Nicky Bomba scatters recording devices around his home the way other people scatter reading glasses. “The studio is my favourite place to be, creating, bringing something to life,” Bomba says. “Writing is what I do constantly and my greatest fear is coming up with a good song and then not remembering it. That’s why I have to have something near so I can always plant that seed.” That’s a lot of seeds. Bomba’s new album Food & Shelter is just his second solo album but the 24th of his career. He has been a blazing creative spark in Australian music for decades: drummer in the John Butler Trio on classic albums Sunrise Over Sea, April Uprising and Flesh & Blood; the driving force behind Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the giant brass collective that grew from a one-off gig in Melbourne to play stages from Bluesfest to Glastonbury and win ARIAs for best world music album in 2016 and 2019. He is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter who has played in bands from Bomba to Bustamento and worked with greats like Joe Camilleri (their 2005 album Limestone) and Ross Hannaford (the Bomba-produced 1996 album Ross Hannaford Trio is reissued on Bomba’s label Transmitter Records). Food & Shelter finds those seeds in fertile ground, drawing on all Bomba’s experience exploring styles from reggae to jazz, funk and ethnic folk to create music with a bold, contemporary voice. As the title suggests, the album is about going back to basics on the path to discovery. Self-sufficiency has long been one of Bomba’s personal goals. That’s why he taught himself the art of recording in the first place, to keep musical control at his fingertips. If it ever came to a point where a musician couldn’t even be in a room with musical collaborators – a time where we were all locked down in our homes for an extended period, for example – there would still be a way forward. Food & Shelter is the first album he has made where he plays, writes and sings every note, all recorded in the studio at his home in the beautiful mountain country of north-eastern Victoria.