Tom/D2S: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. So how are you?
Dennis Cameron: I'm doing great, I'm very blessed and walking with the Lord closer than I ever have. If I only knew then what I know now I would have died to self a long time ago and not tried to 'rudder' the course for my life on my own strength.
"These days I don't listen to rock guitar players very often. I started a real appreciation for the country guitar players like Brent Mason, Guthrie Trapp and Johnny Hiland. These guys have a much greater mastery on their instrument that the rock guys do in my opinion, they also have more in depth knowledge of the theory and meld a lot of jazz influences into their playing."
Tom/D2S: Well, it's been what? About twenty-four years since the last Angelica release and about twelve since Cynical Limit. What have you been up to since then?
Dennis Cameron: From the Cynical Limit timeline until now I've just been working, raising my daughter and enjoying family life. As music is concerned, in hind sight I can see the Lord's hand in how the plug was pulled on Cynical Limit as I no sooner signed a pressing and distribution deal with Butterfly International and then the company went into chapter 11. This put me into limbo unless I wanted to spend a bunch of money to buy my contract back from the people that bought all the holdings, and at that point the wind was out of my sails. It was a little devastating back then but I can see now that it was necessary to get me in line. God's not about to let us take the gifts He's given us and use them selfishly for very long, I'm happy that He made me take a furlough. I put the guitar down for years and years after that, my studio didn't see much work for a long time. Plus the whole model of the industry changed and I was clueless how to approach it on my own steam, so I just did other things.
My wife Sandra and I met during the short Cynical Limit stint and dated for about a decade, raising our own kids by ourselves instead of uprooting and consolidating with little kids. We would just meet on weekends and let the kids monkey it up. Her kids are older than my daughter, so when they went to college and went on their own we married in 2015.
In 2013 I was contacted and asked to do some country music playing. I ended up picking up the guitar again and approaching it with a whole new angle and really immersed myself into that style of lead guitar. I did session work on several records and was introduced to the Protools environment. From there I pieced together what is now my current studio setup and have been recording all kinds of music ranging from country to metal, instrumental... the list goes on. I have so much music I don't know what to do with. I don't have an agenda now other than, "Lord, thy will be done".
Tom/D2S: Amen... so, during the Cynical Limit stint, did you know going in that it wasn't God's will?
Dennis Cameron: I don't believe that it was out of His will when I went into it, but in hindsight, I've been notorious for taking the ball and running without looking back... at all. Think of that scene in 'Forest Gump' when he's playing football and runs right out of the stadium with it. That was me, even with the Angelica thing. I don't think these 'bands' were ever meant to be bands and I feel like I'm at that door step once again with the music opportunities presenting themselves. I'm gonna go one step forward, two looks back at the Lord and just be content with making the music and putting it out there.
Tom/D2S: Based on this experience, what would you say to young aspiring artists or anyone for that matter about pursuing music, careers, or anything in life?
Dennis Cameron: Play music because you love to play, not because you want to be famous or stand on stage. More importantly, serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart and all these other worldly things will be added accordingly. You know, I buried my father 5 years ago and for as well to do as he was, he didn't take one thing with him. The same will happen to me and the same will happen to you, this reality keeps me thinking sober and helps me keep my priorities in check. With that said, I enjoy life now more than I ever thought possible now that I'm keeping God first in my life. Thank you Lord Jesus.
Tom/D2S: Well said... Now, let's go back to the Angelica days; what would you say was the one highlight of those days that you remember most and why?
Dennis Cameron: The whole existence of Angelica only revolved around making the records. As hard as I tried to make it a 'band', it never came to fruition. In hind sight, it's just another confirmation of what I mentioned earlier about the purpose of 'Angelica' and how it was only meant to be a vehicle for me to present some Christian oriented music and use it to glorify God instead of trying to get myself on center stage and in the spotlight using the secular music model... man's thinking.
There were lots of highlights and I remember all of it, it's kind of like how you remember your high school years vividly. It's funny when you look at the timeline in perspective, it was only from the years 1989 - 1992 that I made the Angelica records. Maybe it's because we were younger back then and growth at that age is very exponential, the curve starts to normalise when you reach middle age and events don't leave as much of an impression haha. There's lots of stories for each record, let's see...I was recently talking to someone about guitar strings and reflected on the story of recording the rhythm guitars for Cover Me. That song was written in an open D tuning and I didn't want to setup my Jackson Soloist for it because anyone that has a guitar with a whammy bar knows what happens when you deviate from standard tuning or the tuning that the guitar is setup for, the bridge gets pulled and it affects the action etc. So I decide to go to Guitar Center in Sarasota, Florida where we were recording and I picked up this used Ibanez 540. It had a whammy bar but I just cranked the screws to set it up for that tuning. It also had really dead strings on it, and I can't remember why I made the call but I didn't change them... I just played it and recorded the song with these dead old strings. Then the song went on to be one of the most popular ones, and I saved $6.00 in the process LOL.
Speaking of recording, if I knew then what I know now about making records I would have used a lot of the demo material tracks in place of what I rerecorded in the bigger studios. A lot of times you just can't capture the essence of a performance or tone and using some things I played on the demos would have made the final records a lot better, I wouldn't cringe so much now when I hear it haha.
Tom/D2S: What was your favorite Angelica song and why?
Dennis Cameron: There's an instrumental called Harvest on the Walkin' album that carries a lot of memories for me. It was inspired by an event that happened a while before I had to start writing for that record. I picked up a hitch hiker one day on my way to Ottawa and it made the start for an interesting ride and day. After I started talking to him it was apparent that he was a wanderer and he just sat in the passenger seat and kind of stared at me with a glazed look in his eyes the whole ride, it was a little unnerving and I remember it every time I now see a hitch hiker. I asked where he wanted to go and he said he just wanted to be dropped off down town. I knew where and how'd he'd end up on the streets down there so I asked him out to get some lunch, and while we where in the restaurant I called a guy I had met a year prior who was hooked up with a Christian half-way house called Harvest House. Long story short, I took him over there and got him settled. I followed up for a little bit but can only hope that he got his life back and is closer to the Lord now.
The second part of that memory is how Daryl Wicker, the co-producer of Walkin' in Faith, and I recorded the song. We played the bed tracks together real-time, like you did in those days, with him on keyboards and me on acoustic. It was later in the evening, we just turned the lights down in the control room to set an ambience, turned the monitors up pretty loud to fill the room and did a few takes to find the right flow. From there I just overdubbed the lead guitars which I don't remember doing as much lol.
Tom/D2S: When did you start playing guitar?
Dennis Cameron: I started playing pretty young, I was about 6 or 7. I woke up one morning and I heard someone playing guitar down stairs in the kitchen. It turns out my mother had started taking guitar lessons and had this cheap little acoustic which I later hijacked. I would sit on the couch and started by just laying it on my lap and picking open strings, mostly the E, G, B and A strings which happen to form an E minor chord. It's funny when she drops by my studio and someone is in there with me, she tells them that she taught me how to play and takes credit for all that I can play, lol.
Tom/D2S: Who are your biggest guitarist influences and why?
Dennis Cameron: In the early years it was the usual for that era, Van Halen, Malmsteen, Rhoads. I really started to lean into it more with Malmsteen because of how graceful his fast playing was and how intense his vibrato was. Now, not so much... it sounds the same as it did then but not as clean. A little later Joe Satriani with his 'Surfing With an Alien' came out and I really identified with how he was able to carry a vocal line on guitar.
These days I don't listen to rock guitar players very often. I started a real appreciation for the country guitar players like Brent Mason, Guthrie Trapp and Johnny Hiland. These guys have a much greater mastery on their instrument that the rock guys do in my opinion, they also have more in depth knowledge of the theory and meld a lot of jazz influences into their playing. Their chord theory is undeniably superior as well, just check out Brent Mason's 'First Rule of Thumb'. Check out Jerry Reed too, most of my life I never knew the man played guitar... he was genius and wrote a lot of songs for Chet Atkins.
I played acoustic guitar almost exclusively for several years and developed my finger picking, I do 90% of all my writing on the acoustic now. I just keep a small parlour guitar near my 'relaxing' chair and pick it up almost every time I sit down. I like the Merle Travis, Tom Bresh style as well; it's fun to play and I can usually get my family dancing around when I start playing that style haha.
There are tons and tons or great guitar players out there, I'm sure you've seen just as many as I have on Youtube.
Tom/D2S: So, can you tell us about how God used your music to reach someone or maybe a fan who was touched through your music?
Dennis Cameron: I can't think of any one isolated example off the top of my head, but I'm told quite often by people that they've been blessed by the music. I recently caved and joined Facebook after dodging the Matrix since its inception and in this short time many people have blessed me with comments about how the songs touched them. Just last night I was chatting with a brother in the Lord on Facebook who's from Maxcanu, Mexico... it's just really nice to connect with other believers and encourage them in their walk with Jesus. Shout out to you Mr. 'J'.
Tom/D2S: This is more of a fun question, but what was the most embarrassing moment in either Angelica or Cynical Limit?
Dennis Cameron: I'm always embarrassing myself, would be hard to pick just one, lol. I'm sure lots of visitors to the Angelica Facebook page would have seen this already because I posted it the other night, this one was put in print for me so I can revisit any time. As the band was winding down and I had completed my last record, the Jackson Guitar company from Japan contacted me through MJM Entertainment, the company responsible for the Japanese distribution of the Intense Records catalogue. My records were doing relatively well there and Jackson offered to build me a guitar, so I sent them the specs and that was that. When the guitar finally came in they supplied a copy of the catalogue with it. I recognised some guitar players and thought 'Hey, I'm up there with Megadeath, Winger, etc. on the back cover and when I got to my photo, the caption read; 'Dennis Cameron - Angerica'. I wonder if those guys ever saw that, lol. I seem to be getting a few miles and smiles with it on FB, haha.
Tom/D2S: If you were able to put together the dream Christian rock/metal band, who would you have on vocals, second guitars, bass and drums?
Dennis Cameron: That's a hard one because my musical tastes have changed so much in the last 25 years since I made the Angelica records. I've also come to a better spiritually understanding of the purposing for the gifts so my answer now is not just based on a person's talents and abilities but rather their motives, relationship with God and calling. I would have to say it would be a group of people that are skilled at their craft and are able to focus the glory on God rather than themselves. It may sound like a pious answer, but I assure you it comes from a long time of reflecting, prayer and fellowship with the Lord to realise that the parable of the Shrewd Manager in Luke chapter 16 applies to me and many other Christian musicians:
(1)Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. (2) So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'"
I'm now working on the shrewdness part that is mentioned in the rest of the parable.
You know, I was presented with two choices when it came time to select a singer for the first Angelica record. For those that don't know the story, Ken Tamplin was producing the vocals and had pushed the original singer so hard that he just opted out because his voice gave way. I was now pressed to salvage a debut record with a studio session vocalist, just imagine my anxiety at this point. so Ken presented two names to me, Bob Carlisle and Rob Rock. At this point I hadn't heard of Bob Carlisle so I chose Rob Rock as I knew of him because of his work with Driver. I often wonder what would have happened if I had chosen the 'Carlisle' pill instead of the 'Rock' pill, (using the Matrix reference poorly). I don't even recall praying about that decision.... as sad as that sounds... which takes me back to the first point I made here.
I don't have any specific players in mind. There are tons and tons of great players out there, just look on youtube. It would be great to play with some guys that are skilled at their craft and really walking deep in their relationship with the Lord and living it. The world is saturated with highly skilled musicians but that alone is all just temporal and usually done in vein. For now, I'm just writing and recording in my studio so I can pretty much play the instruments that I need to record...for now. Like I've said throughout this interview, the Lord has done some surgery on me and shone light on what needed to be fixed so that I'm useful to Him. I don't say this stuff to be self righteous, I say it because He's shown me that it's the truth.
Tom/D2S: Is there any chance of an Angelica or Cynical Limit reunion?
Dennis Cameron: Both of those 'bands' were just a marquee to put on the songs I wrote top to bottom, so I'm not even sure the term reunion even applies. I could pull in a singer and label it either or I suppose, but I'm enjoying the instrumental stuff I'm currently doing. I'll keep doing what I'm doing until the Lord brings something different across my path.
Tom/D2S: Apart from music, what do you do for fun?
Dennis Cameron: I'm a pretty uneventful guy really, nothing too exciting. I enjoy my family and my dog Bruiser who I should have named Pinocchio because he tries pretty hard to be a 'real boy'. I recently got into drones and picked up a Phantom 4, it's quite impressive and lots of fun to explore with and take aerial video footage. I started with an inexpensive one and kind of got hooked, that cheaper one became Bruiser's drone as I fly it around the yard and let him chase it. He catches it sometimes and gives it a good shake lol, I had to fix one of the drive gears just yesterday.
Tom/D2S: Where in your personal life has been your greatest struggle?
Dennis Cameron: Surrendering everything over to God. It's rather fitting that I should be doing this first in a very long time interview with your show named Dead to Self. It's pointless to focus on one sin or another and say this or that has been my thorn in the flesh, it all stems from the same root... rebellion from dying to your self as Jesus plainly states in Luke 17:33 "Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it." This applies to all areas of our lives and is something I didn't really do until a few years ago. I regret not doing it 30 years ago, I'm much happier now and am able to enjoy life. The closer I get to the Lord the more I understand that the redemption of man and saving souls is God's prime objective, it's not to keep us entertained and supplied with things and stuff for our pleasure. He's looking for His church to rise up, cleanse herself and get back to the business of the Kingdom of Heaven. I finally mean when I pray, 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done'.
Tom/D2S: What is the best way for fans to contact you?
Dennis Cameron: They can either go to the Angelica Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Angelicatheband/, my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Angelicatheband/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. should also point out the channel at www.youtube.com/denniscameronmusic/ and is where I'll be posting music for now.
Tom/D2S: Is there anything that you would like to address that we have not discussed?
Dennis Cameron: I think we are on the precipices of what Jesus speaks about in Matthew 24 and the church in general is asleep at the wheel. We are told to 'watch' and not many are putting in the effort to even notice that it's about to start shaking up. There's also a lot of naivety in the channels people use to acquire their world news content, mainstream media is NOT your reliable source for it. Dig into some independent news sources such as Trunews, AMTV and many more as well as other international news outlets to compare to what you're hearing in our media. I've noticed that once you negate the propaganda from both sides you sometimes can extrapolate some truth. It's a topic most don't like to discuss because the truth uncovered from it is very uncomfortable, if not down right scary. Get your house in order, get close and stay close to the Lord, don't be a foolish virgin
Tom/D2S: Thank you so much for blessing us with your time and it is so good to hear from you my friend.
Dennis Cameron: You're welcome Tom, thank you for the opportunity. God Bless!