Long time friends that met on Theatre School in New York, signed to Arts & Crafts (BSC, Timber Timbre, Chikita Violenta, Young Galaxy….) recently released their third full-length album. We had the opportunity of interviewing Torquil Campbell from Memphis and here is our chat:
First off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you? How’d you meet?
We met at theatre school in New York. Chris walked up to me on the first day and said “you’re a great actor”. I immediately liked him… 🙂 We started hanging out and me and Chris and Chris Seligman who I’m in Stars with and Jimmy Shaw who’s in Metric all started making music together. And that was the first band we were all in. We were called Paris Smith, after a prefab sprout song…we were…umm..ok…
Torquil, how do you balance your time between playing with Stars, Memphis, Broken Social Scene and Dead Child Star? Do you ever have time for yourself?
Well you can remove BSC from that equation, because my membership in the band involves occasionally clapping along from the back of the stage. As for the rest…well, a lot of other people are involved in Stars and Memphis, particularly Chris in the case of Memphis. And I’m lucky enough at the moment not to have a day job, so this is what I do when I get up in the morning besides making breakfast for my daughter…but really, you know, I work a lot less hard and have a lot less to juggle than a mother of two who is a nurse or a teacher.. How do they do it? I have no fucking idea…they’re superhuman I guess.
What do you prefer more playing live on Broken Social Scene with so many people involved or playing with Memphis in a duo?
Memphis is my band. BSC is my family. I love them both.
How did the name “Here Comes a City” come about?
It’s a nod to The Go-Betweens the beautiful and crucial Australian band. They were an amazing inspiration in my life, and here comes a city is the name of one of their songs.Our last record was called “A Little Place in the Wilderness”, so I guess there’s a travelogue element there as well. But mostly I just love the phrase. It’s unsettling and exciting. And I love The Go-Betweens. They were two great friends who grew up making music together. And so are me and Chris.
There seems to be a never-ending supply of new indie bands that release one record and are never heard from again, you’ve had great success with all your bands for years. How do you feel about this indie “one album wonder bands”?
It’s hard to be in a band. It’s hard to make a living, it’s hard to keep being friends with each other, and it’s hard to keep getting better and challenging yourself within a pretty narrow art form, which is pop music. I think maybe there’s the impression that if your band is getting good shows and good reviews, you’re making a lot of money. That isn’t so necessarily. So to me, any band that gets even one record out has accomplished a lot and they should cherish the experience. There’s more to life than rock ‘n roll (but not much more).
Talking about indie bands, what are guys into recently?
Destroyer’s “Kaputt” is my favourite record in YEARS. It’s like Dan Bejar lives inside my head. And in a way, I guess he does. We’re both 38. We both live in Vancouver. We both have another band we’re in. We both are dark fuckers who like hooks. Only difference is, he’s a fucking genius, and I’m… good at writing songs. Love a record by a Canadian band called Hooded Fang, lovely pop music. The Streets new record is another one made for me. Its good to see there’s a small niche opening up for disaffected late thirties sneaker pimps with a weed habit and a diminishing hairline! Oh, and Zoo Kid…he’s the future, and that makes me very happy indeed.
If you had the opportunity to curate a festival who would be on your line up?
PREFAB SPROUT; no matter what it took. Memphis for the right price. Da Gryptions. Think About Life. Max Richter in the chill out tent. Zoo Kid as the headliner. And if we had the money, The Flaming Lips backing Leonard Cohen
What do you like to do on your free time, any hobbies?
I like playing with my kid, listening to records and driving around country roads smoking weed and listening to the CBC. And running.
What’s your take on the overall record business, what would you guys think bands should do to really make a living out of their music?
Oh man…that’s the million dollar question. The only thing I know for sure is that you have to work and keep working. So much of getting somewhere is about sticking around. You have to find your audience and sometimes that takes years like it did with Stars and like it is still doing with Memphis. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it’s a cliche cause its true; if you work harder than other people, you just might find you get further than them.
Last but not least, any musical guilty pleasures?
There is no such thing. Guilt and music don’t go together. Feel guilty about treating the ones you love like shit. Feel guilty about driving your car to the corner store. Feel guilty about living in the west. But music never hurt anyone, never lied to anyone, never did anything except make people feel something, good or bad. So why would I be guilty about what I listen to? Better vulgar art than no art at all. And for real, if a Celine Dion record was the last album on earth, I’d fight to save it. If on the other hand it was a Black Eyed Peas album…
Listen below to Memphis latest album Here Comes a City and post your comments below!