You know you’re in for a good time when four members of a band are sharing a blanket on your couch.
Memphis’ the Band Camino — Jeffrey Jordan and Spencer Stewart on vocals and guitar, Graham Rowell on bass, Garrison Burgess on drums — stopped by Austin360 after a high-octane Friday set on the VRBO stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival.
If you’ll recall, the weather was hair-raisingly cold all day, hence the blanket. But the elements didn’t keep the band’s fans from the set. A large crowd, some swaddled in blankets of their own, let their feet leave the ground and shouted the band’s massive choruses (“unapologetically pop music,” the band says) right back at the stage.
“I know it’s early. I know it’s cold,” Jordan said from the stage toward the end of the Weekend Two-only performance. “But we gotta get moving. Give me everything you’ve got.”
That everything was gotten and given. The level of audience enthusiasm: somewhere between Warped Tour and the most memorable church retreat of your young life.
“Our fans are amazing,” Jordan said when we sat down with the Band Camino. “Honestly, it’s crazy. It blows us away in a new way every day, I feel like.”
“I don’t want to say (it’s) a friend thing,” Rowell said. “... but it is like a friend thing.”
Reader: It is definitely more than a friend thing. The Band Camino’s fans recently worked with their manager and label to buy them a billboard in Times Square in New York City. The band’s manager surprised them with a reveal.
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“I’m going to say right now: I don’t think any of my friends back home would buy me a billboard,” Jordan said.
That type of fan buy-in is easy to understand when you hear the band’s collar-grabbing anthems — anthem is a oft-used word to describe rock songs, but simply nothing else will do to describe the twin tornadoes of guitar, the for-the-back-row vocal sincerity, the skeleton-moving rhythms of songs like “Daphne Blue” and “Honest.” The former track was a highlight of the Band Camino's ACL Fest set; the latter is an instant-favorite that will convict the most conflict-averse listener to say what they mean.
“Honest” is “just a mental conversation you need to have with yourself,” Stewart said. “I think it’s really easy in this world of external stimulation to find excuses and reasons outside of yourself constantly to (say) ‘Well, it didn’t work out because of this.’ … Our motto as a band has always been to be honest with yourself and with each other and with any person you come across.”
Musically, 2019 is a great year for the Band Camino to be on the ACL Fest lineup. Every shade of guitar rock is present in the upper echelons of the bill, from Guns N’ Roses to the Cure to Tame Impala to Gary Clark Jr.
“I want to say guitar rock is not dead,” Rowell says.
The band said that bedroom pop is having a huge moment in music right now. But the magic that they create in verses, choruses and mind-searing guitar solos requires a very specific alchemy — four people live and in the studio. The feeling of being in a garage or a bedroom with four friends can’t be replicated no matter how good the production might be, the band says.
If the Band Camino’s ability to move listeners in their live show reminds you a little of a particularly effective praise-and-worship set, that’s not a coincidence. Rowell and Stewart went to a Christian school together; Jordan has a deep knowledge of some 1990s/early 2000s Christian rock. He can go word-for-word on Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Dive,” for example.
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“I feel like you can feel the influence a little bit, if you know that world of music,” Jordan says. “We’ve all grown up in the church and know that stuff. … They’re so good at making you feel something. Some of the best guitar players in the world, tonally, it’s all worship players.
“We’re the bad-boy Hillsong,” Rowell says.
They’d like to clarify for their moms: Not that bad.
Listen to our full interview with the Band Camino (including that aforementioned Steven Curtis Chapman throwdown). Check out complete coverage of ACL Fest at austin360.com.acl.