Their name may be a reference to George Orwell's bleak portrait of totalitarianism, but the Campaign 1984 aren't interested in discussing politics. They're here to do one thing: rock and roll.
And with track names like "Queen of the Damned," "Bender," "Born to Rock" and "Dixie Dynamite" printed between images of the band in full thrash mode and a copyright notice that bluntly states "Do not copy, you f—king moochers," their latest effort, simply titled Sessions, makes that clear before you even press play. Not that it needs to. The music screams for itself.
Lyrically, Sessions is about what you'd expect from a testosterone-laden band of badasses with attitude: tougher-than-thou anthems of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with plenty of references to drinking, guns, one-night-stands and general recklessness. Simply put, it's party music, perfect for getting drunk, driving fast, getting in fights and breaking stuff. After all, as Anderson so tellingly growls in "Born To Rock," "If it ain't about the sex and drugs / rock 'n' roll's a lie."
Recorded in Nashville with 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson and Paramore producer Roger Alan Nichols over the course of three years, Sessions — as the name suggests — is not your typical, cohesive full-length, but rather a slightly disjointed combination of independent studio efforts that were never intended to be released as one. It is essentially three EPs on a single disc, clearly labeled and organized by year. Biltonen explains that financing led to the unusual format.
"We had these different opportunities to work with these different people," he says. "It wasn't any kind of, 'Hey, let's do a full album.' It was just these sporadic opportunities that came up, and we took them. We were trying to figure out a way to put them all together without spending a ton of money trying to get them all mastered and fixed all the same, so it was easier to do it this way."
From the first, screeching notes of the anthemic album opener, to the riffy, radio-friendly closer "The Devil Lives on Music Row," Sessions is aggressive yet accessible, a visceral offering of southern-rock meets hardcore.
Drummer Springs Wade's earth-shaking percussion explodes in the frequent gaps between Matt Anderson and Justin Biltonen's distorted guitar duels and harsh wails, while Jordan Luff rounds out the sound with bass lines that could push the most gratuitous sound system to its breaking point. It's the crunchy riffs of AC/DC, the flashy, southern-bred solos of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the kick-your-ass-and-sleep-with-your-girlfriend attitude of hardcore, rolled into a series of well-produced, yet rough-enough recordings that satisfy rednecks, punks and bikers alike.
Now, armed with their fourth studio effort in six years, the band is taking their rambunctious rock on the road, with a live show that promises to be just as rowdy as the record.
"We played in Boone last April," Luff recalls, "and the kids were totally plastered, getting wild and crazy. We didn't really know what to expect because it was a house show thing, but they were just going wild, girls dancing up on other girls and crazy shit."
"We pulled a keg up in front of the stage, so everybody had to come up and get their beer right next to where we were playing," adds Biltonen. "We were standing up on the keg, and the whole room was completely drenched by the time we finished."
On Saturday, they'll perform at the Orange Peel's "Red, White and Brew" celebration, a showcase of local talent that will also feature the If You Wannas and The Enemy Lovers. Biltonen and Luff say an offer to perform at "the big venue in town" is an exciting opportunity to draw in people that might otherwise miss the show.
"People just hanging out around town, they don't know where the Rocket Club and stuff like that is," Biltonen says. "They know the Orange Peel and the Civic Center. And we have a lot more, like, good ol' boy fans that aren't going to come see us at a basement show or something like that. But they'll come see us at the Orange Peel. We have a totally different crowd that will come out for something like that because it's 'big time.' I think it'll definitely help out a lot of local bands."
And if that's not enough to get you in the door, there are always the beer specials.
"Everybody likes to drink, and I think people enjoy us more when they drink," Luff remarks with a grin, glancing at Biltonen, who is quick to agree. "I know I enjoy us more when I drink."
[Dane Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
who: The Campaign 1984, If You Wannas, Enemy Lovers
what: Red, White and Brew
where: The Orange Peel
when: Saturday, July 3 (8 p.m. doors/9 p.m. show. all ages. $8. theorangepeel.net)