In 2008, Los Campesinos! burst onto the indie rock scene with the release of their debut album, the critically acclaimed Hold on Now, Youngster. Their latest effort, the equally praised We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed hit stores last November. The Septet from Cardiff, Wales is currently on an extended American tour that takes them to the Paradise Lounge in Boston next Friday the 13th. Singer Gareth Campesino took time to talk to The Tech ahead of a show in Lawrence, Kansas.
TT: Tell me about the shows. How have the fans been? Have you enjoyed the venues?
GC: Compared to the UK crowd, US audiences are a lot more prepared to enjoy themselves. In the UK people sort of stand and wait with their hands in their pockets waiting to be impressed and are a lot more skeptical, whereas in the US we’ve had a lot more crowd surfing, almost semblances of mosh-pits, and lots and lots of dancing and screaming and lots of cheering.
TT: Most of the band met at university in Cardiff. What were you studying?
GC: I was personally studying modern history and politics, among the rest of us there was English, journalism, history, and medicine.
TT: With blogs, MySpace, and the scrutiny that comes from being in a band, do you mind that people get such an intimate look into your lives?
GC: I don’t think it’s a particularly intimate look. We generally just share the nonsense that goes on, like the great ketchup incident and what different back-stages look like. I know before I was in a band, I wondered what it was like and I probably thought it was a lot more glamorous than it is. Sharing the day to day life of the band — it’s drive, soundcheck, gig, get drunk, sleep in that order. It’s not particularly eye opening, but it does make for slightly amusing situations every night.
TT: Hold on Now, Youngster made a lot of year-end lists. What albums did you have on your year-end lists?
GC: My absolute favorite album of last year was by a band called Parenthetical Girls who we toured with for a couple of weeks on the west coast in June. They were my favorite band and when we were looking for bands to tour with we quite boldly asked if they would be up for it and they were. Their album Entanglement is this amazing grand chamber pop record.
TT: We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is more direct, abrasive, darker, and uneasy. What changed? Or do you feel this is part of your evolution as a band?
GC: I agree that it’s darker and I think that’s testament to the fact that as musicians and as song writers we have developed a lot since Hold on Now, Youngster and perhaps lyrically it’s a lot more jaded and scathing and depressing and that’s probably just representative of me realizing what I want to write about. There’s some stuff on Hold on Now, Youngster that lyrically I’ve come to dislike a fair bit. I’m not embarrassed by it, but I wouldn’t want to be judged on it.
TT: A lot of LC! songs reference the future, and often in very bleak terms. What do you think of the future?
GC: I think when the songs talk about the future they’re not talking about some grand world view, I think my songwriting is very much self-centered and focused on individuals rather than the bigger picture.
I have a politics degree so I guess I should be turned on and have an opinion, but in all honesty I do have faith in people to somehow carry on blundering on through and then continue making mistakes and then continue fixing those mistakes and then make more mistakes.
TT: Your show in Boston is coming up.
GC: We’ve played Boston twice before and it’s been great.
TT: Do you mind if we come and dance on stage with you?
GC: If you find your way on to the stage and aren’t causing trouble then yes, I suppose so.