Cam Baines – Bodyjar ‘(Extra)Ordinary Lives’

Feel the tension in the van,
Unless you’ve done it you’d never understand.
Gotta make it to the next show,
Sleep deprivation overload.

Cam Baines sings these phrases intensely on the track ‘Let ‘Em Loose’, the closer of the cherished album No Touch Red by Australia’s everlasting champions of pop-punk Bodyjar. These brashly honest lyrics echo immeasurable truth for any touring artists or musicians, especially those as accomplished and experienced as the ‘Jar. The quartet’s fourth full-length was released 25 years ago and at the time, they had already carried out countless laps of touring Australia, ventured to Japan and would also journey through Europe, USA and Canada. The four-piece had undoubtedly lived and breathed “the life on the road” – however the interesting point of topic was that the outfit did not return home to record the 12 tracks that told the No Touch Red tale; the four Victorians actually remained in Canada after a vigorous tour schedule and shacked up with producer Jim Monroe (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ignite) in the famous Morin Heights studio in Montreal.

As Mr Baines recalls the change of atmosphere from “tension in the van” to a near paradise was pretty overwhelming for the Melburnians who at the time, were barely old enough to drink liquor legally in the USA.

“It was right after a really gruelling tour, sitting in the back of this guy’s van on the floor and driving for hours; it was really dangerous, that sort of touring. We made it though and then we went straight to the studio, which was a luxury. It was this amazing studio in Morin Heights and it was in the winter so it was covered in snow and we were staying in this incredible lodge that was across the road from the river, you could actually row to the studio.” Cam remembers fondly before continuing in a delighted tone with a hint of disbelief.

“How about this history? The Police recorded Synchronicity there, the Bee Gees recorded there, Rush did also. We had Sting’s tambourine and coffee cup – it was so cool! We’d never been a studio that had an international credit vibe. The producer Jim Monroe came across from America to record with us and he had done Farside’s Rigged which is one of the best punk records we can remember. We all loved it, especially that clear sound; it was amazing. It was the best experience apart from the engineer doing so much coke that for the last two days, he just slept the whole time. He was in a coma!”

The myths of bands and their chemical adventures during studio sessions are legendary. Korn’s Follow The Leader is an astonishing example, especially what occurred during the vocal tracking of ‘It’s On’. However, as Cameron reveals, their experience was far more gleeful than deceitful from a legal viewpoint.

“I remember smoking a bit of weed and stuff, but we never got into hard drugs. I’ve never seen that before in a studio, so clearly anyway. Luckily the producer had his shit together (laughs). But yeah, so fun staying at the studio, then go to a luxury home every night to come back the next day to make this album – IT WAS SICK! All the songs sound really energetic and probably a little bit pushed, a bit fast in reflection. Although we had just gotten off the road and toured, so we just went in there with the same attitude of playing shows; that had been our life for the last couple of months. So it does have that real raw feel. It’s a bit more raw than other Bodyjar records, I reckon.”

No Touch Red is undeniably a fast and raw punk LP and although the quartet have treasured memories of creating the full-length, it is more than likely that the global punk-loving population has a near infatuation with the record, especially in the ‘Jar’s home nation. Live performances on the beloved TV show Recovery, radio play and exposure on more mainstream platforms, multiple film clips in rotation on Rage and Video Hits and some of the best shows and festival appearances to an international scale that the four-piece will likely never forget. Though this occurred decades ago, Cam looks back endearingly at it all and understands the significance of the full-length for not only the band themselves but for the genre and even Australia.

It was the best! I think we just came up with the right time, because I guess the whole punk thing was being sort of spearheaded by Green Day and The Offspring commercially. So, a lot of these smaller bands like us, we could sort of help create the whole punk thing to a different degree and it was right after the grunge boom.” He expresses with a reflective gratitude before continuing – “Guitars were kind of in so we were able to get on a few of the labels like Burning Heart in Europe and we did a couple tours with No Fun At All and Millencolin. Then we got on Revelation in America and Nitro in America – it was amazing, the best times of my life. We got to play CBGBs and do the Warped Tour with Blink-182 – we even brought them out here with Pennywise. Then Blink-182 paid us back by giving us a little stadium tour that they did after Warped. So, they were really cool about it, you know?

How was the undertaking of playing on national TV on a more fashionable mainstream orientated program like Recovery?

It was very cool – they used to make these big elaborate sets, they had the band name and everything about the band on it. They went to extremes to make the band stand out. There hasn’t been another show to replace that – it was really well done and really helpful. It got to so many people, so many 18 year old and under members of the youth who would wake up and just switch that program on – the right demographic. I remember doing it and watching all the ads, seeing us and just thinking it was awesome. Thinking that it would go on forever. We finally got radio play with Remote Controller’ and the tours got bigger with help from that program, just very good memories in reflection.

He continues – “It was kind of hard because it was so early in the morning. I remember it was seven o’clock and we were loading in our gear; truthfully though, they made it pretty easy. They had it all worked out and had good people working there. ABC always had good sound people so it wasn’t too bad. We did like two songs – we would do one song, then you could watch a bit of the show and hang out and then you would do one more. And then you feel like we have had a really good day but it’s like 9:30 in the morning (laughs). So you know, unless you’d have a big night which I’m sure lots of bands have done in the past. They made it pretty easy.

Bodyjar will be celebrating the album’s 25th birthday in style with a national tour performing all 12 tracks for their long serving devotees. But being the remarkable gentlemen they are, the four-piece have sweetened the deal by inviting Perth’s Gyroscope along to celebrate their 15 year anniversary of their stellar full-length Breed Obsession. Although the outfits are literally from different sides of our continent, their relationship extends back many years and it felt necessary for this writer to ask Mr Baines about his first encounter with the WA quartet?

We were rocking up to a festival in WA on Scarborough Beach and they were playing as we pulled up and the crowd was going mental! Seeing Brad’s (Campbell, Bass) big afro bobbing up and down and they were playing ‘Doctor Doctor’; I remember thinking the singer Dan (Sanders, Guitar/Vocals) has a fucking incredible voice and is a great guitarist – I just think they write the best songs in Australia. They have Gold albums, but I think they are still criminally underrated. If you guys see them play live, every single song is fucking incredible.” He discloses with an immeasurable enthusiasm. “I mean, the reason why we did New Rituals, our album that came out last year was because I went and saw them. Anyways, they were playing their last night with their drummer Rob Nassif and I went and saw them and they were killing it. They’re from the same era we were and it inspired me to do another album. Also, my wife is a massive fan – she buys merch off their website. So I listen to them a lot. It’s one band my wife and I really agree on, we play them all the time, they are on all of our playlists. We’re just fans really (chuckles).

Don’t ‘Take This For Granted’ – this tour is, without doubt, going to be a ‘One In A Million’.

Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill

Bodyjar And Gyroscope‘s tour begins tonight at Manning Bar in Sydney.
Tickets available here


Friday Sep 1 – Manning Bar, Sydney

Saturday Sep 2 – The Triffid, Brisbane

Sunday Sep 3 – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast

Friday Sep 8 – Magnet House, Perth

Saturday Sep 9 – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury

Thursday Sep 14 – Uni Bar, Hobart

Friday Sep 15 – Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide

Saturday Sep 16 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Tickets Here

About Will Oakeshott (83 Articles)
Funny bloke, writer, Journalist, Vocalist, bit of acting, music, comedy and dad joke lover. Love: music, beer, bodyboarding, movies, books.