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Boom Booms bursting for Boonstock
Just as the band’s name suggests, the Boom Booms are set to explode with their latest album.
“We brought these new sounds and it is deeper, bassier and sexier. It is nice,” said lead vocalist Aaron Ross, of the band who will be performing at Boonstock Music and Arts Festival in Penticton.
The six-piece Canadian indie-soul band based in Vancouver are putting the finishing touches on their sophomore album, Love Is Overdue. They have some heavy-hitters in the business on the production credits including Grammy-Award winner Chin Injeti (Drake, Eminem, Pink, SonReal) and L.A.-based producer DJ Khalil (Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent).
“If you listen to our first album and EP, we had a mix of Caribbean influence, Latin influence, a very West Coast sound. This album we haven’t been travelling around as much but it is basically an R&B album. It is a matter of what we were feeling and we wanted to hone into one thing and not spread ourselves into too many sounds,” said Ross.
One of the tracks, Real Love, is a single they released last summer and helped develop the overall feeling of their new, focused sound. Ross co-wrote some of the songs with Injeti for Love Is Overdue.
“That is the title of one of the songs on the album. We thought Love Is Overdue is so right because the album was overdue for us,” said Ross. “It is your typical R&B things and I also wrote a song If My City Was A Rich Girl, that talks about gentrification in East Vancouver. It is mostly stays in that funk soul genre.”
The band consists of childhood friends and has taken them on international tours influencing the music scene in countries such as Brazil, Spain, Canada and the U.S. Each of the members share an appreciation for artists like Bill Withers and Damian Marley causing their music to be drenched in rich, roots soul.
Ross had success with his debut album in 2008, Butterfly Man, with the party anthem When the Night. It reached No. 6 on the Much More music chart and was featured in an episode of the teen drama series 90210. Delivered, a ballad on the album, earned the award for Best Roots Song at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in Nashville, TN. But it was the bands first album ¡Hot Rum! that earned the Boom Booms a spot in Vancouver’s PEAK Performance Project. The second place win of $75,000 opened new opportunities for them.
“We decided that we wanted to not just use music as a means to travel the world, but to make a career for it and that is when we applied. It was the perfect jump start to get things going,” said Ross.
The Boom Booms produced and released their travel documentary, Boom Boom Brazil, with the help of prize money. It followed the band on unpredictable adventures as they toured Brazil and were immersed in native traditions and customs. It also raised awareness of the Belo Monte Dam’s impact with candid discussions with locals and stunning videography. It caused the production crew some trouble because they didn’t have official documentation to film and were asking questions about the construction of the controversial dam. Then the director caught malaria and another member of the production team was robbed and stabbed in the arm. Still, the idea of exposing social issues and the cultural impact music has on its people keeps the Boom Booms wanting to pursue the concept more.
“We long had the idea of doing a travel music show and pitch it to a television network, and we still do. We would like to do Haiti, Cuba, the Congo and learn about the music and also report on important social issues going on in that country,” said Ross.
Since the documentary, the Boom Booms have only been rocketing upwards. Last year they were featured on Aloe Blacc’s smash single, The Man. The platinum selling song became the feature track for the Beats by Dre commercial starring Kevin Garnett of the National Basketball Association. This year they were invited to the Pemberton, Squamish, Invermere and Boonstock music festivals and will play the PNE in Vancouver among a number of other gigs on their summer tour. They haven’t forgotten their roots in Vancouver though. They started a small block party in 2008 with a bare bones stage and barbecue to raise funds for the community they grew up in. Last year they raised around $14,000 for non-profit group The Music Tree and the annual event has evolved into the East Van Summer Jam featuring a number of bands.
“We grew up in East Vancouver and this community is changing so fast, we just wanted to get money and be ambassadors in our own way. We want to make money to give back to the community,” said Ross. “It is all about supporting grassroots projects that involve youth. We also work with communities in Nairobi, Uganda and Brazil too.”
Ross never thought music would take him so far and part of the reason why he feels committed to giving back in some way. Focused on basketball in high school, he dreamed of becoming a NBA player, or at the very least earning a U.S. scholarship and becoming a lawyer or doctor. It was his good friend Levon Kendall, professional basketball player and co-founder of The Music Tree, whose dad was a piano player in Doug and The Slugs that piqued Ross’s interest in music. When Ross’s high school basketball team fell apart, music was on the sidelines waiting.
“Honestly I never planned on playing music. I fell back into it. I bought a laptop, a microphone and recorded an album to give out to my friends. It got passed along and eventually someone produced the record,” said Ross.
His school friends, his brother and two others they met at a tree-planting camp in Merritt joined forces to create the Boom Booms shortly after Butterfly Man came out.
“It is pretty crazy how things all came together. I feel very lucky every day for the life I get to live,” said Ross.
The Boom Booms perform at Boonstock on the Shuswap Stage on Aug. 1 from 12:35 a.m. to 2 a.m. Boonstock takes place July 31 to Aug. 3 with mainstage acts including Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Armin Van Buuren and more.