Blues, rock, jazz and psychedelic funk — though each genre has a different sound, Cam and his Dam Jam Band has found ways to incorporate elements of each in their music.
The Athens-based band is made up of lead singer and guitarist Cam Norton-McElroy, bassist Garrett Gray, saxophonist Brian Nichols and drummer Max Seldes.
The band recently came out with a new EP entitled “A Dam Good Time.” The Red & Black spoke with the group about their origins, their admiration for all genres of music and what to expect from the EP.
The Red & Black: What’s the band’s origin story and how did Cam and His Dam Jam Band become a band?
Cam Norton-McElroy: Garrett and I met when we were in college. We were in the same fraternity, and we just happened to jam one day and kind of both realized that there was some sort of special musical connection there in a way and decided to see where it went. So we started jamming in the living room of my apartment at the time. And then over the course of a few weeks, we were just kind of like, ‘We’re actually pretty darn good. We should probably do something with this.’
Garrett Gray: We met Brian about a year and a half ago through the school because Cam was a grad student and teaching … and then Brian introduced us to Matt.
R&B: You describe your music in a really interesting way, as a combination of blues, rock, jazz, psychedelic funk, as well as with a southern flair. I was wondering if you could just tell me a little bit more about those influences and how you incorporate them all into your music.
CN: The best way to explain that is just the different music that we all grew up playing before we met each other. I grew up around a lot of Led Zeppelin mostly. And then I kind of went into a different realm of looking at some of the cooler psychedelic hip-hop and finding some cool jazz and stuff. Garrett grew up around a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rush and the Eagles. Then with Brian, doing the Savannah Bananas thing — a lot of big band style stuff or Louisiana flair, funky improv sax, which is pretty great. Max doing literally, all kinds of percussion.
GG: You can really encapsulate just kind of everything that he said into this one genre of jam, and then we can go anywhere from there. If we’re playing blues club, we can take all our blues stuff and work that side. If we play a grungy rock club, we have straight grungy rock. Since we've done all these separate genres of music and all these separate influences and then put it all in, “jam band,” we can take that and go anywhere with it.
Max Seldes: Something that helps out with a lot of us is that we're all musically curious. We’re more than happy to pick up new genres because we're not married to one. We aren't a jazz band, we aren't a blues band, we aren't a rock band. We like music and we want to keep playing music, and whatever that music is, we'll pick it up.
R&B: You just came out with a new EP entitled “A Dam Good Time.” What inspired it and what was the process of working on it like?
CN: It all came together so fast. All of the audio was recorded in the course of two days, so I think it was a total of like 16,17 hours in the studio and the energy was perfect.
MS: A lot of what happened was the product of not just us, but also our families. My dad opened up his recording studio to us and was our recording technician and our producer. And then we decided that since one of the songs on the EP was actually written by Cam’s dad, we thought that it'd be a great idea to have his dad make a cameo in the recording itself. His dad recorded an incredible solo on “Half Past Tense.” Garrett’s dad and also his sister helped a lot in the design and actual making of our EP cover.
R&B: What are you hoping listeners will get from the EP?
GG: “A Dam Good Time” is kind of the motto of the band, because we go into this knowing that anyone who comes out to our show, everyone has something they're going through. Everyone has a problem. And so for an hour and a half, we can forget about it. Nothing is taken seriously except the quality of the music, and that’s kind of been a motto and one of the philosophies of this band is just let's just go have a damn good time and experience that with whoever wants to come out.
R&B: What does the future hold for Cam and His Dam Jam Band?
CN: We’re putting together the final touches on a little tour we’re going to do in the southeast. Hopefully from that we can start spreading our music and spread the damn good time everywhere. Hopefully everyone will latch on and really love the music so we can keep playing it and keep making it part of our life—because that's really all I want. Just for it to be a big part of my life, always.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.