THE NEXT FESTIVAL featuring the ZOOBOMBS at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Thursday to Saturday (March 8-10) with NO NO ZERO, STOP DIE RESUSCITATE and LUNCHMEAT tonight (Thursday, March 8), 8 pm. $7. With the MONGRELS, THE PATIENTS, RIDE THEORY and NICK TAYLOR AND THE BRIDGE Friday (March 9), 8 pm. $8. With REPUBLIC SAFETY, KIDS ON TV, WOODHANDS, DD/MM/YYYY and KEY WITNESS Saturday (March 10), 8 pm. $9. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
Superfunkified Tokyo attack unit the Zoobombs are all about relationships. So when local promoter Dan Burke flashed the smiling bear signal in the sky calling for the Zoobombs to swoop in to save this weekend's NeXT mini-fest running up against CMW, rhyme-ripping main man Don Matsuo and crew were on the next flight to Toronto.
Not that they were planning to spend March shuttling between "freezy" Ontario and Quebec. It was simply a favour for their pal Burke. Matsuo hasn't forgotten how the former El Mocambo booker allowed the Zoobombs to play and record in the hallowed venue blessed by the presence of Matsuo's beloved Rolling Stones back in 1977 - exactly 30 years ago this week.
Admittedly, the Zoobombs have since become a much bigger attraction and could easily fill a venue three times the size of the Comfort Zone, but if that means screwing over the promoter who gave them an early break the Zoobombs aren't interested. They're gonna dance with the one that brung 'em, even if it means having their toes stepped on now and again. At least they've never been paid in women's designer jeans or sirloin steaks - yet.
"Dan Burke works really hard for us," explains Matsuo over the phone. "I know that some people don't like him, but I do. He's a very strong person - sometimes maybe too strong.
"We are Japanese, and relationships are very important to us. If I start to work with Dan and things go well, I'll trust him and work with him again. We could change promoters and play another venue with bigger production, but I'd rather work with a familiar person, someone we trust. Dan is kind of a troublemaker, but his spirit is pure and he really loves rock 'n' roll."
Relationship issues come up again on the Zoobombs' surprisingly diverse new album, BBB (Ultra Vybe), specifically in a song called Jamie in honour of McMaster University's CFMU-FM music director Jamie Tennant.
The tune was apparently inspired by a nightmarishly bureaucratic border-crossing ordeal from which the Zoobombs were extricated by the diligence and diplomacy of long-time fan Tennant, who happens to speak fluent Japanese and was willing to take on some Canadian Consulate officials on behalf of his favourite band.
"On our last tour, we couldn't get into Canada from the U.S. to play a show because we didn't have the proper work visas. But Jamie came from Hamilton to help us get through the paperwork in Buffalo. It was a really important experience for us.
"In that moment, I found out just how much playing music really means to me. I decided then that every time I stand onstage I would perform my very best, because I might never get that chance again."
In the post-9/11 world, having the word "bomb" in your band name might not be beneficial to career longevity. Here are five other bomb-handled bands who never made it big:
Notorious Cherry Bombs
Bomb Squad Era
New Bomb Turks
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Only Don Matsuo knows why the new Zoobombs album is called B*B*B
Don Matsuo's return to rapping has an unlikely source of inspiration