The debut EP from the pop-goth solo project of artist Eli Frank dives into post-quarantine feelings—positive and negative—and in true DIY fashion was recorded by the musician themself in their basement
When it comes to creation, there’s beauty in collaboration—in working closely with others, sharing ideas and combining strengths to make something new and extraordinary.
However, if COVID taught us anything, it’s that we can’t be dependent on others. Alone and at home, we were left to our own devices, with our own thoughts, and forced to figure out our own problems and deal with our own demons. If we wanted something done, we had to do it ourselves. And while that was frequently exhausting and occasionally excruciating, it was also, in a sense, empowering. Together, we all experienced independence and collectively we discovered our individual power.
After real-life more or less resumed, some eagerly returned to collaborative ways of working, psyched to be back in a room with others and to be part of a partnership. However, for others, there’s proved to be value in a more solo way of working—of being reliant on and beholden to no one. To be able to do things their own way, on their own time.
One artist who has enthusiastically pressed forward alone this past year is Eli Frank, who hasn’t abandoned bands completely (they still play in Teenage Halloween), but in recent years embarked on a solo endeavor, Bummer Camp, which debuted last September with the release of the artist’s first single, “Gone Rotten.”
Flanked by no one and armed with nothing but a GibsonSG, loop pedal and drum machine, Bummer Camp is a totally solitary endeavor, an exercise in vulnerability and what sometimes feels like a super-fun personal party and at other times like an exorcism of the artist’s own demons. No bandmates, no buffer, just what the artist could perhaps describe as me, myself and (El)i—
And the result is the debut self-titled) Bummer Camp EP, which is out everywhere TODAY!
“This is my first official release with Bummer Camp, which is sort of a blend between 2 past projects TOP nachos and Winnebago Vacation,” Eli said of the release over email. “The biggest difference is I’m going solo and for good reasons, mainly that people are hard to rely on and you can’t always tell where their head is at. It’s just me out there on that stage with a looper and an electric guitar, nothing to hide. The EP touches on a lot of post-quarantine feelings; isolation, hurt, abandonment, but also hope, determination and progress. All recorded by me in my basement!”
Eli also sent over notes on each of the EP’s six tracks, which range from bright bangers to spooky stoner ballads that serve up fuck you’s and also celebrate failures, that tackle literal highs and explore emotional lows, and that most of all focus on the facing and embracing of change and a true acceptance of one’s relationships, circumstances and self.
Bummer Camp—track by track
“Starting out with a bang, I want to bring a classic sound with a classic attitude. It’s all about proving to those that don’t believe in you or want you to succeed that they have no bearing on your life. Failure also isn’t always JUST a failure, it brings many lessons. Show the world baby.”
“So Last Year”
“This is a classic ‘fuck you’ tune. Friends are friends because they have your back and are up front with you. If your friends aren’t honest then they aren’t your friends. These past few years have brought a lot of hard truths to light, but once they’re out there you can work through it and you’ll be ok.”
“A psychedelic straight forward bop. It’s about being out late, having fun, doin ur thang. People all have fun in their own ways and that fun doesn’t always resonate with me, but it sure can be fun to watch.”
“Not Like You”
“Sort of a nightmarish stoner rock ballad. This is for the fans of that heavy. I try to bring something new to the table with each of these tracks and this one probably breaks the mold the most. It’s about people changing without you even realizing. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life 100% and what they are planning on their own. Your plans and your friends plans aren’t always going to coincide and that’s ok. Be with those that want to be with you.”
“Previously released single that urges you to stay present and not dwell on what has already happened. Of course you gotta plan my guy and learn from your mistakes.”
“Relationships that started sweet can go sour. Same old same old I released this as a single already also, hope you been liking it!”
“Laugh All day”
“The ender that ends on a high note, literally. Remember when you smoked for the first time and everything was bright and fun, don’t you wish you could stay in that moment forever? This track was also a previous single, but that’s ok life repeats itself in funny ways. Let’s laugh together and remember shit isn’t that serious.”
Due to a set of circumstances alluded to via Instagram post, Eli ended up canceling the EP-release show, but in a sense that’s rather fitting. Instead you’re invited to enjoy the artist’s record the same way it was written and recorded—by yourself. And as we know, there’s some real beauty—a lot to be gained—in doing things that way, too.
Feature image provided by the artist.