For the first time in about 15 years, Tsunami Bomb is back in (almost) its original form.
Four of the five members who take the stage at the House of Blues for the Vandals’ 20th Annual Christmas Formal will be the ones who formed Tsunami Bomb and created the pride of Petaluma’s beloved early recordings.
But, as any fan of the band will notice, there’ll be something different. Emily “Agent M” Whitehurst won’t be the one belting out the tunes from their Mayhem on the High Seas and The Invasion from Within! Instead, original bassist Dominic Davi, guitarist Brian Plink, keyboardist Oobliette Sparks (Courtney Foster), and drummer Gabe Lindeman will be backing a brand new voice that few people outside of the band have even heard, Kate Jacobi’s.
“I grew up listening to Tsunami Bomb, so M’s voice was so huge to me growing up,” Jacobi says. “While my friends were going to see Britney (Spears), I was one of those kids who had the lyrics to ‘Lemonade’ on my wall. I can’t replace her, and I’m not trying to. I just look at it as a part of the evolution of the band.”
Jacobi may not be trying to replace Whitehurst, but she will be taking her spot on the stage for the foreseeable future. Although the band auditioned a handful of different singers, it was Plink’s existing friendship with Jacobi that got the relatively unknown frontwoman involved in the first place.
“I bonded with Brian for a long time over going to punk rock shows and singing on our lunch breaks, but this whole thing started as kind of a joke,” Jacobi says. “Then it was like ‘Hey, come meet Dominic,’ and after one night of playing together, it just clicked.”
“Kate is amazing, and she’s one of my best friends,” Plink adds. “We’re all just really good friends, and I think that plays into everything from the stage presence to how we interact within the music industry. I knew she was the one from the start, but we still auditioned four or five girls before everyone was sold on her.”
Ultimately, it’s that friendship that brought Tsunami Bomb back together after all these years apart. Although some of the members lost touch for a while, the majority have remained at least semi-friendly over the years. They were friends 15 years ago, just like they’re friends now, and not much else has changed outside of age.
“It was totally natural for us even though we’re much older now,” Sparks says. “We’re all still the same people. Our personalities are the same, the jokes are the same, it’s all the same.”
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel any different from the first time around,” adds Lindeman, the only current member to play in the band’s “reunion” show in 2009. “It’s almost like we didn’t miss a beat.”
For that matter, the only awkwardness in getting the band back together was for Plink to have open and honest conversations with Whitehurst about moving forward without her. The band was willing to have her back, but the most well-known Tsunami Bomb singer is focused on her other project, Survival Guide.
“M is still a great friend of mine, and I wouldn’t want to say or do anything against her,” Plink says. “I wanted to be transparent about everything and have those conversations with her, no matter how awkward they are.”
All five band members agree that the 20th Annual Christmas Formal will be a high-energy and fun show for everyone involved, but Tsunami Bomb’s founder might be a little more excited for it than anyone else.
“It’s awesome, and I’m stoked to do it,” Davi says. “I did it with a different band before, but it’s significant to be back with Tsunami Bomb this time. It’s easy for us because it’s kind of a safe stop to come back. Tsunami Bomb has always done well with the Vandals, and all of our friends will be there.”
Tsunami Bomb performs at the Vandal’s 20th Annual X-mas Formal at House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim. (714) 520-2334, $20-$45. Sat. Dec. 19, 7 p.m. All ages.