The Spruce Campbells
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The Spruce Campbells

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF
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"The Realm of Outersounds"

Some artists become nerve-wracked in the recording studio, frozen by the red lights. Yet Spruce Campbells’ frontman and mastermind Jason Kusowski feels right at home.

“I love it,” he said enthusiastically. “I’d be there every day if I could.”

A cursory listen to any of the band’s space-pop nuggets – on any one of their three self-released EPs from the past year – and it’s easy to see that the studio atmosphere favors Kusowski, as well.

The Campbells specialize in lush, layered guitar anthems sprinkled with psychedelic pixie dust: the sparkly rock popularized by The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre a decade and a half ago. As a style, it’s never really gone out of vogue, and Kusowski is devoted to the art of making his own music both ethereal and catchy.

“I am a huge ‘wall of sound’ fan,” he admits, citing such studio-obsessed visionaries as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson as inspiration. “I listen to most of my music through headphones, because I think it gives you a real intimate experience. Your whole mind’s enveloped.”

Listening to Spruce Campbells tracks, both new and old, through noise-cancelling headphones, one gets the impression that Kusowski has not built a wall of sound so much as a skyscraper to the stratosphere. He seems to have gone for broke on every song, piling reverb-heavy guitars on top of dreamy synthesizers to create a listening experience as far-out as the science fiction imagery he tends toward.

The Spruce Campbells came to fruition in early 2010 after Kusowski dissolved his former garage-rock outfit The Nuclear Children. The new project was to follow in a similar vein, only with a fuller, more polished sound and the added bonus of a female counterpart to his vocals.

“Spruce Campbells was kind of stuff I was always working on my own, on my 8-track,” Kusowski said, adding that when a friend set up a new recording studio, the two would tinker with equipment by working on those demos. “A lot of the songs were formed on the spot.”

Kusowski soon fleshed the band out to a six-piece and dropped the Spruce Campbells’ first EP, Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums, shortly after they began playing live shows. Two Minstrumentals and The Lessons We Learned From Ghosts followed, and three more EPs are on the way. Each contains four tracks, with the first and last two intended to function as conceptual pairs. Kusowski aims to eventually release the EPs as one combined 26-song album, complete with B-sides, as The Bipolar Coordinates. The project is nearly as ambitious as the music itself.

“It’s definitely going to be the most expensive record released in Columbus this year,” Kusowski joked.

For all the hard work he’s put in, Kusowski remains cavalier about the prospect of label recognition, preferring to concentrate his energy on a finished product that will have those interested coming to him. So far, word of mouth has served him well in leaving his vision uninterrupted.

“You just gotta work on music that you and your friends like, because that’s really all that matters,” he said. “The best thing you can do is create a song that makes somebody say, ‘I associate this moment, this feeling, this experience with your piece of music.’” - 614 Magazine


"Campbells Collection Passes Half Way Point"

Each new EP in the Spruce Campbells’ ongoing “Bipolar Coordinates” series has only reinforced my opinion that Jason Matthew Kusowski’s detour from the Nuclear Children has been a fruitful one.


Maybe the goal of releasing five EPs has lit a fire under him; maybe trying on new genre jumpsuits has stirred the creative juices; or maybe singer Chelsea Moore’s addictive, ethereal voice has provided a worthy muse.


Maybe all of the above.


Whatever the reason(s), I’ve been enjoying the series, which is now up to No. 3: The Lessons We Learned From Ghosts. Like the others, it consists of two pairs of related songs.


Kusowski has said this is the band’s “pop” EP (the next one apparently will be a “psychedelic” EP). While leadoff track “Star Girl” is the most straightforward pop-rock tune the band has done, I’d argue the rest of the songs have a similar feel to the first EP—slightly pysched-out dream-pop.


That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s good the band split these songs up into bite-size EPs. Listening to them all together, they would start to blend together into an echo-heavy haze.


So listen as intended, treating each EP as its own double-paired entity. Lyrically, it won’t bowl you over, but I think Moore could sing the dictionary over music like this, and I’d keep it on - The Other Paper


"Local Music: The Spruce Campbells"

There are at least two sides to every story - and to Jason Matthew Kusowski's muse.
So despite his excitement about the garage rock he was kicking out with The Nuclear Children, in 2008 Kusowski sought out a new outlet. He had an 8-track of full poppy, psychedelic demos and an imagination running wild.
Former CD101 DJ Mike Folker invited Kusowski to his recording studio to bring the music to life. Because the name Trappist Monks was already taken - and because Kusowski loves The Dandy Warhols almost as much as he loves puns - they called themselves The Spruce Campbells.
The band functioned as Kusowski's solo studio project until early this year, when he parted with Folker over artistic differences, teamed with producer Jay Alton and assembled a live band featuring the full Nuclear Children lineup plus singer Chelsea Moore and Exceptional Edward's Jason Turner.
The Spruce Campbells made their live debut last spring and a few months later began releasing a series of EPs called "Bipolar Coordinates." Each four-song release contains a set of counterpart tracks, less A-side/B-side than he-said, she-said.
"I wrote this song, and it kind of told me what I wanted it to, but there was more to it," Kusowski said. "So I wrote another one, and that that one turned out being way darker. And I started realizing that maybe one song wasn't enough to tell it."
They'll celebrate the third of five EPs Friday at Skully's. "The Lessons We Learned From Ghosts" continues the Campbells' streak of big, bold psych-pop anthems that would do inspirations like MGMT and The Dandy Warhols proud.
They hope to have the EP series wrapped up by spring, though that won't be the end of their output. Kusowski still has 230 demos on his hard drive. - Columbus Alive


"The Nuclear Children Have Mutated"

Jason Matthew Kusowski is bipolar. Well, that's not exactly true, but his music certainly is. The once frontman for the Nuclear Children has embarked on an ambitious project to let either side of his personality battle out their differences on a series of EPs, collectively known as Bipolar Coordinates. This coming week will mark the release for the third installment, The Lessons We Learned From Ghosts, and an opportunity for us all to listen in on Kusowski's internal struggle of good vs. evil.

"I'm not a very religious person, but I do believe there is a real yin and yang to life," Kusowski said. "If you've ever gambled, you know there are hot and cold streaks; life does have this sort of balance, but you have to go back and forth to keep it that way."

Thus, the philosophical stage is set for the Bipolar Coordinates project. In all, the series will include five, four song EPs; two sets of diametrically opposed albums takes on a given theme. Though striking in its originality, it was never a premeditated undertaking.

"It's one of those things that just kind of happened," said Kusowski. "I would be writing one song that was really dark about a topic and the next would be really light, about the same topic, so it got to this point where I would just naturally be writing counterpoints to each of the other songs I had written."

But the Spurce Campbells have more going for them than just an interesting concept; it's the music that's the real driving force. It's so compelling, in fact, that it led to the demise of Kusowski's previous band. The Campbells beginnings came on an inconspicuous evening when he decided to roll some tape while touring a new recording studio in town, with some friends.

"I hadn't slept in two days and I had this song running around my head so we sat down and recorded it," Kusowski' said. "I got a lot of really positive feedback, so I started going back to the solo material I had been working on and we added people to the live lineup and we grew into a full band almost overnight."

However, the band really was more of a change in musical direction than a change of lineup. It was a marked turn toward a pop format with wall of sound harmonies and robust arrangements.

"Everyone from The Nuclear Children joined the Campbells, so it was a pretty seamless transition," Kusowski said.

Today, it's Chelsea Moore (vox/keys), Rory Daniel Harms (bass), Matthew Forney (guitar) Christopher Cheeseman (drums) and Jason Turner (guitar/keys) who help Kusowski bring this psychedelic indie rock to life.

And for their EP release, they have pulled out all the stops, enlisting some of Columbus's heaviest hitters to help then knock one out of the park.

"We've put together a hell of a bill," Kusowski said triumphantly. "Everyone we're playing with has headlined Comfest. They are all pretty well known."

Be sure to get there early, because the show may also be your only opportunity to get your hands on the new EP. The limited edition pressings come with artwork by local artists and are sure to be hot commodities, given the first two in the series are already sold out. - UWeekly


"IRC Bands to Watch: London’s Fez, Columbus’ The Spruce Campbells and DC’s Detox Retox"


IRC Bands to Watch: London’s Fez, Columbus’ The Spruce Campbells and DC’s Detox Retox

"The Spruce Campbells – Columbus, Ohio

Currently considered one of the best local bands in Columbus, Ohio, indie pop group The Spruce Campbells are a big hit here in the cafe, and hopefully you will agree. We were frankly floored by the two songs the band sent us recently. The dreamy keys, acoustic strums, and gorgeous vocals of singer Chelsea Moore, draw the listener in closely on the splendid track “More O’s” – a song brimming with an atmospheric shoegaze moodiness that is periodically stunned by a sudden splash of harmonic choruses, hand-claps, big drum beats and a seductive melody that makes it easy to put on repeat.

“More O’s” - The Spruce Campbells from Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums

The case for The Spruce Campbells being chosen as an IRC Band to Watch is further enhanced by the second track, “Black Sunbeams,” a catchy rock pop gem with a searing summertime sizzle. Both songs are from the band’s debut EP, Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums, released June 26th via indie label Champions of the Arts.

Founding member Jason M. Kusowski was playing around with some demos some months ago, and getting positive feedback regarding the demos from friends and people who heard the songs online. Encouraged, Kusowski rounded out the live set with band members from his previous garage rock band project, The Nuclear Children. In March, TSC opened for Atlanta’s Gringo Starr.

The band’s debut EP was engineered and mixed by local native Jay Alton , and mastered by Brian Lucey, who recently mastered The Black Keys‘ terrific new LP, Brothers. Kusowski said the EP is the first a series of six EP’s planned for release over the coming months.

The Spruce Campbells are not just another reverb-loving, keyboard soaked, lo-fi, lazy, hazy surf pop band – they really stand out from so many other new artists we’ve heard this year. What we don’t get is why this band has not already been featued on Pitchfork or Stereogum?

“Black Sunbeams” – The Spruce Campbells from Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums

The Spruce Campbells on MySpace" - Indie Rock Cafe


"Five-part series is off to a good start"

I love Jason Matthew Kusowski’s ambition.


With the Nuclear Children on hiatus, he put together a new band with a completely different sound: the Spruce Campbells. And now, instead of just releasing a record, the Campbells are planning to release five EPs with four songs apiece. It’s called the “Bipolar Coordinates” series.


The idea, Kusowski said, is for each EP to have an intentional pairing of songs. They’ll share a theme or style, or they’ll be complete opposites—a yin and yang thing. The band just released the series’ first offering, Mosques, Museums and Mausoleums, and it’s a strong start.


MMM has a distinct feel front to back, like a dreamy, psychedelic “Where is My Mind?” And speaking of contrasts, the most impressive pairing to me is the debut of Chelsea Moore on vocals, whose moonlit, milky tones are the yin to Kusowski’s spiked yang.


I got my first taste of the Spruce Campbells a few months ago with their dream-pop take on Fugazi’s “I’m So Tired,” which shows up here as “So Tired,” and I think it’s still my favorite. But the EP’s mood envelops all four tracks, which makes extracting one from the rest feel unnatural. And that’s likely the point.


So Part 1 of the “Bipolar Coordinates” series is a success. Keep ’em coming, Kusowski.
- The Other Paper


"Local Limelight: The Spruce Campbells"

MEMBERS Matthew Forney (guitar); Rory Daniel Harms (bass); Jason Matthew Kusowski (guitar, keyboard, vocals); Chelsea Moore (keyboard, vocals); Christopher Cheeseman (drums); and Jason Turner (guitar)
STYLE psychedelic indie pop
MUSIC www.myspace.com/thesprucecampbells
CONCERT doors open at 9 p.m. Saturday in Skully's Music-Diner, 1151 N. High St.
ADMISSION $5

It began as a side project - a distraction from the hiatus of his garage-rock band, the Nuclear Children.

"I was working on some songs that didn't quite fit the mold of what we were putting out," frontman Jason Matthew Kusowski said. "I put a few online, and the response was really positive, so we put together a live band."

Kusowski, 28, spoke recently about his latest project: a set of five EPs released piecemeal - with mastering work by Columbus engineer Brian Lucey, who worked on the latest Black Keys album.

Q What's the story behind the band name?

A I am a big fan of (actor) Bruce Campbell. We'd always joked that, if we played under an alias, it'd be the Spruce Campbells.

Q As part of a five-disc series titled The Bipolar Coordinates, you'll release a new EP every two months - starting Saturday. Would you describe the concept?

A The EPs are all made up of two-song counterparts. Some share similar themes, music and style; some are opposites. All emanate different moods or feelings.

Q You'll headline a ComFest after-party this year. Have you ever done the festival?

A We played last year as the Nuclear Children. It was fun, but we only got in because we knew someone; she actually applied for us. That's really all ComFest is: knowing the right person.

We didn't try to get in this year. I wish ComFest was about showing off the best the city has to offer musicwise. It is what it is.

Q Why should someone see a Spruce Campbells show?

A Because, as soon as all of the Coordinates EPs are released, I am leaving Columbus.

- Kevin Joy - The Columbus Dispatch


Discography

A Steady Diet of Maritime Snow- released 02/25/2012
-All Hands
-Sea Monster
-Land Locked
-Ships Down

Death Of An Art Monster - released 07/29/2011
-Frost Giant
-Speak Easy
-Parker & Barrow
-Bombs Away

The Lost Coordinates - released 06/14/2011
-The End
-We Overcome
-Abstract Kantstellations
-Enter Mission (Jackie A vocal remix)
-Super Nova (Jackie A vocal remix)

Lesson We Learned From Ghosts - released 12/10/10
-Star Girl (received radio airplay)
-Hell O's (received radio airplay)
-With You
-A Farewell

Two Minstrumentals - released 08/29/2010
- Enter Mission (received radio airplay)
- Inner Mission
- Exit Mission
- Exile Mission

Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums - released 06/26/2010
- Black Sunbeams (received radio airplay)
- More O's (received radio airplay)
- So Tired
- Far Away

Photos

Bio

The Spruce Campbells started as a side project for Jason Matthew Kusowski. He was writing slower songs with bigger arrangements that didn't quite fit the stylings of his garage rock group The Nuclear Children. After a few demos surfaced online people really started to dig it and so The Spruce Campbells were born.

The Spruce Campbells will be releasing a 5 EP series called "The Bipolar Coordinates" EPs. Each of these 4 songs albums is made up of two two song pairs. The pairs are counterparts to each other or continuations/different interpretations of the same theme.

The Spruce Campbells have now morphed into a full blown live band and are currently playing shows.