France Camp, “Ghost Town”

Michael Giordano

France Camp

If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic for summer already, this premiere of France Camp’s newest single “Ghost Town,” isn’t going to make you feel any better. France Camp, former member of the once up-and-coming indie-rock sensations, Howler, whose pseudonym doubles as a band name, picks up where he left off in 2011 when he departed Howler. This Twist-inducing surf anthem hits hard straight out of the gate with a bubbly and infectious guitar riff. Keeping up with the quick pace, France shows off his vocal range as he belts melodic and atmospheric vocal runs before getting halfway into the song, where the direction takes a risky turn. From surf-rock to blues-rock, the song cuts to a half-tempo 8-bar blues structure with droning guitar chords combining elements of garage and psychedelic to create something deliberate, but with a feeling of spontaneity. Finally the song comes to close with a minute of blues shredding as the song picks back up to full speed for the finale. The song fits nicely into the schematic of the upcoming self-titled album which is a compelling blues-driven compilation of rugged surf-punk tracks that fall somewhere in the middle of the surf-punk spectrum, between staples Wavves and Surfer Blood: tamer than the former and balls-ier than latter.

For a raw surf rock album there is an awful lot, and mindfully placed, blues-rocks breaks which create a very interesting dynamic. Is this a result of going back to your roots or possibly trying to do something new and unique inside the realm of the one-track genre of surf-punk?

Axl Rose and his men have always been a big inspiration for us. I specifically recollect seeing those boys when I was young and they planted some firm roots. It's cliche to say, but we don't like genres really. We like blue jeans.

When you left Howler a bit over a year ago, in the prime of the band’s success, did you feel you needed a change from a band that your front man claimed was “more of a joke than anything else,” to something more serious?

No. If anything, it was just a demand for artistic input that wasn't being met. And that's totally cool. France Camp takes music serious to a certain degree because it's the only thing we don't suck at and doesn't make us sad. We realized long ago how egotistical it can all be and we keep that stuff out. To insure a pure 100% band connection we practice fully naked. Kyle (bass) always brings select organic essential oils such as eucalyptus to invigorate or geranium to calm and gather vibes. Individually, Kyle rubs each member on the base of the neck. You really become brothers when it's all out like that. Candles and incense are lit and we get wasted.

What is your goal with this band? Where do you see it going and how does it differ from projects in the past?

Our goal is to tour as much as possible and we want to try to put out at least two records per year. We write songs really fast. Like we already have a greatest hits on deck. It's REO Speedwagon caliber. We want festivals and jets. There is no end to our greed. We really just want to meet cool bands and be at cool parties. Not like y.o.l.o. parties. Just regular fun. I hope to see France camp do well and we are totally stoked for everything that we do.

Both Howler and France Camp are categorized as surf-rock/punk, which I think is a bit odd with both bands being based in Minneapolis. What is the scene like there and why is surf-rock a prominent genre coming from there?

Minneapolis is a frozen tundra that is host to some of my favorite bands of all time. You can tell that people are suffering here. It gets so cold, and so bitter, and then all you have to look at is dirty snow and people getting shot at. I think most people would agree that lakes are just sad tiny oceans, and we don't have mountains. There is a lot to be pissed off about. This anger brings an outstanding surge of bands like Teenage Moods, Hollow Boys, anything Elliott Kozel touches, Crimes, Gloss, Birthday Suits, The Blind Shake – to name a few. Once everything melts and life comes back, Minneapolis is a vibrant sexy amazing city and we love it.

Is there a song or two on the new album that means the most to you?

“Let's Roll” was the first song we wrote for France Camp and it has been in our set list since day one. Through our existence we have had member changes, but this song always stayed and is often our finale song. How it's played now is drastically different from how it was originally written and seeing it evolve into something we still love to play is a massive bicep.

Which was more exciting: the thrill of being in an up-and-coming band receiving a ton of attention, or that of being in the beginning stages of getting your feet on the ground and getting yourself heard?

Well, Howler was a joyride. But France Camp is like a small tiny baby lamb. Innocent and harmless. We are excited to nurture it and raise it into something really loud and annoying.

What’s a cool fact about the album that listeners wouldn’t know without you telling us?

Here's a story: we took a break from recording to run to the liquor store to get some HEAVY spirits. Dylan was dressed up wearing a blonde wig some groovy dress we picked up at a Halloween costume place. He was just kind of trying it on. He was just goofing around but we got pulled over. Dylan got really really nervous because he knew the cop was gonna be all over him. The cop ended up giving him a full cavity search and we were done recording for the day. He's a changed man. He's a man's man.

Finally, where did the name France Camp come from?

The genius mind, and perfectly sculpted body of Ian Nygaard (Howler, Nice Purse guitarist). We were trying to come up with names for a grindcore/ska/nu metal band that we were starting. We got Bruce Willis, Arrowsmith, and France Camp. The name stuck in my head and the next day I went to the DMV and legally changed my name forever. Now it's a theory, a concept and a band name…and a cologne, and…

France Camp’s upcoming self-titled album is due out on October 31 via Forged Artifacts.

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