Setting Up CAAMP With Ohio’s Own
As I was seated at the tattered leather booth, its tabletop surface illuminated by a reading lamp, I heard the two come through the front door of the bar.
We took our seats back around the corner and the two ordered beers. One Jackie O’s Mystic Mama and a North High Haybomb Hefeweizen.
Two Ohio beers for the Ohio boys.
Evan Westfall and Taylor Meier, who make up the band Caamp, are finally home from their first U.S. tour. Although, it won’t be long until the two hit the road once more.
Tomorrow, Caamp’s headed for Nashville, preluding their second grouping of shows alongside the band Rainbow Kitten Surprise, following their successful run with the group last fall. First stop of the March tour will be their first time in Austin, Texas.
For a band with tunes that beckon with desire to see the world, their frequent touring is quite fitting. The Caamp boys just had a big year.
“We hadn’t played a place with a balcony before,” said Meier. “We started off [the last tour] in Chicago. It was at Lincoln Hall, and it was sold out, which was really cool. We ended the tour in North Carolina near where the Kittens are from, those were really big shows.”
Last year Caamp’s original song “Ohio” landed at #4 on the US’s Spotify Viral Chart.
Their debut self-titled album Caamp, which echoes this desire to see the world even further, surpassed 2.5 million streams on the listening platform last year.
“When we got Ohio done and realized it could be as dope as it was in our minds, we got really excited about the prospects of being real musicians,” Meier said.
Not only was the song their first experience recording, and successful although the two admit a makeshift situation at that, it’s a tune rich in its different instrumentation. And certainly distinct, equally applicable to the band itself.
Hailing from Upper Arlington, Meier and Westfall have been playing and listening to tunes together for some time. Between a high school senior project to a full band, early projects helped bring about a more serious outlook on making music.
While listeners may deter that Caamp’s present folk style is nailed down to a t, the two’s musical beginnings are far reached, and to some, perhaps surprisingly diverse.
“We got together [near the end of high school] with a group of guys and just started playing, which went on for almost two years,” explained Meier. “We were pretty bad and pretty different then too.”
Today, Westfall plucks the banjo, while Meier is on lead vocals and guitar. Prior to finishing high school, neither of the two were familiar with their now-vehicles of folk deliverance.
“We listened to a lot of Trevor Hall in high school,” said Westfall.
The two have since opened for Trevor Hall at the Woodlands.
“We’d thought we made it at that point,” admitted Westfall. “We thought we were going to get signed.”
As the two’s musical capabilities evolved, so did their influences. Moving forward stylistically they were largely influenced by Ray LaMontagne.
After high school, Meier left Columbus for Ohio University in Athens. He began playing open mics, with his first gigs at The Smiling Skull and then Casa Nueva in 2014.
“Once I found Casa, that was where I kind of set up shop,” he said. “It’s where I started to hone my craft. I was still learning guitar and getting fluid with it, and I still am, but that’s where I was starting to play out ‘Ohio’ and ‘Vagabond’ and the first tracks off the record.”
During that time, he and Westfall, still in Columbus, continued back and forth with their music conversations, writing lyrics and planning.
“(Casa)…was where I started getting repeat customers. And there were banjo parts written in the music,” Meier said. “I told Evan, you’ve got to get down here.”
Westfall moved into a single bedroom apartment and took up part-time classes at the university in Spring of 2015. Soon after, Caamp was born.
“We started playing open mics,” Meier said. “Which started getting competitive and really rowdy. Everyone knew the words,” said Meier.
Nearly a year later, in March of 2016, the duo released their self-titled, debut record Caamp, written over the years in Athens.
Caamp’s shows have an incredible high energy to them. Attending one is as if you were singing and dancing alongside your best friends on stage. If you come to an Athens or Columbus show you will be, as Caamp’s friends and family will no doubt belt out the words, something the Caamp boys couldn’t love more.
But even on tour, in cities where a soul doesn’t know who they are, the love outpouring from the two on stage yields new fans.
Between their tours, Caamp released their tune “Misty” December 2nd. Per their social channels they’ve described it as a tune ”…that’s been around for a long time, with ties to a cool place. Named after the eerie morning it was written on…”
Although Meier wrote the tune almost two years ago and they’ve been playing out for years in Athens and beyond, its more recent recording and introduction of piano is what Meier referred to as a peak for the group, a showcase of how their future music may look.
“We’re learning how to look deeper into our work and see how we can expand sonically without compromising our sound,” said Meier. “I think the piano and drum introduction is a good way to branch into that.”
Meier and Westfall are continuing this work on their sound, but they’ll also be setting out on their first headlining tour in the Spring.
They’ll be making an appearance in Athens on Friday April 21 with their good friends The Wonderfool at The Union Bar and Grill. They’ll also be setting up camp up north in Cleveland at Mahall’s on April 26.
Catch up with the boys at their Ohio shows, Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival on June 4 or cozy up with their tune “Misty” on Spotify’s Morning Acoustic Playlist. In the meantime Ohio, treat them well.