Alex Cameron is the guy you don’t know yet, but has been observing you. He’s that outcast dark horse singing in a dimly lit Karaoke bar with the “golden pipes”. The one who seems shrouded in light with his deep baritone voice and off-beat showmanship; a welcome relief from the drunk who has sung the same AC/DC song poorly for the third time. He’s the guy in the corner drinking his drinks and memorizing your stories, craftily turning them into songs with the writing skills he picked up working as an investigator’s assistant. He’s now transformed those songs into his album Jumping the Shark, released this August through Secretly Canadian.
So who is the man that drunks in karaoke bars claim has “golden pipes”? As he explains, “I'm the new guy in town. Me and my business partner, Roy Molloy, have been the hottest support act on the planet for the past three years. We're about to graduate. Our debut album Jumping The Shark is out now on Secretly Canadian and it's the hottest album you never hear.”
He’s been waiting for the right moment and taking his scrapes. The underdog in seedy bars, waiting to get his turn. In "The Comeback" he sings, “I’ve been in show biz long enough, you’ve gotta wait your turn, wait your turn like me”. The song may be about about a gameshow host, but it’s relatable to the music industry and really to anyone waiting to crawl up from the bottom or back to the top.
Cameron is a character writer, focusing on the losers and outliers of society, as well as life events and observations. “I was attacked by a work dog when I was a kid. Ripped my top lip off. My mum came and grabbed me and took me to the doctor. Different summer same place I fell into a watering hole and sunk straight to the bottom. My mum jumped in and grabbed me out. "Take Care of Business" is about the strong women in my life that raised me up,” he explains.
There is an undeniable tenderness and melancholy within these musical stories. Most of Jumping the Shark’s songs are in the first person, about all the broken and dreary true-to-life characters of society. The washed up gameshow host, the deadbeat mother who left her child in the car while she’s in the bar, the destitute man who moved back in with his parents. It’s difficult to differentiate between what is fiction and what is derived from real life due to his writing prowess.
Jumping the Shark’s title came from Cameron’s observations: “It’s a showbiz thing. I started to notice how the failings on TV or in the music business bled through into every day life. I like to focus on the little guy. The difference between an ashtray and a stadium is a matter of perspective. Personal tragedies and failures have that same shift in size. We're all out here try to do our best.”
The album still manages to be an entertaining 80’s synth dance filled story book. He is a showman and performer, with his charming, spastic dance moves and mystery that once took the form of fake scars and wrinkles. The sound stems from the stories. He explains, “The sound was driven by the characters I write about. If it needed a cheap polka feel, I'd go the Korg Poly. If it needed a paddock or a fake string section I'd go for the Prophet 600. If it needed a bar room fretless bass sound I went for the Yamaha DX7.”
Cameron’s release of the album seems to have been as successful in building a press storm as he hoped. The Australian singer has definitely got people talking, and it’s all good things. He’s going to be on tour around the world until 2017. He says Canada is in the cards but nothing is confirmed yet. Let’s hope he ends up over our way and we can witness this unique showman firsthand.
Photo: Cara Robbins