Interview :: Camp Radio

By Patrick Michalishyn

I’ve had Chris Page singing to me for the last ten years, solo and with Glengarry-legends The Stand GT. I’ve scoured the ’net for those rare tapes and 7”s just so I could hear everything he’s released. So a few years back, when Kelp Records announced that Chris was in a new band called Camp Radio, I went a little mental with happy (just a li’l!). So with the flurry of activity surrounding their just-released second album Campista Socialista, Chris was kind enough to grant Stylus this interview.

Stylus: Hey Chris! You’ve been wearing the rock ’n’ roll pants for a while now. How long have you been “keeping it real?”
Chris Page:
That’s a tough one. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember. The early days were spent collaborating with Doug and Wally from The Stand GT. Our early songs were pretty rough around the edges both in lyrical content and recording. But that’s part of the growing process. Some milestones for me include writing “I’d Tell You” and “As Cool As Me” with those guys. The latter ended up on It Came From Canada Vol. 5 on OG records… which totally blew my mind and I still consider to be a very proud moment along this crazy path. I remember sitting outside Cheap Thrills in Montreal holding a copy that I had just bought and feeling like I was on top of the world. There have been so many moments like that I feel lucky to have experienced…and I’d say that was when I started to “keep it real.”

Stylus: Could you give everybody a brief rundown of Camp Radio from inception to now.
Camp Radio exists because of Scott Terry. He’s the catalyst behind the entire thing, which is remarkable considering how many varied bands he plays in. After playing solo with my electric guitar for a few years, I started to miss the rocking fun of being in a power pop band. I started to get comments after shows that went something like “I really dig your stuff…it would be so cool to hear it with drums and bass.” It was kind of annoying, really. [laughs]
Scott started to pester me in the same way but for some reason his approach was much less flippant. After discussing it a few times in bars we decided to test the waters. I brought some new songs to his rehearsal space and it went from there. We started writing the first album. Our pal Dave [Draves] heard about this going on and said that he would be interested in playing bass. Dave is owner of famed Ottawa music studio Little Bullhorn Prods and has played in many bands… but bass wasn’t his first instrument.
When it came time to record the songs, we discovered a real amazing chemistry that has been flourishing ever since.
We all have other priorities, though. Camp Radio is a great passion that we all share and we feel we’ve created something pretty special. But it’s not something we live and die by. We have lives. We have families. We have other bands and music projects that keep us crazy busy. And I think that part-time approach is what keeps Camp Radio special and what keeps our energy and enthusiasm cranked up for when it comes time for the next Campista Socialista!
Stylus: How do you decide what’s a “Camp Radio” song and what you’re gonna keep for yourself as a “Chris Page” song?
It’s both timing and gut feeling. The last few years have been going in cycles where I would be writing for one project while recording and releasing another. As this Camp Radio record is being released, I’m working away on the next solo record stuff. That said, sometimes Scott will intercept a song and change my mind into doing a tune destined for my solo record and make it full on Camp Radio. I also have songs that are left over from The Stand GT days as well… “Reinventing the Laugh Track” is one of them.
Who knows though… maybe the rock ’n’ roll planets will line up and I’ll be forced to get going on the third Camp Radio record right away.
Stylus: You recently played Sled Island in Calgary and released an interesting item when you got there. Who in their right mind would think of doing a flexi-disc in 2011?
I am ALWAYS wanting to do something different, something that true music fans will enjoy. I got super disillusioned in recent years with how easy it became to put out CDs. Everyone and their mutt-dogs were putting out crappy looking CDs with even crappier artwork. It depressed me. When we started down the path of the first Camp Radio record I wanted to be sure we took our time with the overall package… and spared no costs. Hence the heavy vinyl, heavy card stock gatefold vinyl release with a CD inside.
When Dawn from Saved by Vinyl approached us about a flexi, we jumped at the idea. We also took it a step further to ensure it had wicked-cool artwork. The new Camp Radio logo, with skull and burning crossed marshmallows, is the handy work of our talented artistic director, Leila Younis.
Stylus: Alright… fair enough. Now, one thing I can’t forgive: I bug you that you miss Winnipeg (you play west and east of us all the time). What’s your beef with Winnipeg?
I’ve played Winnipeg more than 10 times, so you have to go easy on me. There’s no beef. Honestly. It’s all about logistics, I’m afraid. Would Camp Radio come to Winnipeg and play this coming weekend? YOU BET! Would we love to fly out and play an area festival sometime in the future? FOR SURE. So, someone, please: help hook us up and we’ll be on the next flight out.

Camp Radio’s second album was released on Kelp/Saved By Vinyl in mid-September, and it’s a scorcher! If you hit them up now, you might even get some bonus goodies. And the more you buy, the more likely Camp Radio will come to Winnipeg and sign your flexi.

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