Who the hell is The Summer Camp and how did they get so damn good?

Pittsburgh’s own, The Summercamp, members just recently migrated from living in a storage unit to a legitimate home in the South Side of Pittsburgh. The group also just released their debut EP, Incognito Mode, which spans through several genres and deals with the concept of contemplating fate in an increasingly anxious and uncertain digital age.

The crazy thing is that I’ve known these guys since they were in middle school and high school at Chartiers Valley where I teach. When people I know ask me to check out their music I am always hesitant because I will not lie, or simply will not write an article if I cannot put the endorsement of Pittsburgh Music Mag next to their name. Three of the band members are former students and I was very apprehensive to review their newest release, Incognito Mode, and to check them out live.

A few months ago I finally got around to listening to their EP and this jaded heart was immediately melted. I should never have doubted them, having been familiar with their previous bands incarnations, but this was next level, a crucial maturation from raw talent to truly understanding the process. This past Friday I caught the band at a “hometown” show when they played the newly renovated Railyard Tap Room in Bridgeville.

With a wide ranging set list that not only featured their own material but highly original adaptations of cover songs, the band put on an hour and a half of excellent entertainment that blended a variety of genres.

Check out the band’s cover of The Beatles, “A Day In The Life” here

The Summercamp went on to eclectically cover the Jonas Brothers, Kid Cudi, Portugal.theman, and a mashup of Gorillaz/Green Day/Eminem/Hair (the musical). It’s all pretty ambitious stuff and executed at the highest of levels. Even the sound quality was very well produced for playing in a small town bar. But, cool covers aside, the real meat and potatoes is their original work which you can check out here:

Indie alt pop band The Summercamp was originally established in 2013 as Connor Lindsay and Harrison Wayne transitioned from making rap music to rock and roll. The duo began writing their first songs on an acoustic guitar in parks, living rooms and cars. It wasn’t until 2015, when they added guitarist Mitchell McDermott, drummer Eric Englert, and rhythm guitarist Sam Geffrey, that they became a full band.

The band’s debut show was a sold out venture that ended in true rock and roll fashion, complete with crowd surfing and fist fights. This show sparked a fierce interest from local music lovers who had great anticipations to see how the young musicians would progress.

Around the same time, the guys received an amazingly generous namedrop from their heroes in Portugal. the Man for their cover of the Alaskan-bred band’s single, “Endangered Song.”

The Summercamp’s original sound was youthful, with an angsty desire to play as loud and as fast as possible. They spent hours a day in an 8’ by 8’ storage unit with no air conditioning, fighting through 90 degree heat to perfect their sound. Though material for their first record was written, recording those ideas proved to be a challenge considering their lack of money and the experience required to achieve a product that holds up to today’s standards of professional music. Eventually, Englert and Geffrey departed to pursue other life passions and Mitch left to study at Berklee College of Music.

During their separation, however, The Summercamp continued to remain active by recruiting instrumentalists from Berklee. Drummer Louis Giannamore and bassist Ryan Yobs showed interest in the project and quickly learned all of the material necessary to perform a show when Harrison was able to travel to Boston for gigs. With that particular lineup, they performed a handful of packed shows in the Boston area and also embarked on a mini-tour from Pittsburgh to Boston. The band eventually came to a crossroads as demo-recordings again fell short of their expectations and members were seeking different paths in life. Shortly after, Louis Giannamore returned home to Europe to tour with metalcore group, TheCityIsOurs, and Mitch moved back to Pittsburgh to finally reunite with Connor and Harrison.

After a small effort to perform with live drum loops, the trio made the essential decision to add drummer Sam Berman (Nox Boys) to the group so they could play their newly written material live. The group played a number of shows at venues ranging from basements and attics to clubs and stages. The group highlighted their live performances by playing at the Pittsburgh stop on the last cross country tour of the Vans Warped Tour. Playing live has always been met with a warm response from listeners, but the lack of recorded music was hurting the band from progressing.

Last summer, the band was invited to perform at the Pittsburgh stop of the very last Vans Warped Tour, before ever releasing any recorded music. And finally, five years after the initial idea of The Summercamp was born, the band released their debut EP, Incognito Mode, on January 3rd, 2019.

The music that would eventually become Incognito Mode was birthed in a very unorthodox process. Mitch purchased an Ableton Push during his last semester at Berklee and was struck with a new inspiring manner of creating. He spent hours a day toying with the machine and real instruments to develop the bare bones arrangements of many of the songs heard on the record. When he returned home, he met up with Connor and Harrison and they began work-shopping everything to build upon what Mitch had already started. All three core members contributed to the music and lyrics heard on Incognito Mode. The Summercamp is inspired by many forms of music: ex. Arctic Monkeys, SZA, Portugal. the Man, Vulfpeck. Throughout the year it was made, they experienced several life transitions. For several months of the writing process, members were living in a storage unit in the South Side of Pittsburgh, which had no windows, no shower, no kitchen, nothing. They had little money, but high aspirations. The music on the record comes from a place of yearning for a life better than the one they had. It’s about hitting your lows, only to rise up stronger than ever; it’s about the anxiety of contemplating fate in the digital age; it’s about pulling your desires into reality to achieve your dreams.95% of the record was produced by the band themselves, using Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Vulf Compressor, Serum, Kontakt, Massive, and a plethora of other plugins. They recorded most the tracks in bedrooms, basements, and living rooms, with the exception of the drums. Jake Hanner (Donora) engineered our drums and mixed and mastered the final product. Five years after the initial idea of The Summercamp took place one summer night, the band released Incognito Mode on January 3rd, 2019.

Check them out at the links below:

Bandcamp: https://thesummercamppgh.bandcamp.com/Other Streaming Links: https://artist.landr.com/music/628810020652Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesummercampmusicInstagram: http://instagram.com/the_summercamp/