Aussie punk rock legends Bodyjar are about to hit the road in celebration of their latest album New Rituals. We were lucky enough to catch up with Bodyjar vocalist Cam Baines ahead of the tour as he chats about the new album and shares some ballsy stories. 

SCENEzine

Firstly congrats on your album New Rituals you must be stoked with how it turned out?

Cam Baines

Yeah totally, it was a long time in the making but we got there eventually. We started it before the pandemic, had a few breaks and sort of did three songs at a time. That was probably a positive just concentrating on three songs. We ended up recording about thirty and just picked the best twelve.

SCENEzine

I really love the striking cover art for New Rituals. How did you choose what you wanted for the cover?

Cam Baines

That was cool. I had this photo of my daughter wearing a gas mask riding her bike around. When Nick came up with the name New Rituals I thought it kind of suits that name. So we had an artist do a digital version of it. Then after that we had Callum Preston who is a famous Melbourne artist do an analog painting with real paints and brushes and spray paint instead of just digital. He printed out a massive one and painted it, so it looked a bit more organic. It’s supposed to be a little girl riding through a post-apocalyptic scene with the title New Rituals assumes that it could be a ritual one day if the environment keeps going the way it’s going. It’s a pessimistic view of the world.           

Bodyjar – New Rituals (Album Review) – Wall Of Sound

SCENEzine
The album features a rad cover of “Rain” by Dragon. What was it like filming the video for that song?

Cam Baines

That was filmed in a studio that had a rain machine. It was cold but fun, we had a seagull and a few funny little references. It’s just a fun, really well written song to play. I was reading a book on Dragon at the time so I was totally into recording that song, that was their big comeback hit.  

SCENEzine

I noticed there are some pretty powerful themes on New Rituals. How important is it to you to write catchy lyrics vs getting a message across?

Cam Baines

You could argue all day over what’s more important but it’s good to have both I think. You want lyrics to have a bit of substance to make people think a little bit and not be too literal. But I think more importantly than that melody and notes that you sing over the top of the music, to me that speaks louder. I don’t know why I just always thought it was. This album is probably the best example we have got of all our albums having slightly political and environmental themes throughout. A lot of that has got to do with Tom, our guitarist, he lives on the beach and is all about saving the earth which is cool. He also wrote a lot of the songs. One hundred percent it’s important to have good melodies and lyrics

SCENEzine

Very soon you are hitting the road with dates around Australia. You must be pretty keen to show off the new album live?

Cam Baines

Oh yeah for sure. We’ve only been able to play a handful of shows since it came out so we are hanging. We did a little Bendigo show at a pub in Melbourne. It’s been a long time so we are raring to go, fully charged.

SCENEzine

On the tour you will be playing at the Crowbar Sydney. It’s crazy to think pretty much exactly three years ago Bodyjar played there in 2019 with 28 Days. It must be surreal to think three years have just gone by?

Cam Baines

Fuck yeah I remember that gig. I know man it’s ridiculous and it does seem weird. We should have been back there five times. It’s a great pub and you Sydney guys are lucky to have that. Everyone who works there and runs the joint is awesome.

SCENEzine

The next time I had on my radar to see you guys after that was Download festival 2020. You must have been pretty devastated when that all fell apart?

Cam Baines

Yeah that was supposed to be the launch of the first single and everything. So Download got cancelled and that was the start of the downfall then after that pretty much everything got canned for the next year or two. That was very disappointing.

SCENEzine

A huge fan favourite Bodyjar song is “not the same’. What do you think it is about that song that resonates with so many people?

Cam Baines

I really think the melody in that chorus and how it works with the chords it’s kind of different. I think we knew as soon as we wrote it that it had a little extra something in there. I guess with the lyrics it’s kind of the sour grapes if I can’t have you, you’re not worth it anyway kind of thing. People have all felt that in relationships, the rejection aspect. I guess people can relate to that.

SCENEzine

After re-watching the video for that song it got me thinking. Do you think Bodyjar has stood the test of time because you didn’t jump on any fads like start rapping or screaming?

Cam Baines

(laughs) Yeah it probably is. If you do stick to your guns something is going to happen eventually. You’re probably right. We look up to bands like Descendents and Bad Religion that have been around for a while that still make good records. That’s what we aspire to be. They still make good punk rock records, they are older guys but still really relevant I reckon.

SCENEzine

You must have played so many venues throughout the years. Does playing CBGB in New York stand out as a highlight for you?

Cam Baines

Totally I was just thinking about that the other day because I was hanging out with Ben who used to play guitar. He’s got all these photos of us standing out the front of it. It was amazing. When our album Rimshot came out in ninety six we got signed to revelation, they are a classic hardcore label from New York city. Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and all of these amazing hardcore bands were on the label. Bands that pretty much played at CBGB every week. So they organised for us to play there with Farside and all these bands that we really love. We were just lucky. Went to New York and played CBGB so I can cross that one off the bucket list.

SCENEzine

I’m always curious about how Aussie bands are received overseas. Did you have a big enthusiastic crowd while on the Warped tour?    

Cam Baines

In some places we did. America is divided up into states and every state is kind of different. So in the big places like LA and New York we had a really good reaction but in say Boise Idaho they were like who the fuck is this. It sort of depended what stage you were on and what time of day you were on too. But we had some really good shows, Vegas was really good for us and Arizona. I really enjoyed Warped and then we went and did the Blink 182 tour which was just playing big stadiums all around America which was awesome too.

SCENEzine

Can you give some insight into what it was like backstage touring with Blink 182?   

Cam Baines

They were super cool. We took them on tour twice in Australia first so they were repaying us a favour I guess. After they got huge they took us on tour in America. They were generous, they paid us well, let us use any gear that we wanted to use. They would invite us on their bus after the show. They were just really cool dudes, funny as.

They had the word fuck in giant steel letters. That’s how they started their show, it had gas running through it so you could light it on fire. Probably ten foot high letters just saying fuck. They would open the curtains and you would just see this flaming fuck an the whole audience would just go mental. As you can imagine teenage kids watching Blink for the first time and the word fuck in flames is the first thing they see (laughs). It was just brilliant.

They were just funny dudes, really nice people. Tons of time Mark would come into our dressing room in Australia with his testicles hanging out the bottom of shorts. Then saying “guys you’ve got really big bugs here. I got bitten by bugs last night, have a look at this” and he’s got his testes in his hand. (laughs) A funny band to tour with.

SCENEzine

Lastly do you have a message for your Aussie fans who are looking forward to the tour?

Cam Baines

Just get out and see some bands. Everyone’s struggling at the moment to get crowds to shows. I think people are still scared of catching covid. That’s what’s stopping people but I think you’ve just gotta get out and live your life. Support these bands that have been struggling for the last two years it’s really important. Get out there and see some shows.                  

(interview by Christian Ross)

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