Everything makes more sense in the rearview. Take a step back, and our trials, tribulations, and triumphs become clearer.
In that respect, life’s eternal ebb and flow interlocks like puzzle pieces for Brooklyn, NY band Camera2—vocalist and frontman Andy Chase [Ivy, Tahiti80, Juliana Hatfield], guitarist Michael “MJ” Jurin [Stellastarr*], bassist Atsuo Matsumoto, and drummer Mike “Mikey” Williams [Teddybears]. The quartet’s 2017 full-length debut album, Orbit, spans a whirlwind of worldwide touring, two devastating breakups, a potentially debilitating injury, and one particularly, shall we say, “magical” night in Amsterdam…
Born in Andy’s studio during 2012, the group earned acclaim from Rolling Stone, Noisey, and more as well as the endorsement of tastemaker Nic Harcourt for 2014’s Appetite EP. Invited on a 50-date tour across North America and Europe by Walk Off The Earth, the journey to Orbit began in 2015.
“As experienced as we were individually, the four of us had never toured to that intensity,” admits Andy. “We really became road warriors. You hear about this alchemy that happens when bands play every single night, and we can attest to it. Mindreading becomes second nature. The chemistry between us was solidified. Right before that tour started, both Mikey and myself were unceremoniously and viscously dumped by our respective girlfriends. We spent a good part of the trek out of our fucking minds. Thankfully, we could console each other. Misery loves company, right? So, we started writing on the back of the bus, which was really cathartic. When we finished the tour and came home, we felt so alive and on a roll creatively.”
After a two-week break, the quartet entered Andy’s studio and commenced recording what would become Orbit, initially working off of ideas and skeletons from the road. Fueled by melodies awash in 80s-style Casio ecstasy, funked-out guitars, clever lyricism, and unshakable chants, the songs primarily coalesced and converged around one universal theme: a breakup.
“We’d love for people to put on headphones and be brought into this rich 3-dimensional world where they can feel what we were feeling while we were writing and recording it,” he goes on. “That was the ultimate goal, to facilitate people tapping into the same wavelength we were on.”
Camera2 most definitely achieved that. The aptly titled opener “Breakup Song” shuffles from a hummable bass line through a synth haze before culminating on a breathy verse. Meanwhile, the first single “Freakshow” trots ahead on handclaps as a danceable refrain twists and turns. The video utilizes an entrancing “Frozen In Time” effect that’s best described as, “the Mannequin Challenge on steroids.”
Andy remarks, “‘Freakshow’ came from looking at our band and realizing we’re all four completely different people, yet these differences complement each other in terms of the compatibility as friends and musicians in a band. It embodies the yin and yang and the balance between polar opposites.”
The mood segues from the upbeat and propulsive energy of the youthful “Ride That Feeling” to the hypnotic hushed plea of “Angel” augmented by a video of the band and a female protagonist falling through the sky. He adds. “It’s another, ‘What the fuck happened to us?’ song, where you’re wondering why you broke up and what you did to loose this beautiful girl.”
As Camera2 finished recording by early 2016, the band collectively weathered a series of challenges. In the midst of realigning their business and setting up the album release, Andy lost the ability to move his right arm. He underwent a neck surgery with a 50% chance of recovery.
“I initially didn’t want to do it, to take that risk that the surgery posed. There was the possibility of permanent vocal chord damage from going through my throat to get to the disks in my neck” he sighs. “I basically had a nerve that was being cut off from all the years of physical abuse to my vertebrae like snowboarding and riding motorcycles. The surgery was successful, but it was a major and long recovery period.”
Recovered and ready for 2017, the album title now reflects Camera2’s fortified and unbreakable bond. “On tour, we became this unstoppable unit, best mates just always together in some gravitational pull with each other,” he recalls. “One night in Amsterdam, we took peyote mushrooms and had this image of ourselves as satellites around each other. The title is an homage to that,” he smiles.
Now, Camera2 share that connection with the world on Orbit.
“The goal for any songwriter is to feel like they connected with people,” Andy leaves off. “Everyone understands to some degree the existential search. What’s our purpose here? If our purpose is to observe and then write about life as we see it, and present it to the world in the form of contemporary music, then we want to feel like it was acknowledged, like we did leave our mark somehow and made a difference. Having our music connect with other people is the way to feel like our purpose in life has been fulfilled. It transcends any one person. It’s beyond your insular world. I hope listeners connect to Orbit like we did.”