First/Last-Action Camp

February 9, 2015

“Action Camp is a duo based in Pittsburgh, PA whose sound blends elements of doom pop, electro, surf, and art rock. Members Maura Jacob and Bengt Alexsander combine found sound, drum loops, synths, low-tuned guitars, and Jacob’s classically-trained vocals to create music that can alternate between eerily gentle to sweeping and ferocious. This layering of the organic with the synthetic “creates a distinct sound that takes the best of all these worlds and boils it down into one cohesive unit… goodness that’s silent, murky and ready to explode” (Dayton City Paper). They draw inspiration from folklore, religion, and historical events, with their next release, a full-length album titled PA, giving special attention to disasters in Pennsylvania’s history.”

Action Camp is a ‘doom-pop’ duo from Pittsburgh who kick-off a brief Midwest tour on Wednesday (2/11) with a very special one off acoustic performance featuring piano, vocals and two upright basses dubbed ‘Rearranged‘. I want to thank Bengt Alexsander (Guitar/Keys/Vocals) and Maura Jacobs (Vocals/Bass) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • Bengt Alexsander: Probably Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” on cassette, but my sister and I used to run around the living room blasting our parents’ LPs of “Thriller” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” so I had a pretty polarized taste in music from a very young age. Maura Jacobs: I honestly probably didn’t buy music until high school; I recorded onto tape a ton of my dad’s collection and listened to my mom’s records. The first tapes I ever commandeered, though, were probably B-52’s “Cosmic Thing” and U2’s “Achtung Baby”.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Both: Death From Above 1979 “The Physical World”.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • Bengt: Jellyfish “Spilt Milk”. It’s one of the best pop records of the last 25 years.
  • Maura: I always have a hard time with this one. If you were to base it off of our roadtrips, though, no time in the car is complete without The Killer’s “Sam’s Town”. I also never tire of listening to Neko Case’s “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • Bengt: Daft Punk “Human After All” seemed pretty phoned in. I remember Vitalic put out “OK Cowboy” two weeks later though and it was everything Daft Punk should have done.
  • Maura: I don’t think I understand MGMT.
  • First concert attended?
  • Bengt: I think Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Eastern States Exhibition when I was 6 or 7.
  • Maura: I actually think it was Joan Osborne. I remember going with my dad and being uncomfortable when she was flirty with her guitar player.
  • Last concert?
  • Both: Winter Prom VI.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • Bengt: Junior Senior opening for Electric Six at the Middle East in Boston. It was the first time Junior Senior ever played the city and they totally destroyed Electric Six. The single greatest set I’ve ever seen.
  • Maura: I saw MIA at the Paradise right after Arular came out, it was just her in a skeleton costume, like the one kids wear, with the bones on a black sweater, a Dj, and a back-up singer/dancer in day-glo. I spent half of it behind a pole, but it was awesome.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Bengt: Unknown Hinson at Diesel. He just wanked on guitar and didn’t even put his fake sideburns on. I left after 7 songs.
  • Maura: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank soundmen/women everywhere who sit through their new ‘least favorite concert’ probably at least once a week.
  • Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • Bengt: There are a lot of great bands here. I want to see them touring more so the city will get recognized as a national scene the way it should. I think it’s still seen by some bands as a filler gig between DC and Ohio but if more of the locals act as ambassadors by hitting other cities it can draw some much deserved national attention to the Pittsburgh music community.
  • Maura: Having grown up here, leaving, and coming back, I have to say that there is something inherently different about the personality of Pittsburgh that just ruins you for other places–and I mean that in a good way. I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of all the exciting things that are happening here, and I think that what makes Pittsburgh different is that no matter how big or small the scene, it always feels approachable, like there is always someone you could just grab a drink with and find yourself involved in their project. And that’s pretty unique.
  • Thanks, guys. Looks like a unique set for sure! And I thought the Eide’s set was stripped down.