the great dismal 2


Though they used to play cheerful pop punk, the members of THE GREAT DISMAL have embraced the sadder parts of life with their latest venture together. Formed by vocalist and guitarist Sarah Camden, drummer Chris Kimball, and bassist Tim Holmes, the band has quickly become one of the best known bands in the latest emo resurgence in the Virginia music scene. We recently spoke with Camden and Kimball about their sad songs from their debut Clay Manor EP, their thoughts on the local music scene and how it has developed since their former pop punk days, as well as what they have in store next year.

In your song “Vultures” you sing the line, “All the vultures in Virginia have been circling my house these past few weeks / And I wish that I could see ya / But if I step outside they’ll surely take me and / Rip me apart, piece by piece.” What is the meaning behind that?

Sarah: Basically, the whole song is about how some people at shows have no respect for people outside of the two bands that they like. They pick on others and try to start shit for no reason, and when I wrote that, I felt like an outsider to those people.

Why did you choose to put that song first on your debut record?

Sarah: It was our most energetic song, and we wanted to start out strong.

Chris: It was also our only track with percussion and the fastest.

Sarah: It’s our hype track (laughs).

What are your thoughts about the current local scene in Virginia?

Sarah: When I wrote “Vultures”, I was really biased because I was in a band with no hype, and I was really bitter about the local scene. That’s How I Beat Shaq was a great place for our scene though. At first, I didn’t think I would feel welcome there because of the people that ran it, but once I got to know them better, the were really nice and open. It was a great venue because everyone was there for positive support in a fun way.

Chris: When i got into the local scene, I listened to bands like AVERMAN and THE LINE DRIVE. Those bands paved the ground for newcomers like us. I think the whole scene has gotten better, and it’t not all about hardcore. More kids are coming out and creating their own styles of music.

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Other than Shaq, where is your favorite local venue to play at?

Chris: We’re a pretty Shaqcore band (laughs), but The Iguana has been good to us. The Refuge is alright too.

What do you think it is about your music that helps you stand out from other bands in the local scene?

Chris: Well the fact that we have a female front is one thing.

Sarah: We try to break away from what everyone else is doing. In my last band we tried really hard to sound like FOUR YEAR STRONG because we thought that’s what people wanted to hear. Now, when I write songs, I just jam on my guitar and write whatever sounds good to me. Also, Kimball and I have different influences that we try to bring together. I like MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK and he likes MUSE.

Chris: We try to bring the vibe of old 90s pop with a more emotional feel.

In a review of your album, your friend Mikey from Richmond explained that stark realism about how bad life can be is one of the most important elements of your music. He says, “It’s not about whining anymore, it’s about accepting how shitty life can be.” Do you agree with that?

Sarah: Yes and no. I get episodes of getting down, and I need an outlet to complain. I hope people can relate to it though. I just want to be real and not stray from myself.

Chris: I think our music is good for getting pissed off and sad to.

Do you think pop punk will ever die?

Sarah: No because people love nostalgia.

Chris: I don’t think its juvenile, but it definitely has a youthful energy. I don’t think its going anywhere.

Sarah: I think it dies every four years or so (laughs). It takes a lot of breaks.

Chris: There are definitely trends, but there are always new bands coming along that revamps it.

Who are some of your favorite local bands?

Sarah: THANKS and TRUST FALL are our favorites.

Chris: GRANBY STREET is really good. Who else?

Sarah: CONQUERING ROME has been really nice to us. Is AVERMAN still a band? I don’t know I have the memory of a goldfish (laughs). If we forgot you, I’m sorry.

Chris: Basically if you are nice to us, we like you.

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What does your band have planned for 2014?

Chris: We are recording an original Christmas song in the next couple of weeks. It’s not titled yet, but it might be called “A Very Dismal Christmas” (laughs).

Sarah: We don’t decide on any of our song titles until we are in the middle of recording them, which is probably why they all suck.

Chris: We also have six or seven songs that we will tun into an EP eventually. We are currently lacking in funds for studio time for a whole record, but we hope to record them by February. We also want to do an east coast spring break tour with THANKS.

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