For this Special DOC III Edition of Making Meaning, we’re talking with Joe Tarowsky of Action Camp!
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Let’s make some meaning…
MAKING MEANING: THE BACKGROUND
Action Camp is a Pittsburgh-based band. They blend elements of Doom, Post-Punk and Art Rock.
Formed as a duo in 2006 (and now a full-band trio) Action Camp has eight releases. Death Disks is their most recent album, released in 2019 to celebrate their 13th year. Action Camp is working on their upcoming album now!
Action Camp is: Bengt Alexsander (guitar, vocals), Maura Jacob (vocals, bass), and Joe Tarowsky (drums, vocals).
MAKING MEANING: THE SONG
Listen to the song “Green Shoes Part 2” from Action Camp’s upcoming album and learn what meaning Joe makes:
Check out Action Camp’s demo here!
Demo of “Green Shoes Part 2” was written by Bengt Alexsander, Maura Jacob and Joe Tarowsky, and performed by all three. The song recording is currently in production at Action Camp’s studio space, produced/engineered by Bengt Alexsander and Maura Jacob.
I put together the initial song idea back in 2014, during a “fun-a-day” project where the objective is to produce a piece of art every day during the month of January, with the purpose of having something creative and fun to work on during the most dreary season in Pittsburgh. The first version of the idea was just a quick acoustic demo, and then I did a “full band” demo myself using GarageBand.
Check out Joe’s original demo here!
The “full band” demo was put together one Saturday night when I was snowed in and had all evening in the basement to record and try out different ideas. For this version, I got out my first guitar and I tuned it down to C – which I had never really done – and did the same for the bass. Then I found a really abrasive overdrive setting in GarageBand and just went for it. I hadn’t ever written a grungy rock song like that before. There wasn’t any grand plan or objective – I was just passing time on a snowy Saturday night.
At that same time, I was in band called Neighbours – our album from 2013 had a song I wrote called “Green Shoes.” So when I finished this new basement demo, I jokingly saved it as “Green Shoes Part 2” and set it aside and eventually forgot about it.
“I hadn’t ever written a grungy rock song like that before. There wasn’t any grand plan or objective – I was just passing time on a snowy Saturday night.” – Joe Tarowsky of Action Camp on their song “Green Shoes Part 2.”
A couple of years later, I had already joined Action Camp as the band’s drummer, and we’d already worked together on new song ideas. One way we share and archive ideas is through our band Dropbox – Bengt had always encouraged me to save any ideas there, whatever they were. So at one point, I copied over a bunch of ideas I’d had over time, and the grungy “Green Shoes Part 2” demo was one of those.
When Bengt was going through the Dropbox to check out ideas, he found that demo and I guess really liked it. He suggested we try it for Action Camp – I let him know that I had no particular attachment to it, and to go ahead and try to rework it as much as he liked. So he did, and he ended up leaving a good bit of the original idea intact, while adding a lot of really interesting layered textures and some small changes to provide more dynamics. The guitars and bass were already down-tuned to the key of C, which is the standard tuning for Action Camp anyway. So it was either all pretty fortuitous or totally meant to be – maybe some combination of both.
As our actual band arrangement fell into place, Maura began working out lyric and melody ideas for the vocals. This was a really cool part of the process, because while I had some very tentative melody and lyric ideas going back to the first acoustic demo, Maura took it in an entirely different direction. Her lyrics and melody – along with Bengt’s ideas – truly made it an Action Camp song.
“The drum part on it was always meant to be pretty straightforward, so when we play it live, I have a really fun opportunity to hear how Bengt and Maura have each made it their own – and in turn, the band’s.” – Joe Tarowsky of Action Camp on their song “Green Shoes Part 2.”
While the title will most likely change from “Green Shoes Part 2” – that’s just a demo title, after all – it’s become a mainstay on our current setlist, and the basic tracking is already done for its inclusion on our next album. The drum part on it was always meant to be pretty straightforward, so when we play it live, I have a really fun opportunity to hear how Bengt and Maura have each made it their own – and in turn, the band’s.
DESCENDANTS OF CROM III
We talked to Joe about playing at Descendants of Crom III. The Third Annual Descendants of Crom heavy music festival takes place in Pittsburgh, PA September 20 – 22, 2019.
How do you feel about playing DOC III?
I’m excited! I personally get to hear some new-to-me bands, and we’ll have the opportunity to play for a new audience – fans of other bands on the festival.
What other bands are you excited to see perform?
Thanks so much to Joe of Action Camp for talking with us about their song “Green Shoes Part 2” and Descendants of Crom III! We hope this adds to your experience of their band, their song, and their performance. Thanks for making meaning with us.
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