Ben Sheppard 28/02/2008
“Yeah, I've got a really awesome Link badge on my satchel, you know, from Zelda?” I can't believe this. I don't doubt that he owns a Link badge, nor do I dispute the validity of its whereabouts. What baffles me is that within 5 minutes of interviewing Gareth Campesinos!, we're discussing Nintendo, our favourite Sleater-Kinney records and our love of band t-shirts.
It's the day before Valentines Day and Will Metcalfe and I are foregoing last minute shopping for a special someone to interview Gareth & Tom, lead vocalist and main songwriter respectively, of our personal favourite upcoming band Los Campesinos! Yes, we're that selfish. The group are
currently on their second full UK Tour, this time in support for their debut record 'Hold On Now, Youngster'. “The title's from a comic Gareth likes [Eightball by Daniel Clowes of Ghost World fame],” Tom tells us, “its kind of like a manifesto…it's meant to be this rousing thing. I don't think we had any manifesto when we picked it, but it feels like this
is what we want to say.”
Since drawing the attention of the music press with their demo last year, the band have toured extensively, including a stint in Japan and playing the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago (their first US gig). As Tom recalls “In America, I think we've been lucky because we've had the support of Pitchfork, it's really amazing. The gigs have been really big over there, we've had people turn up to shows there. We somehow got on that bill [Lollapalooza] and it was just surreal.”
After a couple of months of gigging, the band found themselves supporting Canadian indie heroes Broken Social Scene, who found their support act so impressive, they signed them to their Arts & Crafts label. So within a year of forming, they were rubbing shoulders with the bands they used to wish they could be. “Yeah, I totally get starstruck.” Gareth confesses.
Still that didn't stop him from approaching musicians, writers and comedians they admire to collaborate with them on a fanzine they produced, 'Romance Is Boring'. “The most exciting thing about doing the 'zine and why I wanted to do it was to contact these people that we are totally in awe of. In fact, Zac Pennington from Parenthetical Girls, who are one of my favourite bands, replied something like 'Oh wow, I'm a big fan of your band, I'd be really flattered to do something'. ” They've had such a good response that they'll be making a follow up in five weeks with contributions from Eddie Argos of Art Brut fame and Les Savy Fav. “Blogs and websites are all very well and good but there's something so much more proactive about making a 'zine.”
After the success of their early single 'You! Me! Dancing!', many blogs and publications championed the band. Still, not all the media response has been good. Despite still being a week away from releasing their debut album, the NME backlash has begun already. Gareth explains “There are plenty of reasons why the NME shouldn't like us. We're all too keen to moan about bands they support - not due to any level of controversy, just 'cause we're music fans and we're pissed off that some of these bands exist. Anyway, they gave 6 out of 10, they've clearly decided what way they're going to go, but it's liberating.”
To finish off the interview, we asked the two their top 5 romance songs. Tom cheated and said the Magnetic Fields album, "69 Love Songs." Gareth put a bit more thought into it. He got to three (Hymn for the Postal Service - Hefner; Piglet - Arab Strap; Starsign -Singing Adams) and said he'd get me the remaining two before the gig. He stayed true to his word. During 'Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks', he jumped to the stage barrier, hands me a note with the remaining two songs (Love Connection Part One - Parenthetical Girls; The Moon - The Microphones) and then reaching the climax of the song, crowd surfs away. How fucking cool.
The Los Campesinos! album "Hold On Now Youngster" is out now on Wichita.