Sound Scene Express

10 Years Of Action Camp: Maura Jacob Interview

For 10 Years Maura Jacob and Bengt Alexsander have created what they call Doom Pop and Art Rock. The duo has a slew of releases including full lengths, ep’s, covers and live albums. They just added a third member to their outfit with Joe Tarowsky, known for his work with The Park Plan and City Steps. In conjunction with this mile stone Action Camp has released a best of, compilation featuring a song from each of their albums and an additional song from each of their famed TributeFests. Check out our interview with Maura and catch their anniversary show March 4 at Howlers with The Park Plan and The Mad Hatter. The show starts at 9pm for $8.

Sound Scene Express: What is your biggest accomplishment in 10 years?

Maura Jacob: It’s hard to single out one thing but we’re really proud of all of the projects and shows we have been able to accomplish while keeping a majority of the labor in-house. In addition to writing and performing our own music we also record and mix all our releases. We split the duties of booking and publicizing. We plan and manage our own tours. While there have definitely been a fair share of frustrations we’ve also learned so much and made new friends that eventually became collaborators. The fact that we’re still growing as artists and are still excited about what we do seems like in itself an accomplishment.

SSE: How did you and Bengt meet?

MJ: We met while working at a coffee shop together when we were both living in Boston. We actually wrote our first demo together in the basement of a Boston University dorm. We made mixtapes for each other, Bengt introduced me to synthesizers, I introduced Bengt to wine, and the rest is history.

SSE: How have you stayed together so long?

MJ: For us I think it boils down to two things: First, being committed to making the music we want to hear. That can mean a lot of work and compromise to make an end result that we are both proud of but it’s worth it. If I didn’t feel connected or like I had ownership of my own songs it would be hard to keep pushing forward. And second is communication–talking through most decisions and really listening to each other, especially when we disagree. Bengt and I really respect each other and are proud of the music we make which I think ultimately gets us through times when we’re not seeing eye to eye on something.

SSE: How has the Pittsburgh music scene changed in 10 years?

MJ: There are lots of changes of note but I think one that I’m most excited about is seeing more and more people get out there and create the shows, venues, and publications that they want to see. We’re big supporters of all things d.i.y and it’s encouraging to see so many independent projects flourishing. Hugh of Hughshows has his own tv show now, the Ladyfest festival is back in action, and there are tons of collaborative projects coming out, from supergroups to music videos with local production groups like Eyes to the Sky Films, to name a few.

MJ: On a personal note, I love seeing and meeting more women in local music, women who love what they do and are vocal about changes they want to see. I’m so happy to see projects like Girls Rock! Pittsburgh be so successful, to see women performing in all genres, and to work with ladies in other aspects like booking shows and running sound. And the best part of it all is it’s helping me grow as a musician and teaching me new things (shout out to the Women in Sound zine, it is such a necessary addition to the scene!).

SSE: Why did you choose to expand to a trio?

MJ: In the past we liked having the freedom that electronic drums provided with the ability to change up the sound of the drums to match the tone of a song. What we are writing now is heavier and more minimal and we’ve toyed with looping riffs and paired down arrangements. We’ve been attempting to limit our pallette in all ways but especially with our samples and were thinking about adding live drums. And, well, the stars aligned I guess because we played as Queen this year for Tribute Fest with Joe on drums and really enjoyed working with him so we thought maybe now was the time to replace our robot drummer.

SSE: What’s next for the band?

MJ: We’re writing more material and seeing where being a three-piece takes us musically. And playing more shows, including some out of town touring come summer hopefully.

SSE: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MJ: Just a thank you for celebrating our anniversary with us and for covering our past endeavors. Music blogs and publications give back so much to the scene by shining a light on our work for all to see. We really appreciate all you do for us, thank you! Hope to see you at the show!

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