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Punksburgh Playlist: 2017 Releases

As part of our 2017 local release roundup, we’ve made a playlist including tracks from all of the albums. Check it out to see just how incredibly talented the people in our city are! If your band is missing, please contact us!

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No one expects the Punksburgh Inquisition: Bengt Alexsander (Action Camp)

bengt

Photo by Action Camp

Born into the Boston music scene, Bengt Alexsander brought with him to Pittsburgh a competitive drive and an intrepid ability to take creative risks with his projects.  A member of multiple bands over the years, Alexsander not only performs, but is also an audio engineer who masters albums and runs sound for other bands.  After spending over a decade in Pittsburgh, he gained prominence in the Pittsburgh music scene and partnered with several musical groups – notably the wonderful collective known as the Duquesne Light Orchestra. After covering Action Camp on multiple occasions, Punksburgh had to zone in on this local doom/sludge/surf rock legend for today’s inquisition.

Current Bands

Action Camp


List the names of every band that you’ve ever played in ever.

Zipper, St. Dude, a brief tenure in Urns

What was the artist, album, or song that inspired you to play/write music? 

The Pixies on the visceral side, ABBA on the composition side

Quite the juxtaposition. Photos from Google

What is your favorite piece of merch that you own?

My “ABBA as a black metal band” shirt

abba black metal shirt.jpg

“Dancing Queen” just took on a whole new meaning.  Photo from Google

Tell us one thing about the Pittsburgh music scene that could be better and one thing about the scene that you love. 

To put it in context, I came up in the Boston music scene which is also where I met Maura and started Action Camp. A big advantage of such a large scene is it is highly competitive which breeds really solid hungry bands and promotes a lot of creative risk taking.

I still feel like after almost a decade in Pittsburgh that it could stand to be slightly more competitive to raise the stakes and effort a bit. There are a lot of great bands and musicians in this city, but it can be so friendly and welcoming sometimes that it allows a band to rest on their laurels (myself included) and tread water.

I always push bands that only play locally to tour because it can only make you stronger. In my opinion, playing to your friends and fans every month is one thing, but having to win over potentially hostile strangers is the greatest gift a musician can be given 🙂

What’s something about you/your band that you think people should know that maybe they don’t? 

At the very beginning, we were almost an alt country band. When Maura and I first met we were on a Nico Case and Frank Black & the Catholics kick, but that quickly shifted way more towards heavier sample based compositions. You can hear some reminiscence of it in songs like Seed, Desert Dogs, and Remain (which we recently brought back and rearranged as a slow doom song tuned down to F)

 

If you had to pick only one of your songs for people to listen to, which one would it be? 

War At My Side – it’s a perfect example of our writing style as a trio: stacked vocal lines, heavy dynamic shifts, and semi-hidden odd time
signatures.

Who would you cast in the movie of your band? 

Maura – Ayn Rand
Joe – Jermaine Clemente
Bengt – Toby Maguire

How does your mom/family react to your music? Do they come to your shows? 

My family is very supportive and have long stopped worrying about what my “back up plan” is. My mom hasn’t been to a show in probably 9 years due to her being on the east coast, and it’s also a lot to ask her to come see us play a bar in Boston at 1am on a random Tuesday night we happen to be in town.

What band or artist have you seen live the most number of times? 

Weird Paul Rock Band – we’ve played a bunch of shows together, and I’ve worked, participated, or attended almost every 99 cent Variety Show of his since moving to Pittsburgh.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you at a show as a performer or spectator? 

Once we were mid set at a club in Boston in the dead of winter when the main water pipe froze and burst. They immediately killed the power (so we didn’t get electrocuted) and had to stop the show.

Catch Bengt with Action Camp November 17th at Howlers (for Joe Tarowski’s birthday!) with The Dark Lines and BBGUNS. 

Check out some of our past Inquisitions as well!

Brian McGee (The Danzas)
Jonathan Bagamery (Murder For Girls)
Jesse Ley (Delicious Pastries / City Steps / Mantiques)
Adam Sniff (the Scratch ‘n’ Sniffs)
Pat McGhen (Playoff Beard / the Shutouts)

Show Review: Action Camp’s EP Release – Club Cafe (8/4/17)

Friday the 4th was a historically rad night thanks to Action Camp, who released the newest installation to their discography: an eponymous EP.   The event was held at Club Cafe, who made a specialty cocktail for the event called the “Gothtail.” After a few clove cigarettes were symbolically smoked and urges to recite various Albert Camus quotes were resisted, I took the first sip of my Gothtail as Hearken kicked off the show.  Singer/guitarist Donny Donovan shredded with the riot grrrl prowess of Carrie Brownstein while drummer Greg Brunner poured all of his emotion through his drumsticks and into the kit.  After them was a rad group of guys by the name of Silence, who unequivocally rocked off my socks.

Photos by Jon B Snow.  You can find & follow Jon on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, or on his music photography website.

ActionCampDSC_6618

Maura Jacob, Bengt Alexsander, and Joe Tarowsky (on drums)


Action Camp took the stage and dove into performing the entirety of the new EP, as well as a few extra favorites.  Living up to their reputation as highly polished professionals, Club Cafe resonated with the artful, dark, heavy, intense, and yet ethereal melodies of ten amazing tracks.

This release is the first with the addition of Joe Tarowsky, lending his numerous talents on the drum kit, guitar, and vocals.  The three-part vocal harmony on the track Shakin’ All Over sent chills down my spine.  For the final track – Nameless – Joe simultaneously played guitar while remaining consistent on the bass drum.

After the show I bought my copy of the EP and managed to snag a setlist and show poster (which I framed posthaste).

The show was, in my modest opinion, downright incredible.  I’m excited for the band and what they will do in the years to follow.

Lookahead: Action Camp’s EP release show! (8/4/17)

action camp ep art

Action Camp’s new EP artwork

Pittsburgh’s quintessential doom pop/post-punk/art rock group Action Camp already boasts an extensive discography of nine releases – soon to be ten with the release of their new self-titled EP this Friday at Club Cafe.  After getting a taste of some of the new songs during their previous show at Howlers, my excitement for the new release increased exponentially.  The self-produced EP is Action Camp’s first release with the addition of a new band member – the multi-instrumentalist Joe Tarowsky (of the power-pop band The Park Plan) – on drums.

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Show Review: Action Camp @ Howlers (06/22/17)

True to their DIY nature, upon entering the concert side of Howlers, I paid my door charge directly to Action Camp’s guitarist Bengt Alexsander.  The doom-centered duo (now trio) has upheld the DIY ethic since its formation – over ten years ago now – and this show was no different.  During their setup, the audience was treated to a short and sweet impromptu cover of Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows,” and then kicked their set off in high gear with their intense, driving track titled “Warpaint” from the Better Made Fast EP.

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