Durham based band Bombadil comes to Legends

Ryan Morris

Bombadil, a four piece folk-pop band from Durham, NC, will be performing at Legends Thursday.

Started in Bolivia by a group of Duke University students who formed the band while studying abroad, Bombadil has been performing around North Carolina and beyond for close to the last seven years, minus a short hiatus two years ago after band member Daniel Michalak suffered nerve damage in his hands.

The Appalachian recently caught up with James Phillips, who is both the drummer for Bombadil and the primary singer, musician and songwriter of his solo project, Sumner James.

The Appalachian: When did Bombadil originally come together?
James Phillips: “Bombadil started in 2005. The guys started the band when they were in college, and then I joined the band in 2007.”

TA: Based on your past experience touring here in the past, do you guys enjoy playing in Boone?
JP: “Sure. The first show I ever played out of town with Bombadil was in Boone, at the Black Cat, the burrito joint, and there was…maybe seven people there? And it was great, and we just kept coming back…I mean, we were happy because they were giving us burritos. And we just kept coming back up to there, to the Black Cat, and the crowd grew and grew.  There were some pretty raucous shows in that, because its such an intimate environment, it was really great. So then right before we stopped touring, we played a place called the Firefly Theatre, and it was nice. It was big. It was about the size of Legends. And then this spring we came up and played Legends for the first time. We just had a great time playing with Holy Ghost [Tent Revival], we’re really excited to be back on November 8.”

TA: Tell us about Bombadil’s new album that’s being released next year.
JP: “The new record is called “Metrics of Affection,” and its coming out in mid February. I think it will have twelve or thirteen songs on it, some of which we’re playing live, most of which we’re not. Yeah, I’m really excited about it. We made it in this house this summer, and spent a couple months arranging and recording it.”

TA: How would you describe it in relation to your last three albums?
JP: “I think it’s similar to the other records that there’s a variety of material, though I think it’s a little more unified this time. I’ve been liking to call to our ‘soul record.’ There’s definitely some new ideas and some new styles that we haven’t worked with before. We incorporated just a little bit of some of the stuff I’ve been learning making electronic music, maybe not even that noticeable to other people. I think that felt adventurous to us. And yeah, a lot of singing, a lot of harmonies, a lot of arrangements. The last record, because we made it quickly and were in a barn and we wanted to make something more stripped down, we kind of backed away from the arrangements that had kind of defined our band before then, and now that we had time we kind of came back to that.”

TA: If you had to describe your band to someone who had never heard you before, what would you tell them?
JP: “That’s something we’ve struggled with for the full existence of our band and have been trying to get better at. We want to connect with people. That’s one of the awesome parts of getting to tour and traveling the country, is meeting awesome people and getting to have some sort of impact. Something that a friend just recently pointed out is that we’re kind of adult storytellers, and we’re definitely trying to tell stories with our songs, about ourselves and about fictional people and about other people.”

TA: Are there any closing comments you’d like to make about Thursday’s show?
JP: “I’m really excited about this Boone show, like I said. Boone has treated us well, and we’re looking forward to being back up there.”

Bombadil will play at Legends at 9 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets are $3 in advance for students, and $5 for guests or at the door.

Story: R. SCOTT MORRIS, A&E Editor