Ottawa indie rockers Bad Volunteers have your summer jams on lockdown with their debut EP Welcome to Summer Camp.

Released this week, the 4-track EP is fun, energetic, and perfect for your backyard BBQ or driving around with the windows down and the summer breeze blowing through.

The three members, Chris Ferrante (vocals, guitar), Cole MacPhee (drums), and Andrew Doxtater (bass) are long time friends since high school and early on in university.

“The first time we all met back in like 2012 we ended up jamming and it was really organic and fun,” said Chris.

“A lot of time past and members played in other bands, but decided to explore things more seriously again a few years ago. “I had a bunch of songs I was sitting from years of writing and I shared them with Cole and Andrew back in 2018. What they brought to the table allowed those songs to grow and become 20x better than whatever I had, and we figured we didn’t want to let that work go to waste,” added Chris.  

“Bad Volunteer was unofficially born then, and we’re just excited to try and keep that momentum and chemistry up.”

That chemistry flourished in October 2019 when the boys got together in Andrew’s garage to record the EP themselves. “That in itself was a learning process,” said Chris. “it was a learning curve for sure doing it all ourselves which added to the timeline, but ultimately we are really happy with it and worth the wait in our opinion.”

As they should be. From the very first chords of opening track, “Kidney,” you can’t help but bob you head along and when they slide into the breakdown on the chorus you are hooked just to be rattled around by the frenetic off beats that follow. The next song, called “It Catches Up With You,” contains that smooth early Weezer vibe with slightly rougher vocals in all the best ways and great sing-along potential… that is, whenever we all get to be in a room together again.

The showstopper though is the closer, “Cat Steven.” “It is about learning from the people you are closest with. It’s about your friends pressuring you and hopefully bringing you up. If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut right?” said Chris about the band’s (and my) favourite song on the EP.

If you are like me you would surely be curious about the story behind the talking portion of the song, like any other song that uses movie quotes or similar references.

“The soundbite you hear is a close friend of ours Matt “Randy” Stairs who stopped by one night after we were recording. We all ended up getting hammered and he started going on this rant… Andrew sneakily clicked record as we had all our mics setup and we got some gold from it,” said Chris. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The EP Welcome to Summer Camp is about entering “adulthood” and it feeling like the first day of summer camp. You are excited and nervous all at once, you don’t want to make a mistake in front of your new friends. You have no real idea of what is to come next, as you try to find your comfort zone in this strange and possibly far away place.

The band just squeezed this album in before COVID really hit, wrapping up all the tracking on March 14th. That timing and the isolation since has made the band realize more than ever the importance of writing and creating music.

“For me, the first day I am “free” from all this I want to be in Andrew’s basement with my guitar amp as loud as it will go. We are itching to play live and show off these tunes and not having an outlet to do that is hard. I’m excited for getting to the other side of all this, and the appreciation and excitement I expect that everyone will have towards live music in the city again.”

Have a listen to Welcome to Summer Camp and when you inevitably like what you hear, play it again and again in anticipation for more new music from Bad Volunteers in September.