Campbell 2000 plays guitar in Hovercraft, a Seattle based rock band that defies far too many musical genres. Their music is spacey, heavy, psychedelic, and everything else imaginable. Their music flows like no other music, swirling around and around, often repeating, and sometimes exploding. Their effects make their songs rumble and shake. Live, Hovercraft use films - of insects, moving tunnels, spaceships tumbling through space and powerful explosions - to power-up the bandís live performance. Interview by Jeremy Rotsztain.
How did the band originate?
Sadie and I were in a band called Space Helmet. We met when she first moved to Seattle.
So you grew up there?
Yep. Iím from Seattle.
I read that Space Helmet featured you guys and members of Magnog.
Yeah, my brother is the drummer in Magnog. We used to all be in a band together.
Heís a great drummer.
Sometimes. Just kidding. Theyíre playing a show tonight in Seattle. I wish I was there. Theyíre playing with Azalia Snail. Itís hard being in a band with your brother.
I could imagine.
It didnít work out so well. So we split up, I moved to New York for a while, and then came back.
How long did Space Helmet last for?
We played for a year and a half. We did a couple of party kinda shows.
Did you release anything?
No. We never managed to release anything rather than one-off tapes. I donít know where those all went.
Hovercraft put out a 7" as their first release.
Yeah, for our very first tour we did a 7". That was with our original drummer, who now lives in L.A. It didnít work out with him. That was before I moved to New York. We took a year and a half off and then started playing with Carl. Itís been that way ever since.
There was some sort of video that came along with the 7".
It was just a short film that Sadie made. The single is the soundtrack. Itís this black and white picture about this fucked up kid from Wala Wala Washington - out in the middle of nowhere - that I donít know what happened to.
And now you guys are using film in you live shows.
Weíve been doing that since the very first show.
Where do you get the images from?
I used to have a lot of stock footage that I collect. So I have this huge library of stuff that I sample from.
Where would you find these things?
Libraries, video stores....
So a lot of it is old reel-to-reel footage.
Yep, I try to use stuff that is only documentary footage... and try not to use anything that has ever been construed as art. That way Iím taking it out of context and applying it in a different way than it was originally. I try to avoid taking anyone elseís artistic concepts and then making them my own. Even though I believe that documentaries are still art, itís taking it out of its original context and shedding a new light on it...hopefully. Iíve never had any problems with anybody complaining. Most of it is stuff that is pretty easy to get, and you can get the copyrights to it as well.
Do the booklet pictures from Akathisia come from similar sources?
Yep. Really old stuff. All of those shots are from the 50ís. I love looking at really old scientific equipment.
There seems to be a scientific theme within your music in both pictures and in song titles.
I think that weíve always wanted to be doctors and psychiatrists. I was really sick when I was a kid so I grew up in a lot of hospitals. Sadie was in a couple of institutions....so I think we all had our eyes wide open. So I guess weíve always wanted to see it from the other side.
But you and Sadie met in medical school. Is there any chance of returning to the field of science?
No, I think that weíre going to stick to the field of music for a while.
Getting back to your films...are they actually aligned to the music?
I was told that it was pretty tight.
Well, it can be. I edited it in a certain way. I know how the music goes and how the film was made. Theyíre each made it complement each other.
Does that mean that your set list remains the same for an entire tour?
We have certain structural points that are pretty obtuse. We know where we are and what weíre doing and there are communications that go on. It doesnít work to call them songs or even parts because its difficult to notate the sounds that I make. I havenít quite figured it out. So thereís a communication with certain sounds that I make.
So then there is improv.
Yeah, but its a sort of communication improvisation where itís not just us going off. Itís something weíve gone over and over again.
And what about on record? You guys just recorded live to tape.
The record doesnít have any overdubs.
And youíre using tapes as well.
What kinds of sounds do you tape?
Other electronic sounds that I make. The loops vary in duration. I use a mellotron, a sampler...
Do you have a mellotron?
No, a friend of mine has one.
Iíve heard that you have quite the line-up of effects in your collection. What do you use?
I mostly use delay. I used to use a space echo, but the tape is breaking. This is the first time Iíve gone out on tour without it. I use a phaser and a touch of distortion.
Where do you guys stand on classification?
I think classification tend to push other listeners off because youíre writing it off as one thing. Maybe someone would still appreciate it, not knowing. Weíve played with so many different types of bands and people always tend to appreciate some aspect of us. Thatís what I donít like about categorisation.
What genre do you get classified in most?
In the last year, weíve fallen into the experimental space, which I hate that word, rock thing. As far as Iím concerned, the only thing we have in common with that is some of the delayed sounds. Thereís are far greater intensity (in our music) than most of the other bands that fall into that category. The problem with making a category is that each band has a different aspect. Our different aspect is that we have lot more tense power involved. It would be fine with me if they wanted to call us a rock band.
What made you decide to go with Mute/Blast First?
They were really excited about us. So many labels donít show any interest. Itís just nice to have somebody that is excited about what you do.
Is the record domestic in the US? Itís hard to come by and very expensive in Canada.
Yes, it is. Itís on Mute America. Itís on Blast first, which is a subsidiary that is run by the same people. Itís basically on Mute everywhere in the world, but they want to put a Blast First sticker on it because it makes the guy who found it feel better because it was originally his label.
Whatís the story with the upcoming remix 12"?
Thereís a scanner remix that came out a couple days ago. It will be on sale through Blast First. Thereís also a DJ Spooky project in which he remixes a couple of our tracks and we remix a couple of his.
Will there be anything else coming out?
We have a bunch of side stuff going on at home that weíre going to put out on Repellent, the label that put out the 10" and the 7".
So what will you be doing?
I donít know how to describe it. It will be a little bit more loose, experimental sounding. There probably wont be any live drumming on it.
I read a Hovercraft interview in which you spoke about getting ideas from your dreams.
When you hear a sound that youíve never heard before, which is rare - for me it happens more in my dreams, or when Iím playing guitar or whatever. You stumble upon a new sound that youíre mystified by and try to reconstruct it and figure out where it came from. In dreams it more difficult, unless you have a recurring dream.
So are you searching for the perfect note?
Not perfect, but just different. Iím always trying to change things.