Jesse Camp takes the stage -- The ex-MTV VJ leaves the music network for a shot at rock & roll stardom

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated March 26, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
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Jesse & the 8th Street Kidz

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  • Music

Poseur or teen paragon, idiot or savant, no one can pin down MTV’s freakadelic VJ Jesse Camp — not even MTV. On April 17, the 19-year-old glam-rock scarecrow with the high-rise hair — a network staple since winning the Wannabe a VJ contest last April — will crush groupies’ hearts by leaving MTV and handing his mic to a new VJ-search winner. But the phonics apocalypse that is Camp’s voice hasn’t been silenced: His debut album, Jesse & the 8th Street Kidz, on Hollywood Records, arrives in May. ”He was anxious to get out there and play the music,” says Dave Sirulnick, exec VP of MTV News and Production. ”The timing was right to let him hit the road.”

While he’ll still pop up sporadically on MTV, Camp is focusing his (limited) attention on the music, which he calls ”honest rock & roll — Hanoi Rocks, Guns N’ Roses, and Aerosmith all mixed into one.” With the lanky teen’s video premiering on MTV the week he leaves, and his tour launching in June, Hollywood hopes kids will flock to Camp this summer. ”Jesse shows signs of being a great artist,” says the album’s coproducer Rob Cavallo, Hollywood’s senior VP of A&R and Grammy’s 1998 Non-Classical Producer of the Year. ”He’s an interesting personality with something to say.”

That’s for sure. Spend an hour lobbing questions at Camp and you’ll be buried under a landslide of train-of-thought tangents and space-cadet solipsisms that are best left untouched. So here goes:

On leaving MTV: ”It’s like you live in this beautiful apartment, right? Like the best apartment you’ve ever had, and you’ve gotten to throw lots of awesome parties. At the same time, you’re puttin’ down money because, let’s face it, everyone wants to own their own house. So I’ve been puttin’ down money on a house and I can’t wait to move in. But I love my apartment, and I’m still gonna throw a helluva house party when I visit.”

On his hometown: ”Granby, Conn., is, like, the most f—in’ heinous cow-tippin’ town ever. We didn’t even have a McDonald’s until a few years ago. Then I find out it’s not even a full McDonald’s, it’s a McDonald’s Express — Granby’s not big enough for a real McDonald’s. There’s no tables in it, you just walk in and they’ll give you a Big Mac — whatevah.”

On drugs: ”It’s like, yo, if they’re not gonna deliver it to your house, don’t do it.”

On his album: ”It’s a record for kids, and it’s our record. It’s a record for our generation, and it’s a record that says f— you, I live in Ohio and it doesn’t mean I gotta stay here and it doesn’t mean I gotta take s— from Mom and Dad and it doesn’t mean I gotta go to church or whatever trip you want to put me on. I have my own trip.”

On ”See You Around,” the probable first single: ”It starts out, ‘Yo, Keith! Wake up,/We ain’t gonna make it to school this maaarrrning.’ And then it’s, like [growls and plays air guitar], ‘Darrrn-nuh-narrn-nuh-narrn-nuh-nuh.’ [Begins yowling.] ‘We missed the bus, so we beehter hitch with Stitches’…. It’s a f—in’ rocker.”

Jesse & the 8th Street Kidz

type
  • Music

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