Published in The Music (VIC) and on theMusic.com.au, Aug 2015
Work And Play
Time and major lifestyle changes have given Bodyjar frontman Cameron Baines a different perspective on the past, present and future of the band. Daniel Cribb discovers How It Works in 2015.
A lot of bands seem to be digging up old records to re-release and play in full of late, and although Bodyjar’s 2000 album, How It Works, is still a fan favourite 15 years on, vocalist Cameron Baines says its success was somewhat unexpected, considering the angle they took when writing it. At a time when the punk rock scene largely revolved around fast beats, Bodyjar took a step back and brought something else to the table.
“It was a really, really melodic kind of rock album, you know?” Baines tells. “At the time, there was all these Epitaph and Fat Wreck bands that were just flat tack and we didn’t want to be another one of them. We thought it was really refreshing and was the best thing we could do to make it a bit different. And I guess for some people it wouldn’t have been heavy enough. I thought it was still real heavy, and it had heavy subject matter in the lyrics and heavy riffs, but it just wasn’t that fast; it just wasn’t that.”
It was also a time when the band — through innocence — didn’t subscribe to conventional songwriting structures. “We didn’t even give a fuck if two riffs were so different; we just put them next to each other and played just ’cause we could. You sort of don’t consider the rules as much when you’re younger. I think that’s what I’ve realised with learning all this old material; you discover what your frame of mind was at the time.”
The production of the album was also different to how the band operates today, especially when comparing the process involved in recording 2013’s Role Model, which came about after the band reformed in 2012 after taking a hiatus in 2009. Recording back in the day, before growing up, getting job and having kids, the studio was primarily a place to hangout rather than work. You might recall Bodyjar had to pullout of a NOFX show last November — that was because Baines’ partner went into labour. Things have definitely changed for the members of Bodyjar.
“Just listening to [How It Works] now — I was talking to Tom [Read, guitar] about it the other day — I can smell the studio, and the smell of weed in the air, and beer, and people — our friends there, who are fucked up. And there was always some crazy shit going on. I just got that vibe again. It’s awesome. But Role Model is so much more focused; we knew what we were doing. I reckon it’s our best album. We just didn’t want to have any of those weak moments. EvenHow It Works has got Good Enough that maybe shouldn’t have been on the album. How It Works was so produced. It was the first time we had major label money and we wanted ‘big’, American. We just had all this budget to spend, so we just thought, ‘Fuck it, let’s go with it. Let’s make it big.’ With Role Model, it was more focused — and more noisy, and a bit rough around the edges, like it should be.”
The good news for fans is Baines has already begun penning the band’s next LP and is taking into account the better aspects of both How It Works and Role Model, while also moving things in a new direction.
“I’ve been writing a fair bit lately. When I’m at home, I’m always trying to write new shit. I’ve a basement sort of studio and have just been demoing and flicking ideas around to everyone to see what they think. We might do, like, an EP at the end of the year, and then probably an album pretty soon into 2016, hopefully. I think that’s the basic plan. We have to get together now and chop them up and chop the fat out, try and keep the good stuff and all that. But yeah, basically it’s still punk rock, but it’s a bit more mature.”