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Camp Cope: Rad Grrrls Club (Pt. 2)

Camp Cope
PHOTOS BY SIAN SANDILANDS AND MATT WARRELL

Just a year into their narrative, Camp Cope have taken the world by storm. Coming fresh out of the gates with a game-changing debut LP, the Melbourne trio deal in poetic punk jams that will appeal to your anxious mess of a millennial self as much as it will your inner ferocious riot grrrl. BLUNT’s Matt Doria caught up with the band to vibe on their self-titled album, touring, catharsis, feminism, Cruiser shoeys and… just being all-round sickcunts.


Clocking in at a neat eight songs (granted, that’s their entire album minus one track), the Black Wire set is unexpectedly short. After bringing the venue to its chaotic boiling point with an eruptively powerful shot at “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams”, the band go left-of-field with a brand new song listed simply on the setlist as “Hair”. The jam kicks in with a soft groove courtesy of Hellmrich and Thompson – a buoyant beat that’s emo as fuck, but still paves the way for some feisty dance moves. It brews into a fists-in-the-air banger about self-empowerment, Maq screaming louder with each repetition, “I’ll keep growing my hair out / and it’s not for you!” By the end of the song, all we want to do is listen to it again.

“That song is about my boyfriend in tenth grade,” Maq echoes in a bevy of cheers. “He refused to touch me because I didn’t shave my pubes.”

Like all Camp Cope songs – though this one sounds similar to, but unlike anything on the LP – “Hair” shines in it’s conscious lack of consciousness. It’s the full-band embodiment of the impromptu bangers you come up with in the shower, but suddenly forget the moment skin meets towel. And train-of-thought derailment aside, that’s how Maq tackles songwriting in the first place.

“I will come up with something in the shower – like, one of the new songs that we’re playing, I came up with in the shower,” she tells us, setting down her knitting tools to dive into the prospects of new music. “I came up with the line, and then I wrote the chords to what I was singing in my head, and then I just built the song around that. I still do that – l write the songs, but the loudness or the softness of a song will – wait, hold on [gets lost in a momentary trance while Thompson laughs at her]. “The songwriting process is the same; I’ll bring a song to these guys, and I’ll be like, ‘I kind of want this song to be a running song!’ But songs will change: I never imagined that the ‘Hair’ song would become what it is thanks to Kelly’s grungy bassline.”

Thompson: “I think with that one, Kelly and I were adamant – we’re big Fleetwood Mac fans, so we were like, ‘We’re having a Fleetwood Mac moment!’ [Georgia] would be like, ‘No, that’s shit,’ and we’d be like, ‘No! This is happening, so… You gotta be quiet for a sec.’”

“Georgia will write a song and she’ll send us a video of it, and then each day, you get kind of like an update on how the song’s going,” says Hellmrich. “Or like, we’ll be at home, I’ll be in bed and I’ll send Georgia a riff, and then the next day, she’ll play over that riff and send it back – it’ll go back and forth.”

 

“We want girls to the front, so we go to the front and we do the shit we want!”

 

All in all, the group are sitting on “twelve, if you count works in progress, but, like, nine real” songs for Camp Cope’s follow-up. Considering that the first LP has only just hit, that fact is both ridiculously exciting and absolutely terrifying; nobody wants to sit back and soak in an album that’s been rushed beyond belief, after all. But trust us – trust them – Camp Cope II: Emo Boogaloo won’t be rushed. Maq thrives in immediacy, and just weeks after the debut’s release, she’s already looking forward to the second time around.

“I just get bored of things really easily,” she admits. “I’m sick of, like… [Counts number of songs on hands] three quarters, of our album. There are two songs where I’m like, ‘Yeah they’re alright,’ but three quarters of them I’m just sick of. And so new songs are really refreshing, and… I need to sing them in front of people to feel validated.”

“Because we’re still a really new band as well, the songs that are on the album and the songs that we play live,” says Hellmrich; “they’re the only songs that we’ve had from the start, so it’s really nice to have a new thing that we can show to people.”

“We’ll probably have a new album within the next six months,” Thompson says, teasing.

“Nooooo! I’m not that quick,” Maq deflects. “Maybe in, like, a year.”

No matter how many songs they wind up with under their belts, it isn’t likely we’ll ever forget the unlimited impact of “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams”. Released as the second of three singles from the LP, “Jet Fuel” trades the semi-smile-able dopiness of other tunes for a stark, polarising edge. It’s a song few bands would think to make, but one the scene is in desperate need of: a face-to-face scathe on the gender inequality that still plagues society in 2016. “Hearing catcalls from police cars / And they say, ‘What you gonna do about it dressed the way you are?'” – as hyperbole as that may sound to someone who’s never experienced it (police are there to help in those situations, right?), that’s not in any way unrealistic for most women.

The track aided in Camp Cope’s jump to the top when it found its way to the front page of Reddit (“I still don’t know what Reddit is,” laughs Thompson), where commenters – certainly not your average crowd of feminists – glazed over the song’s meaning in favour of the “it’s about gun laws!!” approach. But Maq is quick to clear that up.

“[The song is] kind of like a ‘fuck you’ to people believe that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job,” she says, a fire burning fervent in her eyes; “that it wasn’t planned out to perpetuate Islamophobia and so that the US corporations and the government couldn’t justify starting wars to go off and steal oil, and ruin the world – believing that is like believing that men who rape women aren’t responsible for their actions: thinking that, ‘Oh, it’s way the girl dressed,’ or, ‘Oh, but she was a bit drunk!’… ‘She was asking for it.’ It’s just, like… Are you serious!?”

It’s a powerful moment in the set when Hellmrich leads in with the tune’s introduction – a predominantly female crowd lights up in a fluster of smiles and the mosh becomes their own: it’s an indie-tinted throwback to the riot grrrl scenes of the ’90s, the duly ardent nod to Kathleen Hanna tenacious when Maq bellies again for girls to the front. Solidarity buzzes through the room, and as Maq continues: that’s the whole goddamn point.

“Every woman has walked down the street at night and felt unsafe, and we always need to kind of remain vigilant because of rape culture,” she says, “so I think that most women can relate to the core themes – or at least the angry parts – of the song… Because it’s something that we all experience.”

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“I think it’s really important as well,” follows Hellmrich, “because when you look at gender inequality in the music scene, it’s not just about respecting women onstage – which is very important – but it’s also about respecting women in the crowd, and making sure that they get the space that they deserve as much as the men do. That’s what feels amazing – when you look out at the crowd and you see all of those women and you can connect with them, and they’re happy.”

“When we played a bunch of shows with The Bennies,” Maq rhapsodises, “…This was a really beautiful moment between me and Kelly – Thomo’s the mum, she doesn’t come into the mosh – me and Kelly went into the mosh pit and we were just getting thrown around by these guys, but we stood our ground and [Kelly] said to me, ‘These boys don’t have more of a right to music than we do, don’t let them push you back.’”

“And then you tipped a Cruiser into a shoe and drank it,” belts Thompson.

“These boys don’t have more of a right to do a shoey than I do!”

Naturally, coalescing a trio of outspoken feminists will spawn more than just songs nodding at casual activism – Camp Cope are determined to make a legitimate difference with their power – between festivals like Queer & Now, Voices and Sad Grrrls Fest, songs like “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” and an upcoming zine that Maq is spearheading (which will see fans given a voice to say whatever they damn well please), they’re taking a stance against the powers that hold women down in music.

“Women are treated as a minority in literally every aspect of human life,” Maq emphasises on her reasoning. “And music should be an escape, but you’d have to be an idiot not to know that it still isn’t – it’s not standard that men and women are equal; like, a male-dominated bill aimed at only men is ‘normal’, whereas if you have a lineup where it’s all women, it’s like, ‘Ah, that’s a girl’s show!’ Or if you have a band that’s all-women, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a girl band.’ Like, we don’t get the same level of respect that any man does. A lot of people do just call us a band – which is fantastic – but a lot of people don’t; some people still still call us a ‘girl band’, or the female equivalent of a male band, like ‘The Chick Street Band’.”

“That was the most vomit-worthy thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Thompson agrees. “And I think also, if you’re going to say all of these sorts of things and stand for them, then you have to actually do them as well. It’s fine to go, ‘Women should go to shows! Women should play shows,’ but it’s like, yeah – we don’t want to say this and then go and play shows with men every day. We want our bills to be majoritively women; we want people who would otherwise feel uncomfortable at shows to feel comfortable.”

“We want girls to the front, so we go to the front and we do the shit we want!”

CONTINUE READING: Page 1 | 2

Camp Cope is out now via Poison City
Grab a copy: JB HiFi | Webstore | iTunes | Bandcamp

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Camp Cope / Cayetana
Tour Dates

Sat Sep 10th – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
(Weekender Festival)

Tixticketscout.com.au

Tue Sep 13th – Rad Bar, Wollongong
Tixradbarcafe.com.au

Wed Sep 14th – Transit, Canberra
Tixtransitbar.com.au

Thu Sep 15th – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
(with Pity Sex)
Tixticketscout.com.au

Sat Sep 17th – Manning Bar, Sydney
(I Love Life Festival)

Tixoztix.com.au

Sun Sep 18th – The Triffid, Brisbane
(I Love Life Festival)

Tixoztix.com.au

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