Behind the scenes with the bands of Camptown

In two joint-session interviews, we were able sit down and talk to The Last Bison, Neulore, JuTaun, Struan Shields, and Cosby about life, happiness, and the pursuit of making music.

What was it like being here at Randolph-Macon? How did you like it?

JuTaun : It was beautiful, I wish we could have seen more of it. We’ve been here so

The Last Bison: So far, I think you’ve [Adam of Neulore] been here five minutes.

Neulore: All I know is this hummus.

The Last Bison: I’ve been here for two hours and it’s gorgeous. But I’ve been doing band stuff the whole time, so basically all I know is it’s beautiful and this hummus.

Do you guys have a favorite song that you like to preform?

JuTaun: (Steve) Well the new one, I think we’ve only played it live like three times, “Back to Life” is what it’s called, I think that’s my favorite song.

Struan: Going off that, it’s a slow one, but I grew up in a military family and my dad’s a huge history buff, so I grew up going to Civil War battlefields and I had just read Gone with the Wind when I sat down to write this song which is from the perspective of a dying Confederate soldier. It sounds really nerdy and lame, but I think it’s probably one of my best songs, and I think people generally connect to it well, so I definitely like playing that one live.

Cosby: I like “Wide Open Door.” Wide Open Door is cool because it kind of gradually builds the whole time. (Chris) I like playing the song “The Light of Day,” that one is kind of the opposite of “Wide Open Door” because it’s kind of a steady romantic kind of ballad, and at the end it kind of picks up. I sing pretty low until at the end when I hit a pretty high note. (Chip) Yeah, any song that has any really drastic dynamics tends to kind of excite me.

What is your favorite moment when performing?

Jutaun: (Steve) I hasn’t happened yet. I’ll tell you what it is. When we finish singing the first verse of a song and we get to the chorus, and the audience is louder than my stage monitor, singing the words to the chorus. That’s the bucket list moment of what I would consider my best live moment, because every moment on stage is why I am there, that’s we got into this. We got into this to convey an emotion on stage that hopefully the person listening would feel the same way I do while I am playing.

Struan: I think yeah, if people believe the song enough and they feel exactly how you felt when you sat down to write the song and they know the lyrics and the melody as well as you do. People aren’t thinking about “Oh is this good songwriting right now?” They are just thinking you know this is true, and I believe it too.

Cosby: (Mike) I think across the board no matter what band you’re in, I think everyone would agree, when you are on stage and you are doing your thing that’s sort of like what you’re in it for, it’s all kind of about that feeling. (Chris) We actually have a song kind of about that feeling, our song “Heart Racer,” I say “If you go or I go, then you fall where I fall,” and it’s kind of about having that transcendent unified experience where even if it’s for better or worse we are doing it together, and I think that that interaction you get playing live is why people play music live. (Mike) Yeah, you know like no matter what is going on in your life, when you are out there and you’re playing, for that 45 minutes everything is great in your life.

What is the craziest/weirdest place you all have ever performed?

The Last Bison: It was a show in Toledo, Ohio. This place called Headliners, and the venue was monstrous, like, giant World War II, like tank building warehouse, for metal bands and amateur boxing nights. And there’s this tiny little room to the side for like 100 people, and we played a show in there that was supposed to be with some radio thing. I don’t think the radio people ever showed up, 17 people showed up and it was sketchy.

Neulore: Ours was last year, we played a South by Southwest show before we were home, we played like six shows in five days; Um, the last show was at a grocery store essentially. And it was outside, it was cold in Texas. It was very, very windy, and it was like an outside area from the grocery store and there was a porta-potty right next to the stage. And the wind was blowing the smell of the porta-potty. So I was trying to sing and getting these big whiffs.

What would you say is the biggest obstacle that you all have faced as a band?

Cosby: Facing. Our biggest obstacle is tapping into the crowd who likes our music in the town that we live in, and whether there is a certain segment of our town that is into what we do at all. Synth-pop is really big in Europe. We’re doing a promotional campaign right now just targeting the UK.

JuTaun: I think it’s kind of similar for us, the area that we are in is so stuck in one way of thinking about music and what music is that we are constantly trying to break through. Sometimes people think that things have to be a certain way when it comes to music or that it has to be like something they are familiar with or else the want to deal with it.

Struan: I think like writing what’s true and not being too caught up in what is popular right now or with questions like, what do I need to do to be famous? I think that is something that I still sometimes struggle with, but I think that the reason that any of us probably started doing music wasn’t to just be like famous, it’s like you hear something and your like “wow, that’s amazing. I want to do that.” So, yeah I think just trying to write and write what is true and not be driven by the wrong things. Also, just being honest and vulnerable as in being real, because I think that people connect, and they can tell when you are singing about something that is true, and when   you’re just trying to be something that you’re not.

If you could describe the band in three words, what would it be?

The Last Bison: Okay, let’s go with the music. Anthemic American stomp. That’s a good three word one. The members of the band, um, jovial familial weirdos.

Neulore: Passionate, bearded, um, something about intentionality. There’s a lot of thought. There’s something about being thoughtful, like we’re really intentional about how we make our music.

Struan: Um, can I like phone a friend, because I don’t know how to answer that. But no really, my music, I just put a lot of myself in my songs, I know that’s not three words but I’m just go to say that. My songs are pretty much what I kind of think of as honest, simple, and sort of folky Americana, but still pop. That was like ten words at least.

Cosby: (Mike) Melodic, bombastic, beer. Our songs go through a lot of changes. We are trying to tap into the old really great song writing. We’re trying, you know? There are so many incredible memorable songs from like twenty, thirty years ago, and beyond that, and I think a little bit of that has fallen off now a days. You hear so much generic stuff that sounds exactly the same and it’s like in one ear, out the other. (Chris) We try to make the production secondary to the songs, which as an electronic band that’s probably not done as much as singer-songwriter acts and country acts and stuff like that. The focus is more on songwriting. (Chip) We make sure that out songs can be played on an acoustic guitar and sung, but we translate into electronic music.

So what is your next move? Where are you guys going from here?

JuTaun: We’re going to Lynchburg. We have a show there tomorrow [April 12]. We are also in the EP phase, and we have a new single called “Who am I” coming out on May 1. We put out a single, “By the River,” last year, but this is new, this will be our first EP.

Cosby: We play in Norfolk next weekend, and we release an EP on April 22.

Struan: Yeah, I just finished an EP a few months back, and I just released a new song, but I’m sort of rolling out the rest of the songs soon.

Neulore: We’re about to track another record. Hopefully in June.

-Kayla Koslosky ’18, Contributing Writer, and Naoko Branker ’15, Editor-in-Chief

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