The final track on Bad//Dreems sophomore album Gutful is Million Times Alone. It holds a special place in guitarist Alex Cameron’s heart for the fact that it features the skills of a mentor, Keith Wilson – father of the band’s drummer Miles – and Cameron is hoping daddy-o might make a tour appearance.
“It was very special for all of us,” Cameron says. “Miles’s dad, Keith, played the saxophone on it. Before I even really knew James [Bartold, bass], Ben [Marwe, vocals] or Miles [Wilson, Drums], I knew Keith, because Keith was a music teacher at our school. I played the violin in the orchestra – I didn’t even play the guitar at this stage. I was compelled to keep playing in the orchestra because I had a music scholarship, so I just – it was really uncool. Obviously, I’d much prefer to have been just playing footy, but I had to keep going to orchestra.
But Keith was an amazing teacher. We had orchestral practice three times a week. In the first few years, the Monday clashed with football practice. There was a decree put out by the school, driven by Keith, that we had to go to orchestra instead of football practice. Which I hated, because football was my main passion in life at that stage.
But by the end of school, I guess I’d just spent so much time with Keith that I thought he was a great bloke – he’s an amazing music teacher and musician. It just so happened that down the track I got to know Miles, and we got in this band together, and it was only by that time I valued […] what I’d learned about music at that level, which I never would’ve done otherwise.
So we had this song [Million Times Alone] and we wanted to record it. We were going for a vibe of Lou Reed, Coney Island, or the Motels' Total Control, and we thought of the saxophone – and who better to play than Keith?
Keith’s a trained musician, a jazz musician, and he came in and he had all these charts; Miles had given him the song and he had all these charts that he’d written out. He was like, “I think the song’s in F, but then this part seems to modulate to C, and there’s this sharp bit in the melody here,” and I’m like, “Keith, we don’t operate on these levels, just play.” He was like, “Okay. But…!” He had all these questions, theory questions, that none of us could provide the answer to.
Then he just went in there and played it and it was just how it is on the recording. He was playing so amazing straight away – ‘Yep, that’s the take.’ It’s such a different level of musicianship to most band people: ideas versus actual virtuoso playing. But he’s the guy who can do both, really. So to get back to the question: we were hoping that we were going to be able to play that song, and get Keith up to play his part."
Tune in tomorrow for our full interview with Alex Cameron on Bad//Dreems' second album Gutful; it's out April 21 via Ivy League.