Johnnie Campbell Of Low Tide Theory
Q. You formed in 2010 so I'd say you're quite a new band, what brought you, Chris Gooderham & Paul Robinson together?
A..Paul and Chris were in a covers band together here in North Devon and when I moved down I got to know them. We found out that we liked a lot of the same music – although there are some big differences too!
I used to write my own songs and play keyboards and bass – but hadn’t done anything for a long time. So they gave me a push and we started writing from scratch just to see what would happen – and the chemistry worked!
Q. What is each member’s role within the band?
A..I make tea, Paul brings leads, and Chris brings the funk! I can’t say that, can I?
Paul and I generally work on tracks on our own in the initial stages of a new song. When it’s ready we bring it to the group.
We all work on the structure together and Chris brings the track to life with some cool bass lines. Once we’ve got the bones of the song in place I’ll work on the lyrics for the lead vox and usually several layers of backing vox too.
So Chris plays bass and guitar. Paul plays keyboards and guitar plus he does all pre-production before we hand it over to our producer, Geoff Pinckney of Tenek. I write the lyrics, play keyboards and sing.
Q. You are signed to In At The Eye Records, How did you get a record deal so quickly?
A..We did a lot of work on social media (well, Paul did it) and we started getting tracks played on radio stations all over the world. Then music blogs started picking up on us and some pretty decent people started saying nice things.
Jase from In At The Eye Records approached us and we could see that they were a good company to be involved with so it made sense to sign.
At that time, we hadn’t played a gig yet, so it was all word of mouth that got us noticed, so we have a lot of people to thank who championed us right from the first track we put out.
Q. Big Sky! Wow! An album that has to be heard in its entirety to be respected and given the recognition it deserves. It is in my all time Top 5 of best albums alongside albums like 'New Gold Dream' by Simple Minds, That is how good it is (in my opinion) How long did it take to complete this masterpiece from start to finish.
A..Thank you for saying that, it makes us feel so good to know that it connects with people in that way. When we started making the album we wanted it to be just that – something to listen to from beginning to end. Too many mainstream albums are (for want of a better description) disposable or wallpaper music. So we tried to put together a selection of songs which went together and should be heard in that context together. The whole process from the very first song we wrote together to finishing the album took about 2 years.
Q. What musical influences were brought to the album?
A..I don’t really think there was any one influence that any of us could pin our musical styles on. We’ve obviously got synth influences such as DM, Talk Talk, early Ultravox, and even New Order which we all listen to.
Personally, I’m a Stranglers fan so that DNA has been built in since I was 12! Paul and Chris like a lot of rock, metal and even prog rock!
So there is a melting pot of sounds, styles, and influences which we all bring to the table.
Q. What is your favourite track on the album and why?
A..My favourite track has changed the more we play live. I love “Crash” as it nearly never made it on to the album. We just couldn’t make it work and we put it to one side for a while. Then I worked on the chorus, came up with some new words and a different lead line, and we liked it, so it stayed!
Playing live, however, “We All Fall Down” is my favourite. When everyone in the audience sings along to the chorus it’s just an amazing feeling!
Q. I see quotes like 'Retro Synthpop' that describe Low Tide Theory. Is that how you approach the sound of LTT?
A..It is not intentional to sound like anyone or to sound retro – or to sound synthy even! We just write what works for each song as it happens. If that’s a guitar, strings, or an arp synth, we’ll use it!
We’re not one of those bands that spend hours trying to create a wave sound that no one has ever heard before. To be honest, we’d rather concentrate on writing a catchy song!
Q. You are a man of many talents Johnnie; you were in the film Gregory’s Girl?
A..I am a man of minimum talents, thank you! It wasn’t a big deal as it was just what an actor would call “a cameo appearance. For me, it was “a getting out of school work” job!
Most of my school friends are in it although, in the end, we did it during the summer holidays - so we didn’t even get time off school!
I still get a bit teary seeing all my friends on there – especially when Clare Grogan and “Gregory” are lying on their backs on the grass near the end to what sounds like Charlie Brown music. I always blub at that bit – even now!
Q. And you’ve written a book?
A..I’ve written a couple of books now, and had poetry published too, but the book you’re probably thinking of is a children’s book called The Last Christmas Tree. It’s a story I would tell my kids every year so it was great to actually sit down and write it out with a proper structure. Getting it published was the icing on the cake.
Q. Who were your idols when you were growing up as a child in Glasgow?
A..I don’t know if I had any idols as such but I wanted to BE Jean-Jaques Burnell (the Stranglers bass player) when I was thirteen. He can really play (as he was a classical guitarist too) and he had cool moves.
Q. What was your first experience of live music in Glasgow?
A..We had the amazing Glasgow Apollo in town so I got to see the Stranglers, Devo, Rezillos, Gary Numan, OMD, Madness; all sorts really.
Too many to list but loads of great memories. Of all the punk bands I saw there it was after the Madness gig that there was a riot outside!
Q. What artist/bands are you keeping tabs on at the moment?
A..Mmm. This could be a long list and I could mention so many who are in the synth scene at the moment.
I’m looking forward to hearing Tenek’s new album when it’s released later this year. They have been amazingly supportive from day one - and of course, Geoff Pinkney produced our album and I’d recommend him to anyone as he goes above and beyond to get it right.
Of course, Spacebouy, Sinestar, Northern Kind, Shiny Darkness, and Xmouth Syndrome are all worth checking out too, but I’m sure people reading this will know them.
So, if I was recommending something away from the norm to listen to I’d choose Esser, Fischerspooner, Future Islands, Grimes, Jagwar Ma, Junip, Kurt Vile, Little Dragon, The Bravery, Tom Vek, and Courtney Barnett,
Q. i-synth II, Lille, France. Did you enjoy the event and do you plan to do it all again?
A..It was a great event and we were really proud to have been asked. We got to meet loads of people who followed us from the beginning on Facebook or Twitter. We got to meet some great bands and also met fans from all over Europe which was lovely.
Shiny Darkness, who organised it, really looked after us and we couldn’t have asked for more. So, we’d definitely say yes if we were asked back.
Q. Are there any future gigs lined up?
A..Nothing concrete as yet, but there are a few really exciting ones in the pipeline which we hope to do this year - including some outdoor ones.
Q. What’s next for Low Tide Theory?
A..A change of name and a change of personnel. All three of us are going to leave the band and we’ll introduce 5 good looking 20 something’s. We’ll be called No Direction or something! We’re also going to change our music and become drum’n’country…. or maybe not!
Seriously though, we got our record deal before we had played a single gig as LTT so we’ve been working on our live work over the past year and are much more comfortable on stage now - we actually have fun!
We’ve got a lot of new songs we’re working on too so we’ll probably release an EP this year and an album later on.
Q. Finally Johnnie, Thanks for taking time out to answer the questions. Is there anything you would like to add that I may have missed out?
A..My pleasure Andy, it’s nice to be asked to do this. I don’t think there’s much more to add except my favourite colour is blue, I’m a Pisces, and my first bike was a Chopper!
:) Thanks Johnnie