Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Memphis

memphisFor duo Torquil Campbell and Chris Dumont, their band Memphis has been little more than an excuse for two friends of 20 years to meet up and make some music. Sure there had been two albums prior to their current release of the LP Here Comes a City, but they hadn’t approached the group with the same seriousness that Campbell had with his more successful band, Stars. But that could be about to change. With City, Memphis has begun to get some – much deserved – buzz for a record that reminds of early Death Cab for Cutie. As the duo prepares to play DC9 on April 16, and continues to rethink its approach, Press Pass caught up with Campbell for a quick Q&A about their origins and their future.

memphisFor duo Torquil Campbell and Chris Dumont, their band Memphis has been little more than an excuse for two friends of 20 years to meet up and make some music. Sure there had been two albums prior to their current release of the LP Here Comes a City, but they hadn’t approached the group with the same seriousness that Campbell had with his more successful band, Stars. But that could be about to change. With City, Memphis has begun to get some – much deserved – buzz for a record that reminds of early Death Cab for Cutie. As the duo prepares to play DC9 on April 16, and continues to rethink its approach, Press Pass caught up with Campbell for a quick Q&A about their origins and their future.

Mike Hume: How did you arrive at your sound?

Torquil Campbell: Chris and I met almost 20 years ago at theater school in New York. We were friends over common influences. We were both big fans of the Smiths and REM from the 80s. I think you really find your sound by aping others. Then you chip away at it until what’s left is what you are. It’s actually more about finding your limitations than anything else.

MH: Since you guys are friends and do go back so far together, is it tough to work together and compromise or does it make it easier?

TC: I don’t find it hard. I know what I’m good at and what others are good at. Chris is the musical and production force behind our sound and he’s very good at it. I’m the lyricist. I’m pretty into roles and having people do what they do well.

MH: Your Myspace page uses a term I’ve never heard to describe your music, “acoustmatic.” What the heck does that mean?

TC: It’s one of the presets for the genre field on Myspace. I don’t really know what it means. I think it’s a made up word. To me it indicates “homemade.” I think of four-track recordings when I read that.

MH: How has Here Comes a City been different from some of your past work?

TC: Our new album has a pretty intense sound, more like a full band and less like a bedroom project. The past two albums we were just doing on a laptop in Vancouver. This time we wanted to build it up. We love pop music, good hooks and just good songwriting. We didn’t just want these songs to be pleasant, but to actually complete them as whole artistic endeavors. So we wrote these songs that almost demanded arrangements that honor that idea. It’s less wandering down the garden path than the previous two albums. We really wanted to see if we could make tunes that pop.

MH: So where do you take the Memphis project from here?

TC: Our usual stance is, let’s just do it this one more time and then, f— it. But with this record it seems we’ve started to get a little traction. I’d like to give it a little more of a push and try to do something with this buzz. We’ve never tried to do that before. We usually do this because we like working together and singing and making music, but for the next year or two I’d be interested in trying to put something behind this and maybe make some more music and try to find an audience. And once you find that audience, that’s what you need, because once you get that then it becomes sustainable.

• For more on Memphis, visit www.myspace.com/memphiscanada