A couple of weeks ago we received one of those emails that we love receiving, the ones that invite us to cool, behind-the-scenes stuff. It was Jeff Chambers, the guitarist of the band Cambo & The Life (who happens to live one block from us) inviting us to meet them. Also, it was an invite to see their rehearsal room at the mythical Hyde Street Studios and we were dying to see the inside of the building, so we accepted as fast as we could.
We have to confess we hadn’t heard of Cambo & The Life before, but since we’re as informed about the music scene in San Francisco as much as my mom is about blogging, we thought we might have been missing out and proceeded to spend a few days listening to their songs online. We feared we wouldn’t like them and then we would have to lie and pretend we did so we could still go see the Hyde Street Studios (which incidentally we do very well, but aren’t too proud of it).
Fortunately we didn’t have to lie about enjoying the tunes like we do about other groups from SF (hint: Train). It turned out that they’re really awesome and we found ourselves listening over and over to their catchy songs, and even doing some dorky dancing in the apartment (okay, that was mostly me).
Our ‘date’ got re-scheduled a couple of times due to a flu epidemic in the band, we started getting really impatient, feeling almost like silly teenage groupies who are about to see their favorite musicians. When the day finally came, we were invited into a hot cave-like tiny room covered in grandma carpets, complete with a wall clock that had a painted Jesus, a dolphin and an oil rig (don’t ask). Two of the seven band members, including the drummer, were still down with flu while the rest of the crew was still recovering. In spite of that, they played a couple of songs for us:
And then they played a couple more, and a couple more, all the while bouncing around and making us shake our leg uncontrollably. Cambo even tried to multitask and take up the drums while singing, to give us a better feel for what the full band sounds like. We do have a video of that, but we’ll let you imagine.
Even drum-less, their music was so good that we forgot to ask many questions. What we do remember is that they used to have another rehearsal space in SOMA that closed down, and so about a year ago they decided to move to the Hyde Street Studios in the Tenderloin. In spite of the neighborhood’s reputation, they say they’ve never regretted and that they’ve never had any problems when finishing playing late at night. Naturally, as we learned on the Tenderloin Walking Tour, the studios are under constant threat of being converted to condos, but what isn’t in SF these days…
A natural question that comes to mind when meeting a band is ‘So when are you going to release an album?’, but they have different plans for their music. This new-fangled internet thing isn’t going away, so a few months ago they decided to start releasing 12 tracks, one at a time. Every first Tuesday of every month (which is the normal album release weekday) you can find a new song on their website to download, and each song is accompanied by artwork by a different visual artist (painting, sculpture, fashion, jewelry, tattoo, dance, etc.), such as the image at the beginning of this post by Sean Desmond and the one on the left here by Kelly Allen.
They told us that their hit song is ‘Smile’, and if you watch the video below you’ll understand why:
But don’t just download Cambo & The Life’s songs to listen at home, like we did. This band is awesome live, I think they could make a three-legged sheep dance. So go see them at the Boom Boom Room (corner of Fillmore and Geary) on Saturday at 9pm. And buy your tickets in advance here.