• by Kat Bee
  • Special To The Japan Times


A bit of Southern California cool hits Tokyo this week when Bombon — an all-female surf rock outfit comprised of guitarist Angela Ramos, bassist Paloma Banuelos and drummer Jerico Campbell — arrives in Japan for its first overseas tour.

The group plays several shows across the greater a Tokyo area, sharing the bill with a variety of female-fronted Japanese acts, including The’s — a group Bombon considers a key inspiration for its own sound.

“We have always been big fans of theirs and dreamed of playing with them,” Banuelos says. “We look up to them because they have been performing for such a long time in Japan.”

Bombon hails from San Pedro, a port city 32 kilometers south of downtown Los Angeles whose working-class roots provided fertile ground for the growth of a thriving DIY arts community that spawned acts such as the legendary punk rock group The Minutemen.

The band cites San Pedro as a major influence for not only its musical output, but also for the members’ commitment to supporting and promoting their fellow artists.

“How we do things is heavily influenced by the punk shows we grew up going to in San Pedro,” Banuelos says. “There’s so many bands in this town that you can’t help but stay creative.”

“Music brings people together at a different level,” adds Ramos. “The songs we’ve written and the places our music has taken us have generated a special bond between us.”

That special bond has allowed the band to feel comfortable addressing more serious social themes and concepts within its music — a practice sometimes absent from the Southern California garage rock scene.

In fact, the current political climate of the United States and the rhetoric used in discussions involving women and immigration (two-thirds of the group identify as Latina) motivated Bombon to write its newest single, “¡Xicanista!” — an anthemic tune that pays homage to both the band’s heritage and gender identity.

“For us, focusing on and supporting equal rights and treatment for all is really important,” says Campbell. “If we can bring attention to those ideals with our music, we absolutely will.”

“Listening to people say that girls can’t play (music) or that you play a certain way because of your gender, is just motivation to excel,” Ramos says. “I hope the people that go to our shows feel that same sense of connection.”

Above all, Bombon hopes the band’s music is what will bring the crowds together to help make its first Japanese tour a success.

“It seems like Japanese music fans and bands really bring it at shows,” Campbell says. “I really hope we can keep up!”

Bombon plays Super Deluxe in Minato-ku, Tokyo, on Aug. 6 (6 p.m. start; ¥2,500 in advance; 03-5412-0515); Hatagaya Club Heavy Sick in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on Aug. 7 (6:30 p.m.; ¥2,500 in adv.; 03-3466-1445); Waseda Zone-B in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on Aug. 10 (¥1,500 at the door); Shimo-kitazawa Three in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, on Aug. 12 (03-5486-8804); Oppa-la in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Pref., on Aug. 13 (0466-54-5625); and Live House Embassy in Ashigaka, Tochigi Pref., on Aug. 14 (0284-44-0069. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/laschicasdelbombon.

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