INTERVIEW – Aukland
I Heart Hamilton’s 4th anniversary and annual fundraiser show is fast approaching! I am thrilled to have such an exciting lineup of bands, all of whom are about to release new music. Aukland are set to release their debut album, Rookie, this summer, which was recorded at local studio Jukasa, out in Caledonia. I chatted with band member Jeff Campana to get the scoop and to get to know them a little better.
I Heart Hamilton: The Playlist 4.0 (Fundraiser for Food4Kids)
Featuring Fast Romantics, Grey Lands, Aukland, Munroe, DJs Kristin A/B
+ Pop-Up Shop Girls With Gunz
Friday, May 1, 2015 / 9PM
This Ain’t Hollywood, 345 James Street North
$10 Advance / $12 at the door
I Heart Hamilton: What was it like making the switch from your previous band to Aukland? Was it about making a deliberate change in sound and name, and starting over?
Jeff: This is a question we’ve answered time and time again and for some reason it always gets harder to answer. In plain terms, Seam was a band for too long. We lost 2 members throughout the years and it eventually came time where it wasn’t the same sound and band coming from our basement. Sure we did some great things but the change was long overdue, writing was completely different, even the way we reacted with one another was different. The band made a complete 180 so we took all the good components and assets from Seam and moved them over to Aukland.
How do you feel your music has evolved from The Orange Above EP to your debut album Rookie? Are there changes in sound or do you feel it was more about honing your sound from your previous material and growing from there?
Definitely growing from The Orange Above. Nothing about our set up has changed and Rookie is in full a more developed set of songs. This album shares that ‘growing up in your 20’s’ feeling that The Orange Above had but we feel Rookie is something more tangible to our listeners. There’s songs about breakups, growing pains, siblings, love, drinking – it’s all in there, the typical I’m growing up into the adulthood category.
How does songwriting work within the band? Does it begin with one person who brings an idea to the table, or do you have writing sessions together?
Songwriting for us is a giant mix of all of that. At times someone would come in with a good foundation that we build off from and other times we just stumble on a good idea that finds its way into a complete song by the end of practice. Nowadays we actually start band practice with someone hitting record on their iPhone of us just fooling around with musical ideas, just in case we need reference down the road. We’ve stockpiled ideas we’ll listen to once this record’s out and I really wouldn’t be surprised if the next record after Rookie consists of mostly songs that have already started in the depths of our voice memos.
What was it like working at the award-winning studio Jukasa? It is such a hidden gem (well, maybe not so hidden now!) in the Hamilton area. What did your engineers help bring to your sound on Rookie?
It’s one of the best places we’ve ever worked out of and as of today it really feels like home. Really fantastic to have had the chance to do our full-length there, the sound is unbelievable and their employees are now considered family to us. It has a complete hotel and spa, pitch and putt golf green, and a full stocked wine rack. Ha, I joke about that last one but whatever you need Jukasa has your back.
In response to our engineers Darren and Jill, they bring the whole recording package and then some. Since this record was partly self-produced, both of them were always there to make sure this record sounds the best it could be. Not only are they talented at what they do, they’re perfect at increasing group morale. We had tons of fun together, shout out to the George Brett story and to all the videos we can’t share publicly, some of our best laughter came from those mid-session studio breaks.
Your live show is super energetic – do you think about trying to capture a certain feel or energy on the recordings as well?
Well thank you! That’s always good to hear just because we’re never the ones watching ourselves on stage. We actually joke about recording our sets on a tripod just so we can pretend we’re in the crowd if we were to watch it later. In response to the record, we tried to make this record more organic and leaning towards what we sound like live. For example, Sean’s vocal doubles primarily are covered by other bandmates such as in our live show, guitars are kept at bay with minimal layering, and bass and drums were tracked in parallel from a live-off-the-floor setting. We had minimal post production compared to some of our favorite records so overall we think Rookie yields a more natural recording from what we sound like on stage.
You’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with some big Canadian acts – I first saw you play when you were opening for Hollerado and Tokyo Police Club at McMaster. Are there bands you look to as inspiration or bands whose career paths you admire? What have you learned from playing with bigger acts?
Yes definitely. I know all of us have key people and bands whose careers we admire hopefully one day of being in their shoes. I can’t speak for the rest of the guys on this one but since I’ve started my musical endeavors, there’s a hand full of people who have started as my idols that have turned into good mentors. I remember growing up thinking these bands are too famous to give me the time of day and now it’s really cool when I can just sit at home and text them when I need advice. They’ve certainly been at our point in their career and any insight they share is definitely helpful.
In terms of what we’ve learned from playing with bigger acts, we try and pick up on the small things. When you watch a band play night after night there’s key ways about how they work their audience, their stage, and how they implement their sound. We try to find those things that true fans love and apply them to our shows.
You’re based in Mississauga – what is the music scene like out there? Have you had the opportunity to play a bunch of Ontario cities so far?
The music scene in Mississauga is a lot different from the rest of the GTA’s music scenes. We have an unbelievable group of talent that lies within Mississauga’s grounds but I find that the amount of venues makes it really hard to foster our scene’s talent. Sure we do have a couple good spots for live shows but at the same time we try to work around the fact that they aren’t really venues. We’re extremely proud to be from Mississauga but finding a traditional venue is hard, a huge part in why we have so much fun sweating it up in Mississauga’s Masonic Lodge.
For Ontario shows I think we can say we’ve hit all major markets at least once. I will say that London in the winter is very cold, Hamilton always ends with Wimpy’s on Main Street, Ottawa – bandmates always go missing, and Sault Ste Marie is just plain far.
Really excited to have you guys be part of I Heart Hamilton: The Playlist 4.0 (Fundraiser for Food4Kids) on May 1st at This Ain’t Hollywood! What’s one thing you ‘Heart’ about Hamilton?
I actually live in Hamilton so this is great. The one thing I ‘Heart’ about Hamilton is plain and simple its community. It has this underdog nature of being the next big city that you’d only understand if you lived here. Great place to live with fantastic people.
Favourite place to eat in Hamilton:
Favourite breakfast food:
3 eggs over easy with all sausage
If you were a drink, what would you be?
Gin and Tonic
Your go-to karaoke song:
“Fly me to the Moon”
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be?
British by far, it is to this day my worst accent.
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen:
Foals last Summer, Toronto.
What is on your playlist right now:
Childish Gambino, Motion City Soundtrack, T-Swift!
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I’d go to Vietnam, I heard that place is cray.
Favourite mode of transportation:
HSR Transit, holla!
What’s one thing on your bucket list:
Thanks, Jeff! Stoked to see Aukland perform on May 1st at This Ain’t Hollywood – don’t miss it!