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Nicholas Caruana aka Nicky Bomba (born 7 September 1963, Malta) is an Australian musician and singer-songwriter. He is the leader of the ARIA Award-winning Melbourne Ska Orchestra, frontman of his band, Bomba, as well as the former drummer and percussionist of John Butler Trio (2003–04, 2009–13). He has performed in other acts and as a solo artist.[1] His youngest sister, Danielle Caruana, (who performs as Mama Kin), is married to his former band mate, John Butler. His older brother, Michael Caruana, is a member of Bomba and of Mama Kin's backing band.

Nicky Bomba
John Butler Trio @ Sir Stewart Bovell Park (8 1 12) (6693053233).jpg
Nicky Bomba, as a member of John Butler Trio, at the 2012 Southbound Festival
Background information
Birth nameNicholas Caruana
Born (1963-09-07) 7 September 1963 (age 56)
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
GenresReggae, funk, roots, jazz, ska, mento
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, guitar, vocals
Years active1978–present
Associated acts


Nicholas Caruana was born on 7 September 1963 in Malta, he later performed under the name Nicky Bomba.[2] His father, Nicholas "Nicol" Caruana (born 4 June 1933) and mother, Iris (born 8 October 1934) had four children, Josephine, Michael, Carmen and Nicholas, in Malta.[3] The family migrated to Australia in late 1964 and lived in the Melbourne suburb of Newport. They had two more children, including their youngest daughter, Danielle (who later performed as Mama Kin).[4] Bomba started learning drums when he was six years old.

In 1978 Bomba formed a cover band with his brother, Michael, called Fugitive Flight. In 1982 they began playing original music with Peter Miller on lead vocals, Steve Morgan on bass guitar (later of Icehouse), and Peter Weeda on guitar. They soon changed their name to Guided Tour. After working in a variety of lesser known bands, Bomba formed The Truth in 1991 in Melbourne as a funk group.[5] Initially Bomba was on drums with Michael on keyboards, Tony Kopa on lead vocals and Geoff Wells on guitars.[5] Their debut single, "Secrets", was recorded in December 1992 and was followed by "My Heavy Friend" (1993).[5] The Truth released a self-titled album in 1995, and in 1997 added a bass player, Mick Girasole, for the release of their second album, Headspace with the band re-branded as Truth. The Truth broke up in late 1997.

Back in September 1996 Bomba had supplied drums for The Ross Hannaford Trio, with Hannaford on lead vocals and guitar and Howard Cairns on bass guitar.[6] The trio issued a self-titled album on Mushroom Records before Hannaford disbanded the group.[6][7] By 1998 Bomba had formed a jazz band, Banana Oil, with Andy Baylor on guitar, Tim Neal on keyboards and David Williamson on saxophone. They released an album, Guavo Lampo. At the APRA Music Awards of 1998 Banana Oil members, Bomba (as Nicholas Caruana), Chris Tabone and Trevor Wright, won Most Performed Jazz Work for their composition, "My Family".[8] The group were also nominated in the same category for ""Baylorology" by Baylor and "Neal Shuffle" by Neal.[9]

In 1999 he formed Bomba as a reggae-funk group with himself on guitar, percussion and lead vocals; Simon Bourke on keyboards; Phil Bywater on alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet; Paul Coyle on trumpet and trombone; Barry Deenick on bass guitar and vocals; George Servanis on drums, percussion and vocals; and Mal Webb on trombone and vocals. In 2003 his brother, Michael, replaced Bourke on keyboards. By 2006 the group had released four albums, Population (April 2000), Solar Plexus (February 2002), Learn to Breathe (March 2005) and Bomba Vs. Laroz (September 2006).

In 2000 Bomba together with fellow musician, Joe Camilleri, founded Transmitter Records. In March 2003 Bomba founded the Melbourne Ska Orchestra with an ensemble of between 27 and 32 musicians.[10][11] His "idea was to get as many horn players as possible on stage at the same time playing ska skank, the accented upbeat that is typical of ska, the genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s."[10] In November that year Bomba joined John Butler (his brother-in-law),[12] together with Shannon Birchall on upright bass, as part of the John Butler Trio to record that group's third studio album, Sunrise Over Sea. In March 2004, after the release of the album, he resumed his association with Bomba and with Melbourne Ska Orchestra.

During 2006 Bomba and Camilleri released, Limestone, an album of covers and original music. In 2007 he recorded an album of Maltese songs, Nicol Caruana, with his father, Nicol. This was followed in 2008 by his first solo release an extended play, Jah in the Moment, which he then toured with a trio around Australia. In 2009 he released, Planet Juice, his first solo album, on which he played drums, guitar, ukulele and marimba.

Nicky Bomba at a rally in Warburton, Victoria, 2008

By July 2009 he had re-joined John Butler Trio, now with Byron Luiters on bass guitar alongside Butler. They recorded the group's fifth studio album, April Uprising (March 2010).[12] Bomba and Butler co-wrote the track, "Take Me".[12] The trio's sixth album, Flesh & Blood, was released in February 2014.[13] On 31 August 2013, Butler announced that Bomba had left John Butler Trio.[14] Bomba appears on ten of its eleven tracks and co-wrote material with Butler and Luiters.[13]

During 2012 Bomba focussed on a side-project, Bustamento, to perform mento music with a line-up of Bomba band members, Michael, Coyle, Deenick and Servanis, and new collaborators, Lennox Jordan on steelpans and Peter Mitchell on saxophone.[15] They recorded Intrepid Adventures to the Lost Riddim Islands over a week-end and released it on 14 May 2012; they followed with a tour in June and July.[16][17]

Bustamento issued their second album, Intercontinental Journey 7, on 28 November 2014.[18] Lukas Murphy of Issuu magazine felt the album was "to be taken with a healthy dose of carefreeness" as exemplified by lyrics where "nonsense is rarely utilised in such a juxtapositional way, matched with both expertise and musical frivolity."[19] From September 2014 Bomba worked with Melbourne Ska Orchestra to provide a musical accompaniment to the fireworks display for Melbourne's New Year's Eve celebrations.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

Bomba's sister, Danielle Caruana, performs as Mama Kin, and is married to John Butler. His brother Michael Caruana also plays in Mama Kin and Bomba.



  • Jah In the Moment - MGM (5 July 2008)
  • Planet Juice - Bomba Music / Mushroom (19 May 2009)

Nicky Bomba's BustamentoEdit

  • Intrepid Adventures To The Lost Riddim Islands - Vitamin Records (14 May 2012)
  • Intercontinental Journal 7 - Transmitter Records (28 November 2014)

The Melbourne Ska OrchestraEdit

  • Melbourne Ska Orchestra - FOUR FOUR (8 March 2013)

Nicky Bomba & Joe CamilleriEdit

  • Limestone - Transmitter Records / MGM (2005)

Nicky Bomba & Nicol CaruanaEdit

  • Nicol Caruana (2007)

Nicky Bomba & Laroz HaimEdit

  • Bomba vs. Laroz - Mushroom (2 September 2006)

Nicky Bomba & Dereb DesalegnEdit

  • Drums and Lions - Transmitter / MGM (4 November 2006)


  1. ^ Spencer, Chris; Paul McHenry; Zbig Nowara (2007) [1989]. "Bomba, Nicky". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Moonlight Publishing. ISBN 1-86503-891-1. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help) Note: [on-line] version was expanded from the 2002 edition.
  2. ^ ""Wait Until Tomorrow" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Item details for: A2478, Caruana N". National Archives of Australia. 29 April 1994. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  4. ^ Collins, Simon (5 March 2010). "Mama Kin Born into Music". The West Australian. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Leedham, Nicole (17 November 1994). "Truth Is Stranger than Fiction". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). National Library of Australia. p. 25. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Ross Hannaford'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 23 August 2004. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  7. ^ The Ross Hannaford Trio (1996). "The Ross Hannaford Trio". Mushroom Records. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  8. ^ "1998 Winners". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). 1998. Archived from the original on 28 September 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Nominations – 1998". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b Ross, Annabel (8 March 2013). "Ska orchestra notches up 10 years of skanking fun". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  11. ^ Pascuzzi, Carmine (1 May 2009). "RockSteady: The Roots of Reggae Concert". Mediasearch. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ a b c Leahey, Andrew. "April Uprising – John Butler Trio". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  13. ^ a b McCabe, Kathy (7 February 2014). "The John Butler Trio tell other people's stories on Flesh and Blood". News Corp Australia. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  14. ^ Butler, John (31 August 2013). "John Butler Trio – Facebook". John Butler Trio. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  15. ^ Blackley, Graham (June 2012). "Nicky Bomba's Bustamento : Intrepid Adventures to the Lost Riddim Islands". Beat Magazine. Furst Media. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Intrepid Adventures to the Lost Riddim Islands by Nicky Bomba's Bustamento". Vitamin Records. May 2012. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. ^ "Nicky Bomba's Bustamento". Daily Planet – Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 11 June 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Bustamento to release new album Intercontinental Journal 7 on November 28". ABC Music. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  19. ^ Murphy, Lukas (26 November 2014). "Album / EP Reviews: Bustamento Intercontinental Journey 7". Issuu: The Music (66). Street Press Australia Pty Ltd. p. 28. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  20. ^ Eliezer, Christie (31 December 2014). "Nicky Bomba Soundtracks Melbourne's NYE Spectacular Countdown". Beat Magazine. Furst Media. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

External linksEdit