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Broke-Ass Band Interview: Late Cambrian

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Late Cambrian makes the kind of music that makes you want to dance around to in your underwear in the morning, and plays shows that are truly delightful to watch. The quartet, O, John, Colin and Nunzio, will be playing Brooklyn’s Spike Hill this Thursday, October 6th at 7:30PM and Arlene’s Grocery as part of a FREE CMJ Brunch showcase on October 19th.

Tell us about your name?

John: I chose the name back in January 2011 while preparing to go into the studio and record the first 4 songs for what would become our debut CD, The Last Concert. Literally, the name refers to the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, around 490 million years ago on Earth. For me the name always evoked mystery and a sense of organic beginnings… musical ideas in their infant stage becoming real.

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How would you describe your sound in one sentence?

Late Cambrian is Existential Indie Pop/Rock.

What do you want people to take away from your music?

John: The music of Late Cambrian came from a place of artistic freedom. The songs we write are only limited by the limits of our talent, life experience and drive. We allowed the songs to go where they wanted to go intuitively, both lyrically and compositionally. At no point did we change the music for more ‘accessibility’ or just to stick to tried and true song form. I want people to feel like they are getting music directly from the muse, and to the songs were true to us in the moments we wrote them.

O: People generally display immediate and personal reactions after the first time they hear the album. I love that it always reminds them of something good that happened in high school or college.

What’s your favorite makeshift instrument?

John: I have always been a fan of unusual percussion, especially in the recording studio. Metal garbage can covers played like cymbals etc… There is a song on The Last Concert called ‘Never For A Minute’, where our drummer Colin Schiller plays a bizarre apple shaped school toy, and it sounds totally scary. The engineer Matt Boynton had it at the recording studio and when I heard the sound it made I knew it had to make it on the album.

Who are you listening to right now?

John: I just saw the movie Drive, and among other things I loved the soundtrack, especially “A Real Hero” by College (featuring Electric Youth). I just rediscovered Under The Iron Sea by Keane. Check out their song “Atlantic,” it’s very trippy and underrated. I also heard some cool songs while on tour which turned out were by Passion Pit, but I never got the song names. Also, I like the song “American Slang” by The Gaslight Anthem. Everything I hear influences me and helps me learn about music so the more I hear the better writer I will become.

O: Rachael Yamagata and Frente! have never left my playlist.

Which do you prefer: Summer outdoor concerts or Winter domestic hangouts?

O: Summer 90 degrees sticky sweaty outdoor concerts.

John: I would say Summer Concerts, seeing them, playing them… Though the 1st line to”Those Middle Years” may suggest a different point of view.

Why do love NYC?

John: My love of New York City is vast and bottomless. I think I am clearly a city soul. I love walking and I love variety and the perpetually shifting organism that is a metropolitan area…

Which borough do you live in?

Brooklyn!

What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?

John: I’m liking Greenpoint at the moment. Our practice space is on Greenpoint Ave. and our bass player Nunzio lives a block away, lucky him… but the East Village is up there and has always been a favorite.

Your favorite cheap go-to meal?

John: May’s Place $1 Sushi, Monday through Thursday, 2nd Ave. off 7th street in Manhattan. The Dollar menu is amazing. I can eat a full and varied meal for under $8.

What was one of your brokest moments as a band?

John: There are many. Late Cambrian and our tour-mates ‘Colin Schiller and The Reactions’ shared one van while on tour. That’s 8 people and all of our equipment! O and I slept in the van the night before our Fox 8 Morning News appearance. No showers for anyone. Use your imagination.

O: Luckily I brought ‘dry shampoo’ and reminded everyone to bring deodorant. I powdered everyone’s faces (well, those who let me) so we all looked fresh for the TV appearance.

John: All in all we spent next to nothing while on tour, with the exception of the van rental and gas costs and two rooms at the Red Roof Inn (which we snuck 8 people into the back exit) for one night.

You just got back from an East coast tour, how do you save money on the road?

John: Sharing tour costs with another touring band really does help. We shared all of our equipment and rented one van for both bands. It’s not only economical, it’s environmentally friendly this way. And we all love each other and have a good time together so the bands’ morale was always great!

What’s your pre-show ritual?

O: I need to spend quiet time by myself.

John: I usually fast before a show. Nothing but water and some almonds or a banana… I feel like my performances are better when I am not satiated. It is better to stay a little hungry in life. Shows are about vitality and energy and when I am full of food I just want to crawl into bed. Hahaha.

What do you refuse to spend money on?

John: Haircuts. Drugs. Dry Cleaning. 3-D Movies.

O: ATM fees. I would walk 5 streets to my bank. Also, even though batteries are more reliable for my Micro Korg during performances, I try to use the A/C adaptor as much as I can while rehearsing.

What do you think a band should spend money on?

O: Band stickers. [Ours were] designed by Keno Deno. I carry our band stickers with me at all times and they always come in handy. I’ve had people come up to me and ask if I am O from Late Cambrian. They recognized me from the stickers they got from my band mates! Designs in black & white shouldn’t cost that much.

What was the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and why did you make the purchase?

John: The most expensive thing I have ever paid for is very recent. The studio recording time, mixing and mastering of Late Cambrian’s full debut album was definitely worth every penny (it was a lot of pennies). Our band has had the distinct advantage of starting out with a full mixed and mastered album already in the can. Not many bands make that leap before the band has even played a show together. I can’t wait to get on the studio again. New songs are showing up every day now.

What’s up next for the band?

John: We have a second music video on the way. I filmed and edited our 1st music video for “Those Middle Years” on my iPhone 4 using 8mm and Splice. Video director Chris Sanders is putting the finishing touches on our 2nd video. It’s for the song “ND PASSERBY,” which is about doing background work on TV shows and movies. We are planning a video release party to go along with its release. We are also planning a second tour outing for early December, most likely through Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina and the surrounding states. Details will be released as we get them.

Please come to our CMJ performance. It’s a FREE BRUNCH show on October 19th, 2011 at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street). Brunch is 1st come 1st serve. We will be performing at noon so get there early. It’s a great opportunity to see some great bands and eat for free. If you’re as “broke-ass” as we are, you can appreciate a free meal!

What do you want to leave us with?

O: I would love to meet everyone who is reading this interview. If you live in the NYC area, please come out on Thursday!

John: Your legacy on this earth will be your originality. Everything you’ve done to fit in has only made you more anonymous. Be yourself, and follow your hearts most absurd desires to fruition or failure. It is your dreams that make you human.

Thanks for reading our interview! Follow us on Facebook for the most up to date band information.

 Photo Credit: Reonda Cheng

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Tiara Francis - NY Know-it-all

Tiara Francis - NY Know-it-all

Tiara was born in NYC, raised in NJ, and after studying Comp Lit at Columbia, vowed to never go back to the suburbs. While she has expensive taste, she also has shallow pockets and is always looking for a budget way to be a weekend warrior. Her hobbies include laughing way too loudly, putting hot sauce on/in everything - including margaritas - speaking French at inappropriate moments, and dancing like there’s no one else in da club.