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What Jonas Brothers reunion? Meet Minnesota’s own band of brothers

Hey, Shackletons fans. Are you keeping up with the Campbells?
From left, Colin, Evan and Cameron Campbell of The Shackletons pose for a portrait in their home on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Image by Jack Rodgers
From left, Colin, Evan and Cameron Campbell of The Shackletons pose for a portrait in their home on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Cameron (22), Colin (21), and Evan (17) Campbell, otherwise known as The Shackletons, met as children. Notice how they all have the same last name? That’s because they’re brothers. They met as babies.

The Shackletons’ latest EP, “Second Attempt,” was released Dec. 27 with a sold out 7th Street Entry show.

Add that University of St. Thomas student Sam Luloff said the Campbell’s house was ‘the place to go’ in high school, and it’s a wonder the band is still humble.

Somehow, they transcend.

“We’re not trying to fabricate. We’re not trying to be trendy — but we’re not actively trying not to be trendy. We’re just trying to play music that we would want to listen to,” Colin said.

The Shackletons’ origin story can be traced back to their parents’ meet-cute, but we’ll jump forward on the timeline. In middle school, Cameron Campbell had a band. When the band’s singer was sick, little brother Colin was asked to step in. Little-er brother Evan wasn’t invited because he was annoying. (He’s gotten better with time.)

As they do, Cameron’s middle school band eventually split. The brothers — Evan included this time — soon joined for a gig. 

Originally dubbed “Colin Campbell and the C-Notes,” the brothers eventually rebranded as “Colin Campbell and the Shackletons.”

“Then we had a phone conversation with [a local producer] and it was the last straw,” Colin said. “He was like, … ‘No one wants to wear a dude on their shirt. Bands are cooler than dudes.’” 

So the Shackletons they became.

Today, the Shackletons have two EPs under their belt and a full-length record somewhere on the horizon.

Colin, a third-year media culture major at the University of Minnesota, is the band’s lead singer and guitarist. Cameron is on bass, and Evan plays drums. Raised on blues-jams, none of the brothers know how to read music. Their mom, the “best person in the world,” is the closest thing they have to a stylist.

Counting The Replacements, The Weakerthans, The Hold Steady, Hüsker Dü, Los Campesinos! and “not Bono” among favorite acts, the band falls somewhere on the Minneapolitan music scene spectrum between playing the First Ave mainroom (though not for a solo show — that’s still on the bucket list!) and frequenting crust-punk basement shows. 

Hannah Hubbell, a fourth-year elementary education major at the University and Colin’s girlfriend, is often asked to define the band’s sound.

She doesn’t have a definite answer.

“They like such a wide range of genres,” Hubbell said. “There are days when we’re listening to outlaw country and then days when we’re listening to a super famous blues guitarist.” 

Hubbell describes both the band’s sound and their relationship as cohesive. Much like how their genre interests perpetually play off each other, the band is “in constant communication.” 

“They’re like, ‘What can you do, what can I do, what can we all do,’” Hubbell said.

Of course, this fraternal cohesiveness also comes into play onstage. There’s more you can get away with when you’re a bit of a novelty.

“We always do a stupid cover. A ‘there’s-no-way-we-should’ve-been-able-to-pull-that-off’ type cover,” Colin said. “’Surrender’ by Cheap Trick, [the Elvis version of] ‘Burning Love.’ At the last EP release show we did AC/DC’s ‘It’s A Long Way to the Top’ and we had a bagpipe player.”

Like any good boy band, each Shackletons member has a “thing.” Cameron’s the quiet one, Evan’s the bad boy and Colin’s the dreamboat. Just kidding.

“We’re all the asshole,” Evan said. 

Because of their similar genes, traditional band drama is not Shackleton style. As far as theatrics go, the brothers fall “between Oasis and The Osmonds.”

“If one of us gets mad you’ll just look at them and say ‘fuck you,’” Colin said. “And then ten minutes later you’ll be like, ‘Wanna watch this?’”

While a lot is in the works for the band (it’s off the record, but it’ll be exciting), The Shackletons can confidently say they look forward to touring this summer.

“We’ll go to cities and play empty bars and no one will know who we are,” Colin said. “But that’s just what you do.”

“Our future is bright,” Evan added. “Is that a saying?”

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