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Wednesday, January 1st, 2003
8:23 pm - reading this article reminded me a lot of myself
Greg Camp of Smash Mouth

by Lisa Sharken

Smash mouth made its mark in ?97 with ?Walking On The Sun,? the retro-flavored chartbuster off the San Jose, California group?s debut disc, Fush You Mang. The hot streak continues with the success of its follow-up, Astro Lounge, and singles like ?All Star,? ?Can?t Get Enough Of You Baby? and ?Diggin? Your Scene.?

Guitarist Greg Camp tells GroundWire about his evolution as both a player and songwriter, and takes us into the studio to reveal the dirty secrets of Astro Lounge.
GroundWire: Who were your main influences as a player?


Greg Camp: Eddie Van Halen was the guy who made me want to play guitar. My mom bought me a guitar when I was nine, but I had no interest in it because I was a drummer. Then a few years later, I heard Eddie and he made me say, ?I need to be doing that.? I don?t think I knew it back then, but Eddie has a really funky vibe about him. He was really innovative. It wasn?t like he was just hauling ass on the guitar, it was all the neat little tricks that he did. It wasn?t the Doobie Brothers or blues, it was just this amazing combination of everything. Then when new wave and punk became popular, I started listening to things that were more eclectic. I got into bands that were really simple and just played, like the Ramones and Devo. I didn?t do solos because I thought solos were stupid?mostly because I couldn?t play them. I was into bands like Devo that just did strange things with their instruments. Then I got heavily into surf music. I really liked Bow Wow Wow because the guitarist had a classic rockabilly, kind of surfy influence and the Dead Kennedys because it was a surf guitar player in a punk band. In high school, I got into reggae, jazz, and I just went all over the place listening to different music.

GW: Who influenced you as a songwriter?
GC: I think guys like Elvis Costello and Bernie Taupin had the most influence on my writing?people who just write really insane lyrics.

GW: How do the songs typically develop for Smash mouth? Are you the primary songwriter?
GC: Yes, I am the main songwriter. On the first album I felt that everyone should get equal credit because we all have roles in this band and everyone works equally as hard. I wrote most of the songs on the new album, on the back of the bus, while we were on tour. Songs normally just start in my head. I can hear the song and the way I want it to sound, with the instrumentation that I want. Then I sit down with the guitar and try to figure it out. Once I have the song pretty solid, I always make a demo of it. I hate drum machines, so I usually just sit down at a drum kit and play for a little while, then just sample and loop what I did. I do all the parts on the demo tracks myself, including the vocals. Then I just hand the tape to the guys and if they like it, we play it. If they don?t, then it just goes into a shoe box. I?ve got quite a few shoe boxes now.

GW: I read that ?Walking On The Sun? was actually one of those ?shoe box? songs.
GC: It?s an old song. I think I wrote it in ?93. It was on a tape that I had filed in one of my shoe boxes, but it was a lot more Latino-sounding than it is now. I lived in an apartment building and Kevin [Coleman], our drummer, lived upstairs. He came down to my place and asked to borrow a tape to play his drums to. He wanted something that had drum loops and something that he could put a tempo to. I gave him a tape to use and that song happened to be on it. After he heard it, he came back, pounding on my door, and said that we had to put this song on the album. I told him he was crazy. It didn?t sound anything like something we would do. He was so adamant about it that he went to our producer and insisted that we play the song. Our producer agreed, so that was the last song to be added to that first album, and was the one that sold over two-million copies.

GW: How were the tracks for Astro Lounge recorded?
GC: We did both records with the same producer/engineer, Eric Valentine, in a huge warehouse in an industrial park. It?s filthy, dirty and rat-infested, but it?s home. We?ve recorded in other studios a few times before and it?s come out sounding too sterile. There?s just no inspiration in that kind of environment.

We played all the songs straight through, live. Eric usually goes for drum tracks first, so we?d play the songs over and over to get lots of takes down on tape. Then Eric would go back and find the best drum performances. Once he selected the basic tracks, we?d go back and just add things to that. If the guitars came out good on that particular take, then we would leave them alone. Otherwise, I would go back and redo them. The warehouse has really high ceilings that are like 20 feet high, so all the reverb effects you hear are natural?just the sounds of the rooms miked.

GW: What are you using in your live rig?
GC: When I play live, I use a 100-watt Marshall JCM900 series head through two 4x12s. I use the distortion from the amp. Next to that, I?ve got a ?70 Fender Dual Showman which goes through a 2x12 cabinet, and a Fender Dual Pro, which I believe was made for pedal steel players because it?s a 100-watt amp that?s clean and just never breaks up. I leave them on all the time and run an A/B splitter box to channel switch between the Marshall and the Dual Showman.

For guitars, I use a Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster? that has two Seymour Duncan Hot Rails. I rarely break strings (Fender .010-.046), so I use it for most of the set. I also have a Guild Starfire? hollowbody with a Bigsby for songs like ?Waste.?

GW: What did you learn from your experience making these two records?
GC: I?ve learned a lot from working with Eric. I learned how to use microphones to get the sounds I want, and not just settle for good enough. I really like old ribbon mics. They make everything sound old and because we have sort of a retro thing going on, it?s really important to use that stuff to make it sound old. There?s really no way to simulate it. Every little thing has to be perfect in order for the final product to be perfect and come out the way you hear it in your head.

GW: What advice do you have for other musicians on developing one?s own style?
GC: Do the obvious things, like practicing and listening to a lot of players. Don?t limit yourself to just one kind of music because there?s so much out there. You can always take a classical riff, then turn on the distortion box and come up with something weird.

current mood: nerdy

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Wednesday, December 18th, 2002
5:27 pm - An article on Dick Dale @ Fender's website
A longtime member of the Fender family, Dale worked closely with Leo Fender and R&D engineer Freddie Tavares on many gear projects, ranging from the reverb tank to the 5-way Strat switch. One of Dale's most enduring contributions to Fender lore was the development of heavy-duty JBL speakers that would withstand his rough treatment. Dale was the pioneer of loud guitar, blowing out many amps until Leo came up with the Showman, with dual D-130 speakers and a special output transformer known to surf fans as the "Dick Dale Transformer."

In an interview with Fender Frontline, Dale provided the following insights into his gear:

"The Dick Dale sound was a Stratocaster guitar with heavy-gauge strings, and my strings are .018s, .038s, .048s, .039s, .049s, .060s, and two 15-inch D-130 [JBL] speakers. That is the Dick Dale sound. Now everybody calls it surf music.

If you would pick up my guitar, you would throw up. Because it's not a guitarist's guitar, the way I have it. I mean, I've got a string up here, a string down here, a string over here, and the neck is bowed from all the pressure. Kids ask me, 'Uhh, when you play on .060 gauge, .059 gauge strings, does it bother the neck?' I don't care. What I do is I turn around and I push through it. I've got hands of steel, so I go, 'Aaaah, do it whether you like it or not, pal.' But then you get Segovia, you get Stevie Vai, and you get Eddie Van Halen who be-de-de-de all over the place...They could not play my guitar. Because my strings are not balanced out properly. I am not a guitarist. I am a person who gets sounds out my instrument. I'll leave that up to you guys and Eddie Van Halen and Stevie Vai. That's the whole thing. I never said I was a guitarist in the first place. I just get sounds...

I play my guitar wide open. Everything is wide open. I took off my tone controls. It comes right out of the amp, what I do. So I go to the amp and I hit a note and I’ll turn up until it blossoms. I call it blossoming. It’ll go aaaaaauuunnng, like that. Like an afterburner. Right where it hits that spot, that’s where I’ll play. Then I control everything with my hands."

-- Keith Brawley, from Fender Frontline Vol. 27.

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Tuesday, December 17th, 2002
11:19 pm - i suck
antirun, you're a Lethal Weapon!

Your personality is actually determined by two personality sub-types - your primary, or dominant sub-type, and your secondary sub-type. You are a Lethal Weapon which means you are a Seeker / Thinker. Your primary sub-type is defined by "Seeker" characteristics and your secondary sub-type is defined by "Thinker" characteristics.

That means you're open-minded, enthusiastic, and popular. Chances are you might even break the rules sometimes. You're motivated and serious, and you always jump at the chance to take on a new project. Innovation and abstract thinking are your strengths.

How do we know all this? How do we know you get cabin fever if you're cooped up too long? Or that sometimes you'd rather just work on an independent project so you can concentrate without having to deal with people? How could we have divined that you secretly question your self-worth?

Because while you were taking the test, you answered four different types of questions ? questions that measured confidence, apprehension, willingness to take risks, and your focus on experience versus appearance ? the primary traits that determine your personality. Based on your responses, we determined your personality type, Lethal Weapon.

And that's just scratching the surface.

current mood: blah

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Sunday, December 15th, 2002
12:11 pm - woohoo
i guess this may be true. i need to spend more time doing some artwork anyway.

content
How confident are you as an artist?

brought to you by Quizilla

current mood: content

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Friday, December 6th, 2002
12:39 am - my day @ guitar center
i seem to be finding out more about myself these days... at least today.

FF8 is coming along very well... got my all my GFs up to level 100, but i just got Doomtrain, so i need to work on him... then it's off to the lunar gate (to continue the storyline).

today i went to Guitar Center, spent a lot of time there. Mostly because i felt i needed to find something that i before, didn't think was so important. anyhoo. The guys there were really nice to me, and made me feel really comfortable to be there and just play with no obligation to buy. *kickass* that's the way it should be!

i used to think that i wanted a Gibson SG and a Gibson Flying V... but when i actually played them... i surprised myself, because i actually DIDN'T like them at all. The SG was ok... but it didn't sound special to me, much less feel special. The Flying V is a hot piece of guitar... but it was really uncomfortable to play without a guitar strap... soooo incredibly uncomfortable.

so i said, 'fuck it!'... and i walked around til i found some guitars that i found appealing. that i actually was attracted to. i felt like i was window-dating (window-shopping and dating at the same time). First i found a couple GRETSCH guitars... one in particular; the Electromatic Jet sumtin sumtin... it was RED tho... i hate red! arg! drives me nuts! but it was still a beautiful guitar... and i felt good playing it... it sounded great! and it had a really nice feel, it felt better than the faded SG (i really wanted the surf yellow SG, but i never got to actually see it and play it live). i also tried out a cheaper version of that gretsch guitar that was black... it also felt good.. but i think i'd go for that red one instead... it also came in black and silver sparkle (i guess i'll choose between those 2 colors).

the next one i picked up was the Fender Jagstang... nice. but for some reason i was ultimately shocked by a Tele i picked up. i've always been known to favor the stratocaster, which i do... but i couldn't believe that i deprived myself from the telecaster for so long. what a fool i am... and i call myself a fan of Fender. Maple neck & fretboard (nice change from rosewood), lipstick pickup and humbucker... it never sounded sweeter... no. it was smooth. the way your lips move when you sound out that word 'smooooooth'.

blaaaaaargie meh! i just spoke a lot! (bad scottish accent)

i've also been playing Lucy (my p-bass) A LOT! ever since little rip's wires went undone (long story in itself). i found a Fender 5-string bass guitar in Midnight Wine. soooouuuweeeeeet!!! played magnificent... it was around $419. i want it i want it so bad... ahh spending the day at Guitar Center today just made me wanna buy those 2 guitars + bass. *drool* i will someday.

- Ripley signing off -

current mood: calm
current music: Fleetwood Mac - Dreams

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Sunday, December 1st, 2002
3:38 am
feelin better right now.

but earlier... and possibly even tomorrow... i've been feeling dumb, and invalueable to the world. call me crazy... but i just feel like i can't do anything good... or worthy of any praise... i feel like i'm wasting time and space... or moreso feeling like a waste of space.

everything i feel (that i write into a song), is negative or pleading for some sort of attention... i don't wanna just write music like this.. i wanna write hopefull stuff or empowering stuff... but i dunno... i guess because of my current frame of mind... that's not gonna happen for a while.

*sigh*

wow i actually typed more than usual... i guess i'll be usin this journal more often.

current music: Eve - Satisfaction

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Friday, November 29th, 2002
4:06 pm - hell-oh!
i wanted to check this place out... just to get away from all the LJrs... i may or may not add friends officially... maybe i'll just chill in the communities and post deep and profound nonsensical stuff in here. lmao... just kidding... ciao

current mood: silly

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