In the heart of the U Street Corridor of Washington, DC, we sat down with Nic Perea, Wes Parker, Brian Larson, and Matt Benson of Camp Howard before their show with Sleepwalkers at DC9. A top-notch band from Richmond spewing talent, these guys seem to have a grasp on the direction they’re headed. Authentic and refreshing, Camp Howard successfully pairs their intricate and complex instrumentation with a pop foundation to create songs perfect for your next summer playlist. Read about Camp Howard’s beginnings and their take on Richmond, then check out their latest music video for “Juice”.
What got each of you into music and on this journey?
Brian: For me, I have three older brothers that all played music.
Nic: I’d say just watching other bands live at a young age.
Wes: Just my family. My brother and dad have played music since I was young.
Give us some background story on how you guys came together as Camp Howard?
Nic: [Wes, Brian, and I] met in Middle School and started playing music.
Brian: The summer in-between eighth and ninth grade. We were pretty much doing only Fleet Foxes covers at the time actually.
Wes: Somehow I convinced Nic to buy that bass, and then we started playing with Brian. Once we got to high school we played, and eventually Matt joined and we started playing as Camp Howard after that Lance Bangs show.
You’re from Richmond and known for playing house shows, right?
Camp Howard: Originally, yeah.
Do you think you’ve moved on from that?
Wes: Sadly, kind of, but not on purpose though.
Matt: I think there is a point where you cant play house shows anymore. I mean you could play house shows forever.
Nic: We played a house show a month ago, but it’s like you cant always play house shows.
Especially if you want to grow...
Matt: Especially if you don’t want your gear broken every night, that’s another thing…
Nic: I mean it's not even that, house venues get shut down.
Matt: They’re not consistent.
Wes: I’ve said this before, but there used to be a lot more house shows in Richmond, but maybe we just fell out of the loop. I think a lot of them have been shut down.
What would you say makes house show culture different? What’s the appeal?
Wes: It’s just a different vibe altogether. It’s like being here at DC9, but imagine there’s no structure in a social way. Everyone’s laid back, you can drink beer, you can be outside.
Brian: The dynamic between the audience and the performers is more equal. It’s less of you being on a stage and you’re above them; it’s more intimate.
So you’ve done house shows and now like you said you’re moving onto bigger shows, what has been your experience touring?
Wes: When we tour, we end up playing more house shows than we usually do if we're just at home in Richmond. Playing out of town for us has always been a hit or miss because we’ll play places maybe we’ve never played before.
Matt: I think sometimes we even take for granted being in Richmond. We’re so lucky to have a fan base and going to a city you can kind of be put in your place and play a show for 10 people. It’s a lot of hard work I guess to even want to go out again. It can be frustrating to play shows and not see anyone, like have no one care.
What’s special about music in Richmond?
Matt: I think there's a lot of it.
Nic: It’s hard to say because we don’t know other music scenes. It’s just like once you get to be apart of a music community, you make friends and appreciate other bands. That’s what makes it special. Every time I leave Richmond, I feel like I appreciate it more and more. Every place is just unique in their own way.
Do you feel like it’s then just based in a lot of friendships?
Wes: Yeah, it's tight-knit.
Wes: Richmond is supportive just because it is a smaller city. I mean it is getting bigger, and I think it's overlooked maybe from the rest of the country.
Matt: I think it's starting to come up on peoples radars.
Brian: It’s kind of an incubator. It’s like a place where a lot of bands either make their beginnings, or a lot of them don’t really leave.
Wes: Yeah, it’s a comfortable place.
Brian: Because it’s so supportive, some people don’t feel the need to travel out.
What are some of your favorite artists that are coming out of Richmond?
Lance Bangs and Recluse Raccoon.
Wes: Collin’s songwriting is super unique and really good. All of the songs are bangers, you know what I mean?
Since releasing your last EP, what have you guys been working on?
Nic: We have a bunch of new songs out.
Matt: We’ve been playing stuff that is new since the new record was released. We played new songs at our record release show.
To finish it off, in your opinion what is the best way to support local independent music?
Wes: Buy merch.
Matt: Come to shows. It’s as simple as paying for your ticket to come in.
Brian: Usually bands get to keep all of the money from merch.
Matt: Really listening to the music doesn’t help us as much as going to shows. If you like our music, buy a shirt and show off our brand. We’re a brand in a way. Tell other people about us.
Wes: Oh, and giving us a place to stay when we're on the road, or buying us a room. That rarely happens, but it’s awesome.