If you think that starting a surf rock band in a country that was just torn apart by one of the biggest civil wars in recent history is a strange thing to do, wait till you hear the name of the band: The Bambi Molesters. They were formed in Croatia in 1994 after guitar players Dinko Tomljanović and Dalibor Pavičić met bass player Lada Furlan Zaborac and drummer Hrvoje Zaborac at the local watering hole. We asked Dinko about their love for Surf Rock, touring with REM and the effect of the war on their music.
It’s an obvious question, but we really want to know, how you came up with the name Bambi Molesters.
It was just a joke. A friend of ours had a crush on a girl he called Bambi and he would sometimes try to talk to her after few beers. It was enough for us to call him a Bambi molester, so it’s just a silly joke.”
That’s a relief. Your last studio album is from 2010. What have you been up to since? When can we expect a new album?
“We are working and composing, but according to our own unhurried time schedule. Let’s hope we have a new record next spring .”
Where does your love for surf rock come from?
“That almost came as an accident. I was mail ordering records and I got my first surf compilation LP (Wail on the beach) as a substitute for some other LP I ordered that wasn’t available. So we listened to Wail on the Beach and loved the sound and excitement of surf music from the first listen. Dalibor and me already knew each other back then. Later we met Lada and Hrvoje at the local watering hole when we started looking for a drummer and a bass player.”
You started essentially when Yugoslavia had already fallen apart and at the end of the war. What effect did that have on you as people and on the band?
“It’s hard to say now what kind of music we would have been playing if there hadn’t been a war, maybe we would play only happy melodies exclusively in major key.”
Was the music sort of an escape from that situation?
“Yes, at least for me. We tried to survive those grim times by playing the music. You can call us naive, but we didn’t have much choice.”
Surf rock isn’t a genre you hear too often, at least not in mainstream music. It probably isn’t very lucrative to make either. How did you manage to keep the band afloat during over 20 years?
“I guess we just kept on playing because we liked it and our audience liked it. We all had regular jobs, so we weren’t depending on making music for money.”
You’ve toured with R.E.M. several times now. What is your relation to R.E.M. and how did that help your careers?
“We played with /opened for them first in 1999 and a second time in 2003. We had great a time with them, they treated us as friends. Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey even played on our third album in 2001. Because of this publicity our audience grew much bigger and we became more familiar name on the scene.”
What does still surprise you after all these years?
“Sometimes when we hit the groove and everything gels, I still get the great joyous feeling that reminds me why music exists at all, and that feeling is what it’s about.”
What is your most memorable ‘on the road’ story?
“For me, it was those two weeks in Brazil when we toured there in 2015. Those are the highlights of being on the road. We had such a great time just being there and on top of it we met a lot of the most genuine caring and friendly people there. Pure sweetness.”
What is the most important thing on your rider?
“Gin and tonic, if you ask me.”
I saw that your song Chaotica was used in Breaking Bad, can you tell us something about it?
“We were really very excited when we heard about it, to say the least! Apparently one of the series’ music editors is from Croatia, so he knew our music from before. We feel very lucky and privileged to be featured in such great series. It’s one of the best.”
You’ve been around for a while right. How has Croatia changed over the past two decades?
“As in the most places on earth these days, Croatia has changed not for good. There’s a lot of unemployment, corruption and just plain insanity inside our government. The living is getting harder with fewer things to be happy about, but again we have no choice but to try and make our lives as good as we can.”
Last question, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?
“My hope for us is to compose songs for a new record, hopefully in spring.”