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Down With Webster Are Getting The Party Started
Wednesday, July 02, 2014

When you combine rock, hip-hop, pop, and electronic music to create something both joyful and raucous, you get Down With Webster, a Toronto-based band that has racked up a plethora of fans in their home country, and is poised to take America by storm.

The team of Camm, Bucky, Tyler, Marty, Pat, and Diggy (Diggy not pictured) have been together, essentially, since childhood, forming the band in junior high, and they released their fourth album, Party for Your Life, earlier this year.

I caught up with Camm and Bucky before one of the band’s two shows with Hoodie Allen at Bowery Ballroom in NYC to find out more about Down With Webster, including their long history, and why they needed a crash course on rabbit care while putting together their latest album.

Adam Bernard: First off all, let’s talk about your name. Why do you dislike either NYC’s Webster Hall, or Emmanuel Lewis from the 80s sitcom Webster?

Camm: It’s not disliking, it’s “down with” as in “I’m down with him.” It was originally Emmanuel Lewis. We came up with the name when we were like 12 years old, and we all thought it was hysterical. Now we’re all in our 20s, and it’s not as funny, but it’s stuck with us.

Adam Bernard: Is Emmanuel Lewis still alive?

Camm: Yes, and he lives very close to us in Canada. We were actually going to hang out with him at this random festival, and then the festival got cancelled and we never got to meet him. This was last year.

Adam Bernard: That’s kind of heartbreaking.

Bucky: It was. It was like we were more upset about that than the show.

Camm: I still think we have a solid chance of meeting him.

Adam Bernard: Moving to your music, I love that your bio notes that you started by winning your junior high talent show.

Camm: That part of it’s true. There are many untrue elements on that thing. There are some untrue facts on our Wikipedia page, but that one’s true. It originally started as a project for music class in like grade seven, or eight. We had to put a band together, and we had to play a talent show.

Adam Bernard: Do you remember what song you performed?

Camm: It was like jazz standards, and stuff.

Bucky: It was “Green Onions” that clinched the win.

Adam Bernard: That sounds really advanced for seventh grade.

Camm: We had Marty, who’s our drummer, and Tyler, who’s our bass player, (they) were both huge music nerds growing up, and were super into it, and at that age, I’m not saying they were playing them well, but they were attempting.

Adam Bernard: They were better than all the other seventh graders.

Camm: Yeah, better than the other seventh graders.

Bucky: Also, it’s kind of like at the same time, you’re competing against one kid on a violin.

Camm: A guy who juggles badly.

Bucky: The four girls who think they’re hot doing a lip sync.

Adam Bernard: Since you came together as a band so young, you obviously practiced at home. How often did neighbors call to complain when you were practicing in your garage, and do any of those same neighbors try to pull the “We knew them way back when” when people talk about you?

Bucky: Actually it was kind of cool that Tyler, our bass player, his dad used to write jingles, and had retired, but his garage, he had turned into a recording studio, then kind of left abandoned. It was up to us to kind of put it back together again, but we had a soundproof room.

Camm: That’s what really allowed us to become a band, and get better, and actually pursue it, the fact that we had this space, and could record, and could make our own songs and give them to our friends, that really helped us start.

Adam Bernard: What kind of extra education did fixing up the garage recording studio give you?

Bucky: It was kind of do it yourself, with a little bit of help from people. We started with Digital Performer, and a Mac tower, and just kind grew it from there. We were all kinda self-taught.

Camm: It made us, from a very young age, be very in house. Everything we did, we did ourselves, which we’re still doing.

Adam Bernard: What would you consider your most “payin dues” moment from coming up in the ranks?

Camm: Paying dues moment? Man, we’re still paying dues. We pay dues every day. We’re paying dues as we speak.

Bucky: We left from ... where we were yesterday?

Camm: We left from Detroit yesterday at four in the morning, and then got here around five (pm), drove straight through, in a van, with seven dudes, 13 hours, showed up, we’re gonna play the show, then do it all over again.

Adam Bernard: You’ve honed your sound at this point, but before, when you were setting up the studio, and learning the equipment, did you record demos that you look back on now like, “We tried THAT?”

Camm: Yes, we have so much of that. We have more of that stuff than I think any other band in existence. We have reggae songs where this guy’s doing a Jamaican accent. {gestures to Bucky}

Bucky: The worst part, though, is that it’s like yeah, they’re embarrassing, but at the same time I still get the weirdest guilty pleasure from listening to all of them, and when we were making them we were like “this is the shit!”

Camm: Everyone had such diverse tastes, and we didn’t know what we wanted the band to sound like, so it was like let’s try this, now let’s try that. The first couple of things that we put out, our CDs that we’d share with our friends, were just totally schizo. Nothing made any sense. No one (in the band) knew what they did. Tyler played bass, or guitar, Bucky’s singing like a rock star, or rapping, or singing normally.

Bucky: I was playing guitar for a little bit.

Camm: You were (also) playing drums. It was nuts. Then we all figured out what everyone did best, and then stuck to that.

Adam Bernard: Are those early attempts still on a hard drive somewhere?

Camm: Oh yeah. Those are on multiple hard drives. I have all of them at home.

Adam Bernard: You’re currently wrapping up a North American tour with Hoodie Allen, and you’ve been on the road A LOT during your career. What’s been the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve seen, or experienced, while on the road?

Camm: We went through a phase where we had a really really rabid, almost boy band-ish, fan base in Canada, probably like three years ago, and I remember there was a time when we were in Montreal, and we were on the bus, and literally a line probably three times the size (of what’s outside here), swarmed and attacked the outside of the bus, in a nice way, not like “I want to hurt you,” but hands were coming through windows, there were people on top of the bus, the bus was shaking from people rocking it.

Bucky: And there were hands with cameras pressed against the windows.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like a crazed teen girl, Walking Dead type of moment.

Bucky: Exactly.

Camm: A Beatles Walking Dead moment. I would say that’s probably one of the craziest things I’ve experienced as a person, being like, “Really, people care this much about this right now? This is totally crazy.”

Adam Bernard: It's like an honor, but also terrifying.

Camm: Exactly. It’s both. You can’t be mad, because you’re like, I guess this is what we always wanted, but at the same time...

Bucky: To go out in that, no chance.

Adam Bernard: You released your latest album, Party for Your Life, back in January. What was going on in your lives that inspired the content of the album?

Camm: We had been down in LA for a couple months. It was kind of the first real writing trip we had ever gone on, and the first time we had all lived in the same place for an extended period of time.

Bucky: Besides the bus. When you’re on the bus there’s a certain give and take. You know you’re not gonna have any space, you’re used to that, but when you’re in a house, living like roommates, and stuff...

Adam Bernard: So this was a Real World house situation.

Camm: Yeah, exactly, and it just turned into a giant party experience, which obviously gave life to the whole Party for Your Life thing. I remember one morning someone goes, “We completely partied for our lives, we gave our life, like it depended on it.” We thought that was kind of a funny concept. A lot of the other songs weren’t necessarily ... when you write a song it’s not always what’s going on in your life, it might have happened to you three years ago, and just now you have an idea about writing about it. I’d say it’s a mixture of a combination of that, and just other stuff that’s happened.

Adam Bernard: Tell me more about the house you were living in together.

Camm: It was through Airbnb, and we showed up and they had a whole bunch of bunnies, probably five full grown rabbits, that they expected us to take care of, and they didn’t write that in the description. The bunnies smelled terrible, and they had these weird habits where they had to go inside the house and then outside the house.

Bucky: There was the weird hippie neighbor that came over to make sure we were taking care of the bunnies. It’s like, why didn’t you just get him to take care of them?

Camm: And he looked like Jesus, and it was totally crazy. We nicknamed (the house) The Bunny Ranch, and when (the owners) came back they were super pissed because moved a bunch of their furniture, and threw some parties in the backyard, but we were like, dude, we took care of your rabbits for two weeks.

Adam Bernard: And the parties were in the backyard, you didn’t tear up the house.

Bucky: They did that already.

Camm: The house was torn up to begin with.

Bucky: Dirty dishes, and old food in the fridge.

Adam Bernard: Moving far away from dirty dishes, you’ve seen a lot of success in Canada. Earlier you mentioned the moment with the girls swarming the van. What would having mainstream success in America mean to you?

Camm: I think it would mean exactly what it’s meant in Canada, but on a larger scale, and it would allow us to tour more, because in Canada you can only hit so many places. There are only so many major cities. Whereas in the US it’s like ten times that, so it means you can do bigger tours, longer tours.

Bucky: More tours, more fun, more people, more places.

Adam Bernard: How do you think this tour with Hoodie Allen has affected you in terms of becoming more known in America? It seems like every night has been sold out.

Camm: It’s incredible. We’re yet to really see what the dividends from this are gonna be. We’re coming back in about a month, and then we’ll be able to really gauge what it’s done for us.

Adam Bernard: Finally, I have to ask you for an international favor. What do we have to do, as a nation, to get you to take Bieber back?

Both: We don’t want him.

Bucky: We were like SCORE!

Camm: You’re the ones who loved him.

Bucky: You did it. He was just shuckin’ and jivin’ in front of YouTube.

Adam Bernard: Dammit! We could offer something with him.

Camm: Like a sports trade?

Bucky: Throw in Jay Z and then we’ll consider it.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:52 PM  
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