MOUNTAIN VIEW — Tsunami Bomb founding bassist Dominic Davi had a very specific and audacious goal for the band: an immersive project fusing music and art.
“I had this idea that I wanted to do; it’s so stupid now,” Davi jokes. “I wanted to do a superhero Japanese anime punk rock project, and everybody would have code names.”
In 1998 Davi took on the moniker “Hero Zero” in his punk rock manga-inspired fantasy band with drummer Gabriel Lindeman became “Gabriel 37.”
That version of Tsunami Bomb didn’t last beyond the band’s initial 7-inch record and the band changed course. Davi recruited more friends, starting with Oobliette Sparks, whom he knew through the music community based at Petaluma’s Phoenix Theatre. He wanted her to play guitar but insisted that she play keyboards. Kristin McRory became the original vocalist.
“It just sort of came together as we were begging, borrowing and stealing every musician from every band,” Davi says. “We created this little ramshackle band of Tsunami Bomb all based around the scene we had at the Phoenix Theatre.”
The band spent much of 1999 playing and developing a following around Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Davi and his bandmates made due with what they had, taking on a temporary guitarist for a time and Lindeman involved only as he was available. The members were nothing alike, other than each having the propensity to wear black.
“We all looked like a bunch of people waiting for the bus,” Davi says.
Tsunami Bomb began to solidity around the time they planned to record its first split 7-inch with another local band called Plinky. By that point McRory decided she was going to move from the area for school. Plinky was having its own staffing issues, so the natural solution was for singer Emily Whitehurst (dubbed “Agent M”) and guitarist Brian Plinky to jump ship to Davi’s band.
The same year Tsunami Bomb caught the attention of AFI bassist Hunter Burgan, who signed the band to his label ahead of its next 7-inch, Mayhem on the High Seas. Davi and co. bought a broken-down white van, named it Moby, and hit the road.
“What band tours behind a 7-inch?” Davis says. We do. We toured behind those two 7-inches forever.”
Tsunami Bomb became a staple on the Warped Tour circuit, released two full-length albums and a handful of EPs and played countless shows at punk venues from coast to coast. But the business side of the music industry proved to difficult to maneuver, and the band broke up in 2005. The members would occasionally play a show but it wasn’t until 2015 that Davi decided to attempt a full reunion. He was working on social media management and graphic design at Kung Fu Records, the band’s old label, at the time.
“They came to me and said, ‘You know, Tsunami Bomb still sells.'” he says. “I thought that was really cool.”
Davi had plenty of unreleased material from the band’s early studio sessions and Kung Fu Records pitched him on compiling it into a record. He called and emailed other members and they were in.
Then the band—with a few exceptions—decided to play shows again.
“Do we really want this record to come out and have people notice it in a record store by accident?” Davi says.
Punk no longer spoke to Whitehurst in the way that it did before. Davi initially looked to Sparks to front the band, but she declined, so he had to search again. Plink recommended coworker Kate Jacobi, who had never been in a band.
“Our first reaction was absolutely ‘no,'” Davi says. “We’re not taking somebody who’s never been in a band before and tossing her into this meat grinder.”
Tsunami Bomb auditioned singers, Jacobi took part, and she won the job anyway.
She brought a new infusion of energy, Lindeman says. The band toured with The Vandals. Then Davi got a call from Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, offering a slot on the tour’s 25th anniversary—and final—shows.
“We saw kids who had never seen us before, and didn’t even know who we were—and how they reacted,” Davi says.
On Nov. 8, Tsunami Bomb will release The Spine that Binds, its first album since 2004.
Guitarist Andy Pohl, who initially joined the band in 2017, said the album will be worth the wait to long-time fans.
“We really wanted to do this right and take our time,” he says. “We wanted to make sure it was mixed correctly, and there’s unfortunately a pretty long backlog for vinyl pressing these days.”
There will be more shows as well, though Davi says they will be shorter and better targeted than the band’s grueling yearlong treks of the past.
“It’s a lot like the Army reserves,” he says. “We all show up a couple weekends a year and do the mission.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.