Char Valley grads’ band ‘The Summercamp’ getting noticed
Four Chartiers Valley graduates and their buddy from Fox Chapel Area want you to come along with them to summer camp. It’s a place where everyone can be themselves and imagine where life will take them.
The “camp counselors,” as they jokingly call themselves, are members of the indie pop rock band The Summercamp.
In January, they debuted their first extended play record, “Incognito Mode,” which already has had more than 6,500 total streams. Three of the six songs just passed the 1,000 streaming mark.
“This is getting it out there, being able to gather listeners and a fan base and send it out to people,” said Connor Lindsay, 24, a 2013 Chartiers Valley graduate.
While the EP might be new, the band has been around in some form for several years.
It started at Chartiers Valley High School when Lindsay and band singer Harrison Wayne, 25, a 2011 C.V. grad, began creating music. They had been in a rock band before and were making rock/rap music. But the two wanted to hone in “to make some true rocking music,” Lindsay said.
In 2013, they officially became The Summercamp, with the addition of Mitchell McDermott, 22, a 2015 Chartiers Valley graduate.
“We made this fictional place that’s like summer camp,” Lindsay said. “When we were originally writing music, we focused around this aesthetic of a summer camp and the name just stuck.”
Fast forward and a few new band members came, then eventually went.
They played acoustically for two years, even performing at “some real killer shows,” as McDermott put it. But then the band hit a pause. Some members went off to college, others moved away.
It wasn’t until McDermott returned from Berklee College of Music that the band started to take shape. He bought new equipment and began to make beats.
“He just got hit with inspiration and it all felt fresh and we were like, ‘Oh, this is something we can build on,’” Wayne said.
Today, the band is comprised of Wayne, Lindsay, McDermott, Sam Berman, 23, a 2014 Fox Chapel Area graduate who joined in 2017, and Dallas Zuk, 23, a 2014 Chartiers Valley graduate who joined last November.
Band members began working more than a year ago to create music for the EP from an “old grandma house” where Lindsay lived.
Wayne and McDermott showed their commitment to their craft as they sacrificed the comforts of home to reach their dreams when they moved into a one-room unit in the South Side, from October 2017 to January 2018, that was basically a storage unit. It was a big empty room without plumbing with white walls and a space heater. That’s where they lived and most of their lyric writing and song tweaking was done.
The band has played in “all of the venues you can think of,” from house to DIY shows to a tent at the Pittsburgh stop of Warped Tour.
Like the band members, their music too had grown up. They’re no longer just playing in the park, having a beer and a good time, Wayne said. They needed to create a whole brand and put their music out there so people can listen.
They now record much of their music from the living room of three of the band member’s South Side home, where sound panels line the walls and couches are turned on their sides to create the perfect acoustics.
The EP struggles to fit into one genre. The best way band members can describe it is indie pop rock.
But there’s a lot of influences.
“There’s electronic noises in it, but at the same time, there’s a horn section, there’s a western breakdown,” Wayne said. “If something’s good, it’s good. If you feel like making a song, make a song. If it’s good, it’s good.”
The initial idea for the EP was, “Let’s get this monkey off our backs,” Wayne said.
“It’s like imagining where you are and where you want to be and bridging the gap between those things,” McDermott said.
The band celebrated a release of the EP on Jan. 3 in front of a crowd of roughly 175 people at Spirit.
They plan to head to Boston and New York at the end of March to perform. The exact venues haven’t been finalized.
They also will perform in South Side at Ethik Clothing Co. on Feb. 7, along with several Berklee alumni. The event starts at 7 p.m.
The band hopes to someday make it big. They dream of touring the country.
“I want to be on the road,” Wayne said. “My goal has always been to play music every night.”
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributor.