N' ROLL SURVIVOR TELLS ALL
by Jonathan O'Brien
author, James Campion has been hiding out in his Putnam Valley
residence for some time now, claiming safe refuge from the “harmful
and disconnected” and recovering from his summer trip into what
he has often described as the “core of insanity.” Luckily he lived
to write it all down and it appears unabridged and all-too real
in his book, “Deep Tank Jersey,” an underground bestseller that
has recently found its way into book stores.
began writing his story as a “fly on the wall” through the New
Jersey Club Circuit; a haven for rock bands, vampires, wild women,
and the cream of the lunatic fringe, but before long he was dragged
into its vortex and came out, by his own admission, a changed
man. The tales along the road with Dog Voices, a successful cover
band and monsters of the party highway, range from bizarre to
sublime to often times touching. His honest account of the subterranean
world of the night life will open the eyes of even the most grizzled
veterans of any bar-hopping experience.
“Deep Tank Jersey” studies the people who make this world run:
club owners, patrons, bouncers, roadies, bartenders, bar maids,
sound engineers, and the musicians who lay it on the line every
night for a cheer and a buck. To date it is the only book of its
kind which delves into the true grit; stumbles and triumphs of
a struggling band cashing its weekly check. No one is spared Campion’s
satirical wit and the best perk is that it is all true. Anyone
who has been in a band, worked in, or frequented any rock club
will enjoy Campion’s jaunt through a circus life of crazies and
big hearts who have called the edge home.
of copies have been sold in clubs, word of mouth and on the Internet
and the feedback has ranged from positive to outright mortified,
especially from people who appear in the book. Campion did not
change the names to protect the innocent or guilty and claims
that the mail he receives through DogVoices mostly centers around
religious or AA groups who pray for his soul. He has repeatedly
asked the concerned for help finding his soul which he says was
left somewhere in Hoboken.
Sugar caught up with Campion recently and could not help but ask
Sugar: We have Jersey figured out, but what exactly is the
I’m only now starting to figure that out. I think it’s a
Zen thing, but I can’t be sure. People come up with a lot of strange
things when sober.
What affected you the most in the experience of writing this
I marvel at the true nature of these people who go to work
at 5 PM and saunter home at dawn. This is their job! And not just
a night watchmen or convenience store clerk, these people are
working in the most insane of atmospheres, especially at the Jersey
shore where no one sleeps. It was a nice place to visit, which
we all do occasionally, some more than others, but to live there
and make a living there is a whole other animal.
Why did you choose the Jersey Circuit and a band like Dog Voices?
I just went for a magazine article, ‘Life on the Road’ or
‘Inside the Club Scene’ type piece. A friend of mine is in the
band and I’m close with their manager. But after hearing their
personal stories and seeing the way a ‘normal’ evening develops
I knew there was a book there.
What does one learn in the atmosphere you described?
It’s hard, man. For the working musicians, at least. The road
gets to you. I can’t imagine what a touring band must go through,
this was difficult enough. But it’s also rewarding in a way. Every
performer has an appetite for such a life and not always the same
meal satisfies it. The performance is two fold. I was most impressed
with the expression of human emotion, really. I think when people
are at their most crazy they let loose the best and worst of their
No sleep, too much drink, and a real sense of danger. Listen,
if you put hundreds of pent-up people who’ve been grinding through
life daily, shove them into a club with swirling lights, cranking
music, and swell their heads with alcohol and sexual frenzy you
tend to get interesting situations. I can now say I know what
it’s like to be at the very edge of anarchy. It was an experience.
Tank Jersey” can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble, B Dalton,
Main St. Books in White Plains, The Mount Kisco Book Company in
Mount Kisco and The Bookstore in Pleasantville. For excerpts of
the book log onto the Dog Voices web page at www.dogvoices.com
James Campion can be read weekly in his Reality Check column in
the “Aquarian Weekly.”