‘Deathwish,’ the first single from the debut ‘Past Lives‘ EP released by Brooklyn’s How Tragic is certainly an impressive introductory salvo. Oh, and a warning, it won’t take long for the sizable hooks to get stuck in the auditory cortex of your brain.
Vocalist, songwriter, guitarist Paige Campbell’s voice is a powerful tool and on ‘Deathwish‘ she wields it like a weapon over a sonically produced post-riot grrl skatepunk snarl that has a touch of Backyard Babies glam-punk spirit. The track is destined for playlists everywhere and Campbell and her friends even managed to film a video just before the world was shut down.
Campbell started out in her bedroom playing guitar along to Dag Nasty, Distillers, and Misfits records, paralyzed by self-doubt, but eventually, the call of the stage won out. “I always felt this pull to be onstage. It’s never been an adulation thing; I don’t need superstar attention,” she says. “I just felt there were things working through me that I needed to share, but I had to fight through a lot of insecurity and fear to open up.”
The four tracks on ‘Past Lives‘ are the first four songs Campbell ever wrote, covering subjects like self-doubt, lost love, and toxic masculinity all backed up with muscular chugging guitars and hooky melodies.
Campbell also co-produced the EP with Matt Chiaravelle (Courtney Love, Debbie Harry, Warren Zevon).
We caught up with her to answer a few questions.
How did the recording of Deathwish come about?
The recording of Deathwish came about when I couldn’t get over a breakup, and I fantasized about inviting that person over and never letting them get away, keeping them as mine forever. This is the first song I ever wrote, so it’s not super deep… I just wanted to capture the feeling and finish it. My friends told me they loved listening to it after a breakup, that was the greatest feeling. We write songs about these things when we can’t actually do them. 😉
How did the video get put together?
The video came about when my best friend Kirsten Bode and I swirled some ideas around. She’s a Jane of all trades, artist, photographer, master hairstylist, has incredible taste and style… so we wanted to work together on our first forays into music videos. I knew I wanted old slasher movie influence, mixed with some Natural Born Killers, and some Debbie from the Addams family. We booked a weekend at the Silver Sands Motel in Greenport, NY, because our makeup and hair jobs had been canceled due to Coronavirus. That place is a retro timewarp dream, and the owners love people that are creating art with their property. I think we were the last guests to be there before everything shut down. Going back to NYC after filming didn’t seem like a good idea, so we changed out bags and drove 8 hours to my mom’s beach house in North Carolina, where we quarantined and I taught myself to edit the video footage.
It was a dream living there, but the locals made headlines for their hostility towards people they didn’t recognize, and we got into a few grocery checkout line tiffs. A friend that owns a local hotel in Bisbee, Arizona said we were more than welcome to drive out there, quarantine again, and paint murals for the hotel and just create whatever we wanted in a weird little artist town… so we rented a car and drove there in 2 ½ days. I felt like there wasn’t enough footage for the video, so we filmed some more in our tv room, the liquid light show projections and the crying scenes, which had wall paneling I took out of a huge demo dumpster from behind the hotel. It completely matched the decor of the Silver Sands, so I physically went into the dumpster and got them out. I ended up giving the footage to my friend Sonny, who completely blew everything out of the water with the final cut. He is an absolute wizard.
Finally, how are you coping these days, and what’s in store for How Tragic?
I’m coping extremely well. I realize I have a cushy situation where I am, so I’m not taking it for granted. A girl here is making these amazing copper masks and I’m helping her make them to donate to hospitals. I’m finishing up some songs I had started a while ago. We’re using the amazing scenery to get footage for a future music video. With live shows being on hold until fall 2021, I think making videos is about the only thing we can do to give people a glimpse of who we are as a band. Which is fine, because I love making them. I’m really chomping at the bit to get recording again, the band had been rehearsing every week and we were so ready to play shows and record the full-length album. We’ll be going at it as soon as we’re allowed to!