Excuse Me Princess

Interview with Excuse Me Princess

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Last year Excuse Me Princess placed third and even had an electric fiddle player at the High School Battle of the Bands. They had a great sound and their music was ahead of where one would expect for a high school band to be. The way they incorporated many genres gave their music a lot of depth. Jack Campbell and Sam Wattrus connected on stage.

“The first Battle of the Bands was a huge deal,” Campbell said. “Sam and I were playing more background roles, but I just remember sitting behind the drumset and hitting the toms and having it reverberate throughout the arena... And we all felt special because of the whole radio interview the week before and having a designated room backstage and stuff.”

This year they can’t make it as Wattrus has a previous obligation, but they are winning over a large following on their own.

“We're having a lot of exciting stuff happen to us,” Campbell said. “We got signed this year by So-TM Records, and we are on the tail-end of our first studio record with them. So-TM is also primarily a music business that makes music for TV and commercials (they're most known for Jack Link's Beef Jerky, haha), and they use that connection to get bands on the label on TV. That's sweet news for us, because it's awesome bragging rights and it could be cool to have a teenage Duluth band on national TV. Other bands on the label have been on Grey's Anatomy and Royal Pains, two moderately big shows. Also, we just added a new synth player, Kallie Gunsolus.”

Even though EMP’s members are in high school they have managed to record a CD and gain a wealth of experience. I asked Campbell about his new album and how it all came out.

“The album is going really, really well. We just finished tracking it last week, and it's 10 tracks, I believe. Originally we were planning on an EP, but then the label came along and said we should re-do a good portion of our first record as well. They have a nice little studio apartment where we've done the whole thing for free, and the quality is really good because that's where they record the TV music. Right now it looks like we're gonna release the record, tour a bit in the summer, make a music video or two, and see if we're successful enough to release another record on the label. It can be tough to balance band and school, so we're trying to make sure it runs really smoothly and just let things direct themselves.”

I first heard Jack Campbell play guitar when he was 12 years old and he impressed me with his style and skills. He then became a songwriter and slowly emerged from an artistic cocoon. As EMP gains experience playing places like Beaner’s their sound refines itself.

“Our new drummer Ben Ouellette has changed a lot of the dynamic for writing songs with the band,” Campbell said. “I write tons in my lil' emo notebook, but they become band songs when drums fit easily into them. Luckily Ben's a great drummer and we've got tons of new jams coming out, like this song about the British sci-fi show Doctor Who, along with more songs about girls like usual, haha.”

As a band whose members are in high school, the most difficult part is the ticking clock of graduation. Campbell talked about how this affects EMP.

“It's definitely getting harder to keep it together. Three of us are sophomores now, luckily, but Greta's the one who really makes us unique and she's going to college inMinneapolis this summer. She's going to definitely play shows with us as much as possible if we stay signed, especially because the label is in Minneapolis anyway. But we're going to play the whole thing by ear and see what happens... it's tough to have a band at this age for that reason. After this year, we'll keep on playing shows and hopefully make another record, pretty standard. The label is kinda our gateway drug to the music industry, though, and it seems like they genuinely love our songs, so I'm planning to stick with this whole thing in any way I can.”

If you have ever wondered where the name Excuse Me Princess came from,Campbell explained its Nintendo roots.

“Excuse Me Princess is the catchphrase of Link from the 1980's Legend of Zelda cartoon, which Sam and I were watching before we decided to start a band. It's suuuuuuuuuuper annoying in the cartoon, but for some reason we couldn't think of anything better and now I really like the name, hahaha.”

What do kids listen to these days to influence their songwriting?

“Right now we're listening to folkie jazz stuff like Sondre Lerche, and some old swing like Louis Prima,” Campbell said. “On the other hand, I've been listening to some 80s punk like Bad Brains and Replacements a lot lately, too. All of that has had a big impact on the record, too.”

As a band the experience of the Battle of the Bands makes it so nerve-wrecking that watching other bands becomes difficult. Campbell said one band really stood out to him last year.

“There's always one band every year that catches me off guard and is really awesome at battle of the bands, and that band for me has always been Aphamy,” Campbellsaid. “They've got sweet stage presence and a really tight, pop/alternative sound. Also, the work that is put into organizing that many rebellious teens is pretty impressive, I'd say.”