Edward Burnett sat down with DIY Punk outfit The Camel City Blackouts from Winston Salem, NC to talk all things band. From the dying art of music videos to the guys’ favourite ever live gigs, no rock (n roll) is left unturned.
RNRR: Hello and welcome to Spotlight. On this edition I’m joined with The Camel City Blackouts from Winston Salem, NC. Hey guys, how y’all doing? Would you be so kind to introduce each member and what you play to readers unfamiliar with your work?
TCCB: Hello Rock N Roll Reports! We are doing great and excited about the reaction our new EP ‘Wild Card’ has received thus far. Our current lineup consists of myself, Ryan Sizemore, and Derek Gilreath. Derek plays bass and sometime sings and I play guitar and sing. As for our flavour of music, I would describe it as punk/pop-punk/rock.
RNRR: Nice to meet you all! So how did you guys all meet then? What’s the official backstory of The Camel City Blackouts?
TCCB: Nice to meet you too! Derek and I (Ryan) went to the same high school and met there. However, our band didn't start until after Derek attended a Dropkick Murphy's show. We had been estranged for years by this time but Derek was so energized by the show he sent me a facebook meassage. Basically, he asked me if I was still playing punk music and if I wanted to start something and the rest was history.
RNRR: Now this isn’t something I ask a lot to bands but I really should as it is probably why readers who are not in groups would most likely want to know. What’s THE best thing about being in a band. What single aspect makes all the hard work completely worth it in your opinion?
TCCB: Its the botherhood. Derek and I have been doing this for a while now and we have a great band relationship. We know eachother's weaknesses and strengths and allow the other to step in when we can't tackle an issue. We have really become family over the years. He is the peanut butter to my jelly.
RNRR: What a great way to describe your relationship there right at the end [laughs]! So it’s only natural I ask next, how did you guys come up with the name for the band? Does it come from deep meanings?
TCCB: We were originally the blackouts when we first started because we enjoyed drinking quite a bit back in the day. A couple of years after we started it was suggested to us to change or alter our name as there was already a band called the blackouts. So we decided to incorporate the nickname of Winston Salem (North Carolina), Camel City, into the name. Winston Salem is nicknamed that because camel cigarettes are produced there. Also, Winston Salem is the city where Derek lived and where we first started playing together.
RNRR: Now let’s talk about your music itself and what gives it that edge. For new listeners, what songs do you recommend of yours that really sum the band’s energy up? Personally I love your recent track ‘Swing or Sway’ as I feel it does a bit of everything. It has a beautiful softness that’s prominently there at the opening and manages to remain throughout alongside the obviously heavier tones which are a key feature of your work.
TCCB: Really good question and thank you for the kind words! The songs I would choose are ‘Another Night’, ‘Angels’, ‘Memory’, ‘La Diabla’, ‘Bastard's Boy’, ‘Rooftops’, and ‘Swing or Sway’. These songs are great places to start in our discography to get a taste of what we sound like and shows a progression of where our sound was and where it is going.
RNRR: Just a quick word on the album art too as many artists pride themselves on having a great cover to complete the package of their music. Yours predominantly feature pop-art with vibrant colours against a basis duotone of black and white. What was the thinking behind this now iconic stylistic route and would you ever stray from it in future releases?
TCCB: I actually asked my tattoo artist to design the album art for our new EP ‘Wild Card’. When she sent it us we really loved it. We are just into dark imagery. We could move off the pop-art style in the future as long as our new art is dark and looks fetching.
RNRR: What a brilliant backstory on the cover front! Along that same sort of chance discovery route, do you feel others can affect your music in other ways? Do you guys feel that your day-to-day encounters can and do lead to alterations in your lyrics when music making? To put it another way, what extent does the outside world affect your musical produce?
TCCB: For sure. The otherside world is where I draw a lot of my inspiration when I'm writing a song. Whether its a relationship, my views on religion, living in the bible belt, my past, the outside world has gives me a lot of material.
RNRR: Why don’t we put you on the otherside now and instead of performer, you guys now have the perspective of gig-goers. What are the best live shows you’ve seen and what do you look for in a band when you as musicians are listening? Has this changed since you turned professional yourselves?
TCCB: The best concert I ever attended was The Adicts. Their concert was a huge party, they played a ton of songs, and everyone went home with a souvenir. Monkey (the lead singer) threw so many props into the audience and the whole band made it such a wonderful experience. Not only that but I was given their setlist and I got to meet them after the show. They are very cool gentlemen and they put on a hell of a show! At a concert I look for a band to have stage presence. If you don't have that then why even play at all. People pay money to come see you, you have to give them something in return. When I am just listening to a band I really fall for the mood, melody, and lyrics. I've always been that way so that hasn't really changed since we started our band.
RNRR: While talking about concerts, what’s your dream gig to play? A particular venue or festival which indicates progress for you? Where do you aspire to be at as a group in a few years in the way of shows?
TCCB: We would love to play the punk in drublic shows. There is a lot of bands playing we love and it would be great to see the up and comers, who are still carrying the tourch for the genre. I think if we were able to be on that bill it would prove our work had paid off. In a couple of years I hope we can be the main attraction in our hometown when we play shows here. And maybe be the opening touring act with Rancid, Alakline Trio, or Blink 182. Those bands influenced me so much and that would be validation that we "made it”. We may still be broke but it’s proof we reached out from our small town and got someones attention.
RNRR: I assume that in this line of work especially, it’s always a key aspiration to make it to the “made it” feeling. So what’s next for The Camel City Blackouts in the immediate future? Do you guys have any exciting exclusive news to give to the RNRR readers?
TCCB: We love making music and currently we have almost 7 songs written and ready to go. We are hoping to drop a new ep late 2021 early 2022. We are also working on music video ideas for our first single ‘Swing or Sway’. I suspect we will be releasing a music video for it sometime in August.
RNRR: Where does the band stand on the use of a music video? Some artists believe they’re a dying art form whereas others don’t see a release as complete without one? What makes a music video vital or disposable to you guys?
TCCB: We still believe in the power of the music video! In our experience we found more people are willing to listen to your song if there is some eye candy to go with it. In addition, how could you go wrong with adding another way for people to witness your music. We strongly disagree with anyone who says music videos are a dying art.
RNRR: So on that path, what has to feature in the music video for you guys? Is it about always reproducing themes that match the band’s aesthetic and vibe or does the video instead have to reflect the particular song release in question?
TCCB: With each new music video I've noticed Derek, our bass player and videographer, has involved more story telling. Prior to shooting our videos he will ask me what the lyrics are about. Then we'll discuss themes and bounce ideas off of eachother until we can find something that fits. Live preformance is also a big part of our videos as well.
RNRR: Finally I have a question that we like to ask every guest on Spotlight at the end of the interview. Some regard it as the toughest question of all time so be warned, this isn’t for the faint-hearted. The Camel City Blackouts are stranded on a desert island for the rest of their days and are only allowed ONE album to listen to ever again. What are you taking and why?
TCCB: Me personally, I'm taking the album ‘Patent Pending’ by The Heavens. Its my favorite album of all time and I love Matt Skiba. As a band if we only had one album to choose I'd say ‘...and Out Comes the Wolves’ by Rancid. Derek and I are both huge Rancid fans and their a band that we connected on in the early days of CCB. You can't go wrong with a classic like that.
RNRR: Interesting choice there and good reasoning why. Well it’s been a pleasure to have you on and I, on behalf of RNRR, wish you and the band the very best of luck with the rest of the year!
If you would like to find out more about The Camel City Blackouts or keep up to date with their latest releases, the links to all their socials can be found below via the icons: