Ninety minutes southeast of Columbus, Ohio is the rural town of Athens, home to folk trio Caamp. Childhood friends Taylor Meier and Evan Westfall grew up together, jamming together an attic. It’s where they developed a shared passion for music. The two didn’t have any specific goals but they knew that playing together felt right after their first gig in senior year in high school.
“When it started out, we just wanted to play as much as possible,” multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Evan Westfall says. “It didn’t really matter where it ended up, we were just immediately hooked on it.”
Gigging created the musical foundation for Caamp on which to build. It also helped Meier and Westfall to build chemistry on stage. The two bonded over roots and Americana music, not only through their shared influences but in a common mindset for writing and production.
“We play every instrument ourselves. We don’t have any session musicians coming in to play with us,” Westfall says. “We’re not good at every instrument, but whatever comes out is what we use, and I’m really proud that we’ve stuck by our recording process.”
As things continued to grow, Meier and Westfall stayed hyper-focused on growing the band organically without label help.
“We didn’t want to sell out. We always wanted to stay true to our roots and be very hands-on with everything,” Westfall says. “Whether it’s the artwork or the merch; every little detail that goes into the business itself, we wanted to be a part of.”
Soon after the releasing a self-titled record in 2016, Caamp added bassist Matt Vinson to round out the trio. Vinson, who plays numerous instruments, brought his own new ideas to the table. But the band’s sound has retained an intimacy with which the duo first came up, playing house parties. Caamp’s sound has strains of pure roots music with a lyrical honesty that shines through on refreshing vocal harmonies.
Going into the recording process for sophomore album By and By, Westfall didn’t want to reinvent the wheel but rather to continue to develop the band’s roots aesthetic.
“We didn’t want to steer too far from the folk and Americana sound that we’ve built,” Westfall says. “We wanted to continue to grow as artists, musicians and songwriters.”
Once Caamp had a batch of songs they went to Texas to them tracked. The Southern backdrop inspired them and shaped the record. The band took its initial songwriting ideas and continued to flesh them out in the studio, a process Westfall says keeps things fresh.
“We wake up and we eat, breathe, sleep music in every shape and form,” Westfall says. “We’re either discovering new music or writing our own. Each day it’s something new.”
Now on the road with the album, Caamp is living out its musical dream. What started as gigs at coffee shops and house shows in Athens, Ohio has grown into a headlining tour, including a gig at the Fillmore in San Francisco. A third album is already in the works, for next year.
“It’s hard to put into words, really,” Westfall says. “It’s what we’ve always dreamed of doing, and it’s very surreal, and we don’t take it for granted. …Hopefully people will still be interested and come out. And even if they’re not, we’ll still be doing it, anyway.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.