Camp Cope Triumphantly Weather The Storm
By Matt Mitchell
Six years soon after ascending in back of Victoria, Australia’s Footscray Station
scene and releasing their fearless, eponymous debut, Camp Cope
members Georgia Maq, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, and Sarah “Thomo” Thompson are watching the world give them the long-overdue respect they deserve. A week before I met with the Melbourne rock trio over Zoom, they released their second teamwork with local radio station Triple J. It fared much better among crowds, especially on social media, than their previous effort in late 2016; YouTube viewers, often gentlemen, rushed to the comments to disavow the then relatively new band’s efficiency and artistry.
“It was our first year of being a musical group and people were so brutal,” Hellmrich says on our video call. “I feel like, if we were gentlemen and were a punk musical group and just had a few chords and were rocking out, it would have been like, ‘Wow, this is so cool.’” As an alternative, the musical group was met with critiques about their unabashed playing fashion and their appearances, including direct jabs at Hellmrich’s bass skills and Maq’s facial hair. “We were just young and beginning out. It felt like people were much more important of us,” Hellmrich adds.
Nevertheless in 2022, Camp Cope’s triumphant return to Triple J’s studio, to celebrate their third LP Running With the Hurricane
, offers up much-celebrated live renditions of both the electric title track and Sam Fender’s “Seventeen Going Under
.” Fender’s version went viral on TikTok last year, with users using the lines “I was far also scared to hit him / Although I would hit him in a heartbeat now” to disclose their experiences with acts of gendered violence. That resonated with Maq and agency, as they elected to change the lyrics of Fender’s song by transforming it from a story of a boy growing up in the United Kingdom to that of a woman growing up in Australia. The revision was met with praise from fans and behind, with listeners championing the band’s musicianship, signaling just how much has changed.
When COVID-19 lockdowns reached Australia in 2020, Running With the Hurricane
was mostly written and the musical group was gearing up to return To America to record the LP in Philadelphia. Right after spending the initial portion of the pandemic at residence, Maq determined to return to nursing, and spent months on the front lines of vaccine administration, while Hellmrich moved residence to West Sydney. However the musical group is familial, and not even the limitations of isolation could hurt their chemistry.
“The categorize chat is constant daily, all day,” Hellmrich says. “We don’t ever not talk. It’s really cheesy to mention, however it is like we’re sisters. We’re all so different and individual like that of siblings, nevertheless we’re so close. I’ve never met a musical group that has the same relationship dynamic we do.”
The musical group gets labeled political because they are an all-girl order singing, some days loudly, about the injustices happening in their house nation. On 2016’s “Flesh & Electricity,” Maq addressed her experiences in the nursing workforce; “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams,” proposed a critique of patriotism and gun violence. Every song came with a definitive three-piece sound, where Thompson’s drums completely ran in tandem with Hellmrich’s bass, and Maq’s sublime guitar work complimented her own vocals just right. They replaced harmonies with growling, singular declarations. Although a new album called for a different approach. “[On Hurricane
] I wanted dynamics, because [2018’s How to Socialize & Make Friends
] was very cut and dry,” Maq says. “It was like, ‘We have bass, drums, guitar, yelling woman, and that’s what the album was.’ I didn’t aspire to be that anymore.”
The music industry right now holds itself more accountable than it used to, as well, and Running With the Hurricane
is a good representation of that progress. The songs balance jubilant themes with a constant reminder of the work that’s although to be done, which pairs with live music’s more diverse lineup cards and why the platforms of marginalized artists have never been stronger. “It’s scary to fuck up,” Maq says. “It’s scary to admit that you fucked up, and we should be doing that more, because fucking up isn’t the end of the world. There’s room for change and there’s room for forgiveness.”
What separates Camp Cope from some peers is that their advocacy expands far in back of the records. While Running With the Hurricane
centers on Maq’s personalized life as a substitute opposed to a broader world catalyzed by injustice, the musical group is still fighting for safer workplaces and for the people whose voices have been suppressed by the system. In doing that, they lend their platform as light-skinned, able-bodied musicians to the people who can better speak out on certain inequalities. On their last American tour before lockdown, they invited Indigenous people from the cities they played in to come onstage and speak about the customary owners of the land. “It’s who we are as people. We live to bring others up,” Maq says.
Named right after a song released by Maq’s late father’s political 1980s folk musical group Redgum, Running With the Hurricane
is a softer detour, embracing a wider palette of artistry and honing a delicate sort of self-love and hope. The songs are fuller, more orchestral, and breathable. New piano parts sprawl organically, which Maq cheekily compares to the uncoolness of Billy Joel. She sent recordings of her singing to Hellmrich and Thompson, who then wrote their accompanying arrangements with each other. “Kelly and I have routinely had a pretty unique way of writing together,” Thompson says. “You wouldn’t mention we are a common rhythm section, with Kelly playing high and playing the melody. We sort of play around each other as an alternative opposed to on top of each other.”
Retreating from the uncensored lyrical advocacy of the broader population to find refuge in advocating for themselves, the musical group passionately lament the mundanity of double texting while triumphantly pulling themselves up from the bottom on the album’s first two singles, “Blue” and “Running With the Hurricane.” With every sharp vocal run, a newfound confidence exudes from the album, which Maq attributes to spending months on the front lines of vaccine administration throughout lockdown. “Now I can open my eyes any time While I sing rather than closing them,” she says. “This album is very representative of where I'd like to go.”
A shifting tide, Running With the Hurricane
is about, as Maq says, what occurs soon after you purge your anger and agitation. “I feel what I sing and what I write deep in my soul,” she adds. “I’m just, like, yelling about shit. It sort of grinds you down and wears you out.” There’s a metamorphosis, sonically and lyrically, glistening on this record, which Maq and agency have noticed through letting go in a moment where each person is so quick to hang on.
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