Indie Music Interviews: Late Cambrian

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, indie rockers Late Cambrian write melody driven indie rock with existentially charged lyrics. I recently got to chat with the band’s front man, John Wlaysewski about the future of Late Cambrian, traveling to Hong Kong, and Ryan Gosling.

Gravy and Biscuits: How did you guys come together to form Late Cambrian?

John Wlaysewski: Late Cambrian started as a solo project for me. I had a lot of songs I had written and newer ideas that I never really explored while playing guitar in Flying Machines. I wanted to make a CD that expanded what I had been doing in my previous band. Colin Schiller assisted me on drums and we eventually got O to sing some ghostly backing vocals on the debut (The Last Concert) as well. After the debut was finished I realized I was ready to make it a full band! We auditioned Nunzio for the bass guitar and he was a perfect fit for the band. We had our band and we had a full length debut album. Most bands don’t get to start with an album so it was good to be able to get reviews and get noticed right away.

G&B: What kind of projects have you had in the past musically, and how is LC different than those projects?

JW: In Late Cambrian I get to play with 3 other musicians that I love! Each of them add to the band and make it what it is. Our new Social Season EP would not sound how it does without their input. Late Cambrian also has a female element to it that keeps us from being your typical ‘man show’… I do like a lot of all male bands of course, but that’s not what we are going for here. My last band Flying Machines had a super talented singer and songwriter in the band, so I didn’t get to write very much. It feels great to be in a project that helps me grow as a songwriter and also let’s me pursue whatever impulses my muse wants to explore musically…

G&B: Describe your sound.

JW: I’ve been calling our band an Indie Alternative Pop/Rock band. It’s one of those bands where one word won’t do. I try my best to be a songwriter 1st, make sure the song is good on an acoustic guitar alone before we make it a Late Cambrian song. The new EP is kind of our sound transition from the more ‘indie’ sound of The Last Concert to a more polished sound for a future full-length. We did write and include an experimental intrumental on the Social Season EP though, and I hope that keeps us grounded for those who think it’s a big step from where we were.

G&B: Who does what in the band, and who brings what to the table?

JW: I wear a lot of hats in this band. I play guitar and sing and write the melodies and lyrics. But a lot of my work is behind the scenes stuff…getting the music to blogs like yours and radio stations and podcasts, that takes time. I’ve hired companies to do it and I’ve done it myself, and if you want something done to your specifications, sometimes it’s best to do the extra work yourself. Nunzio, Colin and O all chip in and also being certain skills to this table as well. Nunzio is currently designing our new website, which will be revealed in the next month. O is a great promoter and she never has a conversation with anyone (deli owner, waiter, etc) that doesn’t involve her giving someone our sticker and promoting the band. She is also a great visual artist and helps us make flyers that look as pro as possible. Colin is a great facilitator, he can usually find us a Car for a band roadtrip, and he knows just about everyone in Greenpoint so we always have people to ask for stuff we may need to help with Late Cambrian.

G&B: How do you feel about the Weezer comparisons?

JW: I actually don’t mind the comparisons, though at this point they are inaccurate in a few ways. First off, I am a big ‘early’ Weezer fan. I love the Blue Album, Pinkerton and Maladroit, and have much respect for the Green Album. Everything after that is what I’d politely call a mixed-bag. I think sometimes people say we have a Weezer influence and younger people think… “Like ‘Raditude’ Weezer or ‘Hurley’ Weezer?” To which I would say, neither…! The second thing is that Late Cambrian really started being a Band and not a solo project after the debut album. That is the album that gets the Weezer comparisons. It should, I was thinking and reading about Pinkerton’s recording sessions while we recorded it. However, with Nunzio and O as full-time members and Colin continuing on this musical journey with me, the new EP is much more its own thing. If it sounds like Weezer at all it’s because Rivers and myself sing from a similiar place in the head/body to hit higher notes so we sound a tad similiar. It’s not on purpose, I think it’s just how I sound best.

Photo by Yang Jiang

G&B: What brought you guys to Hong Kong? What was your experience/reception like?

JW: O regularly visits her family in Hong Kong and last year she asked me to accompany her for the trip. I guess it seemed like the logical thing to do, booking some shows. She made friends on a Hong Kong Music Facebook Page called The Bauhinian Collective. One music fan/bass player Calvin Wong helped us book 5 shows and 2 Radio interview/performances. It turned our vacation and family homecoming into a working vacation! ha!
Hong Kong’s reception to our acoustic version of the band was outstanding. Pretty much everyone we met speaks English and Cantonese so lyrics were not an issue. And the clubs there paid really well also.

G&B: Why “Ryan Gosling”?

JW: Why Not? Actually I wrote the lyrics to the song before it had a title. It was pointed out to me later that the verses to the song reflected two prominent RG movies in their words. I’ll leave it to you, the listener to figure out which 2 movies. Our newest music video will be for “Ryan Gosling”, it’s already filmed and ready to go.

G&B: What’s Up next for Late Cambrian?

JW: Our video for “Ryan Gosling” just came out.

Also, a Japanese Record Label called ThisTime Records has released our debut The Last Concert with new artwork and 2 bonus tracks in Japan. The reception there has been fantastic and we have a large Japanese following on Twitter now!

Check out Late Cambrian at www.facebook.com/latecambrian

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