ the music and entertainment industry – plug into our outlet while we highlight new music, recap live performances, and interview the biggest names, local legends, and the newest initiatives surrounding our local music scene. We are honoured to be a leading cultural staple in the Saskatchewan music and entertainment scene.

WE SUPPORT SASKATCHEWAN’S ENTERTAINMENT & MUSIC SCENE

Whether it’s reaching out to a newly released project, musician or creating a spotlight for local talent to be heard on any of our stages, as well as opportunities to be heard opening for larger acts on our full-venue stage. We look forward to reopen and launch our newest concepts that strongly support the local music in our city. The local music scene is super important to us – we are a small city, but we have big dreams. Let’s grow and support each other – putting Saskatchewan on the map for premium music and entertainment experience.

BOMBARGO CREATED THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE AND BROTHERHOOD.

Picture this – you walk into a photoshoot, you meet a person, you become friends and then you decide to start a rock band; That is pretty-much how Bombargo was started when Spencer Chilliak and Nathan Thoen shared a dream. Fast forward 7+ years, the now 7-piece band has toured all over North America, playing many music festivals, SOLD OUT countless shows, produced hit singles, but most importantly – have the same mentality to create music with their friends while putting on the best live performances.

Bombargo is no doubt one of the best bands that has come out of Saskatchewan – a super group created with some of Saskatchewan’s most talented musicians and they are just getting started. Their back bone of positivity and following your dreams has created a contagious following like no other.

Bombargo is Spencer Chilliak, Nathan Thoen, Anthony Thoen, Sammy Lee Folkersen, Connor Newton, Matt Folkersen, and Niall Cubbon.

We connected with the boys from Bombargo to discuss how the band came together, individual achievements, the key to a successful tour,  Michael Franti, Taylor Swift, Streaming Music Success, ‘Tour Van Chic’ and the “Goodtime Guarantee”.

“YOU FEEL THE ROOM TURN INTO ELECTRIC ENTHUSIASM”

– NATHAN THOEN

BOMBARGO HAS PERFORMED FIVE TIMES ON THE COORS EVENT CENTRE STAGE.

EACH SHOW HAS FELT DIFFERENT, BUT ALL WITH THE SAME GREAT ENERGY THAT YOU ALWAYS BRING. YOUR DEBUT APPEARANCE WAS ON DEC 17TH 2016 OPENING FOR THE SOLD OUT ONE BAD SON ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CONCERT. FROM DEC 17TH 2016 TO DEC 26TH 2019, WHAT HAS BEEN THE LARGEST GROWTH THAT HAS HAPPENED IN YOUR LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM YOUR COORS EVENT CENTRE DEBUT TO YOUR LAST SHOW IN DECEMBER THIS PAST YEAR?

BOMBARGO: Our show has dramatically changed since our first show at Coors Event Centre- which at the time we weren’t even sure if we were ready for. That first show was actually slotted for Anthony’s old band Black Vienna and their drummer had moved to Vancouver in early December; the opportunity for Bombargo kind of fell into our lap. Opening for One Bad Son really opened our minds to the possibility of doing our own Coors show, which seemed crazy at the time. It was a crazy idea – so crazy it just might work – and it did. I think we’d all probably say the biggest form of growth or improvement in our show has been how the band has evolved since that first show at Coors Event Centre, and over these last four years. 

We’ve added members to create the show we always envisioned – we’ve added not only members, but brothers – both real and honorary. We love each other and we’re all aware of how rare that is to find. We don’t take it for granted. Our songs are better, we play better live, we’ve added better production and stunts, but it all stems from the connection we have with each other. When the seven of us step onto stage it’s the best feeling in the world – it feels like magic. Every time we have the opportunity to play in front of a crowd of awesome people who made the decision to come out and see us, we want to deliver the best show we possibly can. It doesn’t get old. We love doing that.

NATHAN THOEN OF BOMBARGO PERFORMING IN 2016, OPENING FOR ONE BAD SON AT COORS EVENT CENTRE [photo by Bob Holtsman]
NATHAN THOEN OF BOMBARGO PERFORMING IN 2020, SCALING THE WALL TO THE BALCONY VIEW [photo by Wes Kneprath]
FANS INSIDE COORS EVENT CENTRE WHEN BOMBARGO PERFORMED IN DECEMEBER 2020 [photo by Bob Holtsman]

YOUR PRESENCE IS POWERFUL

THE FRONTMAN IS OFTEN DUBBED THE ‘LEADER’ OF THE BAND. YOUR PRESENCE ON STAGE AND IN THE COMMUNITY IS POWERFUL AND ENERGIZING. WHAT ABOUT BOMBARGO AND YOUR BANDMATES ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

NATHAN THOEN: Thanks so much! Well I’m definitely super proud to have such a great group of musicians to make music with and I feel super honoured every time we get together to rehearse, write, or hit the stage. We’re a band of brothers and we all know how special that is, especially now in 2020. With our shows (and our lives) we always try to be a permission slip for others – an encouraging force that reminds EVERYONE that they are worthy of their dreams and that they can and should take a swing at it (just like we did)!

So often we are conditioned by society to suppress our joy, our uniqueness, our magic; and over time this can lead to fear. When we let fear set in, we often create a shell to protect ourselves but unfortunately these shells often block us from the very moments that make this life so beautiful.

With our live show we aim to break those shells open with singing, dancing, laughing, moving, grooving, power om’s, magic, and love! We give everything we have in the pure pursuit of everyone feeling a moment of magical freedom, and when it happens; you feel the room turn into electric enthusiasm – that just might seep out of the venue and into peoples lives at the end of the night! In the end, I really just want everyone to truly feel the endless potential of their unique experience and I’m proud to know that we can play a tiny part in that together with Bombargo.

HOW DO YOU FEEL BOTH SIDES OF SPENCER COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER?

ONE MINUTE WE SEE YOU IN A SUIT ON A CHILLIAK REALITY BILLBOARD, AND THE NEXT WE SEE YOU ROCKING THAT ‘TOUR VAN CHIC’ LOOK, CROWD SURFING ANY CHANCE YOU GET.

SPENCER CHILLIAK: Haha, thanks! ‘Tour Van Chic’ is something I’ve been working to bring back to real estate as well. I don’t think the band and real estate complement each other a whole lot besides the fact that both roles call for nice shoes. To be honest, being on the road half of the year definitely hasn’t helped me as a real estate agent because it’s a business where being in the market and working face to face with clients is so important. 

It’s been challenging to balance both and especially as the band has grown it’s felt more and more like it’s one or the other. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I was touring all summer with my best friends, but that said with everything that’s happened in the world, it’s allowed me to get back into the real estate business again. I’m able to be in the city and have the time to focus on it and be present to help my clients. One of the big similarities between the band and being a real estate agent is that it’s largely about connecting with people and that’s something that I really enjoy. With both the band and in real estate, I’m grateful to have an incredible team surrounding me – both are family.

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TOUR LIFE WITH MICHAEL FRANTI

HAVE YOU PREACHED ANYTHING THAT YOU’VE LEARNED FROM FRANTI OR ‘TOUR LIFE’ WITH FRANTI WHEN YOU ARE ON TOUR WITH BOMBARGO?

ANTHONY THOEN: There’s a big difference between touring with multiple buses and a fairly large camp and then moving back home to join Bombargo and one extra guy – packing into a van and trailer and hitting the road! I’ve found that ultimately the vibe and feeling is pretty similar and the goal is the same – put on the best show you possibly can night after night and do whatever it takes to make an electric connection with each audience. As shows and tours (hopefully) get bigger and bigger, that goal will always remain the same. 

I have shared a lot of practices I learned from my time touring with Michael’s camp – everything from my own personal tricks like bringing Febreze scented garbage bags to keep your dirty clothes in (I bought these on accident once and found out, they are a game changer for touring and travelling in general) … to putting the following in our group chat daily: schedule, venue, hotel addresses and ROOM NUMBERS. That seems obvious but without a solid process in place for sharing information with everyone it can take a lot of unnecessary energy and stress that adds up after a few weeks or months on the road. With Michael’s tours we used an app called MasterTour which we will likely adopt at some point… maybe once we have an actual tour manager haha.

I’ve been referred to as a bullet proof road warrior by my band mates, although to be honest I think I helped christen the term. In any case this is more of an ongoing practice or way of being than a badge of honour. A road warrior is someone who avoids complaining and contributes to the overall well-being of the camp – coming from a place of compassion and gratitude. We have worked very hard to be doing what we’re doing but we have also been incredibly lucky to be embarking on such a magical adventure, one that many people would trade the world for – don’t forget that – be grateful. Things aren’t always perfect but damn we will have a story to tell. Enjoy the ride and let the good times roll.

“GOOD TIME GUARANTEE”

THE PHRASE HAS BEEN TRUE ANYTIME SOMEONE GETS A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE BOMBARGO. WHO COINED IT? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOUR BAND AND EVERYONE THAT SUPPORTS YOU?

BOMBARGO: We were talking about this the other night and we figured because no one claimed to have coined it, it was probably either Nate or Matt. Our bets are on Matt – it sounds like something he’d come up with, but we wouldn’t put it past Nate to have come up with it either. The mystery continues and maybe it will get cleared up in the comments! It was also the name of one of our first tours across Western Canada – ‘The Goodtime Guarantee Tour’. 

Since then it’s kind of evolved into a slogan or tagline for our live show. We used to say “a lot of bands promise a good time, but we actually guarantee it or your money back” – and of the thousands and thousands of people that have come to our live shows we’ve yet to give anyone their money back. One person broke their leg at a show and we offered to reimburse them but they said even though they broke their leg, they still had a good time – I think we gave them some free merch though cause we felt so bad. Then as we began playing more and more festivals, events, and opening for larger bands, some promoters weren’t as stoked on us promoting the whole money back thing, which is fair because in most cases it wasn’t really our money to give back. 

That all said The Goodtime Guarantee™ is what we’re known for and it’s what we stand behind. It’s what we want to live up to every time we get on stage. It reminds us that EVERY SHOW, big or small, is the most important. When people ask us what upcoming show we’re most excited about, it’s always going to be the next show we get to play – because we aim to make every one magical. It’s more than just the music – it’s a feeling, it’s the energy in the room, and it’s always a good time. 

AFTER A DECADE OF COLLABORATING WITH YOUR FATHER, BROTHERS AND CREATING MUSIC WITH ALTERNATIVE ROCK DUO – CASTLE RIVER. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO CREATE WITH A LARGER GROUP LIKE BOMBARGO?

ANTHONY THOEN FOR MATT FOLKERSEN: Matt is an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. We’re lucky to have him and we’re all really missing him. Going into the woods and planting trees is a very ‘Matt’ thing to do – he’s an outdoorsy guy for one – and he loves his axes, tents, cast iron cookware, wool blankets, you name it – the list goes on. 

He’s also an incredibly helpful and caring person – both musically and as a brother. When he’s home he’s always checking in with everyone about how they’re doing, about the songs they are writing, and he’s ALWAYS down to get together to write music and hang. He’s probably the best songwriter in the band and loves to collaborate on writing with everyone – in the band or not – that’s probably why he’s had success in writing amazing songs, playing with so many people and groups including Castle River, Close Talker and many more. He’s not a professionally trained cook but damn has he made us some incredible meals. He likes taking care of people – that’s Matt. We can’t wait for him to be back and we know he’s going to have a ton of new songs to share with us when he gets home – we’re super stoked to hear them and we’re even more stoked to see him!

CONNOR NEWTON AND SAMMY LEE FOLKERSEN

RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY FOR THE ‘FIRST NATIONS POWER AUTHORITY RETREAT’ IN NIPAWIN. WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE PART OF THAT PERFORMANCE?

CONNOR NEWTON: The First Nations Power Authority gig in particular was really rewarding. Sam and I have thrown so many parties and private shows over the last couple months, and played for so many people in different situations, but this gig was a real privilege. We ate like kings, were treated so amazingly well, and had so much fun hanging out with so many incredible people. The appreciation for music after such a long period of quarantine was something really special.  

We have been finding this in everything we do lately.  We’re very privileged to live in a place like Saskatoon, where it’s not densely populated, and things are very different, but still comfortable and not awkward or weird.  Playing music under these unusual circumstances has been really challenging. Everyone’s attitude is a little different, but whether people are hesitant or excited, the appreciation for the music is seen and felt both by us and the audience.  

I’m sure this sentiment is not just felt here in Saskatoon.  We have been working to bring people and musicians together and inspire everyone to have each other’s backs through this crazy time. We feel that all we can do is be great to each other, and try to bring each other up while navigating this chaos together. It’s been inspiring to see people hopping on board with that and spreading the love all around.

ALREADY A DRUMMER FOR BUSY ALTERNATIVE ROCK BAND, KAYE & CO. TELL US THE STORY OF HOW YOU BECAME THE NEWEST MEMBER OF BOMBARGO?

NIALL CUBBON: How I joined Bombargo was a classic case of making connections in the music scene. I’ve been playing with Carson Kaye (Kaye & Co.) since high school and through him I met Matt Folkersen back when he played with Castle River. At one point in time we shared a jam space on the westside of Saskatoon and some nights the three of us would jam together, so Matt knew I could play. Matt joined Bombargo, I saw them play live a couple times and remember being blown away by their performance; you just got the feeling that they were going somewhere. I remember secretly really wanting to be in their band. I even learned a couple of the songs off their first record just in case they needed me for a gig. 

Flash forward to after Matt had been in the band for some time; he called me up one afternoon, told me that the band had a tour coming up but no drummer and asked if I was interested in the gig. It was the Spring Fling Tour of 2019. I jumped at the chance and said yes. Matt vouched for me and we scheduled a jam with the whole band. We played “Oxygen” and a few other tunes – after the jam the boys told me I had the gig! It was my first tour and I had the time of my life with guys on the road. I knew that this train was leaving the station and I wanted to be on it.   

TAYLOR SWIFT, STREAMING SUCCESS, MADISON HOUSE, MANY TOURS.

THESE ARE ALL PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER AS A BAND. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THE BANDS STARTING OUT THAT LOOK UP TO YOU? ANY ADVICE?

BOMBARGO: That’s a great question. Thinking back on all the things that have helped our band along, we’d be the first to say we’ve been really lucky. But we also believe that the harder you work the luckier you get. As a band starting out, the most important thing is that you’re having fun. That’s number one. If you’re not having fun what’s the point? From there, as you write songs and play shows, at some point as an artist or a band, you should really try to focus in on what you are best at. Find out exactly what the core of that is and build upon it. 

As we were working to become a better band, we realized that through our live shows, we could also lift people up and inspire them to go after their dreams. It was something that people would talk to us about after our shows and it felt natural to us as that’s really what we were and are still doing – chasing a dream – not only hoping for it, but working towards it and believing it can come true. We’ve really focused on that message and we feel it’s something that has differentiated us among so many great bands. 

Find out what your thing is as an artist – make sure it aligns with your truth – and then dive in fully. Lastly, and we can’t stress this enough – be incredibly nice to absolutely everyone. Try to make strong connections with as many people as you can that can help you on your journey.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BOMBARGO, VISIT WWW.BOMBARGO.COM.

UPCOMING EVENTS

WHAT EVENTS WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO…

Nov 3rd

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Nov 27th

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Dec 4th

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July 30th

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LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT’S TO COME…