Memphis indie-rock/pop group The Band CAMINO headlined the Georgia Theatre for Breaking the Shackles’ benefit concert Monday April 9. The Red & Black caught up with the band before its debut Athens performance to chat about new music, Taylor Swift’s shout out and more.
The Red & Black: Your guys’ newest release is “Berenstein” which discusses the Berenstein/Berenstain Mandela Theory which is an interesting concept, but not necessarily something anyone would go to for a main lyric. What led you guys to picking that as a leading lyric, and are you interested in conspiracy theories?
Spencer Stewart: One day Jeffery and I were sitting around and we talked about – that’s subject that comes up a lot for some reason – the Mandela effect – we’re just some weird guys. We like to think about weird stuff, so we sat down and Jeffery looked at me and was like ‘Should we write a song about the Berenstein Bears,’ and I was like ‘Yeah we probably should.’”
Jeffery Jordan: It’s a very thought-provoking topic, and we talked about it for so long we were like, why don’t me write a song about this, and let’s call it Berenstein.
The band said they don’t necessarily believe conspiracy theories but have fun speculating.
With two EPs out thus far, The Band CAMINO does plan on releasing an album sometime in the future, but for now is focusing on writing songs and organizing them however feels natural.
“We’re just kind of tackling each project as we come across it. So yeah, we’re kind of just taking our time to make sure everything’s right, so an album will definitely come,” Jordan said.
The B&W photos on the release covers were taken by the band. While the photos weren’t intentionally thematically significant, the ones from their trip to Venice, CA felt particularly relevant.
“We felt it was appropriate since we had a song called “California” and “Heaven.” Heaven, I mean that, it’s like our version of Heaven or at least, you know, that’s what we kinda say,” Stewart said.
“I will say like, that EP represents who we were really well at that point in time, and so the pictures from that trip also kind of tie into the whole theme of just it represents us as a band at that time and where our mindset was at,” Graham Rowell said.
The four bandmates agreed that they’re most proud of their progression as a band rather than a singular moment in their career. However, Rowell added that being on Taylor Swift’s handpicked Spotify playlist was particularly cool.
GR: It wasn’t like we made it, but it was like . . .
SS: It was definitely like, wow that’s kind of crazy.
“Berenstein” was the song Swift included on her playlist. Rowell said his favorite song by Swift is “Out of the Woods” and Stewart’s favorite is “Style.” Jordan had more trouble choosing a favorite and listed several older songs including “Sparks Fly” and “Our Song.”
R&B: What song are guys most proud that you have written?
GR: I mean like, “My Thoughts On,” I guess it’s different for everyone but I mean “My Thoughts on You” has been, I don’t want to say like a hit, but it has changed the trajectory of the band, so I’m very proud of that. They’re all like, it’s like your kids. They’re all really awesome in different ways.
Caleb Hughes: I don’t know I just joined the band not too long ago, so there’s only one song that I’ve played on that’s out [“Berenstein”], so I guess that makes it fairly easy for me.
GR: I guess I’d more say I’m more so proud of how each song connects with different individuals. That’s really interesting ‘cause it’s like everyone has a different favorite song and sometimes it’s like completely out of left field.
R&B: Okay so, Athens and Memphis kind of have a similar vibe in that they’re a little bit outshone by the larger cities in their state like Nashville and Atlanta. Do guys find that Memphis, like Athens, has a really strong community vibe to it, or no?
CH: Definitely do not say overshadowed by Nashville to anybody in Memphis. It’s definitely not offensive to us, but . . .
JJ: People will have something to say.
CH: They take extreme pride in 901. [The city’s area code] Big time.
JJ: It’s a hotbed for creativity but there’s not a lot of money to be made in the creative industry in Memphis. So there’s like this community of starving artists that are very tightknit and like believe in one another so much and everyone’s broke and it’s really fun.
Memphis artists the band listens to include Healy (rap), Drew Erwin (Americana), Austin Blue (singer-songwriter), and Summer Avenue (new wave/pop influenced).
R&B: What are some artists in general that you guys are inspired by?
JJ: Anything current. Everything that our culture likes we kinda like.
CH: That’s not true.
Hughes’ nonchalant comment brought laughter from the band, and Rowell stepped forward to clarify the band’s diverse taste. Rowell said he personally has more of a background in classic rock and soul, Stewart in R&B/neo-soul background, Hughes in classic rock and indie-pop/rock, and Jordan, who used to be a country artist, in songwriter styling.
“We just like good songs and we want to make good songs,” Jordan said, emphasizing that they want to relate to people who listen to any type of music.
R&B: So when you guys are writing is it ever hard to synthesize all these backgrounds into a cohesive sound?
SS: It comes naturally a lot more than you think it would, honestly.
Rowell added that he personally always tries to serve the song in whatever way works best for it.
“Different songs bring different vibes to the table kind of, but I think that having like a really wide background of stuff to listen to and vocabulary really is good for when we are arranging and writing because we can draw from a lot and pick what works best for the song,” Rowell said.
Breaking the Shackles’ benefit concert is the first out of state benefit The Band CAMINO has played, and they saw the show as an opportunity to support a great cause as well as play Athens for the first time. The Band CAMINO is planning to release new music in early summer.