This past Wednesday at Beaner’s Central youngsters Completely Random packed the house and showed musicianship way beyond their mere 13 and 14 years of age.
With many area bands approaching their forties it is awe inspiring to see the next generation of rockers carry on the torch. JJ Sivak, Jack Campbell, and Sam Wattrus make up the band Completely Random, but their humor on stage and their overall sound feels much larger than the three-piece appears.
At their show the band was savvy with the audience while cracking jokes about being from Liverpool while talking in British accents. During the school year they perform at lunch on a few occasions for their classmates and also dominate the talent shows.
I had a chance to speak with Jack Campbell (drummer and guitar/bassist upon request) about the band, his music, and his inspiration. He looks a bit like a young Kurt Cobain, but the sound of their three piece band was reminiscent of The Cars.
“Our name is Completely Random,” Campbell said. “It came from the days of making band names, starting out as The Lonely Knights (which I still wish we could have, but surgeons took it… and besides, we’ve said our name is Completely Random so often, it’s too much hassle to tell everyone otherwise). We came up with Completely Random almost simultaneously – that’s the kind of connection we have in our music too I guess. The band formed as The Lonely Knights about 6 years ago, and we were making cool electronic music with JJ’s Stepdad, who would later become our ‘producer’.”
On who is in the band: “I, Jack Campbell am on drums and vocals, JJ Sivak is on guitar and vocals, and Sam Wattrus is on bass. We’re thinking of adding a 2ndguitarist, but it’s a stretch because the egos may get too big for us. I play guitar and drums as my main instruments and I figured out a practice method that works. I play a 15 minute blues thing to keep myself up to date on myself, and then play drums till I can barely breathe… and then I play bass for the school jazz band and that’s just for fun.”
On their upcoming CD release: “Our album name is officially ‘When Jonatheane Met Mallory’, and we’re making it this summer. (12 songs on it as of now, we’re making more though) When we made Rockumentaries for our website we joked that it was called Nuisance the Frog, but that sounded like something the Shins would make… We made a site with stuff on it, www.randomcompletely.co.nr (we’re kids so a “.com” is too much to ask for).”
On a few of their songs Campbell said, “The song, “Mallory What’s Her Face” is about a girl I know from Michigan who was having a birthday, so I wrote a song for her… I haven’t heard from her in forever, but even so, we were great friends. “Jonatheane” was written when I was in a basement with JJ one day. We were randomly writing songs when JJ began talking in an English accent about a boy named Jonathon who had no friends. But we liked Jon-a-theane better, so we made it that. “Interjection” was written when I was listening to Don DiLego’s ‘Falling Into Space’. All I could think about was “I need to make something like this”, so I picked up a guitar, and it ended up being a song that some guy can walk down a back alley road to school to, like I did to ‘Falling Into Space’. “Supernova of the Red Sun” is one of a few tunes from a time when I only had three strings on my guitar. I played it at one of my school’s talent shows, but J.J. didn’t know about the missing strings. The song itself is about a story I wrote for my English class’ writer’s group. “The Blind Guitarman” came about when J.J. and I were watching public access TV, and a band was on called The Centreville All-Stars. They were playing at a gas station or something… but the guitarist was doing a solo, and he had sunglasses on. So the singer came up to him while he was soloing and stuck his tongue out like Eddie Van Halen or Kiss while doing air guitar. We were talking about how much that would piss us off, but then we said that he probably couldn’t even see the singer. So then J.J. said in an English accent “Leave me be, for I am the blind guitar man!”
On when he learned to play all of these various instruments Campbell said, “I learned most of my instruments in 5th grade, but before that I had played the piano and a little guitar. I didn’t love music, even though I was ‘in a band’. Our drummer quit, and I was a pianist, so my mom said I needed a band instrument for school. So I took up the drums in combination of the other instruments I could play. I HATED it at first because it was SO freaking BORING. I had already learned about quarter notes on the piano, but when I got to play with the beginner band on a full drum set as the only drummer I earned the name “caveman” because I was crazy. Crazy good - no… But fast - yeah… I was just kinda learning the drums for no real reason at the time, but then one day something just clicked and I was really good. I love them both now. I also take lessons from Lori Steward for piano, Marvin Pomeroy for drums, and from my band teacher, Janna Blomquist. She jams with me on piano while I play bass during our lessons, which can sometimes stretch out for a long time... I love it.”
So who does this young musician look up to for inspiration?
“I look up to Jimi Hendrix and Green Day. They both have amazing stuff, but it’s different. I also love The Presidents of the United States of America too, because they’re just a good ol’ happy band. I look down at “screamo” people, which is why I can’t wait to sweep the floor with them at the Battle Of The Bands someday. I look up to the other people there, though. It’ll be awkward to be looked at as equals to some of those bands, especially if they don’t agree. Because I liked some of them…”