Los Campesinos! interview
Los Campesinos!'s forthcoming album Romance Is Boring is one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2009; their new, tougher sound earning them a reputation that's more hydra-headed Welsh street gang than the indie geeks of old. With a major tour to follow, we sat down with guitarist Neil to see what was happening up on Mount Campesinos before things totally kick off.
Hi Neil, thanks for talking to us at The Music Fix. How are you doing?
Good thanks. Just drinking an Earl Grey.
I always get the impression that this is a fun band to be in, am I right?
You’re not wrong.
So, this is your fourth year together. What’s been the greatest thing that’s happened in that time?
I think just the fact that it is our “fourth year together”. That’s pretty great. To have been able to do this for more than a week is amazing. It’s definitely the best thing to be doing in the world.
What can we expect from your new album “Romance Is Boring”?
We are incredibly proud of the record. It is the best thing we’ve done yet. It feels as if we have almost reached the point we wanted to.
We set out to make an album that is a complete document. We wanted to lose the sugar fuelled, twee pop renegades tag behind. We took a good step towards that with We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. We are still a pop band but there are darker, slower, more delicate moments on the record.
I was really excited by all the stuff in We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed album box, are there any freebies this time?
I am not at liberty to say. I can say, however, there will not be a DVD in which you can see Ollie’s testicles.
That was on my wish list. I’m gutted. There is a glorious bitterness to your lyrics. Was this a conscious decision or do they naturally come out that way?
I reckon that glorious bitterness comes to Gareth pretty naturally. I would not say that he is a particularly bitter person though.
He always comes across as lovely. Are they all based on real situations and relationships or are they fictitious?
Gareth writes the lyrics, as you know. I don’t want to intrude in his relationships whether they are real or fictitious. He has said that he writes about the more mundane situations in life rather than protesting global problems. The personal often carries more weight, no? I do know that a lot of his lyrics are based on personal experience.
I was recently chatting to Gareth about buying some of the albums he put forward as his top ten of 2009. You seem to be very passionate about music inside and outside of the band, are there fights about what gets played on the tour bus?
Not usually. We prefer to sit in silence and listen to our iPods. Sometimes we make mix CDs. In this situation we all sit silently and enjoy the music. We have a strict no fighting/violence rule.
Are you music list makers? I do it all the time. You even have a song called ‘My Year In Lists’. Does this in some way recognise the compulsion of the avid music fan to compile lists?
I occasionally make a list about music. It’s a good cliché that us nerdy, avid music fans like nothing more than spending time making lists. Gareth writes the lyrics though, so I couldn’t possibly say if the song is about that.
As a band you got quite excited about X-Factor, do you think an Indie-Factor would ever work? Would we end up with Fame Academy again?
I do enjoy a bit of X-Factor. We watched the final at ATP. We got drunk and cheered for Olly Murs. He lost so we got more drunk. I think an “Indie-Factor” has been done. Road to V was basically that - it was shite.
What’s the hardest thing about having eight people in the band?
There is really nothing difficult about being in a band. It does carry some strains, as does anything in life. If I were to say anything about being in a band was difficult I would be missing the point.
You seem to have a very devoted fan-base. Do they ever send you gifts?
Sometimes we do receive nice gifts. They range from letters, to sweets, to stuffed toys, to mix CDs to interviews.
What’s on your rider?
Just beer, wine and water. Sometimes we get hummus and pitta and carrots and crisps.
You are stuck in a lift overnight! But you can choose one person to be in there with you. Who would that be?
I’ll have to think about that one…
A song is stuck on repeat in the lift. What could you listen to over and over again without going insane?
Trashmen –‘Surfin’ Bird’
A kindly security guard called Derek is able to pass you a single food item in the lift. What would it be?
If he could pass me some food he would probably be able to get help or try to get me out of the lift. Seriously though, food would be the last thing on mind.
It’s only a small gap and he has really short arms. Have you ever been stuck in a lift?
What else in 2010?
The album is out on February 1st and we start touring on the 11th. The rest of the year will be filled with more touring and maybe some recording and hanging out and being cool.
So we leave Neil to hang out and be cool with a cheery wave and lukewarm cup of Earl Grey. We are now just waiting for the moment he rings us at 3am to tell us who he’s decided he wants to be stuck in a lift with.
Live photo: Steven Burnett