“Whenever people ask where are you from? I say Manchester”, says Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio, as we sit in a bar in Chorlton in the late afternoon sunshine discussing his love of his adopted hometown, and the upheavals which have led to his astounding new album ‘The Last Rotation Of Earth’. It’s been a long hard slog to get to where he is now, on the verge of releasing his sixth and most accomplished and expansive work to date, even if the main inspiration behind the album was the end of a long term relationship (more of which later). 

Last time we met in central Manchester, the acclaimed ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ album was on the verge of being released, a huge tour was lined up, the reviews were looking great and we were discussing how things never seem to go smoothly for BC (deportation and a family bereavement have all fed into previous albums) but this time around, in Spring 2020, what could possibly go wrong? World: “Hold my beer…”  Fast forward to Spring 2023, just over a week until the release of what is set to be his greatest album yet, and here we are again, this time around though things are looking much brighter aren’t they? “There’s still a week to go!” Brian laughs, hammering a fist on the wooden table for good luck.

It’s a well known fact that BC has had to overcome more than his fair share of hurdles to get to where he is now, yet each difficult circumstance has only served to embolden his songwriting and desire to make his music even more far-reaching than before. However, the widely publicised triumph over adversity angle which seems to follow him around like a ball and chain, masks a lot of the more intriguing and sublimely unique elements to BC Camplight’s work – the dark humour in the lyrics, the melancholic and the uplifting way the chord sequences swoop and soar, generating a whole range of emotions within the listener, and that’s often just within one verse! 

“It’s just important for me to be me. I am, and hopefully people will agree, a funny, dark guy. I think there’s a risk when you write a record like this, if you don’t approach it on a human level, then it’s just going to sound whingy” Brian states. “There’s so many records like that, where it’s like ‘yeah, I get it mate, your girlfriend left, get over it’. I read lyrics about ‘oh I miss you and everything’s so dark’ and I just didn’t want to make that record, I wanted people to feel like there’s a real human being going through all of these things, a complicated human being, like we all are. So it’s important to me, in my music, to be a complete human, and sometimes that doesn’t help sales, because it’s a bit hard to pigeon-hole me, because one song will be a fucking stand-up comedy routine, and one song a sad old song, but it’s always been important to me to show all of my colours on albums, and treat the listeners like they’re intelligent. I don’t want dumb-asses listening to my songs anyway!” he jokes. “People that understand emotions, understand humanity, and maybe have complex brains are those kind of people that gravitate towards my music”.

It’s that approach which has led to his most open and honest lyrical content so far, and none more so than on the hauntingly beautiful ‘Going Out On A Low Note’, which addresses the loss of an imagined future which now can never be as Brian explains “It’s especially mournful. It’s acknowledging the death of a dream, the death of what you thought your life was going to be. It’s a really weird feeling, a lot of us go through it. You just have this assumption of what your life is going to be, and then it’s just not there anymore. There really is a piece of you which hasn’t even existed yet, and it’s gone, it’s a really strange feeling isn’t it? So that was a way of acknowledging everything I thought was going to happen isn’t and where do I go from here.”

Your lyrics are were really direct on ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ and on this one even more so. Do you still feel that’s important, as I think a lot of people hide behind similes and metaphors and don’t say what they mean?

“Well, I stopped doing that, so much s0, that in one of my songs I start yelling at myself in the song for using similes!” (on the brilliant ‘It Never Rains In Manchester’). “Right, I’ll preface this by saying, I don’t give a fuck about what anybody thinks about my music” he laughs. “I’m glad that people like it, and when people do like it, they seem to be drawn to the directness of it, and I have noticed that. I, in turn, started to become more drawn to my own music, the more direct I was. When you make a song, I like to give each one of my songs its own little brain, its own little artificial intelligence, so when you create one of these songs, for me, it’s kind of a little living thing. I like making that little thing able to communicate in a way that it communicates with me, it communicates with the listener. I noticed on a few records back, the more I was trying to be clever, it was losing me, it was losing other people as well. So I thought stop being clever, teach these songs how to talk, and let them talk. People don’t listen to music cos they want to figure out a fucking verbal Sudoku puzzle! It’s like, they want to be spoken to, and felt heard, and that’s what I try to do with my music now. I just don’t have the time or the patience to be writing these awful deep metaphors and stuff, it’s just not what I do.”

This sixth album, the hugely anticipated follow up to ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ was shaping up to be a very different beast entirely. There was one problem though “It wasn’t very good.” Brian reveals. “I was terrified. If there was one good thing to come out of this break-up, it’s that my music doesn’t suck”! he laughs. “I was doing this album, and I don’t think it was as good as ‘Shortly After Takeoff’, I was like ‘fuck, I’m finally slipping backwards’. I was convincing myself ‘no, no, it’s good, it’s good’ and there was this voice in the back of my head going ‘it’s not as good’. I had a good day in the studio one day, I was feeling a little bit better about it, and came in, and then my partner handed me a glass of wine, and I saw that she was crying and I thought ‘uh-oh’, and then she left. Then I looked at that piece of shit record that I had been doing and was like ‘you’re leaving, you’re done!’ About ninety-five percent of it I just tossed, and then within two months I’d made ‘Last Rotation Of Earth’ from start to finish. It’s my stupid brain! There’s always a log jam and I have to have something to shake it loose and usually that something isn’t very pleasant!”

‘Last Rotation Of Earth’ feels like the album he should have made. It’s the perfect follow up to ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ which was supposedly the end of the ‘Manchester Trilogy’ as BC christened the three albums made since moving here in 2012 with’ How To Die In The North’, and ‘Deportation Blues’, preceding ‘Shortly After Takeoff’. The new album still retains a distinct Mancunian flavour running through its core with lines such as “I was struck by lightning when I was fourteen but I’ve been fucking mint since” from the the aptly titled ‘It Never Rains In Manchester’. However Brian is quick to play down the thought that this is now a quadrilogy of Manc themed albums. ”It’s not as catchy is it? Quadrilogy. You know, I’m always honest. I only thought of the Manchester trilogy as a way to sell the last record” Brian jokes. “I thought ’well, these are the three records I’ve made in Manchester, let’s call it a trilogy’ I didn’t really set out to do it, it wasn’t Star Wars! This is definitely  a totally separate animal. In some ways it’s less about my journey here in Manchester and all that stuff, and I feel it’s more about telling a story about another person, and some of the themes are, I think, a little bit more universal. To me, it feels different, and it’s the first album I’ve done in ten years, without the missus. So, those felt like the albums I did with her, I mean she didn’t do anything with the music, but they wouldn’t exist without her, she was kind of like my backbone, so this is the first thing I did on my own, so it doesn’t feel part of those at all”.

Fresh starts are nothing new to BC Camplight. It’s been well documented that before moving to the U.K., Brian had members of the War On Drugs as his backing band, played piano with Sharon Van Etten, and had a pretty miserable time in Philadelphia. With nothing to lose, on the advice of a musician friend, he moved all the way across the pond to Manchester, found musicians to work with, a studio, and a record label, so does he take any inspiration from his previous life back in the U.S? “I thought that when I moved to Manchester, a couple of years would go by, and then I would remember why I loved America, and why I loved Philadelphia, but the exact opposite has happened. Nothing against those places and it’s all my fault! Like, you’ve read the other articles, I wasn’t the greatest guy back then, so going back to Philadelphia, it’s just basically saying ‘hey, remember you’re an asshole’ and it’s not a very pleasant thing. I might go once a year to see my family in New Jersey, but just the thought of touring in America… I wasn’t good to it, it wasn’t good to me”.

He may be settled in the North of England, yet his music still manages to travel through soaring harmonies, interspersed with spoken word asides, and musical jolts which never distract from the song, but keep you guessing as to where he’ll go next. It’s at the very heart of what makes a BC Camplight tune as Brian explains “One thing that I’ve never understood about music, is that I’ve never understood how an artist can only be a certain type of artist and only that kind, like this guy is a dubstep guy, this guy is a whatever other kind of music, and I’ve always felt like, feelings are so fucking complicated, and the human brain is so all over the place, well at least mine is, I’ve never understood how people can be so confined by rules and certain styles of music. I’m so uninterested in that. When I do a song, there are no rules, there’s no one saying ‘well you can’t have an accordion in that song because you have a heavy metal guitar’, it’s very dangerous, because it’s very easy to go wrong when you approach songs this way. It’s really important to me to make sure that these songs reflect how chaotic human nature is, and sometimes that’s a little hard to do when you’re just doing a vocal and piano and a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, so I take a lot of pride in crafting these little worlds that kind of go everywhere. A lot of it is my attention deficit as well.  I’ve said it a billion times, but I get so bored with music, not anyone’s music in particular, but I need to constantly need to be entertained to keep my attention on anything, so I think, in my music, if I do a verse and a half that seems quite pleasant and normal, I go ‘enough of that!’ ” he laughs. 

One thing that does keeps Brian’s mind occupied is the world of classical music “Sometimes, and again it depends on who you’re listening to, it’s hard to predict, and that’s very appealing to me” he states. No wonder then, that he enlisted the help of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on the new album, it’s a match that surprisingly hasn’t been made before, the glorious sweeping melodies of BC Camplight backed by the huge sounds of a full orchestra. It’s an area in which Brian feels very much at home: “Well, I do come from a bit of a classical background, and I did a lot of classical baroque choir work and stuff like that in school, so I am kind of from that world. I’m not great at writing it out, but I’m good at composing and telling people what to do” he says with a mischievous grin, “as my theory is pretty good, so I can kind of just dish it out and luckily get enough players who are really good so they can understand what I’m saying. But yeah, I mean, I think Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ is the most perfect thing ever, and I listen to it, and I go’ how did he do that’ and there’s also like this weird connection being made between like, and I don’t necessary believe in God, but something like that in that kind of music. There’s some sort of bridge that’s made, and something otherworldly is happening in that music, so once I start listening to stuff like that it’s really hard to listen to The Courteeners!”

The orchestration has certainly helped to steer BC Camplight’s songwriting in more of a cinematic direction, which, as Brian explains, summed up the strangeness he felt whilst writing it. “I immediately thought when I was going into ‘Last Rotation Of Earth’ that this all feels so surreal to me, in that moment, that this feels like a film, my life feels like a film, and this is a common thing it’s called de-personalisation, for people who have bad anxiety disorders, they feel like they’re living in a film, or like living in a bubble, and everything felt like that to me when I was making this album. I was just making this album into my movie, and that’s why I called one of the songs ‘The Movie’. A lot of it is tongue-in-cheek, the super over-the-top scores that I hope people will realise are supposed to be slightly out of bounds. I went into this going ‘right, this is my film’.”

I’m glad you mentioned your song ‘The Movie’ as I love how in that song, after the spoken word argument section, (well, this is a BC Camplight tune after all), the orchestration just soars:

“I think it’s my favourite part of the album! When we were doing that, we recorded that string section at the end, and I said ‘it’s not big enough!’ But I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. It used to go, and this is going to be hard to put in print but I’m just telling you ‘der, der…’ (plays air violin), and then I was like ‘what do we have to do?’. I thought ‘hey everybody, do this’ (mimes a huge crescendo going up loads of notes). Then I was like ‘yes, this hurts my heart now!’ I was pulling out every trick I could to make myself feel sad, and not even necessarily sad, but when you hear something beautiful and you cry. I wanted people to feel that.”

To really turn up the emotional impact even more, cue, Brian’s dog Frankie, the much loved companion who appears in many photos and BC Camplight songs, turning against him in the epic break-up classic ‘She’s Gone Cold’ “A lot of people know that my relationship with my dog is so important, so I thought how could this situation get worse, how could it get piled on here, and I thought, wow, what if even the dog turned one me? So I thought, yep, that’s going in the song! I mean even through all of this now, I feel like he knows what’s going on. I split him half and half, every other week with my ex-partner. It could be just me projecting, but sometimes I look over at him, and he’s just staring up through his eyes and I feel like he’s going ‘are you alright mate?’ Although he might just be hungry!”

The BC Camplight band of Luke Barton on bass, Francesca Pidgeon on synths and guitar, new guy Jolan Lewis on synths, Thom Bellini on lead guitar and, Adam Dawson on drums are now getting ready to do some of their biggest shows to date “I’ve been telling them for about three years now ‘just stay with me, I’m telling you I’m going to make a good record!'” explains Brian. “I’m really looking forward to the gigs, it’s really more about the fans than anything. I’m proud of them, or just so honoured that they’ve stayed with me, and that each record has got bigger because, like, I’m forty-three, and I don’t know anyone else who’s got more popular this fucking slowly! You know what I mean? The thing is there must be hundreds of bands who have got to where I am now, but within like a year’s span, and then they aren’t around anymore. Just the fact that I was afforded the opportunity, through Bella Union, my record label, and through the fans, to just kind of, take my time, and build this fan base, it’s just been really cool. For the majority of my career I was playing to no one! I used to play shows to literally no one, it’s just in the past five years it’s been this sort of steady climb.”

Now you’re playing much bigger venues, do you find it hard coming to terms with, maybe not fame, but a certain level of acknowledgement, I suppose?

“Thank you for stressing ‘not fame’, definitely not fame!” he laughs. It’s kind of like getting into a hot bath at a sloth’s pace! You know what I mean, just like gradually, take an hour to get in the tub, that’s what I’ve done. So there’s never been a moment of ‘oh my god, this is happening’. I just feel basically, the same as I’ve always felt. Maybe at the end of this, if this continues to do well, I can look back on it and go ‘wow’, but right now, life’s still a slog, so I don’t really have time to pat myself on the back”.

He may not be patting himself on the back, but plenty of others are singing his praises from the rooftops, many of them, myself included, first heard his music on Marc Riley’s BBC6Music show. With numerous sessions for Riley already under his belt, his latest one will be the most poignant yet, as Brian explains “We don’t prepare any differently for sessions then we do for live shows, we probably should, but we’re not techies, we’re just a very good live band, we basically show up places and we do what we do and say ‘hope you like it, if you don’t go fuck yourself’ he laughs. “I’m kidding. As far as Marc’s concerned, none of this would have happened without him. When I did my first record in Manchester, and even before then, he’s been banging on the wall, and banging the pots and pans for me for years, I mean, we’re talking a decade or more, and what baffles me is, he’s never stopped. I’ve supported younger bands, and bands that were coming up, but even me, after like three weeks, I’m like ‘yeah I’m done now, I’ve said my piece, go listen to them’. But it’s like every record, this guy’s just shouting to the world for me. Usually when I’ve done live shows, they’ll be people who come up to me and go ‘we know you through Marc Riley’, and I don’t really know how to thank the guy, and to stick up for him with, you know, everything that’s happening now. They’ll be some people perhaps telling me not to because I do rely on that station, and I say well what am I going to do? This guy’s gone into bat for me, every step of the way, and I’m not just going to sit here with my mouth shut. What I want to do is, and I think it’s his last or second to last live session, I just want to give him the best send off, and just hope I don’t end up crying like a big baby.”

BC Camplight live shows are renowned for being more than just a gig, part stand up comedy, part performance art, you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen at a BC Camplight show and Brian wouldn’t want it any other way “One of the things I like about B.C. Camplight live shows is they’re really never the same. The other day I did a show at Yes just for people who had bought the vinyl, and I spend half an hour of the show interviewing my subconscious, and doing a Q and A, so you know they’ll be some stand up, I put a therapist’s couch on stage once. I guess it’s some kind of performance art, but not the kind that you roll your eyes at, I hope, and the band’s phenomenal, and it’s always raucous, and it’s always ultimately uplifting, but I think at some points, you know, you might get the feels a little bit. I’m very confident that when people leave BC shows they go ‘oh I hadn’t seen that before’, and that’s why I do it”.

‘The Last Rotation Of Earth’ is a remarkable album, powered by an honesty and humour that’s refreshingly uplifting. With the final song on the album ‘The Mourning’  being a reflective tune, seemingly ending the album on a question mark or an ellipsis…it’s the perfect finale for the album “I think it’s going to turn some people off that, because some people are conditioned, like if you watch a sitcom it kind of gets wrapped up in a nice little bundle at the end, or you watch a film and the film has an ending, and it leaves you with some sort of a conclusion or feeling that things have wrapped up. Because I have no idea what’s going to happen next, I didn’t want to pretend that I did. There’s nothing worse than if I would have gone (sung in happy voice) ‘and that’s where I am now’ (laughs). I just wanted to say, this is how I feel, honestly I’m in mourning, I don’t know if tomorrow is going to be great or the worst day ever, and that’s where we’re going to leave it, and like you say, dot, dot, dot…”

With ‘The Last Rotation Of Earth’, the hardest working, slowest burning, musical phenomenon has triumphed again.

The Last Rotation Of Earth is out 12th May 2023 on Bella Union 

BC Camplight Live shows:

Thursday 25th May – Worcester – Drummonds

Friday 26th May – Falmouth – Cornish Bank 

Saturday 27th May – Newport – Le Pub 

Sunday 28th May – Halifax – Loafers 

Monday 29th May – Cambridge – Portland Arms 

Tuesday 30th May – Leicester – Firebug 

Friday 2nd June – Northampton – Black Prince 

Saturday 3rd June – Scunthorpe – Café Independent 

Sunday 4th June – Ramsgate – Music Hall 

Wednesday 7th June – Galashiels – Mac Arts 

Thursday 8th June – Aberdeen – Tunnels

Friday 9th June – Inverness – The Tooth & Claw 

Saturday 10th June – Dundee – Beat Generator 


BC Camplight instore performances:

 Friday 12th May – London – Rough Trade East

Sunday 14th May – Nottingham – Rough Trade

Monday 15th May – Leeds – Crash @ Wardrobe

Tuesday 16th May – Brighton – Resident

Wednesday 17th May – Bristol – Rough Trade

Thursday 18th May – Kingston – Banquet @ Pryzm (full band)

Saturday 20th May – Glasgow – Mono Cafe

Sunday 21st May – Edinburgh – Assai @ The Caves

Monday 22nd May – Oxford – Truck @ Bullington


BC Camplight full band shows:

 Wednesday 8th November – Glasgow – The Garage

Thursday 9th November – Newcastle – Boiler Shop

Friday 10th November – Leeds – Stylus

Wednesday 15th November – Bristol – SWX

Thursday 16th November – Birmingham – The Mill

Friday 17th November – Manchester – The Albert Hall

Tuesday 21st November – Exeter – Phoenix

Wednesday 22nd November – Brighton – Chalk

Thursday 23rd November – London – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Friday 24th November – Nottingham – Rock City

Wednesday 29th November – Dublin – Whelan’s

Thursday 30th November – Belfast – Empire Music Hall


BC Camplight – Chorlton, May 2023: Photo Credit – Paula Farr

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.