By HANNAH HATCH
On March 10, I was able to watch musicians Andrew St. James and Jeff Campbell at the Minor Chords Production’s show located at Armando’s in downtown Martinez.
I sat down with 20-year-old San Francisco native Andrew St. James, right before his soundcheck. He talked to me about his music, past, and future.“It’s kind of folk and alternative music. I started writing for a psychedelic rock band when I was pretty young, but that broke up.
Originally I heard The Doors, who were really big [influences]. Also Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jerry Garcia … I kind of went into that for awhile.
“Then I started doing my own thing. I was originally an organ player but stopped that and picked up the guitar. I started writing folk music. I was always really drawn to writing and literature … like beat poetry, Allen Ginsberg and Kerouac – all that sort of stuff. I started writing prose for a while, which turned into lyrics, and then turned into my music.
“I’ve been doing music since I was super young. I used to sing in choirs and was doing opera when I was a kid. I just played Noise Pop in San Francisco. We had a tour in January on the East Coast. I started in Chicago and went out to Boston, Philadelphia, Providence and New York. I am going to South by Southwest. I’m just kind of touring now for a while. It’s pretty awesome.
“The last record we put out was in October of 2014. We have a lot of tracks, and are kind of figuring how we are going to put out the next album.”
Visit Andrew St. James’ website: http://www.andrewstjames.com.
I also talked to Jeff Campbell. He mentioned his music, aspirations, and future band plans:
“My stuff is rock and roll, singer songwriter stuff. I grew up in the ‘90s, so all of that stuff bleeds into my music whether I want it to or not. Lyrics are pretty big and important to me. Being able to feel the guitar, feel the drum and bass part – feeling it is just as much a part of the experience as hearing it.
“My favorite band in the world is called Shiner – they’re from Kansas City – but you don’t really hear any of that in my music. Another band I really like is Sunny Day Real Estate. But you know I like Zeppelin, I like The Beatles; there’s this new band out there called Dawes, I just think they’re incredible.
“I grew up in bands. I am from Philadelphia. I’ve been living in San Francisco for 11 years. I had a chance to move out here and I took it. Music was the motivator for me to be here, and I’m probably never going to move away. People talk to me for two minutes and are like, ‘You’re not from around here!’ Whatever, I wear where I’m from like a badge of honor.
“A couple years ago I won a Guitar Center competition, and part of the contract was to do an EP. We got to go on Jimmy Kimmel and all of that stuff. But, I had to do it under my own name. So it had to be Jeff Campbell’s band. I called three of the best guys and friends that I knew for the job, and I said, do you guys want to do all of these things? And the caveat was you just all have to call yourself ‘me.’ They’re fine with that, I think I’m the one who has the biggest problem with that.
“Since then my band and I have put out another record in October of 2015. Tonight (March 10) is this band’s last show for the foreseeable future. My guitar player is going to gallivant around the world with his surfboard and his guitar. I have another project now with two guys from the East Bay. The band is called Static and Surrender. We’ve been writing for months. Once all of my Bose-sponsored summer touring is over, we are going to put out a new album. It’s nice to be in a band with a name again.”
Visit Jeff Campbell’s website: http://www.jeffcampbellmusic.com.