BUM: An Unfulfilled Promise is a Promise

BUM! Live at Harpo's, Photo by Wendy Nesbitt
BUM! Live at Harpo's, Photo by Wendy Nesbitt

When most people think about punk rock in Victoria, there are two bands that usually come to mind—but for me there have always been three. While Dayglo Abortions and Nomeansno may be more widely known in international circles, my trifecta of punk rock royalty in the Garden City includes those two bands as well as Bum.

Bum started in the same way as countless bands before and after: a couple of friends working together at a record store. Rob Nesbitt and Andrew Molloy were both working at Lyle’s Place in 1988 when Rob mentioned that he would love to start a band that sounded like the Descendents. Andrew thought that sounded cool, and so the seed was planted. The two guitarists quickly grabbed another couple of Lyle’s employees, Scott Henderson and Jaimie Fulton, to play drums and sing respectively as well as former Infamous Scientists bass player Kev Lee, who had played with Andrew in the Bed Spins. Bum was born. Almost.

After some minor lineup shifts (Jaimie moved to drums when Scott couldn’t make it one day), the band started playing covers of Misfits, Kiss, and the Descendents, among others (Fun Fact: the first song Bum ever played was “Proud To Be Canadian” by Dayglo Abortions!). They played two shows of all covers before making the decision to start working on some originals.

Photo by: Wendy Nesbitt

Photo by: Wendy Nesbitt

Once the songs started coming, the pace started picking up. Within the first year and a half, a single came out on Lance Rock Records out of Nanaimo. It was clear that the band was getting busier and that Jamie wasn’t able to get the time off required to hit the road. Graham Watson was brought in on drums. More shows, singles, and fun ensued culminating in the recording of their now legendary LP, Wanna Smash Sensation in Seattle in 1992. After the album’s release in early 1993, the band embarked on sparsely attended tours down the west coast and across Canada. Rob was starting to feel burned out on the band, but they still had things slated, like more recording (of songs that would become the I am Superwoman record) and shows, including a tour of Spain. Nesbitt decided that he couldn’t let the band down, so he would wait until after the tour to quit.

After he left, the rest of the band decided to play the remaining few shows they had booked in Victoria and Vancouver with Kurt Bloch filling in on guitar, then Graham bowed out as well. Andrew and Kev decided to continue on with some new players, with less of a pop-punk sound and more of a rock-n-roll thing happening. This version of the band went on to record some songs and play more shows (including a return to Spain), officially ending it in December of 1995.

Fast forward to 2014. The band had been asked many times to re-form, but they always just thought it was more interesting to not do it. A friend of Molloy’s took the liberty of pitching a Bum reunion gig to the Rifflandia festival, and they were into it, so Andrew asked the rest of the guys, who all agreed (to his surprise). The show went off without a hitch, and Bum wanted to play some more select shows for their fans who weren’t able to attend the festival — like playing Vancouver with the Flamin’ Groovies, the forthcoming triumphant return to Spain opening for Redd Kross, and especially the quickly approaching  Victoria and Nanaimo shows playing with Vancouver punk legends the Pointed Sticks! For four guys who are all in their late 40s or early 50s, it can lead to an interesting viewpoint. “It seems almost like an unfulfilled promise. Like, it was meant to be something more than it was back then…,” says Rob. “… and maybe now we are reaping the rewards,” finishes Andrew.

Words: Tyler Forslund, photos by Wendy Nesbitt

June 12, Pointed Sticks/ Bum: Upstairs Cabaret (Harpo’s): 8PM: $18 adv. / $20 door