Q&A: Colin Campbell & the Shackletons

Local band of brothers releases EP and rocks with a sense of Twin Cities punk history

The brothers that make up Colin Campbell & the Shackletons grew up playing blues together and listening to local rock. With great respect for their home state and its music history–and big love for The Replacements, they define the genre of their tunes as Twin Cities rock. The young blues rock musicians of the Campbell crew include: Colin, the lead singer and guitarist; Cameron, the bassist; and Evan the drummer (along with honorary member Clay Knoll). The Wake sat down with the oldest brothers, Cameron and Colin, to talk about the release of their new EP on Dec 27th and the corresponding release show at the 7th St Entry. Over coffee and bites of sweet waffles, we tackled some hard-hitting topics together: boat symbolism, movies about sharks, the failure of Antarctic explorers, and the roots of Minnesota rock music.

The Wake: Tell us about your history of making music together as brothers.

Colin: So, we grew up together.

Cameron: No we didn’t.

Colin: Yeah, yeah we did.

The Wake: It’s a controversial topic.

Cameron: Yeah, it really is. (laughs)

Colin: Well, he started to play the toy guitar, then I started to play the toy guitar, then he got mad that I was playing his toy guitar so he got a bass. And then it kind of went from there. I’ve been in a lot of different bands but nine times out of ten it’s been with them.

The Wake: Is there a story behind the name, the Shackletons?

Colin: Ernest Shackleton was this early 20th century explorer who was one of the explorers who tried to race to the center of Antarctica. And he was kind of a fuck-up. I thought he was great. His ship, the Endurance–which is hilarious it’s called the Endurance, ‘cause it got caught up on the ice and died there. Which is actually the cover of our EP coming out. So Shackleton kind of became a joke, cause every time we play a show it snows, like heavily, violently.

Cameron: Blizzards, it’s ridiculous.

Colin: So we’re like, yeah let’s do that, that’s our name now.

The Wake: So this ship the Endurance getting stuck in the snow, do you identify with that?

Colin: Oh, yeah, you better believe I do! I think that ship’s funny. I lived in Bellingham, Washington last year and I was on the top floor of this dorm room that overlooked Bellingham Bay and down on the waterfront was this abandoned boat called the Horizon Lines and it was there like the whole time. I stared at it a lot when I was writing songs. It didn’t mean anything to me really until it was just gone one day. It was actually sold to go to the Gulf of Mexico to be sold for parts, which breaks my heart. But that’s okay, that’s fine. That’s what the EP is called, it’s the Horizon Lines EP and it’s mentioned a couple times throughout.

The Wake: Tell us about your experiences as a band in the local music scene.

Cameron: We’re playing the Replacements tribute show!

Colin: I think if you’re a local band and you don’t appreciate The Replacements, you’re an asshole. I’m half kidding.

Cameron: I’m not.

The Wake: From what I understand, you guys have a big background in the blues. Do you still identify as a blues band?

Colin: The blues thing is where we emerged from, I think we’re smack dab in the middle of [the music scene] now.

Cameron: We’ll play one blues song every set, let’s be honest.

Colin: We’ll do blues songs ‘cause people love–people don’t know they love blues. People love blues. It’s a fact.

Cameron: It’s really hard not to. If you listen to it, it’s eh, but if you see it live, it’s excellent.

Colin: But then there’s all the Minnesota rock stuff. When anyone asks what sort of genre we are we always just say Twin Cities rock. It’s very Minnesotan I think. I think your environment has a profound influence on what your music sounds like.

Cameron: When you listen to like any rock band, as weird as it is, it always comes back to The Replacements. The Twin Cities rock sound all goes back to The Replacements.

Colin: Well, then, it all goes back to Hüsker Dü too.

Cameron: Well yeah, The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, to me that whole ‘80s punk scene in the Twin Cities pushed the rock.

Colin: I take way too much pride in Minnesota music stuff. And I lived in Washington, as I said, and this is just a cool city.

The Wake: If the music of Colin Campbell & the Shackletons was the soundtrack to a movie, what kind of movie would it be?

Colin: There’s a lot of ways I could go with this. This is what I’m gonna do: so Chris Marr, he was the drummer of The Replacements, he did a short film with his animation and he doesn’t know how to animate very well. It was the most bizarre thing.

Cameron: Jaws.

Colin: Can we do shark movies? So it’s a shark with, like, a mohawk.

Cameron: I don’t like that.

Colin: What does he have then, dreads?

Cameron: Yeah.

Colin: So we have a shark with dreads who’s voiced by Vin Diesel.

The Wake: So Shark Tale?

Colin: No it’s nothing like Shark Tale!

Cameron: It’s everything like Shark Tale.

Colin: There you go, There’s our movie. Shark Tale. God, I hate that movie.