Sometime over the past decade, commercial rock has been given a bad rap. While the general public’s thirst for the genre has been largely incessant since the days of Led Zeppelin, hipster distaste for the commercial aspects of the genre have become a voice seemingly louder than any other.
Longevity. Career-oriented. These terms mean little to the one-hit wonders of the world. Yet the bulk of musicians want to go about building their music career the good old-fashioned way: Working for it.
Enter Toronto rock band CampX, a melodic modern rock band that wants to dispel the myth that modern rock or commercial rock if you will, lacks substance. Camp X is ready to make their mark upon the world.
“We wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t have a hunger to want to be successful with what we do. If you look up the word persistence in the dictionary, our picture should be there.”
So begins CampX front man Andrew Carswell.
Together with CampX bassist Aaron Okada, Carswell and Okada have been slugging it out together under the CampX moniker since 2009.
“Andrew and I played together on and off for a number of years,” Okada affirms. “At the time we originally started playing, we had a completely different drummer and had also gone through a couple of lead guitarists.
Carswell’s brother Paul would join the band who are rounded out by drummer Jay Corby.
The band had the opportunity to flex their muscle on “Limited Edition”, an appropriately named, low profile 2009 release. As the group prepares to launch their new EP, the CampX work ethic comes to the forefront.
“Songwriting is something that is shared amongst all of us in the band,” Okada says. “We’re all songwriters sharing a common goal of wanting to write music that makes a connection with people.”
“We want to elicit something more than just a superficial connection with our fans. Music can be such a powerful tool to elicit emotion from people,” Carswell says. “I could write a song in two hours if I wanted to. The problem with that is that I have to believe in what I am saying. People can see through you when you are not being true to yourself or when you are pretending to be something that you are not. Pop music is great for making you want to dance; no one really pays attention to the lyrics in pop music.”
Fortunately for CampX, establishing life-long connections with their fans has come relatively easily for the group. How else might one explain the group being invited to perform on WRCN’s The Real Radio Show on three different occasions?
After an unforeseen and subsequently unfortunate delay at the U.S.-Canada border while attempting to make their WRCN debut, the group missed the opportunity to perform with Wonder Mike of the legendary Sugarhill Gang fame.
Mind you, their consolation prize didn’t turn out to be too shabby either: CampX was given the chance to perform with Blue Coupe, a classic rock trio / super group of sorts comprised of former members of Blue Oyster Cult along with Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper’s band. Not only did CampX get to humbly mingle with the classic rock legends, their set drew such a significant crowd of pedestrians that the NYPD was called in to lend a hand. CampX will be featured on The Real Radio Show’s NBC network debut later this year.
When it came to the making of the new CampX EP, it is safe to assume that CampX embraced the all-for-one, one-for-all mindset. Comprised of three newly written songs along with what the group felt was three of their strongest songs from their past. Neither Carswell nor Okada shy away from the fact that the six songs contained on the EP are rather commercial-sounding; very radio friendly.
Many bands however do not embrace writing music for a specific outlet including radio. This calls into question the whole artistic integrity versus commercial viability. What many fail to realize however is that writing songs that are naturally radio-friendly does not automatically compromise the band’s integrity.
“I think that if you really wanted to, you could make arguments both for and against writing music that is going to fit alongside what you are hearing on modern rock radio,” Carswell surmises. “But some people feel as though not as much artistry goes into writing music that could be played on the radio. Nothing could be further from the truth with CampX as far as we are concerned.”
“I believe that a lot of artists wrestle with the commercial viability versus artistic integrity issue,” Okada says.
“What we feel is great about our new release is that we found a happy balance of these two things,” Carswell continues. “We are very happy with the artistry that has gone into writing and brining these songs to life. As a band, we embrace our music having many layers and textures to it. We have always tried to write music that was dynamic and that balanced those soft moments with other moments that are more powerful.”