Mit seinem hervorragenden zweiten Album „Romance Is Boring“ schaffte es das britische Septett bereits in unsere Plattenelite. Auch bei der Wahl ihrer Vorgruppe beweisen Los Campesinos! an diesem Samstagabend im Kölner Gebäude 9 ein gewohnt gutes Händchen: Copy Haho aus Schottland sind noch eine dieser feinen, durchaus britischen Bands in nordamerikanischer, wenngleich nicht ganz so schrammeliger Indierock-Tradition. Nicht nur vom stellenweise original Malkmusigen Gesang her erinnern sie immer wieder an Pavement, ganz zum Schluss munter hüpfend auch an Superchunk.
Schließlich betreten Los Campesinos! in aktueller Besetzung die Bühne, mit ihrer neuen Sängerin, Keyboarderin und Querflötistin Kim Campesinos! und verstärkt durch den Multiinstrumentalisten Sparky Deathcap zum bunten Achter angewachsen. Selbst wer die Band schon mal gesehen hat, ist überrascht, wie kraftvoll sie an diesem Abend aufspielt, von Beginn an wirft und schüttelt sich Sänger Gareth Campesinos! über die Bühne.
Große Livemomente produzierten sie schon immer, wie die Stelle in „Miserabilia“, an der sie in Trotzigkeit vereint „Shout at the world because the world doesn’t love you“ entgegenrufen oder den stets toll mitzuerlebenden Augenblick wenn der Saal nach den ersten zwei behutsamen Gitarrenzupfern von „You, Me, Dancing!“ kollektiv ausflippt. Doch wo es früher wirkte, als hätten Los Campesinos! es selbst noch nicht realisiert, ist es, als hätten sie nun ihre Energien langfristig gebündelt wo sie begriffen haben, was sie da anstellen: Ein euphorisierendes, glorreiches Beinahechaos. An dessen Ende geht die Hälfte der Band nach dem dreifachen „Eins zwei drei vier“-Schlachtruf von „Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats“ vor die Bühne, umringt von einer mitsingenden, mittanzenden, mitlächelnden Menge mit der sie schließlich verschmilzt. Keine Frage, an diesem Abend sind Los Campesinos! die beste Band der Welt.
Bereits vor dem Auftritt, der auch für die Band selbst ein Highlight war, nahm sich Violinistin Harriet die Zeit für ein Gespräch über das neue Album, Fankontakt und Tourleben.
I just saw your formspring website where everyone can pose questions to the band. Have you been using that a lot?
No, I’m afraid I’m not that web-savvy. I think our singer Gareth set it up and it really took off at first, but it might have petered out a bit already with people asking too many stupid questions.
So I guess doing interviews like this one won’t become superfluous.
It’s so much nicer, having a chat with someone in person. I find that difficult on the internet.
Maybe it’s like Twitter, where when people first see it they’re going „What? Why?“…
…and then suddenly it becomes indispensable and you can’t imagine the world without it.
Last time you were here, you (the band) were right there with the rest of the audience watching the bands playing before you. Is that something you do often?
We try to, yeah. Of course, it also depends on what bands we have with us, but I think generally we have been able to choose who we’ve toured with. It’s great to share a tour bus with someone you’re friends with and whose music you like as well. And the thing about being on tour is also that you really don’t get to see a lot of live music other than the people you play with every night, so you want to hear something you can enjoy.
I was gonna ask, you’ve toured with Sky Larkin, Johnny Foreigner, No Age and Times New Viking among others. All bands that you like and who also seem to make music that many of your listeners enjoy. I know for example that I’m not the only who discovered Sky Larkin through their support slot on your last tour here.
That’s great! I think it’s good that there’s a way to show your extended interest as a band and to find things that you might have in common with your fans.
There doesn’t seem to be a big divide between your audience and your band, you’re directly approachable in many ways through your blog, forum, Twitter, etc.
I think we have a couple of really good communicators in our band who’ve always been, you know, the first ones to know about the new thing that’s happening on the internet. When we started, we first got a Myspace page and that’s basically how we got signed. We’ve always felt it’s important to build a connection with people in any way that you can.
Let’s talk about the new record. The whole structure of it seems more thought out, how one song flows into the next one, etc. Was this the first time you had the whole thing planned out from the start?
Our first album was basically a collection of individual songs. This time we were really keen on doing something that was cohesive and that you could listen to from start to finish, that had a storyline and a good pace throughout. So yes, it was definitely a conscious decision and I think it’s an extension of what we tried to do on „We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed“.
For me, it was also more dense, it took a while to really „get“ each song. I guess it also took a while to capture everything on record?
I think that’s always been our problem. There are seven, now eight of us, we have so many good ideas and we’re not especially good at filtering them out. So we just kind of pile it all on and mix it so that everything shows, everything has its moment. It’s very dense, but because they’re all pop songs there’s always the melodies that carry you through without making it too overwhelming.
Are there songs on it that you can not recreate live?
Oh yeah. I think it’s a confidence thing, it’s very difficult because.. you know, there are certain songs [by other artists] which are so simple and brilliant. I think it takes years of practice and a lot of confidence to write songs that are this bare and minimal without thinking „ah, I’ll put in an extra instrumental line here“ or something. We on the other hand have to either keep on rearranging, or in a way reinterpreting our songs live or else get about five more members for filling all the gaps.
I guess you wouldn’t be the right person to ask about lyrics in depth, but do you know if they’re as autobiographical as they seem?
Yeah, Gareth says that. A lot of it is things that have happened to him and he often says that on this record he’s pushed it really far, he’s very honest, very raw. There’s a sense of him exposing everything about himself which is very brave, I couldn’t do that. I suppose he wants to give as much as he can to his audience.
It reminds me a bit of Jamie Stewart, who really lets it all out. His solo show last year was probably the most intense performance I have experienced live.
Is it hard to watch? Because I’d love to see him.
Kind of, but it’s also quite cathartic and he’s just a great performer.
Yeah, I imagine it would be pretty amazing.
He also sings a bit on your record.
Yes, Gareth is a huge fan and met him when we were on tour in America and asked him, and when he said yes Gareth couldn’t quite believe it. He recorded his part in his own studio and sent it to us.
Speaking of America, there are several prominent mentions of places there, like Oklahoma under its nickname of „The Sooner State“, in the song lyrics and titles of the new record. Were you influenced by your travels?
Living your life mostly on the road is something that you have to adjust to, and I suppose if you didn’t find it inspiring it’d be really hard to produce material because inbetween you only have a few weeks at home to do it. And I think it can be an inspiring lifestyle, as strange as it is at times with the constant feeling of moving and monotony. Also, if you’re constantly together with many people you don’t always need to talk as much and can have a lot of introspective time which lends itself, if you’re in the mood, to writing.
Do you think it’s difficult being on tour with as many people as you are?
I enjoy it because there’s a feeling of being in a big gang or group, like being on a school trip. And if someone might annoy you at some point, you can just speak to someone else. Although being with this many people is really the only touring experience I have, I don’t think I’d like travelling alone. As ridiculous as it can be, how much money and the amount of organisation it takes to get all of us anywhere, it’s definitely worth it.