By JOHN DALY
Static and Surrender are touring California promoting their new self-titled album, and they’re learning a thing or two along the way. The dynamic San Francisco-based band will stop in Danville, Redding and Los Angeles.
The foursome of Jeff Campbell on lead vocal and guitar, Adam Schuman on guitar and vocals, John Schuman on drums, and Chili Corder on bass, recently signed with Funzalo Records.
Interview with Jeff Campbell of Static and Surrender
#1. What type of band are you, in your own words?
We’re 3 guys that have had a lot of respect for each other from afar for a pretty long time, now getting to play together from aclose. And we’re still excited about it event after more than a year. We play music that we like. We realize it’s a little “90s” but that’s where we’re from. We’re also really kind of banking on the 90s revival happening. Soon.
#2. Tell us the brief history of your band, how you met and what made you start playing music?
Adam and John are brothers, so they’ve been playing music together since they were 10. I saw them in a band called Cold Hot Crash on a bill with the band I was in at the time. I was instantly band-crushing on them. They had a chemistry and a fervor that you can’t make up. Eventually that band ended, and they joined another called the Trophy Fire and I was equally captivated. When that one ceased, I was in the right place at the right time and ran into Adam and we talked about trying new ideas.
#3. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Musical: The Beatles, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Shiner, Quicksand, Third Eye Blind, Sunny Day Real Estate
Non: I’m a big current events guy. I write about what I see. So, whatever is going on in the world, I write about. ‘The Ballad of Stormy Daniels’ is in the works.
#4. What are your dreams and goals as a band? At the risk of being cheesy, we just want to make music that moves people as much as we’ve been moved by the bands we love. We’d all be very happy with touring rooms the size of the Fillmore all over the world and making a respectable living at it.
#5. Who writes the songs, what’s the process?
Typically, Adam demos out a guitar riff and then puts a bass and drum machine track behind it, sends it to me, I sing over it, write words based on my jargon and send it back. We do this like 46 times and then pick the best 10 for an album.
#6. What’s your favorite song on your debut album and why?
I love Mary Shelley. It’s the one I’m most excited about playing live every night. It was super collaborative in that Adam had the hook in his head already, our producer Jim came up with the verse melody, and then I put it all together and wrote words based on Adam’s hook. I didn’t even want to work on the idea initially, but now I love it. It really came together.
Watch “If Only We Could Sleep” here:
#7. If you could change one single thing about the world today… you would?
…make people stop hating other people for things that they honestly believe in their hearts. Everyone is different. Embrace it.
#8. Describe your show, visual and musically.
We’re working on that now pretty hard actually. Visually speaking, we have uplighting that we’re working on a lot. John has a pedal he hits with big moments in songs that turns it all on and off. It’s fun. Musically, we’re just trying to keep it real. We don’t use backing tracks, we don’t use a click, we just play our songs with 2 guitars, bass and drums and as many of us singing as possible.
#9. What do you think about downloading music online vs physical product you can hold in your hands? I love the physical thing. I love liner notes and jacket art and holding it all in my hands as I listen actively. But when I’m on a subway, I’ll jam digital iTunes stuff in earbuds all day.
#10. What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
I hate when people complain about the state of the industry. We’re all evolving together. Just stick with it. I think that a lot of money was spent in the ’90s and such, and tons of mediocre bands were signed and invested in and tanked, and the industry learned from it. Now they’re being more selective and we’re vying to be part of it. Happily.
#11. What’s your claim to fame?
I made a 5 song EP with 6x Grammy winning producer John Shanks that debuted at number 1 on the iTunes EP charts and we played Jimmy Kimmel Live in support of it. It wasn’t necessarily the music that I would have wanted to make if left to my own devices, but I’m proud of it. Working with John was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I still dream about it all the time.
#12. Tell us a story about a normal day in your life.
When I’m/we’re not touring, I get up at 8:30am ish. I make coffee, I stare at my damn computer for a few hours and do business stuff, then I try and get some exercise and do something creative before I have to run off to some gig or session or something that puts money in my pocket. On tour, it’s get up, drive, play, slam beers, sleep, rinse repeat. Total bliss.
#13. What motivates you as an artist?
I don’t even know anymore. I’m on auto pilot. This stuff is my life. I love it. I need it. I just know I have to keep wheels under it, so I do, in any way I can.
#14. What advice would you give to fellow musicians?
You do you, boo.
#15. What are some of your pet peeves? People that complain about the industry they’re in and still stay in it. If it sucks that bad, must quit and make room for the rest of us that actually love what we do.
#16. Is there a significance of the sunflowers on the album cover?
Ha-ha. Honestly, I was touring through Colorado, I pulled over to pee at a rest stop on I-70 and the bathroom was out of order so I just pee’d behind the building and looked up while I was doing so, and that view was what was before me, so I took a bunch of pictures of it; with my freaking phone; while I was peeing. So yeah. Picture that.
#17. What inspired you most when recording the songs for the new album?
I was (and still sort of am) going through a pretty massive breakup when we were making that record. At the time, I’d felt it was coming to end and I guess I kind of poured all my shit into the songs I was writing lyrics for. It was all super new at the time and I had no idea where I was going with it, so it was just an emotional free-for-all I guess.
#18. What do you think are the biggest obstacles today for bands?
The fact that everyone and their grandmother is a touring musician these days. The fact that anyone can make a video or a record. The fact that we all have the same tools at our disposal and that most ideas have already been flushed out and publicized. And now we all have to rise above it somehow and stand out. It’s a heluva challenge that we’re up for.
#19. What’s the best and worst thing about playing clubs?
Nothing. I love it. Dickhead sound guys and horrible rooms full of people that are skeptical at the sight of “another effing band” that we have to win over.
#20. Digital, vinyl, physical. What’s your favorite format and why? See previous answer. Vinyl is the best way to get the highest possible audio resolution. So, if you’re listening actively, it’ll be what puts you “in the room with the band” the most. But hell yeah is the whole iPod thing amazing for moving around a city.
Aug 24 – Meenar Music Club, Danville, CA
Sep 22 – The Dip, Redding, CA
Sep 27 – Caravan Lounge, San Jose, CA
Sep 28 – Dan’s, Walnut Creek, CA
Oct 05 – Silverlake Lounge, Los Angeles, CA
Oct 27 – Red Hat – Halloween Party, Concord, CA
Nov 10 – Barmel, San Carlos, CA