Late Cambrian: The Interview

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Today I got the chance to catch up with the gang from Late Cambrian about their debut album The Last Concert.
While we were chatting we discussed how the band came to be, what inspired the name and music from Late Cambrian and what the guys think of the blogosphere vs mainstream media war. Read on to find out more!

Hey guys! You’ve not long released your debut album The Last Concert, how has feedback been so far?

John: Hey, thanks for having us Hammy! The feedback has been very positive. Our Stage did a Late Cambrian VS. Weezer article that brought a lot of attention our way here. We’ve had some really passionate early supporters, which has been a great help in getting our music out to the blogosphere. Yeah the album was available for sale June 14th, 2011 in the US and Europe. Just recently a Japanese distribution company contacted us to do a re-release in Japan, with new artwork and a bonus track that we just finished recording March 13th. So yeah, initial reaction has been super positive all around.

Colin: Feedback has been generally awesome. Lots of fans have been made and the live show continues to grow all because of the seed the record has planted.

What was your favorite part of the process of creating the album?

John: Mixing is always my favorite part. It’s sometimes hard to see the whole picture during tracking… so many ideas tried, some kept, some dropped. But the 1st mix really shows you the potential for the recorded song and it’s a total thrill to hear…

O: My favorite part is to witness how songs that I had previously heard only on acoustic guitar with John singing became fully fleshed out band arrangements on the album.

Colin: Recording trilobites and all the percussion over dubs.

What is the main inspiration behind the writing side of Late Cambrian?

John: The Last Concert was heavily influenced by what I was jamming to on my iPhone during that time period. It so happens it was Pinkerton by Weezer. I wanted a sly combination of messy and clean that radio rock albums sometimes miss out on… at least radio rock in the USA. We purposely didn’t record to a click so the band could breathe. As far as lyrics go, I frequently stay up late into the night on the computer just surfing around and at around 3am I start to feel crazy… Note to self: Never make purchases on eBay at 3am… Most of the lyrics started in the 3am state of mind; a delirious waking dream state where every crazy idea seems rational…

Where did the name Late Cambrian come from and what made you guys choose it?

John: Late Cambrian was one of a few names just bouncing around in my head. It’s a prehistoric time period when life forms were scary and complex…I guess the feeling of organic creation and a world teeming with unknowable life is reflected in the name…I know the album is more controlled than that description seems to suggest, but I did follow some of my more left field chord and melody ideas to their natural conclusions on the album rather than try to write hits only.

Do you all have the same musical inspirations, or is Last Cambrian a mixed bag?

John: My musical palette has two personalities. There is my party song side that likes what I call ‘lifestyle’ music. This personality really appreciates how a solid hip hop beat can get everyone on the floor. There are whole genres of music that bank on the listener feeling ‘cool’ while listening to their music. I like a lot of it actually, but I guess I am aware that people like to feel strong and hip vicariously through certain groups. My other musical personality disregards lifestyle music and gets off on emotional music. If humming along to a song makes me cry I have to listen to the song again and again. I guess this is a more intuitive gut reaction to beautiful song writing. An example for me is |Even If I Don’t” by Rachel Yamagata… give it a listen and let the purity of it envelope you. Also, “I Don’t Think That I’ll Ever Get Over You” by Colin Hay (Men at Work). Pretty awesome.

O: I used to listen to Jewel, Suzanne Vega, Ani DiFranco, Faye Wong, Rachael Yamagata and musical theatre soundtracks. 90s Australian band Frente! had always been my favorite. I still follow vocalist Angie Hart’s music. Just commented on her wall post the other day.

Nunzio: Personally I grew up on a variety classic rock. I love pulling out some Steely Dan and getting a feel for all of the styles of the different musicians they have playing on their records. When our band is out on the road or just hanging around we like to play some stuff from each of our iPods… it’s fun to see what everyone else in the band is listening to from time to time.

Colin: Sort of a mixed bag but we have a common understanding of why we all like the things we like!

What do you think the Internet has done to the music industry; help or harm?

John: More people have access to music they may have not had. Spotify is great for introducing new music to people because you can get playlist updates of other users, some of them celebrities and a lot of people will go and listen to a song that a celebrity they like listened to, just to see what they like and why…the major record companies have lost billions in revenue because of their inability to get with the online and Napster revolution without first suing 14 year olds for illegal downloading and painting themselves in the worst possible light. I think overall the internet has only helped new music get to the world instantly. Even major label artists get their new music video to all their fans around the world instantly rather than hoping people are watching MTV at the right time. It’s only been good to us so far.

Nunzio: I think the Internet has been great for the music industry… personally we have reached out to not only the whole country but to other countries so easily. Since everything is so readily available it really makes you realize how much great music is out there.

Colin: I think it’s essentially destroyed the music industry, but in some ways exposed more people to more music. I’m hopeful that the makers of good music will always find a way to eat, live and keep creating though!

O: Helps, definitely. There are more options and competitions. The artist-fan relationships are more instant and personal. I do miss the organic record store browsing experience. You gotta physically get out of the house to select music and that leads to other interactions and experiences.

Late Cambrian

Where do you stand on the blogosphere vs mainstream media war that seems to be going on just now?

John: That’s such a grey area question. On one hand, the mainstream media has the resources, the college graduates and the professionals and the access. On the other hand, the mainstream media is for-profit and covers the stories from whatever angle makes the most money for their outlet. Blogs don’t necessarily operate to make money and can take whatever side of an issue they want and often do so. However, there’s no guarantee that the person blogging has even left the house in the last week, or that his opinions aren’t formed at 3am (haha)… still they are both important to the overall conversation and should try to co-exist. It would seem the mainstream media has more to lose in this battle the way record labels had more to lose battling online file sharing. It NEVER helps in the long run to seem stodgy and behind the curve.

What’s your favorite way to converse with fans?

John: I love talking to fans from the stage. I feel really comfortable there. After shows I feel much less comfortable for some reason. Maybe I need to learn to take compliments better, hahaha.

O: Through Facebook and then in person; at shows and then keeping in touch online. I like both!

Nunzio: I really love talking to fans at the shows. It’s great to see faces in the crowd who are genuinely excited to see what we’ve put on stage, and then being able to talk to them afterwards is really awesome.

Has there ever been a point where Late Cambrian has considered taking a route other than music?

John: Not yet…

Nunzio: I was on the road to law school for a long while before joining the band. Once I realized how much potential this band had, it took a back seat. I can totally imagine doing this for a long time.

When did you decide that music was your future?

O: The first time I listened to our debut album The Last Concert on a crowded L train in Brooklyn during rush hour. I wished I could share it with the whole train car and their day would have been nicer! I didn’t feel that way when I was in other musical projects.

John: My sister got a guitar for Christmas. She sold it to me for $20 and I started learning guitar out of magazines…I have been a musician ever since, never stopped. It’s almost out of my control. I cannot picture life without music. When you feel that way about something, it’s really a waste of precious years to do anything else. Money comes and money goes, but we all age from young to old (“Those Middle Years” from our debut CD) … It’s just the truth. Do you want a midlife crisis? Then abandon what you dream to be in favor of security and the status quo… You’ll be buying a Sports Car but have no hair for the wind to blow through… That being said, if you haven’t found something that passionately demands your attention, keep looking and hold down a job while you look.

Where do you see Late Cambrian in ten years’ time?

John: Making music and sharing with fans all around the world. Hopefully inspiring people to take up and instruments and express themselves to the universe.

O: Ideally, everyone should have their own favorite Late Cambrian songs that they know inside out. Industry recognitions would be cool. The bottom line is the words Late Cambrian should trigger good feelings in people and inspire them to love life.

Nunzio: Hopefully still making some catchy tunes, although we will probably be a lot less sexy than we are right now.

What has been your favorite ever show to play so far?

Nunzio: I really enjoyed playing at the KahBang Festival in Maine last summer. It was the first time the band took a long road trip anywhere and we really got to get a better feel for each other’s quirks and our working relationships. Not to mention, we had a great slot playing with some awesome bands for awesome people. Hopefully we get to play it again this year.

John: It’s been a steady uphill climb for us. The shows have gotten better and better. One favorite was in Bangor Maine. We won a contest on Our Stage called the Kickoff To KahBang, and got to open for The Gay Blades on a great outdoor stage in Maine. It was a true honor to do so and we made a lot of fans that night. Our Stage has been so good for us, I suggest all bands hop on there and put their music up, enter contests… It was a total thrill to win.

Is there anywhere you’d love to play, but simply haven’t had the chance to yet?

O: CA, Japan, UK, Holland.

John: The UK! I really want to tour with Wheatus who should be hitting the UK in May this year. We’ll get there, I promise.

Nunzio: Somewhere in the UK of course!

For those readers that haven’t heard your music yet, where can they get their hands on it?

John: Amazon and iTunes are the best places right now to get our debut CD. We are currently in the final mixing stages of our next release. I think it’s about twice as good as The Last Concert, playing, writing and production-wise. And it has a rad special guest.

Do you think social media is the way forward when it comes to promoting music?

John: I think it’s a great piece of the overall puzzle. I would say that a band with no social media skills right now will reach 1/1,000th of the fans they could reach with those skills. Social Media has only helped us thus far. I do think that it helps to focus your efforts in key places on the web. Too much availability can hurt the overall fan concentration at one centralized hub… But yes, social media good!

What advice were you given when you first started out?

O: Keep the rhythm. Follow the click track.

John: Keep music on the periphery while working at the post office. Hahaha I’ve never delivered mail… Telling me to not make music my priority is like telling a fish not to make swimming a priority…

What advice would you give to anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

John: The only failure is a failure to make a choice. When putting your band together or joining a band, get behind the strongest vision for the music and support it. Serve the song, not your ego when writing your ‘parts’.

Nunzio: I would say, that if you truly believe you have a shot at doing something great, then go for it. This industry is a bit intimidating because there are so many other bands and musicians out there and it’s easy to feel like you’re kind of getting lost in the shuffle. If you think you’ve got something great going on, then go for it 100% and you’ll be rewarded.

Where does Late Cambrian stand on the possibilities of bills such as SOPA or ACTA being passed?

John: From my limited knowledge about SOPA and ACTA, they are probably to be avoided. They seem like a slippery slope to too much infringement on personal freedom, even if the bills started with law-abiding in mind…

O: A tough one. Music is meant to be for free but there has to be certain lines drawn to protect “owners of the idea”. The world and the industry are changing so rapidly, I think what we are looking for is not a solution but a balance.

Before we finish up, is there any news of live dates in the near future?

John: We are looking at booking some overseas shows in Hong Kong for 2012. Various different East Coast USA shows are in the works. Everyone who reads this should drop by our Facebook page and Fan us… It’s where we interact directly with our fans and all new shows are posted there.

Many thanks for catching up with me today, guys! Is there anything you would like to add?

O: We can’t wait to hear what you think about our new 5 songs EP. You will receive a hard copy when it’s ready we promise!

John: Yes, do something positive you love every day of your life. We have to work and live, but why live if you aren’t happy? Be happy! Check out our Debut Album, and be on the lookout soon for the 1st single from our new EP. It’s going blow your hair back!

Nunzio: We really hope to be able to play for you sometime soon in the UK. Keep your eyes and ears open!

John: Thanks so much for listening to us ramble! Drop by our Facebook Fan Page for music, photos, video and show information!

Well, you heard the guys! Go check out the album, and fan them on Facebook. We’ll be hearing lots more from Late Cambrian in the future, are you ready to join us for the ride?

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