It was unusually packed for a Monday night gig at San Diego’s intimate venue The Casbah. It did seem fitting however that there was a lot of people there, because this night would be the highly anticipated stateside premier of Camera Obscura, (the band from Glasgow, Scotland – not the other one you’re probably thinking of.) I secured myself a beverage and went about looking for a fellow named “Blair.” Before I could even begin to appreciate all the “firme” indie rock chicks in attendance, about eight people carrying various instruments and boxes of merchandise walk past me and somehow all disappear into The Casbah’s tiny office. Several minutes later, I find myself in possession of several Camera Obscura buttons and a black t-shirt with the title of their latest album: “Under Achievers Please Try Harder,” emblazoned on the front.
With the opening bands playing, the only near-to-quiet area that was available was inside the cramped office of The Casbah. As I walked into the office, vocalist John Henderson and bassist Gavin Dunbar are showing obvious signs of the drastic change in time and day. “Is it Monday?” Henderson inquires. “It’s Monday,” replies Dunbar. “We flew into New York and then we flew from New York to Los Angeles. We stayed in Los Angeles last night.” Henderson quickly explains. “I thought it was Tuesday?” Dunbar mumbles again, “Naw, it’s Monday.”
Suddenly, trumpet player Nigel Baillie and Tracy Campbell, vocalist and guitarist for Camera Obscura, enter the already compacted room. “I can’t take it out there,” Campbell says. “There’s just too much smoke.”
After pleasantries are exchanged Campbell quickly leaves the room when she realizes a tape recorder is on. Baillie, Henderson and Dunbar all quickly inform me that with tonight being their first gig in America, they’re all a bit nervous. When I inquire if they can feel some sort of energy or adrenalin running through their blood, Baillie quickly chimes in, “Yes, I can say certainly something is running, but not really through my blood.” Laughter ensues, and for a brief moment they’re able to find solace in their biting humor.
Due to their tardiness at arriving at the venue, our interview in The Casbah’s “office” was cut short. As we parted ways I asked Henderson why it took so long for Camera Obscura to cross the pond and tour the states. He replied with a grin, “Nobody invited us.”