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Los Campesinos! interview

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:04 UK time, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The skin is pale English rose, the knees are bloodied and bruised, and blood trickles down the shin. In the background there's a delicate floral sheet just covering a quilted eiderdown. There's a fragility to the picture, it's a reminder of the playground, it's a reminder of youth and the past, and it's slightly bleached as proper film pictures used to be. It's the cover for the fabulous gatefold album from Los Campesinos! that I bought recently and wanted to blog about weeks ago, but finally get round to it today.


Los Campesinos have always thrilled me as a live band, and when heard randomly on radio shows they never fail to stand out. They sound like no other band currently playing and recording in the UK. Each track is packed full of ideas, sounds, thoughts, angst and crazy energy.

When listening to them, I like to visualise all the members and try and pick out what they're playing, trying to mentally break down what I can hear at one time, from glock to violin, bass to vocals, as there's always something different going on to what you expect. Romance is Boring, their third album (second official), following Hold On Now Youngster, and We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed, has captured the full Los Campesinos experience in my mind.

Tom and Neil joined me on Radio One recently to talk about their current UK tour and so on, here's some of what was shared.

Beth: How's it been on the whirlwind of promoting a new album?

Neil: We've been really busy, but it's about to get busier. We've been rehearsing, which is a big thing for us, because normally we just use the first few shows on the tour is our rehearsal, and the people who come to those shows get a raw deal normally, but this time, Wrexam's the first show and we'll be ready to go. (See Adam Walton's gig review on this blog)
Beth: Take me back to the recording of the album, where were you, who were you with, what went into the recording?

Tom: For the first time we had the luxury of recording in a couple of stages. We started off in Stamford Connecticut, on the east coast of America, we did three or four weeks' there, then we did four weeks of touring in America, ended up in Seattle, and had another three or four weeks there. Both times with John Goodmanson, who's a resident of Seattle and is a legend in our eyes; he's produced loads of Riot Grrl bands [recent credits also include Skylarkin, Blonde Redhead, Owl City, The Blood Brothers and Fight Like Apes].
Tom: He's also done bands like Hanson, and mixed Wu Tang Clan. Everyone he's done have been really successful.

Beth: Massive congrats too, with the news today that you've broken into the Billboard Charts?

Tom: We're at 183, top 200
Neil: Out of all the records in the world released today we're in there, even though it's saturated with rubbish!

Beth: I also understand that your blog has been nominated for an award.

Neil: Yes, the NME Award.
Tom: We're up against Muse, Paramore, and Oasis.
Neil: I reckon Paramore will probably win.
Tom: We've probably got less fans.
Neil: But luckily for us, we've got the kind of fans who might spend an afternoon hitting refresh and click.

Beth: You're on a huge tour around the UK at the moment. What do you still enjoy about touring?

Neil: It's a cliché, but the fact that we can still do it. All the places we can go, we've been to Japan, we've been to Hong Kong, we've been to South America, and to places in America that you would never go to as a tourist - and we get to go for free, and we get free beer too!
Tom: It can be frustrating sometimes, because you don't get much time to look around, but at the same time, you see enough of it to want to come back when you have got the time.

Beth: There are eight members in the band now with Sparky Deathcap joining the line up, and Kim, Gareth's sister, taking over vocal duties from Alex - does this make touring difficult?

Neil: If we were a two piece, we would've split up by now. It's the fact that we are so many that keeps it interesting.
Tom: And even when there are eight of us in the band, we're still quite insular; we've all got our headphones on separately. We learn to cope.

We then spent the rest of the interview hearing some of the music they're listening to at the moment, including Inspector Tape Head (Glasgow three piece band), Perfume Genius (Seattle artist on Turnstile Records), and Strange News From Another Star (Cardiff three-piece band).

To look at their tour blog, and read tour food review, check their website.


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