Music Vice contributor Steve Pass caught up with vocalist/guitarist Cam Baines from veteran Australian pop-punkers Bodyjar, just before the band took the stage to play their penultimate gig of their farewell tour, in Dunsborough, Western Australia.
Cam – Thanks! Good, as always. We’ve always had a good time coming here.
So after 15 years together, we find you on your farewell tour. What made you decide that now is the time to put Bodyjar back in the jar?
Cam – Well, I think we haven’t really done anything for the last couple of years anyway. I think it was just the end of an era for us really. The creative life of the band has kind of died, I think. We’ve gone our separate ways musically, me and Shane (Wakker, drums) have got another band, Tom (Read, guitar) and Grant (Relf, bass) have got another band. The shows have always been good but as far as writing new stuff and putting out another record, it’s just not going to happen. None of us are prepared to go through what we have to go through to make another record. So we thought instead of just hanging around and just playing gigs on the back of all our old albums we should just call it a day while we’re ahead. We want to go out on our own terms, while we can still pull a crowd.
Has the tour so far given you any second thoughts about it all?
Cam – Not really. I mean, it has a little bit because it’s been so successful – every show’s sold out and stuff but I think a lot of it is the emotional element of it as well. Because it’s the last show you get a lot of people coming out of the woodwork that you haven’t seen in years, obviously it’s a little better than it would be if it were just a regular tour, you know? It’s been really good fun but I think we made the right decision.
So no chance of you guys following the likes of KISS and John Farnham and doing an annual “farewell” tour?
Cam – Haha, no. You’re about, like, the ten-thousandth person that’s asked us that, it’s funny every time “are you going to do Whispering Jack and come back every year? You doing another reunion tour in June??” I don’t think that’ll ever happen with us but we are all still mates and that, so who knows? We’ve got nothing planned to ever do anything again.
What have been your favourite songs to pull out on this run of shows?
Cam – For me, I really like playing “Lights Out” and “2 Day Way” which is a real old one we haven’t played for ages, a real fast one off of Rimshot! All the early stuff we haven’t done in a while, “Do Not Do”, “Time to Grow Up” and all that. For me that’s fun because we haven’t done it in so long so I’m not sick of it. But some of the gigs we don’t follow the set list we just wait and see what people yell out and play those.
Over the years you’ve played with some amazing bands and some huge shows. What would you say was the best tour of them all?
Cam – Probably playing with ALL and Descendents because they’re such a big influence – they produced our first album and mixed our third album and we got to tour with them and I got to sing a few songs with them a few times. That was a real dream come true for us, you know? Pretty hard to beat that.
But then we got to go to America with Blink-182 and play some big arenas and stuff, and see what it was like, to well over there. There’s been so much shit, going to Japan five times and making a bit of an impact over there was a lot of fun.
In that case, what was the worst tour?
Cam – The worst? We did this one in Canada where I don’t know what happened but we did this little thing called Snow Jam which was a festival but then after that we did a road tour. We hired this guy to drive us to all the shows and we played one show which was… average, and then the next show we got there and it was like an open mic night and we weren’t supposed to go on until like three in the morning and we had to get to the next gig in six hours so we just said “fuck that, let’s just drive to the next gig”. We drove for something like 14 hours in the wrong direction, and had to drive back. So we missed two gigs by doing that and we just completely fucked up everything.
It’s still fun though, better than a day job I guess. At the time we were pretty pissed off though.
It’s good to see that you’re saying farewell with a series of smaller pub shows and regional dates alongside the bigger venues. Coming to the end of your run, what opening bands have you had and which new, upcoming bands do you see stepping up to fill the void that you’ll leave once it’s all said and done?
Cam – Well I dunno, we’ve had our favourite bands play with us on this tour. Everyone’s picked their favourite bands to tour with. The Jackards are fucking awesome, they’re opening tonight. They’re really good if you like Weezer and stuff like that. I’ve only seen them once, last night, but I thought they were rad. Behind Crimson Eyes and 28 Days we’ve had in a few places. That was fucking cool. Ballpoint in Tassie, they’re awesome. We’ve had really good supports this time round. Grant found this band called Lungs from Sydney and they’re real like technical, metally, progressive punk. The singer’s an unbelievable guitarist and singer – the Lungs, man, they’re really good. They’re like a Fugazi kind of vibe.
We’re pretty selective with the bands we tour with. We want everyone to be really cool bands to tour with and it’s been really great.
It’s been said that kids and family commitments have been a factor in your decision to call it quits. What do everyone’s kids think of what you do for a living?
Cam – I don’t have kids, but Grant is about to have his second kid, tom’s about to have his first one. Grant’s kid is the only one that’s seen us play live. She’s about 4, her name’s Tyler, and she can’t work it out I don’t think. She doesn’t know what dad does. He brought her up on Slayer and Misfits and stuff like that. She’s a bit of a wild kid but when she hears that stuff she kind of calms down. She loves that sort of thing.
She’s been to a couple of gigs. She went to this festival we did for the bushfires in western Victoria and she saw us play there but after that they had a Dora the Explorer thing and she forgot about us!
You mentioned earlier that you’ve also all got various new projects happening, with Cola Wars and Burn The City. What can we expect from them over the next little while?
Cam – Cola Wars has just finished an album. We recorded an album with Kalju Tonuma who’s done a couple of Bodyjar records and that’s coming out in March. Burn the City I think are working on their second album – they’ve had an album out for a couple of years now – they’re working on their next one as well. They’ve both got their kids so I think it’ll probably take a little bit longer for their record to come out but it’s on the way. The Cola Wars one is due our pretty soon though.
With Cola Wars, are you planning on touring that?
Cam – Yep, for sure. Definitely.
What else do you all plan on filling your time with?
Cam – I’ve got a full time job, I guess. I manage a skate shop in Melbourne. Wakker, the drummer, he teaches drums and he plays in a lot of sessions. I guess I’ll just do that and just live my life. I skate a fair bit so just go for a roll and do my job and play a bit. I just need that creative outlet I guess so Cola Wars is a main focus.
Final question, the standard Music Vice wrap-up: this interview is for MusicVice.com, besides music, what’s your vice?
Cam – Not too much these days. I can get away with beer and the occasional doob every now and then. I think that’s probably about it, man. I don’t really take heavy drugs any more – I’m too old for that now, I’m 34.
Probably for the best, then.
Cam – Yeah I think so. Do you ever get any weird answers to that question?
Most people cop out and say food. Food or beer.
Cam – And clown porn! That’s probably about it. No ciggies or anything even for me.
Well thanks very much, and good luck with the show and the new band.
Cam – No worries, thanks a lot.