Couch Concert: Bomba Fried Rice

Couch Concert: Bomba Fried Rice

Photo Credits: BOMBA FRIED RICE / COURTESY

Local 11-member band brings elements of numerous genres to jam sessions 

Local Davis band Bomba Fried Rice has been serendipitous since its creation. What began as a group of friends simply jamming for the sake of jamming became Bomba Fried Rice in 2013 when they were asked to play at the Davis Music Festival. 

“Another band couldn’t play, so [the festival] asked us last minute if we would,” said Juan Miranda, who does the vocals and small percussion for the band. “We had to give them a name for our group, so we started throwing around names and joking around. Bomba Fried Rice was the funniest one.”

After pressing members for a concrete reason behind the iconic band name, a myriad meanings and messages emerged.

“Bomba means many things,” Miranda said. “Bomba rice is the specific rice for paella. It also means bomb. It is also a genre of music from Puerto Rico. We’re a mix of many genres. Sometimes we will have more than one genre in a song. Maybe ‘bomba’ is the collision of a lot of different types of music.” 

Indeed, Bomba Fried Rice has taken different styles and forms based on the members who make up the band. There are currently 11 members — not all of whom are original members, but each have a distinct physical and musical background. Miranda grew up in Mendoza, Argentina; Guillaume Luxardi, who is from Normandy, France scratches on vinyls; Pauline Millard, also from Normandy, France, plays piano; James Mayoral, from Dixon, Calif. plays the trumpet; Bårt Van Der Zeeuw, from the Netherlands, is on the drums; Felipe Becerra from Colombia plays the congas; Alvar Escriva-Bou from Valencia, Spain is on tenor saxophone while Heron Scow from Davis, Calif. plays alto saxophone; Luis Avila from Peru plays guitar and, finally, Jason Burns from Hawaii is on bass guitar.

“Everyone who has played within the group is a talented musician,” Mayoral said, who joined the band in 2015 after he met Miranda, who was his teaching assistant in the Spanish department. “They all have different backgrounds, whether they were a classical musician or a jazz musician. But it’s cool because they bring those elements and creativity to the table that makes each rehearsal or performance a little different.” 

The band’s eclectic membership makes the indistinguishable quality of Bomba Fried Rice’s sound. 

“People don’t think about this: when salsa started it was in New York,” Miranda said. “It was that pot of people bringing their own rhythms and finding a common ground, showcasing their piece. They come with a set background, but people also learn their own style with what they already have.”

Similar to the conversation concerning their name, the band members could not coin the genre of their sound.

“Latin would be a very simple way to get out of the question,” Miranda said. “There are different influences, from the music to the lyrics. Everyone brings something and then [if] we like it and we keep it. I’m sure there is some stuff that we don’t even know where it came from, but it’s there. There is a lot of latin music, rock, ska, hip-hop, spoken word, salsa, cumbia and variations of it.”

According to Miranda, playing a combination of multiple styles ensures the audience doesn’t get bored: there is continuous innovation and the way they play with sound is unique to the band.

“It is more of a matter of feeling, and how it will translate with what we do with our hands,”  Luxardi said. “It’s not like the scratching that I do is ‘French.’ It’s my own feelings.” 

Bomba Fried Rice might better be described as a musical space than a band in the traditional sense. Based on availability and interest, not every person plays in each concert or gig. Yet cohesion of the band rests on the talent of each individual member. 

“You have to prepare by yourself,” Miranda said. “Coming to rehearsal to prepare is too late. If you know your part, then it is easier for everyone. These are theatrical performances of music … we have some songs we work on, or someone comes with a song and people come and build on it.”  

Their performances, therefore, are intended to showcase the different sounds of the band. While each song has a foundation, a set guitar riff or drum beat, the goal of each performance is to create a new listening experience. 

People consume music from different angles,” Miranda said. “For some, you listen to music as a chunk that makes you dance and feel good. For others who are more trained, you can separate the different sounds, know different beats, and see what everyone is doing to merge. It gives the band the freedom to express more if they want to. The public sees that in their faces. If you are enjoying what you are playing people see that and that’s contagious.”

This style of performance allows surprises to emerge.

“There have been performances where some mistakes happened, and we somehow made them part of the song,” Miranda said. “There was this one festival we played at and the [power] went out. But we were lucky and we had a lot of percussion, a lot of brass and I sang with a megaphone. We didn’t have a guitar, bass or a piano. But then the electricity came back on, you could hear the sound of the music coming back, and we finished the song with all the instruments.”

Bomba Fried Rice considers their music a matter of attitude, allowing for mistakes, allowing for discovery, allowing for fun — “You see people dancing, and it’s honorable,” Miranda said.

“We just want to have fun,” Luxardi said. “We want to share our love for the music and people.”

Written By: Caroline Rutten — arts@theaggie.org