Happy Campers Finally Unpack Their Sonic Backpack


Happy Campers celebrate their new album on Feb. 8 in front of the Hard Rock

For many punk fans, it seems like Happy Campers have been on an extended trip—or else wandered off into the thorny thicket of adult responsibilities, rarely to be seen or heard from again. The Las Vegas punk band has kept a low profile for the last six years, playing the odd live show once a month and doing short tour-jaunts outside Nevada. The Campers, who’ve been kicking around town since the mid-’90s, are family men now, but they’re easing back into the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle in preparation for the release of a new album, Dancing With Demons.

The first thing longtime fans will notice about the disc is the lineup addition of lead guitarist Bill Simons, converting Campers into a quartet.

“Bill brings a whole new element to our sound,” says Campers singer-guitarist Isaac Irvine. “His crazy solos—and everything else he does—take us up a huge notch in terms of professionalism.”

Credit for the Campers’ sleeker sound also goes to Demons producer Ryan Greene (NOFX, Megadeth). Recording in Hollywood with someone who helped define the punk-rock sound of the ’90s seems to have injected Irvine and Co. with new creative urgency, if a melodic, blistering track like “Bleeding Me Dry” is any indication

“Before this, our CDs were done in Vegas, and they came out great,” Irvine clarifies. “But recording with someone who has produced major-label bands pushed us to work harder.”

Many of the songs on the Demons come from a thirty-something perspective instead of a righteous twenty-something vantage. Of course, a Campers disc wouldn’t be a Campers disc without a politically charged anthem or three.

“People who like Happy Campers are going to love this new record,” Irvine says. “It sounds like us, only a lot better.”

The Happy Campers CD-release party takes place at 9 p.m. February 8 in front of the Hard Rock. Battle Born and At It Again are on the bill, too.

Other cool shows this week:

Reggae-tinged metal band Lionize stalks Cheyenne Saloon at 10 p.m. February 7. Lionize guitarist Tim Sult also plays lead in Maryland-based groove-metal act Clutch, a hugely popular and acclaimed group in the hard-rock scene. So if you care to hear heavy music that makes you want to dance, here’s your shot. Also on the bill: Solid Suns and Spiritual Shepherd.

Vegas Oi! band the Civilians slide into Artifice at 10 p.m. February 8 for a night of supercharged punk that should keep your Mohawk fully erect. Also on the bill: War Called Home, Fredward and the Dirty Panties.

Finally at 10 p.m. February 9, American ska-punk originators the Toasters warm up LVCS. The horn-punching, rock-steady band is touring in support of last year’s House of Soul 7-inch record. Also on the bill: 2 Tone Lizards, the Remedies, the Astaires and Frank & Deans.

Your Vegas band releasing a CD soon? Email Jarret_Keene@Yahoo.com.