NASHVILLE, TN — Singer/songwriter Dillon Campbell was in concert last week at the Turn One Bar in East Nashville. If you’re not totally familiar with his music, now is a good time to do so. He has plenty of new music that’s ready for consumption. Dillon’s debut album, BORN BENEATH POWER LINES, was just released earlier this summer. The songs feature distinct lyrics and brooding melodies that tell the tale and feel the feelings about many of the emotions and ups n’ downs that his fans can relate to. And just as his music often reflects, Dillon’s journey as an artist has been filled with his own share of trials and tribulations that he’s chosen to turn into beautiful music.
Dillon’s Campbell’s name may sound familiar to some. That’s because he’s the son of music legend Glen Campbell, who died earlier this month after a battle with Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis inspired Dillon to write the heartfelt song “Letter From a Son.” Part of the proceeds of the sale of the song will go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America—which helps improve the treatment and quality of life for people and families with Alzheimer’s disease.
For over a decade, Dillon’s been busily carving a name for himself with his own style of music, which he’s been building song by song. Here, in this interview, Dillon answers Five Questions-Plus about his latest album, his very unique technique on getting inspired to write songs for his side gig band The Donner Party, and what it’s like being the son of a music legend.
TRIBUNE: You have a new music project that just came out, Born Beneath Power Lines, which is your debut album. That is a powerful title. Very memorable. How did you come up with it? What inspired that title?
D. CAMPBELL: “A lot of people, strangely – my father, you know, is Glen Campbell – thought it was a reference to like being the son of someone famous, or someone powerful, I guess. But actually, the saying ‘born beneath power lines’ is really a reference to how people would say, ‘What’s wrong with that kid? Did he eat paint chips as a kid? Was he born beneath power lines?’ It’s kind of a reference to somebody who’s not all there.”
TRIBUNE: What did your dad think about your music?
D. CAMPBELL: “My dad didn’t really appreciate my music as much as I thought he might. We had like discussions and arguments here and there about the writing and stuff like that. But one song I told him that I wrote, and I kind of like sang it to him, it was in a conversation where he was kind of coherent, probably five or six years ago, and we were talking – he sang back the chorus of my song to me, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty incredible that he remembered it.’ The song is called The Rain…”
TRIBUNE: Did you two ever collaborate on any songs?
D. CAMPBELL: “I think my dad just didn’t like the style. He would say often sau that I come from a ‘beat poet background’ of writing, where there’s really no rules or regulations, periods can go wherever, and commas can go wherever, this more creative kind of writing. He would always say, ‘Oh, you can’t start a sentence with ‘and’, you can’t do this, you can’t do that,’ and I come from an area where it’s free for all. So, we would have arguments on writing styles. But when I first started music – I must have been in my twenties – I went out there and recorded some songs with dad doing like lead guitar over my songs, so that was kind of cool. I remember going to his house and playing some covers of songs that I liked, and he would back me up on lead guitar. It was fun.”
TRIBUNE: You also have a band called The Donner Party. Is there a big difference between The Donner Party music and the Born Beneath Power Lines music and how you create music for both?
D. CAMPBELL: “Yeah, there’s actually a big difference. When I started this side project, I had no idea how much different the writing aspect would be. When I write for Dillon Campbell, my project with the band, I normally just take an acoustic guitar, and then come up with chords, and then come up with lyrics. With The Donner Party, what we did, we would get basic chords down for a song, and we would record it, and I would take that recording to the bathtub, and I would listen to it, and then submerge myself underwater, and come up with the lyrics underwater. So, every lyric for The Donner Party, it might be the first time anyone’s ever done it, but all the lyrics were written submerged naked in water.”
TRIBUNE: Wait. Let’s go back. So, you first go and get your big tub of bath water and then submerge your head into the water for a minute or so until you get inspired for some lyrics. Is that the procedure?
D. CAMPBELL: “Basically, yeah. It’s just a couple lines, a line or two at a time. It’s an interesting way to write.”
TRIBUNE: So, it’s kind of like you’re baptizing yourself to get your inspiration.
D. CAMPBELL: “Yeah, in a way. Or going back to the birth process, like when you’re in water in the womb.”
TRIBUNE: I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody do this Dillon. This is quite an original way to write songs. It’s different. But it’s working, because I see where one of your singles, Valium, has over 300,000 views on YouTube, so this bathing, dunking songwriting technique is working out for you quite well.
D. CAMPBELL: “Yes. It is. Born Beneath Power Lines is my debut album as Dillon Campbell, that’s available on iTunes, and the debut album by The Donner Party is called ‘Chloroform,’ and that’s also available on iTunes.”
See more at: www.dilloncampbell.com