DogVoices, The Nerds and the Jersey Shore Rock Scene – Author of Deep Tank Jersey, James Campion tells all!


More Sugar 7/98


by Jonathan O’Brien

JCLocal 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.

Campion 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.

Mostly “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.

Hundreds 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.

Deep Tank JerseyMore Sugar caught up with Campion recently and could not help but ask the obvious…

More Sugar: We have Jersey figured out, but what exactly is the Deep Tank?

JC: 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.

MS: What affected you the most in the experience of writing this book?

JC: 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.

MS: Why did you choose the Jersey Circuit and a band like Dog Voices?

JC: 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.

MS: What does one learn in the atmosphere you described?

JC: 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 personalities.

MS: And you?

JC: 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.

“Deep 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 James Campion can be read weekly in his Reality Check column in the “Aquarian Weekly.”

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