Heels & Picks: Band of brothers
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
When you are in a band, you become like family. You spend a lot of time together and have to operate as a unit in order to get through squabbles, bad days and differences of opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of fantastic aspects of being in a band – moments on stage, new songs and recordings and the general building of your craft and presence are incredibly rewarding. So, just like a family, you go through the highs and lows.
For Pearl City rock-ska band 82Fifty, their journey sparked from the musical connection of actual blood brothers. Lead singer Jessie Campania formed the band with his older brothers Jeri Campania (lead guitar) and Richy Campania (bass). The Campania brothers had drummer Max Paguio join the crew to complete the band lineup. Richy Campania later decided to leave the band and bassist Ryan Dela Cruz stepped up to complete the current lineup.
The reasons for people leaving bands can be wide and varied — and usually valid. Rock ‘n’ roll is not for everyone. But member changes are not always the end of the world, and for the Campania brothers the continued journey of their band has brought them to their latest accomplishment, the release of “Broken Promises.”
The band’s previous full-length album, 2008’s “Take a Chance and Let the Music Play” garnered a Na Hoku Hanohano Award nomination for Rock Album of the Year and took the Hawaii Music Award in the same category.
Flash forward to 2015 and the band is set to release a new album of heavy guitars and high soaring vocals, giving a nod or two to 1980s-inspired digital synth. The album launch party is Friday at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s.
According to Jessie Campania, the new album’s title doesn’t refer to an actual event or a storyline for the band, but was chosen more as something pretty much everyone can relate to.
As a rock/ska/punk band, 82Fifty delivers the goods. I first met them when our bands opened for Sublime with Rome last year. They are really cool guys with a solid sense of humor. And they are driven.
In their live show, the way they layer their guitars creates a wall of sound that feels like classic rock riffs spun into an alternative/ska rock band. It’s one of their sonic trademarks and it works well.
On the album, this double guitar wall is present and is one of the driving forces behind the entire project. Jessie Campania’s voice leans towards classic rock wail – there are undertones of Journey – but there is a blend in his tone that also solidifies them within the alternative genre. If you like your Journey with a little bit of Fall Out Boy, this band might be for you. His register is fairly high for a gentleman; he and I are probably in the same register vocally, although we have yet to test this.
I caught up with Campania via email during what I can only assume is a frantically busy week for the band. He filled me in on the making of “Broken Promises.”
HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: When you were writing the songs for “Broken Promises,” did you have a theme in mind or a sonic angle you were shooting for?
JESSIE CAMPANIA: Honestly, not at all. Every song that was written was based on how I felt at that moment, which is why I feel like every track is different on the album. In fact, several of these songs were actually written a long time ago and we finally decided to record it.
SA: What’s your favorite song on the album and why does it resonate with you?
JC: My favorite track would probably have to be “Runaway” because I like the groove of that song and lyrically it means a lot to me. I like that aggressive rock/reggae vibe and the different changes throughout the song – plus Ryan’s bass line gets me all pumped, like I want to run a 50-yard dash!
SA: What’s your favorite song to perform live?
JC: My favorite song to perform live would have to be “Breakdown” the double guitar licks is always fun to do. Plus the dynamics of the song keeps us on our toes! We always seem to get lost in this song when playing this live. It just feels good.
SA: What can fans expect from the launch party?
JC: Our fans can expect that 82Fifty will play a high-energy show and will also jam some of our old school favorites as well! Especially with our opening acts Zach Shimizu, Beware The Bear and Erin Smith Band – it’s a guarantee for some great music and fun times!
SA: I think my favorite song on the album is “1982.” I love the digital vibe. What drew the band in that direction?
JC: “1982” is another one of my favorites on the album as well. When we wrote “1982” we went for a retro ’80s cheesy love song vibe with cheesy lyrics and guitar riffs. Our drummer Max, came up with the idea where he played the keyboard throughout the track, which is that digital sounding tones you’ll hear. My brother Jeri also kills it on his solo.
SA:s Who produced the album and where did you record it?
JC: The album is produced by 82Fifty, and we recorded, mixed and mastered with Wendell Ching at Studio One.
SA: Tell us about the title “Broken Promises.”
JC: I feel like everyone can relate to that title and “Broken Promises” was just one of those things that just felt right when we first started thinking about a name for the album. We came up with a lot of weird ideas at first but in the end we wanted something serious/mature for an album name.
The idea of broken promises also fit perfectly with the album art done by the talented Sheena Marie (Campania’s wife.)
SA: What bands do you find to be inspiring to 82Fifty’s music and what are the best aspects of the local scene?
JC: I would say 82Fifty is inspired by 311, Sublime, Rage Against The Machine, RX Bandits and The Beatles. I think the best aspects of the local scene is the sense of community that we’ve experienced personally with other bands. The scene is filled with so many different styles of music and it’s amazing how supportive everyone is with each other.
The local scene here is alive and well and 82Fifty is stoked to be a part of it.
SA: Do you have any funny stories from recording the album?
JC: When recording this album we did a lot of experimenting with different styles, for example in our track “6 strings” I wrote a little rap type of flow in the second verse and for some reason we thought it’d be a good idea to add these background vocals to double up on certain lyrics during the rap, and for some reason that whole second verse started sounding like Ice Cube was on the track doing the fill-ins! Ha! We quickly scratched that idea.
SA: What’s next for the band?
JC: Eventually we want to do a tour to help promote the album and spread the music! We just want to get our music out there and hopefully people can relate to our songs, sing along in their cars and groove with it. We love playing music and we plan on playing it as long as the people want to hear it.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.