In something of a twist on our usual Incoming feature, we go a bit more in depth this time with Brian Christinzio of BC Camplight, firstly because we’re big fans of his music but mainly because Brian has had such a compelling and tumultuous journey in both his music career and his personal life. Many thanks to Brian for being so candid and honest.
Who are you and where are you from?
I was born just outside 3-mile Island in Pennsylvania. My mother was in the hospital with me when the nuclear power plant melted down. That is not a lie. Sometimes I wonder if this is why I’ve had such a shit time as far as the ol’ brain box is concerned. After the meltdown my family moved to South Jersey which is where I grew up. I moved to Philadelphia in 2003, began doing music professionally in 2005, became a hobo in 2008 and moved to Manchester, UK in 2012. From there it’s been a blur of great times, awful lows, and writing.
What’s it really like touring?
As long as I have some structure in my life I’m pretty happy. Touring certainly provides that. I don’t do enough of it. I recently had to cancel a UK tour immediately following the release of my first record for Bella Union. That was not good. If I had my way I would live on the road. It’s not as easy as that though…unless you are a millionaire. Touring isn’t the real world and that’s a world I get along with. Touring is like being in a dream but you still get in trouble if you assault someone.
What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?
Well Manchester took me in in 2012 when I was a mess and the entire city rallied around me until I was back on my feet. So playing there sure has a special vibe. My band is from Manchester too so it’s real easy to organise our life-threatening after-parties.
What’s your ideal festival line-up?
I dunno. Let’s say Harry Nilsson, Hannibal Buress, and David Blaine.
What has been your biggest achievement of the year?
By far releasing How To Die In The North on Bella Union records. Had things gone smoothly we all felt this record would have affected a lot of people but fate had other plans. I’m grateful for the response it got but certainly frustrated I dropped the ball just as things really started rolling.
What has been the worst moment of the year?
I mentioned briefly off-record I can’t go too deeply into this but I had to leave Manchester and the UK in general the week after my record came out and was told it would be a year until I could return (read about that here). What a punch in the crotch. I had to leave behind all of my friends, band, my house/girlfriend, and perhaps worst of all (I’m sure my girlfriend will love to read that), I had to leave my record before it grew. Shit happens. I’m really focusing on getting right back on track soon and putting an even better record together. The only way I can live with the memory of such waste is if I turn it into music.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
Follow your dreams. I kid. I’ve received a lot of good advice in my life. The issue is I’m a complete and utter asshole and usually just do what I think is best. I’m starting to see this pattern and trying to change it. This attitude works for me musically and contributes to a sound that is unaffected by whatever trends are happening around me. But it also leads to me frustrating a lot of people in the non-music world.
What do you do to relax?
I read a lot of articles about artists who are musically reborn and have cleaned up their lives and have revived themselves artistically. Especially artists like myself who have histories of mental illness or addiction. But to be perfectly honest I am most relaxed when I am at the pub with my band (Hattie Coombe, Stephen ‘Hurricane’ Mutch, Jonathan Prestbury, Robbie Rush, and Adam Dawson) making grand plans whilst drinking the place dry. I’m not saying that’s a great thing but it is the truth. It’s my favorite place to be. I could give you the ‘when I’m with my music’ answer if the previous was too neanderthal-like.
What are you reading?
When I was 11, after failing every class in school, it was finally found out I was dyslexic. I can write though. Weird. And by the way, it’s not the ‘new age blame every underachieving child’s shortcoming on a medical condition’ kind of dyslexia. It’s the ‘I have no idea what I am looking at when I go to read’ kind of dyslexia. It takes me a good 20 minutes to navigate two pages….even things like emails that I WROTE. Maybe this has something to do with my sound and why music makes so much sense to me. Maybe not. So I don’t read. Ever. Whenever I hear about someone being dyslexic I have a similar reaction to what your readers just had. Something like “That prick is probably lazy and is just trying to sound eccentric”. While I am a prick and perhaps it could be argued I am lazy in some realms of living I can assure you I have no desire to be perceived as any more bizarre than I may be.
How about TV, anything good on the box?
I’ve been getting into old episodes of Seinfeld recently. I love Larry David. I’m actually also really into American sports. I was the captain of my High School football team despite only being friends with the music ‘geeks’. I enjoy following my Philadelphia Eagles on Sundays.
Do you have a favourite YouTube video?
This isn’t self promotion. My girlfriend Laura did my video for ;You Should Have Gone To School’ by chopping up and fucking with old Felix the Cat cartoons. It’s my favorite thing on Youtube because she did it for me. Oh, and I love watching bullies get knocked out.
What website do you visit most?
What is your favourite:
This is an obviously impossible question. Today I am in the mood for Lola Versus Powerman by The Kinks.
Lost classic song?
‘I Like To Stay Home’ by R Stevie Moore.
What should we expect from your Irish shows?
Well as I have never been to Ireland before I am doing a test run without the band. I have no idea what to expect from you. But you can expect a dude, who’s probably much larger than you anticipated, sitting at a piano and drinking a little more than you’re comfortable witnessing, singing some songs that you will hopefully think are unlike most anything else out there. Just come out, don’t over think it.
BC Camplight will play The Workman’s this Friday, October 9th and tickets, at €14.65, are available here.