Meeting Campbell Woods and the Mad Trappers

Scott Cooper (left) and Campbell Woods, of Campbell Woods and the Map Trappers.

“I’ll buy a rifle/and a motorcycle/and teach my boys to use ‘em/ and teach my girls to use ‘em”, croons Campbell Woods on the opening track of Campbell Woods and The Mad Trappers’ eponymous EP.
Complete with a trilling banjo played by Scott Cooper, a scene is set – one of log cabins, dense snow and warm flannel.  Describing their sound as “canadiana and evil country”, they’re setting themselves apart from the rest of the Halifax scene. Here, the two King’s students discuss influences, folk music, and their definition of canadiana.

Their sound:

Campbell Woods: “[Evil country] sounds like traditional country music but with an edge. That term is a way of separating it from contemporary country music.”
Scott Cooper: “We try to harken back to a time when it was weirder.”

Idea of ‘canadiana’:

CW: “People started using the word canadiana as a way to not say ‘americana’. They’re pretty much the same – rooted in something old, based around string instruments. The stories are similar.”
SC: “The stories are similar, but the terms are different. There were some shady things in Canada’s past and I feel the term gets wrapped up in that.”
CW: “I like stories about early Canada and I think part of it is trying to describe [that era].”
SC: “…It means different things to different people. We’re just a drop in that bucket.”

Campbell Woods and the Mad Trappers playing a show at Gus' Pub on Agricola Street.
Campbell Woods and the Mad Trappers playing a show at Gus’ Pub on Agricola Street.

Music scene at King’s:

CW: “Bands that play at King’s, here at the Wardy, reflect Halifax- there’s a lot of post-pop. It’s pretty different from what we’re interested in.”
SC: “But we have played [at the Wardy]. The omnipresence of shoe-gaze-y bands: that’s  what’s up in Halifax.”
CW: “It’s been important and fun to take part in a larger [Halifax] scene.”
SC: “Our friendship had it’s genesis at King’s and it’ll always be home, but it is important to get out there.”

Role of fashion in their music:

CW: “It’s a fun space. Maybe we’ll wear a plaid shirt on stage. You don’t have to commit all the way [to a look].”
SC: “People like stories. It’s an invitation to get into the same headspace- even though it might be misplaced nostalgia.”
CW: “It makes it easier to communicate the kind of stuff you’re doing, too.”

Staying power of folk music:

SC: “I don’t know if I’m quoting Bob Dylan or Im Not There Bob Dylan, but that North American colonial music is too weird to go away. It’s pervasive.”
Campbell Woods and The Mad Trapper’s 3-track EP ends in a wash of harmonica and banjo, adding the final touches to the picture so vividly presented from the opening bars. Canadiana may have many different faces, but these King’s musicians are working hard to make theirs stand out- plaid shirts or not.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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