Los Campesinos! (Gareth Campesinos): Interview
“We want to do as much as we can before we get dropped or before people totally get bored of us.”
Los Campesinos! started out as a three-piece band of college students from Cardiff, Wales in 2006. They quickly expanded, and as they started to play more gigs, their twee-wrapped, keyboard-laden lo-fi garnered an expansive following. Their focus on the inanities in life, from chance relationships at festivals to coming to terms with growing up, reflects an internal maturity that a lot of bands fail to reach. Their second full-length, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, which came a remarkable eight months after their impressive debut Hold On Now, Youngster…, maintains the course. All of this while they kept themselves busy on the festival and touring circuit.
TMT briefly spoke to lead singer Gareth Campesinos last week while on their current American tour with Titus Andronicus, shortly after their sold-out show in Chicago. We focused on the tour itself, discussing current and recent tour buddies, the growth of their popularity, as well as being on tour in such depressing times. We also received insights on their plans after they finish touring in April.
You've been touring with Titus Andronicus for the past month or so. Your last major tour, before the holidays, was with No Age and Times New Viking. I'm starting to see a pattern here. How has it been playing with these particular bands?
It's been incredible. One of the best things about being in a band and having the controls of being in a band like we do is that we always got to choose what bands we tour with. So, it means we get to choose bands that we really love and want to watch play every night. The tour in the UK with Times New Viking and No Age was maybe the most exciting tour we've ever done. And I know, as a lineup, Times New Viking and No Age was quite exciting for a lot of people and the same with Titus [Andronicus]. You know, it sucks when you really play a show and you have to play after a band you might enjoy watching and you might enjoy hanging out with. So, the fact that we've made lots of friends coming from awesome bands is very exciting for us, and we've get to make the most of it when we go on tour.
You had quite a large turnout in Chicago. Do you feel comfortable now that you're taking in larger and rowdier crowds?
Yeah, I think so. We find it incredibly surreal that we've got to a situation where that many people could care about us coming from the other side of the world. Like, how it happened that we've got that many people interested in seeing us. I think, initially, there is something that we undeniably liked about the idea of there being some sort of exclusivity to Los Campesinos!. And it's nice to think that we've got a slightly cult audience. But I think that the people who do like us like us quite a lot. And now, with the release of the new record and the promo and the necessary things like that, the audience is getting bigger. I think it still feels like at the shows there is a sort of unity between audience members and the audience and the band. And what's really important to me is that, as long as we are playing to big audiences, the good atmosphere and the connection between audience and band and between audience members remains. [In Chicago], it did seem like, especially in the front, there was this real sense of kinship and personal experience between everyone, and that's really important. I love the idea of being this sort of biggest private-membership club in the world, and the more we can get people to love Los Campesinos! but still maintain this sense of unity and team spirit, then that's perfect.
I can agree with you on that. I was in the crowd, towards the front, and once everyone got along it worked quite well. I mean, there was a bit of rowdiness, but it sort of worked in a way.
Yeah. I mean, it's a really difficult situation because obviously, you want people to be into it and to enjoy themselves, but you don't want people to get hurt. Sometimes, maybe in the excitement, there are three or four guys standing in the front who are particularly drunk and boisterous. But it seems that once you put it out there that, you know, you can still have fun but be aware of your surroundings, people will calm down and sort of look out for each other. And I could see that people were doing that then, and it was good. Yeah, I'm glad that you could see that sense of community as well.
You've been touring America during what has been, for many of us, a rough time period, financially speaking. What's your take of what you witnessed of it, talking to fans, talking to Titus Andronicus and other bands, and just talking to normal people about it? And how have you been handling it?
It's not entirely dissimilar to what's happening in the UK at the moment, with job losses and an economic downturn and people being not being able to afford to live like they have for the past decade. But I guess, living like we do, on tour constantly, you do live in a bit of a bubble. Although we make no money out of being in Los Campesinos!, we don't really need to because it's just very sustainable. We just tour and we got enough money to buy food. We don't need to pay rent anywhere because we're not living anywhere, because we're never at home. So, I guess we have it pretty easy. But, nobody's really commented to me about times are hard [sic] or what have you. I guess, maybe, being in a pop concert isn't necessarily the environment to talk about that. But the overall picture that I have got, if any, from being in America is that everyone seems hopeful with the new President. People do seem excited about that. What I think, with the usual excitement and the nature of the election of the President, maybe it'll stop people from thinking about how much difference it's actually going to make in the short term. People seem excited, and that can only be a positive thing.
According to your website, the last stop on your current tour is Coachella on April 17. What is your plan after that? Are you going to be taking a break?
No. We shall be recording again. We've got some stuff that we're demoing very shortly. Post-Coachella, all the magic will be in the studio, recording for the next record. Then, the festivals, and then, prolly more touring for releasing another record. We want to do as much as we can before we get dropped or before people totally get bored of us. So, we shan't stop anytime soon.
Well, that's great. That takes a lot of effort. I give you credit there.
Well, what else would we be doing? We go touring and recording and writing news. It's the most fun thing to do in the world, as far as I'm concerned. So I'd much rather be doing that than sad at home, doing nothing.
[Photo: Grace deVille]