INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Chicago's Campdogzz

Interview by Anna White

Photos by  Randy P Martin

Photos by Randy P Martin

Campdogzz are always on the road. Their music mirrors this sense of motion, conveying a similar restless feeling to driving down long, empty highways at night. Lead singer Jessica Price’s raspy vocals complemented by the band’s indie-industrial instrumentals creates a kind of dusty desert-rock that somehow still calls to mind the band’s home base, Chicago.

The five-piece is currently in the middle of a two-month long tour with label-mates Cursive, and headed homeward for a show at Thalia Hall on November 15th (which will be Price’s first time seeing a show in the venue!) I caught up with Price last week and chatted about filmmaking, road trips, and transience of youth.

You released your second full-length, In Rounds, this August—tell me a little about the record.

We kind of took our time recording it. After we released the first record, a couple of us took several months just to travel and kind of relax. We did a two-month tour—that was our first tour as a band, and that was my first tour playing music in general. It was like school for me, learning how to tour.

After that we wanted to take a break and work on writing, and we just traveled the Southwest for a few months, and came back to Chicago and kind of just jumped right into recording—It was a good process.

So you wrote the album while you were in the Southwest?

Most of it, yeah. I think it kind of started to take shape there, in the bus that we traveled in. Most of it was written out there.

Why did you choose to go to the Southwest to write it?

A couple of our friends that we met through travelling, our friend Randy Martin who took a good deal of our early promotional photos of us—he and our other friend Danielle, who is a great tattoo artist, they had spent a season working in Denali national park, and wanted come back to society a little, but also continue to travel. We just been hitting it really hard with touring, so we all put our heads together and just decided to start touring the parks. We actually went East initially, to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, and then went South to Austin and from there just kept going West and West and West until we ran out of land, pretty much.

We didn’t have a specific plan, but we knew we just wanted to not put a time stamp on anything, take our time and get away for a little bit. Randy was kind of photo-journaling the whole experience, and we were writing, and I was filming a lot of it.

You started out as a filmmaker—how do you think you translated this visual change of scenery musically?

I think just innately that [film and music] just are tied together. I met both Mike and Nick, the guitar players for Campdogzz, through filmmaking, and that’s kind of how I got into music. I don’t know, when I’m writing music I usually have some kind of visual, or if I hear music it’s visually compelling, and if I’m filming something I want to often times score something for it. It’s really exciting to have those two things play off of each other.

And with [the trip], that part of the country is just vast, grand beauty—those huge skies, and the colors—it was kind of new to me, I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time in the desert, so, I was really taken with it. I couldn’t help but let the music be influenced by our surroundings.

Aside from your time in the desert, what inspired the new album?

Probably just this time in all of our lives, and this transience, and figuring it all out. Learning about yourself, you know—there was definitely a feeling of youth but wanting to have something a little bit more solid, and just feeling like we were in between. In between something. Sometimes there was a sense of urgency in that, and other times peace in it.

That’s really interesting. Now that you’ve been working with these songs for a little while, playing them on this tour, do you feel a little less in between?

I feel like I’m less freaked out about it. That sense of urgency has kind of relieved itself naturally; I’ve lived in Chicago for about ten years now, but the last five years I’ve wanted to be in a more rural area. I just feel change coming on but there’s no clear direction. And that used to be a little frightening, or just frustrating—wanting to take action but not knowing how, but now I just feel a lot more comfortable in trusting that things are going to happen the way they do, and you don’t need to try to force any one thing. I think that time we spent travelling helped, in a lot of ways.