Local Band Finishes in Top 25 in National Competition

Photo: Climbing to the 21st spot in a national competition of over 17,000 bands, the locally-based band Conscious Cadaver was surprised and pleased with the support they received from the Calais Community. From left to right: Nathan Campbell, Jeremy Keenan, Brent Carlow, Dustin Ellis, David Campbell, Nathan Gardner. (Submitted photo).  

By Lura Jackson


It isn’t often that a band from Calais, Maine, stands toe-to-toe with 17,500 other bands from around the country and finishes in the top 25. Thanks in part to support from community members in the Calais area, though, that’s exactly what happened when Conscious Cadaver competed in the Ernie Ball PLAY Warped Tour competition earlier this year.

For the past 20 years, Ernie Ball has maintained a partnership with Vans Warped Tour, an annual national music tour that hosts some of the most well-known names in hard rock music. Ernie Ball holds a battle of the bands every year to invite unsigned bands from across the country to have the chance to play during the Warped Tour alongside those bands.

This year, Conscious Cadaver, a six-piece band consisting of Dustin Ellis, Brent Carlow, and Nathan Gardner of Calais, Nathan Campbell of Princeton, Jeremy Keenan of St. Stephen, and David Campbell of Woodland, participated in the Ernie Ball competition. To do so, the band submitted a series of songs to the competition’s website, including “HamSandwich”, “Settled”, and “It’s the drugs”. Every time a visitor came to the website and played one of the songs, the band scored a point. 

Even though Conscious Cadaver entered into the competition a month late, the band began climbing quickly upward through the ranks as word spread locally that they were competing. “We were quite impressed with the city of Calais and how they reacted,” said Gardner. “There is a stigma about metal bands, that we’re these big bad guys. We put out the word that we needed the community’s help, and the community stepped up.” By the time the contest ended on May 31st, the band had climbed to the 21st spot. 

Gardner said that any business he approached to help spread the word readily said yes. People’s Pub, Just South of the Border, Crumbs, State Cinema, Pratt Chevrolet and Hardwicke’s were among the businesses that offered gift cards and other prizes to be used in a raffle that helped generate local enthusiasm in the band’s efforts. The response surprised and delighted the band and helped them to realize the community spirit in the area. “Hometown proud, that’s for sure!” Gardner emphasized.

While the band specializes in hard rock music, they purposefully chose to release an acoustic song, “Deathbed letter”, to participate in the contest and appeal more to the Calais community. “We wanted to do an acoustic song in general because we don’t want to be an isolated band,” said Gardner. He explained that the band often creates confusion in fans of either metal or rock because it is capable of playing both varieties of music without difficulty. “We want to be who we are,” Gardner explained. “It’s anything from acoustic to metal to rock to whatever. As long as it’s our music, it’s completely cool.”

Although Conscious Cadaver did finish well in the national rankings, it was not among the bands selected by judges to participate in the Vans Warped Tour. Regardless of not being chosen, the band is proceeding to record a full-length album and preparing to launch music videos for its songs. The album will be recorded locally in the band’s centralized professional-quality recording studio, a service that Gardner plans to make available to other local bands in the future.