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Marquette Wire

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Marquette Wire

Q&A: Camping in Alaska

The band is well-known within the emo revival scene, making music together as early as 16 years old, coining different styles and inspiration from 90’s emo and punk.
Photo by Shannyn Donohue
The band performed at X-Ray Arcade Oct. 12.

Camping in Alaska from Huntsville, Alabama celebrates the tenth anniversary of their album “please be nice,” released in 2013. I had the chance to speak with the band about their story before playing their set at X-Ray Arcade accompanied by bands Cali Cuzns, Cheem, Michael Cera Palin and RILEY! Oct. 12.

The band is well-known within the emo revival scene, making music together as early as 16 years old, coining different styles and inspiration from 90’s emo and punk. The early 2000s was a time in which this subgenre really took off, they were one of the original bands who took this style, made it their own and ran with it. This tour honored an album that resonated with so many people for a decade and has grown to become timeless, still meaning so much to so many people. I spoke with Austin Davis, vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Jacob Stewart, drummer, Jacob Hill, rhythm guitarist, Eli Long, lead guitarist and Dani Fandre, bassist of Camping in Alaska.

Where does the name Camping in Alaska come from? Have you guys actually been camping in Alaska?

“I’ve barely left Alabama, this is the farthest North I’ve ever been, I’ve been to like three other states, you know what I mean, we’re really poor. Our old drummer, Robin, said the name Camping in Alaska. We had a couple band names before this and Robin really liked the movie ‘Into the Wild,’ which made him think of a name like this and we were all like ‘that sounds emo,’” Austin Davis, vocalist and rhythm guitarist, said. 

How did you guys come together as a band, what’s the story?

“Me, Jacob and my best friend Ginger all met in a taekwondo class when we were 11. We were like the bad kids who sat in the back and didn’t even pay attention. We knew we liked punk music, and we started going to high school together when I was 14 and Jacob was a year older than me.” 

How does it feel touring for your album “please be nice” ten years later?

“It’s surreal. It’s weird playing the same songs we wrote when we were like 16 and 17 because we’re a lot older now. I mean, I think we’re still playing with really good energy.”

Do you note any similarities or differences in themes and lyricism used during “please be nice?”

“A lot happened between age 17 and age 28. We’re all in recovery from addiction, so a lot of our newer stuff is definitely colored by that. I would say most of our new songs are about dealing with addiction and homelessness, stuff like that. Our old stuff I guess I still relate to in the way that when people hear it, it makes them feel like they’re 15 again. That’s the best I think you can get out of it.

When I was that age, that’s what I wanted to hear; I wanted to hear stuff about skateboarding and girls, stuff like that. Kids at our Chicago show were crying, screaming the words and if it can make you feel like that, then I’m all for playing it. It’s really nice to see that someone cares that much.” 

Have you noted changes in the emo DIY revival scene since your earlier years?

“Yeah, there’s like a million more people. Back in the day, we played to like six old dudes who hated us in a bar. Now we’re playing to a bunch of kids who like to scream the lyrics. I feel like with the internet there’s so much music that no one gets noticed until like ten years later, anyway. As recently as 2019 we were playing in dive bars to like 12 people.” 

What are some artists you listened to while you were younger and took some inspiration from creating your own sound?

“I said Waka Flocka the first time anyone asked me that, I do love Waka Flocka though. But bands like Knapsack, Jawbreaker, Braid, Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth and Pavement. Honestly, we do listen to emo, and I had a big Midwest emo phase when I was like 15 or 16, but most of the time we used to listen to general 90’s emo-ish stuff.”

Tell me a little bit about the “please be nice” album cover and the skate references that go along with it? Do you guys skate?

“We’re all skate rats. I can’t skate anymore because I went to jail for a year and I got in a fight and tore my ACL. They didn’t believe me when it happened, so I had to limp all the way down to medical and they told me I was faking it, they gave me ibuprofen, I limped all the way back and got out four months later. I went to a nurse after all of that and they told me it healed the wrong way and I had to get a surgery that cost me like $30,000 to fix it. So, I just can’t skate anymore, you know. When I try to ollie now it makes me feel overextended, it’s weird. I can still cruise around but I can’t do tricks anymore.”

This story was written by Sofía Cortés. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Sofía Cortés
Sofía Cortés, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sofía Cortés is the assistant editor for Arts & Entertainment. She is a junior majoring in journalism and with a writing intensive minor. Sofia is from Puerto Rico and outside of the Wire she enjoys reading, writing poetry, drawing and listening to music
Shannyn Donohue
Shannyn Donohue, General Manager of Marquette University Radio
Shannyn Donohue is a senior from Nashville, Tennessee studying Advertising at Marquette and Graphic Design at MIAD. She is the MUR General Manager for the 2024-2025 school year. Previously, she served as the Technical Director of Marquette Radio for the 2023-2024 school year. She also hosts the radio show "Tetris Sounds" as a DJ.

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