New Sounds from Cam Hopkins & the King Rat

By Justin Allec 

Cam Hopkins, local musician and most recently a member I.R. Idiot and the now-dissolved low-fi grungers Piggybank, realized that he needed to start from scratch to bring out the songs in his head. It’s often a problem musicians have when they get pigeonholed into a genre, in that the expectations to cater to a particular sound begin to dictate the writing process.

“These [song ideas] didn’t quite fit the vibe of my old band and I wanted to experiment musically with different genres more…I had been listening to a lot of Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame and the eclectic variety really appealed to me,” Hopkins says, then lists about 10 genres he’s interested in. Bringing the songs to fruition meant that Hopkins had to start recruiting, and find specific local musicians to match the projected sounds. Eventually he brought in Andrew and Aiden Domenis (Visions of Doyle, Lord Hidetora) for guitar and drums respectively, and Josh Therriault (Shatterhorn, Escapist) on bass to join in the fun.

The band’s already released a seven-song, self-titled debut to all streaming platforms, and Hopkins is right: it does sound nothing like his other bands. While this could still be broadly called indie rock, that’s just because the guitars have that low-fi crunch to them and the vocals are more interested in being loudly enthusiastic than singing specific notes. As he wanted to, Hopkins is invoking a few different genres, sometimes within a single song. There’s rampaging surf guitars, swirling dream pop, classic rock soloing, even some country-fried picking thrown in to make the melodies hit harder. “To be able to compare a small seedling of an idea to the garden of sounds it grows into once it’s finished is amazing,” Hopkins says before one again lauding his band members. “You can’t undervalue how much of an inspiration your friends are, especially when many of them are artists in their own right as well.” Hopkins credits that cycle of creativity for how quickly and satisfactorily the King Rat project came together.

Presently, the band is content to focus on recording more songs and playing the occasional show. Hopkins is currently in Montreal for school, so the band really values what shows they do get to play together. Since every member of the band is active locally in the arts scene, Hopkins notes that collaboration with visual artists for videos and establishing a greater online presence are the current priorities. Beyond that, Andrew Domenis sums up the band’s approach to the future: “Make rats, not war.”

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