I didn’t really get the Campaign for Real-Time until some time after my lengthy interview with the band. It’s not that I couldn’t grasp their music — a modern-sounding amalgam of rock, hip-hop, and electronic dance music that’s at once cerebral and visceral. It was the devotion to their Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–inspired gimmick — the band members as time travelers who work for an organization of the same name whose purpose is to ensure that time travel doesn’t interfere with the flow of history — that didn’t sit quite right with me. But when I ran into singer/synth player/hypeman Brendan Quigley (a/k/a Lee “Big Game” Bronson) at the Model, he handed me a page torn out of a sudoku book on which he had written, “We don’t take ourselves very seriously very seriously.” And it clicked.
WORKIN’ IT: “It’s our job to make people move,” says Ed McNamara.
Rewind to a recent Monday night. I’m sitting in Quigley’s screened-in porch at his house in the “student ghetto” of Allston talking with him, singer/guitarist Ed McNamara (a/k/a Rory Stark), and bassist James Towlson (a/k/a D’Brickashaw Buckingham) over cans of PBR. Drummer Nick Zampiello (Dick Dreyfus/Vinnie Krakatoa) and synth players Michael Potvin (Felix Coyote) and Chris Olds (Falconer Model 7) are absent. Quigley, in character as Lee Bronson and wearing his trademark dark sunglasses, is circumventing my questions about the band’s history: “Everyone thinks of time as this gigantic line: this is the past and that’s the future, and it’s just this constant stream forward. That’s not the way it is. We look at it as this massive nebulous blob and it’s always shape-shifting and expanding. The Campaign for Real-Time as a band is very much the same way.”
“Non-linear,” Towlson offers.
“Non-linear, exactly,” Quigley concurs. “It’s impossible to dictate someone’s role in the band or how much they have an impact on it or how long they’ve been in it because it’s completely irrelevant. We’re not talking linear at this point, it’s, like, polyhedral.” I tell him that it might be difficult for a journalist to write an accurate profile of something so nebulous and polyhedral. “Really? I think this stuff is so incredibly obvious,” he laughs.
Quigley, McNamara, Zampiello, Olds, original bassist Ethan Dussault (a/k/a William Ocean), and original synth player Kittie Charlemagne, whose real name I’m unable to ascertain, most likely knew one another from playing around town in bands like Garrison, Cracktorch, Hip Tanaka, and Alienist Outfit, and they came together under relatively ordinary circumstances. They’re willing to confirm that their first show was in October of 2004 —on the night the clocks were set back to standard time — at Ralph’s in Worcester.
C4RT released their debut full-length, Yes . . . I Mean, No (US: Curve of the Earth; UK: Big Scary Monsters), early this year and won the Rumble shortly thereafter. Towlson, who used to front a group called These Thieves, joined soon after the album was recorded; Potvin, a member of the arty DIY collective Compound 440r and synth player for electro-pop bands We Are Cassette and Eject, played his first show in the first round of the Rumble. The band are using a portion of their Rumble winnings to record three new songs for a 12-inch-vinyl/Internet release that will also include remixes of songs from the first album by Potvin, Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, Certainly, Sir, and possibly Cave In frontman Stephen Brodsky. They’re also gearing up for a big UK tour in October. But first they play Robby Roadsteamer’s CD/DVD release show, which has been informally dubbed “The Best Acid in Boston Parking Lot Party,” this Saturday at the Paradise.