Interview with Campbeln
[Conducted in July 2002]
One of a handful of people who have made a real impression on the Beastie Boys fan scene over the past few years, most people have chatted with him, read his name somewhere or at least heard his name mentioned in some context. He was even a topic of conversation on the Grand Royal messageboards a few months ago. Creator of one of the best Beastie Boys fansites, co-author of the official Beastie Boys Discography, published in a Beastie Book, and an all-round nice guy.
It's time we took a closer look at Campbeln...
So how did you first get into the Beastie Boys? and what are the origins of the 'Beastie Shrine'?
I was born in the winter of 1979 in Northern California. At the age of 6 my family moved to Texas. At the age of 9 we moved back to Northern California. I was an honors student in Jr. High and High School, graduated Cum Laude with a BS in Computer Information Sytems and for the most part stayed out of trouble.
The first time I remember hearing the Beastie Boys was in '86 or '87. I really couldn't stand "Fight for Right", hated it in fact. "Girls" on the other hand was quite funny. In retrospect I'm not certain I realized they were sung by the same group. The second time I was exposed to the Beasties was with the Pretzel Nugget EP just before the release of IC. The goalie on my hockey team (and my best friend at the time) was a hard core Beastie Boy fan. During the numerous NorCal hockey road trips we took (it took us an hour and 15 mins just to get to PRACTICE) I began to listen to his DiscMan as he spun the Beasties and Tool (another of my favorite bands). It was during these listening sessions that I was exposed to bootle... er... Live&Rares =)
He had bought "Seven Day Weekend" from a local shop and I was simply amazed at both the Beasties live show and that you could get unofficial live recordings like this. I started to collect all the stuff I could get my hands on... which back then wasn't much. After getting "Seven Day Weekend" for myself as well as "Rabid", "Beastiality" and "Lollapalooza" I thought of using the internet.
Now this was long before eBay and all the other shit we've got today, so I pretty much came back empty handed on my first few attempts. I then decided that since no one else had a Beastie Boy Live&Rare recording site up, I should put one together so that I could hook up fellow fans with the recordings I was able to collect and to hopefully get a few in return. This began the rise of the original BeastieShrine (sometime during the Summer of 1996).
Of course back then it was not called the BeastieShine (9th can be accredited with that) but it was called "Campbeln's Live&Rare Beastie Boy Recording..." something or other. I was leery to use the word "bootleg" but I wasn't sure that people would understand "Live&Rare", thankfully they did. From this I met up with such hooligans as 9th, Matt, Brent, Dustin and many, many others.
The site went through a number of look and feel changes, more and more people came offering new recordings and many friends were made. Then on one not so special day, 9th made some mention to an update I was making/had made or something to my "BeastieShrine". From that day on the name of the site officially became what it still is today.
Over the years more collectors came to the BeastieShrine, people like Moogchef, Mute, and Astro, I got my own domain name (isontheweb.com) and I slowly became more and more of a computer nerd. Also in this time I meet ZoŽ, a plucky lil Aussi lass that I'm now engaged to. I began to get more and more into the web site design and programming aspects.
I imported ZoŽ to the US for college and I began to intern at internet companies and the like to pay for her and my way through school. I stayed true to the BeastieShrine for many years but ironically in my efforts to keep it's development easy I wandered from the path. I hated the fact that I couldn't easily work on the site from school, so I looked into carrying it along with my on a ZipDisk. Then when I started using languages such as Perl and PHP I looked at bringing a web server along with me as well... From there I began my development of a program called NanoWeb.
Basically NanoWeb allows a developer to do everything I wanted to do with the BeastieShrine - develop your web site on any PC you find yourself in front of. This is all fine and dandy, except for the fact that I'm still working on NanoWeb to allow me to do this =) So I ended up off on a tangent of a tangent of a tangent. I am now done with school, as is ZoŽ and I'm about to complete my work on version 3 of NanoWeb (shameless plug - NanoWebServer.com) so I'm just about ready to come back to my original internet inspiration - the BeastieShrine. So where the fuck have I been for the last 2 years? Lost in life my friends... lost in life.
For those who haven't figured it out yet, how did you come up with the handle "Campbeln"?
This is really filled with irony... at least form my point of view. The first email address I was given was under my "father"s account. Way back then ISPs allowed a max of 8 characters for a user name. Since my last name is Campbell he had to get creative with the handle, hence "CampbelN". Originally I hated this, I was quite pissed that he didn't even think to let me choose my own email address. I truly despised the handle "campbeln" because it was so uninventive and boring. For a time I toyed with a number of other handles, the only one I can think of off hand is "Title1" but in time "campbeln" began to grow on me.
Without getting into the gory details of the relationship between my "father" and myself the truly ironic part about "Campbeln" is that it will shortly become my last name. I've always been envious of my sisters with respect to when they got married they were not forced to carry on the name of such a horrid specimen of humanity. I, on the other hand would be forced to carry on his name. So short of taking ZoŽ's last name when her and I get married, we've decided to take on the last name "Campbeln". The irony in this decision is two fold as it was my "father" who originally gave me both names ("Campbell" at birth and "campbeln" with the email address) and that "Campbeln" is made mostly of his last name.
These ironies are not lost on me, they actually serve to better represent what I hope to symbolically accomplish with the name change. It's not that I'm refusing to carry on the family line, it is simply that I am changing the family line. "Campbeln" represents where I came from ("Campbell") and that I ("N") am making a change to where I and my children will end up ("Campbeln"). An added benefit to the change is that there is no one else on Earth that has "Campbeln" as a last name (or first name for that matter).
So that is the FULL story behind "campbeln", now if that ain't deeper then you thought it was gonna be then you need to lighten up! =) Oh, and for those of you who have always wondered, it's pronounce it "CAM-blen".
The Beastie Shrine was pretty much the best Beastie Boys unofficial site at one stage, how much work was going into the site during this peak period?
At one stage? Shit I didn't know I had slid off the peak =)
The BeastieShrine actually helped me ALOT when it came to my web programming career. I got so much real world experience from making the site that I was able to leapfrog from an intern to 1 of 2 on the Systems Architecture team at my first "real" job. At its peak I was putting probably 10 to 20 hours a week into the site. I really wish that back then I was able to land a bit of help in the programming of the site as my grandiose visions did not always come to fruition. Astro and 9th helped me alot with info and content but towards the end of the glory days, the programming work was more then one programmer could sustain.
And what is the status of the Beastie Shrine now? Are we likely to see a revamped Beastie Shrine in the future?
Damn right you are! ZoŽ has mentioned to me that she would like to do some work on the discography engine... but that has always been my baby and I've not yet been able to swallow my pride enough to green light her on that. But with the completion of NanoWeb v3.0 I'm going to hit the Shrine with all I've got. I also hope to lend my talents to BeastieMania, so there won't be too much of a overlap in info between the sites.
Were there any other Beastie sites that you liked back when the Shrine was active?
You know I looked around alot at fellow fan site back in the day, but not so much at the height of the Shrine... Moogchef had a nice site as did theBusStop (theBusStop is still the pimp when it comes to classic BBoy news and info).
From being a high profile fan/collector/contributor, you sort of vanished a few years back. What happened?
As I said above... life happened. I got off on the NanoWeb tangent and off on an XML Parser tangent off the NanoWeb tangent while I was off on a real world job going to tangent and a planning for marriage tangent and...
But now like many other tech workers, I've got some extra time on my hands (ie- can't get a fucking job to save my life) so I've been busting my ass on all my loose ends. I'm planning on going down to Australia with ZoŽ in about 3 months in order to both travel around that beautiful country and to escape the job market of the states. So I've got that much free time with not a care in the world. So once NanoWeb is done, the Flavor For Your Ear as well as the BeastieShrine will be back in your face!
Do you have any memorable moments from your time on the Beastie scene?
I've gotten a number of really cool things from people over the years. On guy made me a t-shirt just for the hell of it, one chick put ZoŽ and I up in '98 after a BBoy concert, I've been hooked up with some wacky as BBoy recordings... and in addition to all of this my work on the BeastieShrine has gotten me into a line of work that I absolutely love (not to mention pays well enough to support my BBoy habit =). So any one event? The few mentioned above... but the over all experience has been one long memorable moment!
Do you think the Beastie Boys scene has changed much from when you started to now?
I donno... the BBoys were originally cursed with the legions of "Da-foot-ball" assholes with LTI, but PB peeled most of them away. Since then the core fan base has been pretty much the same, from IC (which is where I came in) on through SOS. There are more people recording shows now, though most try to make a quick buck on eBay in place of doing trades for other recordings so I guess that is different.
Are you still keeping an eye on the Beastie scene these days?
Definitely, I was in Sydney over Christmas in 2001 (Sydney kicks ass for new years, BTW) and I scored a few things that I'd not seen before. Basically over my "hiatus" period I've continued to aggressively collect the studio stuff while 9th has done the same with the L&Rs.
How did you manage to get into the position of writing the discography for the official Beastie Boys website years ago?
I was able to impress Ian (as in "A shout to Ian and little ZoŽ" which is Ian's daughter, not my fiancee) with my Discography. I told him that I would be able to easily make a new skin for the official site and he got on-board. It has since fallen into a bit of disarray (missing Alive and SOS for example). I really need to fix that shit before someone on the official site notices =)
Your thoughts on the Beastie Boys official site (back then and now)?
I've always wished that the official site could be a little more fan style/oriented. They have had some cool shit in the past but all in all what I always wanted the official site to be was the BeastieShrine. Message boards (which I never got around to =), web radio, all that.
You have been thanked in the Angus Batey book "Rhyming & Stealing : A History of the Beastie Boys", how did this come about?
Angus emailed me asking if he could use the BeastieShrine/Official Discography in his book. I of course jumped at the chance, but with a few conditions. First I wanted to get 3 copies of the book for my own stash and I of course wanted to be credited with the information. I also got Astro mentioned I believe as he did alot of the leg work for the discography. I think I sent one of the copies to Astro as well.
Yeah I got it - great seeing our names in print :) Do you have any comments on the demise of Grand Royal last year?
Not really... I only heard a little here and there about it. It is a bummer as the label let the BBoys do alot of shit that they may have not otherwise been able to do (like AcidGrandRoyal.com) and I of course feel for Mike D. as that was his baby. Outside of that...
What are your plans for the future? (Both Beastie and non-Beastie related)
Well like I said above I'm planning on moving down to Australia with ZoŽ here in about 3 months. We hope to get a little apartment down there, get some traveling in and return to the US to get married sometime in 2003. From there I'd love to go to Europe and trawl their records bins for a few months >=)
Any last words?
Anymore? I was long winded enough above =)