Following the release of two full-length album sessions, Croatia’s Saddle on the Bomb kindly joined us for a chat about their music, their influences, and their plans for the future. Here’s how it went.
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Hi guys – thanks for the interview, congrats on the new release. Awesome performance. What made you want to release an experimental set like this, and why do you think the music connects so well in the raw and live setting?
Hello, thank you very much! Glad you like the playing and performance, not many can swallow this album.
After Tomislav Poje left Acid Hags because he moved to another city we didn’t have time to do rehearsals any more, but we still love to play together and he visits me from time to time. Every time we see each other we record the session.
All of these songs are invented in that particular moment when we play, nothing is rehearsed and tried before. We talk before the session a little, when I do all engineering work with mics and sound, but when I press REC all plans are gone, and there is only our adjustment to the given situation.
Those are probably not the best songs in the world, but those are the purest emotion we could give in that moment, no thinking, just what we have forged over the years on our instruments and how we adopt that skills and fit them on the songs.
There’s also a strong potential for this kind of playlist to be the evening ambiance for alternative music fans – sort of in the way people would gather round to play a Pink Floyd vinyl back in the day. Where do you personally imagine is the best setting for people to listen to these tracks?
The best thing would be to be in the room with us, but that would probably change the course of songs and we would maybe rush them, so our Terminal or Mammoth songs would be a lot shorter and maybe not so intense, haha. But we did probably 90% of recording also in video format so it is great to see the feeling and maybe easier to absorb performance. Cool thing would be to listen to this at low bulb light with a glass of wine, alone.
There’s a certain sense of spontaneity to the music – is there a live jam aspect to what you do, or is everything precisely composed and arranged?
Everything is a jam, nothing is written, there are only song themes that we discussed over the months via Facebook messenger, so we can be on the same level of idea.
Ideas are always odd rhythms and odd time signatures (7/8, 13/8, 23/16 etc) but when we play and everything starts to go fluid, the deal is that one of us starts with poly-rhythm on given theme, so when you hear we both play the same theme together you can expect that one of us will change it drastically almost immediately and return back at some point, after that the turn to change it is on the other player 🙂 All in all there is a lot of fun in those songs, and a lot of challenges for each.
Why the name Saddle on the Bomb?
‘Saddle on the bomb’ is the name I had in mind with thinking how our music is weird like Kubrik’s Dr. Strangelove, I watched that movie probably 20 times and I love it so much. Imagine the bomb with the saddle, and you are up there, listening to our music, you want to escape it and just jump off, but somehow you are still there listening, trying to understand what we poured into those themes of the songs, and why 🙂
How did you both meet?
Tomislav and me both played in Acid Hags from 2016.-2018. Then Tomislav moved and Acid Hags got a new drummer. But before that our wives were friends and they forced us to meet each other 🙂
How long have you been playing and mastering your instruments?
I play guitar probably 25 years but I had big 12 year pause when I was a luthier and electronic builder so I sold all guitars to buy machines and tools, now I started buying them again and I started to play again in 2015. I think Tomislav said he play drums also approx 25 years and he played most of his career in progressive rock band Fall Out Trio, where he mastered his amazing unique skills and talent.
Do you each bring different influences to the stage, or are you into the same sounds and styles?
We are totally on the different styles and influences, but we both think the same for ‘Saddle on the Bomb’ – the idea is that drums and guitar change the roles, you know how some guys think that drums are the rhythm section of the band? Well in ‘Saddle’ guitar is most of the time rhythm and drums are a solo instrument.
Many people hate that because they can’t stretch their mind so much. Sounds weird as an idea but that idea is so tempting and cool. Some folks who heard this music said that “we sound like we now started to learn to play basics”. It is a new level that we struggle to get to, the level where it is impossible to write this music in sheet, that uniqueness is so big that you immediately know it is ‘Saddle’.
The level of playing this style and the style of particular thinking about music can be heard here. Constant using of poly-rhythms and poly tempos. Sometimes when I play 7/8 on guitar, drums play 9/8 but it is not in the same tempo, but our first note in the next bar is there together. After that we don’t meet on first in next bar, but every second bar, or third. Sometimes when that is not enough we complicate it that he makes 18/8 over my 7/8, those are in fact just regular 9 over 7 signatures, but to regular listeners who never tired to play that, it sounds like we don’t know what we play, but believe me every second of our music is our skill and nothing is played by accident.
Things pick up slightly at around the half way point – was there an artistic intention to this progression, something you wanted to represent or portray?
Nothing in particular, that is pure emotions driven by skills of playing, with the small intention to be different than anything else in music, if we can fit it in the song. We drove each other to that moment.
Have you performed to live audiences yet, and if so – what has the reaction been like so far?
We never preformed live together with ‘Saddle’ but we did with ‘Hags’, and we hope we can arrange some shows in 2020. That would be awesome. We will of course record that and release it as a new Session album 🙂
If you could perform at any venue or event in the world, which would you choose, and why?
Probably not a regular venue, but maybe an old church or big abandoned factory is most desired for us now. We already have some spaces and ideas for next sessions in my town. But for shows anything would be great where people are listeners and will want to go with us on the journey and experience what we can offer.
What are your plans creatively over the coming months?
Plans are to get some free time for ‘Saddle’ and do more recorded sessions, but next time at a different location, that will add to our feeling while we play, and maybe make the session authentically weird for that space where we will play and record. Searching for nice places right now, have some in mind.
Is there anything else we should know?
Acid Hags will release new album in beginning of 2020. On that album Tomislav Poje is also playing drums and last song is something out of this world, on the trace of the Saddle. Album is not a jam session like Saddle but the signature sound of both of us is also there, very intense.
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Check out both Session 1 and Session 2 over on Bandcamp.