Hi, I’m Jeff Campbell, recovering musician and DJ. And that’s me DJing in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve quite a few years back (2003).
I never set out to be a DJ.
But like the John Cusack character in High Fidelity, I was always super into music, opinionated about it, and had a love of musical trivia; wanting to know all the ins and outs of my favorite bands.
That somehow led me to be invited to DJ at a bar in San Francisco, although I had occasionally filled in at clubs in Austin, Texas (where I grew up) and even a little bit on KUT radio, helping out one of my musical mentors Jerry “Jabo” Dean, in Austin back when I was in high school.
But why listen to a guy like me?
Allow me to introduce myself.
That’s me in the DEVO shirt back when I was in high school. To be specific, I’m standing outside a club on Congress Avenue in Austin that was called Duke’s Royal Coach Inn, and this is probably 1981.
My love of music probably began with my 1st concert, which was Neil Diamond in 1975. Neil was my step-dad’s (the man who raised me and who I called dad) favorite musical artist, and his album Hot August Night was on high rotation growing up.
But by 1979, the world was a different place and my tastes had shifted.
In 1979, I discovered a whole new world of bands, such as:
- Elvis Costello
- Gang of Four
Then, in 10th grade, a girl I had a crush on mentioned loving a band called The Ramones (who I didn’t know), and that forever changed me.
I went and bought 2 copies of the 7″ single for “Swallow My Pride” (gave one to her) and never looked back. She never really liked me back, and dressed a little country, so who knows if she even really liked them.
The important thing is that it introduced me to The Ramones!
I got to see the Ramones the next year (1980) at the long-gone but famed Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin; the 1st of the 2 times I saw them.
That only opened my eyes to a much wider view of music and what good music could sound like.
I bought a guitar
Then I bought a guitar and started taking lessons.
I joined a band even though I was terrible. We practiced in a barn and played for crowds of friends.
It was also around that time that Austin’s famed Waterloo Records opened its doors (April of my senior year of high school). And I became a regular there, often stopping by daily.
That’s me on the left in Waterloo’s very first print ad.
By late-1982 I had gotten more serious about being a musician and started a band that actually played clubs.
At this point, we were playing places in Austin such as the long-gone Club Foot where U2 once played in their early days.
Gary (my friend who started the band with me) and I opened for bands such as Wall of Voodoo and even New Order in their very 1st Texas appearance.
Opening that show was the highlight of my life at the time, and quite an honor.
Here’s the ticket stub for that show. We were called Almost Anyone. By then, Club Foot had been renamed Nightlife, but it really didn’t change in any other way.
I wrote for the Austin Chronicle
Somewhere in the early ’80s, I started submitting music reviews to the Austin Chronicle, the local free alternative paper.
And they published several of my reviews.
I seem to recall most were concert reviews but there were some album reviews as well. The biggest issue I had is that my tastes ran towards punk and new wave and the Chronicle tended to be more roots-rock oriented. So it wasn’t a match made in heaven.
Later, I joined an alternate alternative music rag called Atmosphere.
The highlight of my music journalism career with them was interviewing Vince Clarke who at that time was in town performing with Erasure. But in truth, I loved him because of Depeche Mode (he played on the 1st album) and Yazoo.
He was also a terrible interviewee (or maybe I was a terrible interviewer).
He mostly answered my questions with a “yes” or a “no” and it was made clear from the start that questions pertaining to Depeche Mode or Yazoo were off-limits.
Furthering my music career
After my band with Gary fizzled, I played for 2 years with Austin legend and author Jesse Sublett before starting another band with my now ex-wife called Tanz Waffen (who you can find on Spotify).
We played all around Texas and the southwest but got our “big break” by becoming the backup band to famed New Wave Diva Lene Lovich.
With Lene, we did 3 tours of the US and Canada from 1987-1991.
With Lene, we would do double duty, opening the shows as Tanz Waffen and then coming back as her band. It was great!
For some reason, I don’t have many pictures with Lene, but here’s a shot with Lene in the background and me holding her youngest daughter Hali (Valhalla) who is now all grown up.
Concerts I’ve seen
I wouldn’t be accused of being a music snob if I hadn’t seen a lot of cool bands over the years. I’ve mentioned a few above, but really, it’s been a lot more than that.
Here are some of the highlights of the shows I’ve seen along with some of my extensive collection of ticket stubs.
My most favorite shows I’ve seen:
- The Ramones – 1980 (and again in 1982)
- The B52’s – 1980
- Devo – 1980 (and again in 1982)
- Black Flag – 1981
- Metallica – 1982
- U2 – 1982
- The Plasmatics – 1982
- Dead Kennedy’s – 1982
- Depeche Mode – 1987
- Ministry – 1987
- The Specials – 1997 (although sadly without Terry)
- Cheap Trick – 1998
- Tom Waits – 1999
- Love w/Arthur Lee – 2003
- The Sex Pistols – 2003
- Coachella Music Festival – 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009
- David Bowie – 2003 (better than when I saw him in 1983)
And then there are some bands I’ve seen 2 or more times over the years such as:
- Beastie Boys
- Coldplay – 5 times
- Snow Patrol
- Paul McCartney
- Mercury Rev – 5 times
- The Flaming Lips – 5 times
- Nine Inch Nails – 5 times
- The Cure – 4 times
- Paul Weller – 7 times
- The Who
- The Police
- The Psychedelic Furs – 3 times
- Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Cocteau Twins
- Stereolab – 4 times
- Queens of the Stone Age – 4 times
- Killing Joke – 4 times
- Gary Numan – 3 times
- Cheap Trick – 4 times
Here is just a portion of my ticket stubs:
My most recent (and likely last) band
I took a break from playing in bands for quite a while, 1996-2008 to be specific.
But somewhere around 2008, I rekindled my friendship with my old friend John Hawkins who I played with briefly in 1982. John had more recently played in a grungy-noise band called Crust. But his heart was always more in a synthy-gothy vein.
So around 2014, we started a new band called Masquerade as Angels (also on Spotify) with former Ministry drummer Max brody.
I’m rather proud of the music we made; probably the best of my career.
A little Psychedelic Furs, a little Joy Division, a little latter-period Depeche Mode, but in many ways, altogether different, and not really dated or retro-sounding.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
How I spend my time these days
When I’m not blogging (I’m up to 7 different blogs these days including this one), I like to spend time with my wife and 3 daughters.
We love to travel, hit up water parks and theme parks, see family and friends and just enjoy life.
We don’t have a lot of time on this earth, so no sense waiting to enjoy it by getting to some mythical destination; enjoy the ride!
I also love yoga and martial arts as well.