Camp Cope – Coping After Covid: The 13th Floor Interview

CAMP COPE find themselves on the other side of a storm with Running With The Hurricane. The third LP from Melbourne trio Georgia Maq, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and Sarah Thompson is about what happens after chaos hits; when you’ve walked through the fire and come out stronger, calmer and happier than ever before.

We got drummer Sarah Thompson on the line to talk about making the album during Covid isolation and what’s next for the band.

We’ve included a transcript below, along with a couple of tunes to check out.



MD: So exciting for you. This is your third album; you’ve been through this a few times. So, tell me what your feelings are about it.

Camp CopeST: Yeah, it is exciting. It’s um, it’s kind of different than the last few, I guess, we had the last two, like with the first record we recorded, it was everything we had. Then, once we had it done, we put it out didn’t know if anyone would like it. So, you know, there was really no pressure there. The second one was kind of in a rush too. We did it between two years and put it out while we were kind of really busy.

So again, I didn’t really think about it. And this one, I guess, because we’ve been sitting at home for a couple years… There was a failed attempt at recording it that started 2020. Didn’t happen. So, I guess we kind of just sat on it for a while. And then I guess now it’s out. It kind of feels like a bit of a relief. I didn’t know if it was actually going to happen, you know?

MD: Right. So, you recorded it. You were at a place called Sing Sing Studio. Is that right?

ST: We did. Yeah. Which is just in Melbourne. We originally were going to record it in Philadelphia.

MD: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?

ST: Yeah, we had it all ready to go. We booked to leave on the 14th of no the 17th of March 2020. Right as you can imagine that fell that shell two shit about two days before? o yeah, we had to re-evaluate, figure it out, figure out a new plan. And then eventually, yeah, once things look like that was not going to happen. We booked in with Anna, it seems seem you know, in Melbourne, which worked out really well actually. Like, I think it would have been a completely different record. Had we done it in Philly.

MD: Right. Right. Why were you going to do it in Philly, it’s not exactly the recording capital of the world? I mean, they had the sound back in the 70s. But that was a long time ago.

ST: I guess. Since we first became a band we’ve had a lot of like affiliations with Philly and a lot of bands and people over there. It was just something strange. That was literally, since the first tour we did. It’s kind of our home base in the States. And a friend over there owns a studio. And we’d spoken to him for the last record about potentially doing an album so we thought this would be the time so, not to be not me time, but maybe another time.

MD: So, you mentioned Anna, she was your kind of producer engineer and Anna Laverty, right? What did she do to help make this record happen?

ST: And is amazing. She’s done heaps of like, you know, records, Melbourne bands, and she’s done you know, also, you know, I think she’s working with people like Lady Gaga and stuff like really okay, which is crazy, but um, she’s just really, she’s so chill and so easy to work with and doesn’t get flustered and I think that’s exactly what we need because we hate the studio. Um, so I think it was just like, you know, someone who can be there and calm us and like, it’s like it’s just i record studio thing and carry on it’s no big deal.

MD: So as a producer, what kind of role did you take when you guys were actually recording?

ST: I mean, she knows us so she was kind of you know, she let us do what we wanted like she wasn’t you know, sitting there telling us what to do in in any by any stretch of the word. We had the songs ready to go she was more like a VA was more guidance and you know, try this try that you know, sort of stuff like that. But she definitely didn’t take over or anything like that, which is, I guess what you get scared of when you go into the studio working with somebody for the first time.

MD: Right, right. Yep. And in general, why do you dislike being in the studio and working there?

ST: I don’t know. I think it’s some I guess some people like it some people hate it. We just all of us just I guess there’s that pressure you know, I always say like I can’t trust you if you like working in the studio. it’s just stressful. I find I find horrible. I prefer to play it live, I guess. You know, some people some people love it, but I prefer just to get it done and get the hell out of there.

MD: Gotcha. Gotcha. It’s a very punk attitude. So are you doing live shows?

ST: No, we haven’t yet. Obviously, we haven’t been able to for quite some time. But we actually, when the record comes out next Friday, we’ve got our first proper show. We did, we did like one or two tiny shows just to when we came out of lockdown in 2021. It was sort of just trying to help get some people back into regional Victoria after lockdowns and stuff. But there were just tiny shows. This will be the first, bigger show that we’ll be doing next Saturday, which is just a festival here, which should be fun. And hopefully we remember how to play and hopefully with enough to get through a set to be honest, I can’t even imagine playing for 45 minutes, but guess we’ll see how we go.

MD: Now I’m assuming I don’t have the credits right in front of me, but Georgia has done the majority of the song-writing is that correct?

ST: Yeah, I guess we did it, we sort of usually work the same kind of way, like the songs will start as like, she’ll send us a voice memo on like a piano will or acoustic guitar. Then we sort of take it in and we work on it together kind of thing. And it can change. You know, it can it can go straight the same or it can change 10 times like it’s really dependent on the song.

And I think because of this one, we you know, there was a few delays, so we were in and out of lock downs and going back into the studio to write. I think that the songs changed so many times, I think over the course of the two years. Yeah, we scrapped a few, wrote new ones. There was definitely stuff that’s on there, different versions of songs, which wouldn’t have been on the record had we had we done it when we were supposed to at the start at 2020. So yeah, I think it worked out for the best, even I would have liked the trip to Philly.

MD: And you have a couple of guests on the record. I think Courtney Barnett shows up somewhere along the line there, doesn’t she? She does.

ST: Yes. She does. She plays a bit of guitar on the opening and closing tracks actually, which is very nice. We sort of spent a fair bit of lockdown together because she lives up the street from me. When we finally, she obviously knew all the dramas with trying to get this done. And when it was finally good to go. You know, she kind of said like, well, if you need me to put any, like, need me to shred over the top of anything, let me know. I was like, Yeah, I reckon ah, I would not say no to that, to be honest.

MD: Why would you?

ST: Exactly certainly know how to certainly know how to play guitar. So yeah, it was good. Just feel filled a few things out, which was nice. That was really fun.

MD: Cool. Cool. And the other person is Shawna Boyle of Cable Ties. She’s on One Wink At A Time. So…

ST: Yeah, she’s a drummer, actually. But um, she played trumpet. We had a memory that she’d said she played trumpet in high school. So we dragged it back in and made her remember how to do it.

MD: Very good. So that pick that track, One Wink At A Time. Tell me how it kind of came together and a little background behind it, if you if you don’t mind?

ST: Yeah, that one was kind of it was weird, actually. Because that was one of the first ones we finished way back when we started writing, in 2019, before COVID existed. So, it was almost kind of done, sort of just sitting there, for a really long time. And we kind of all sort of had this idea that this was the track on the album that kind of is more reminiscent of the older Camp Cope songs like All This Adds. So yeah, by the time we went to, to record it, it hadn’t changed at all. But that melody that was going through it that we sort of wanted to add and Georgia kind of was like ‘What about trumpet?’ And, well, we don’t have a trumpet but a memory somewhere locked in my brain that Shawna from Cable Ties, maybe plays trumpet, so yeah, she was a very good sport about it and found a trumpet and came down and yeah, she was great. It’s good to have some friends on there too.

MD: Right? Right. Sure. And it sounds like there’s a nice little scene you guys are a part of in Melbourne. So how would you describe that?

ST: Yeah, it’s awesome. Like, you know, everyone sort of, knows each other everyone knows each other and everyone helps each other out and stuff. And obviously after, after COVID and the last few years, everyone’s pretty happy to chip in and help out and kind of just get involved in stuff again, because it’s been so long and you know, and even, I probably hadn’t even seen Shawna, since lock downs and stuff. It’s kind of exciting to like, oh, you can come down, and then we can hang out and see for the first time in two years?

MD: Yep. Well, it’s been a long two years. So, coming up, out of everything, do you guys feel like you’re the band has changed in any way? Do you? Have you changed as musicians is? Just in general? How are you feeling?

ST: I think we’re definitely a lot calmer. Like, we never stopped before. We were kind of basically on tour for five years, and then between each tour, it’d be kind of like, okay, well, we’ve got a month, like, let’s do a record. And then we’d leave again, it was always very urgent, I suppose. And we were pretty tired. There was a lot going on, and I think, having the forced breaking, watching what was going on in the world as well. And still is, you know, it’s like, really made you sort of sit back and go, you know what, the record doesn’t come out, it doesn’t come out. The world’s not gonna end, there’s a lot bigger stuff going on. You know, people are dying. We’ve got we’ve got bigger problems out there than putting a record out. So, you took a lot of pressure off.

MD: Right. And as a drummer, do you have a favourite track on the record?

ST: Ooh, I don’t know. I like playing Running With The Hurricane. But we wrote it before COVID. So now it really makes me kind of tired. I’m gonna have to get fit to kind of like playing it again.

MD: And how do you get that? You just play?

ST: Yeah, you just have to play lots of shows. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Get your blisters back. So once that’s done, I think I’ll like playing that song again.

MD: Very good. And so you’re planning on touring? What’s the plan for the on the day when the records released on the 25th?

ST: Well, Kelly’s living in Sydney at the moment. So because we’ve got the show the next day, Kelly flies in that night, which would be which would be nice. So we’ll actually just be rehearsing because we haven’t seen each other to play a set. So we have to learn how to play a set that night and be ready to play the next day. So hopefully, that goes well and isn’t a disaster. The muscle memory will kick in. It’ll be fine.

MD: Yep, yep. Yep. Well, you got three albums to pick from now. So, does that affect you guys? Look at your setlist?

ST: I guess does. Yeah. And because this will be the first show we’ve played since the record’s out so people will have actually heard it. Which is, which is cool. Um, also, I guess, because we’ve got Jenny playing guitar and keys with us now as well. It’ll also depend on because the limited time it will depend on which ones we can teach her the fastest before Saturday.

MD: Very good.

ST: No, she’s, she’s very fast. She’ll figure it out. She’s, uh, she’s, she’s the talent of the band. We had to pull some in.

MD: Now I think they’ve just opened up the borders between New Zealand and Australia. So hopefully you guys can come here and play. You’ve been here a few times already. Do you have any memories of that?

ST: We love it over there. It’s like I spent a lot of time there when I was younger as well, just have a lot of friends over there. So first time we came over to play, Georgia and Kelly hadn’t been there. I think because we’d done a lot of stuff in the States and UK and stuff. I don’t think they knew what to expect. And then they both just loved it. They were like, this is just like a chill version of Australia, like Tasmania, but everyone’s so nice. Yeah, it’s like, it’s the best so they loved it like we’re gonna Yeah, we’ll definitely come back over when we can.

MD: Excellent. That’s something to look forward to. Well, well, that’s cool. So so good luck on the 25th when the record comes out, hope you have fun. Thank you. Thank you. Good goes well and all that stuff. We’ll see you when you get here sometime.

ST: I can’t wait. We’re looking forward to it.

MD: Have a great day. Thank you very much.

ST: Thanks mate bye bye.