Los Campesinos! is a breezy, lighthearted band for the melancholy inclined. The sweet peppiness of their sound is countered by heavy lyrics and killer hooks. Brimming with exuberance, Los Campesinos! views the world through the spilled narrative of lead singer Gareth, who writes all the lyrics. He is obviously not alone in his task. The Los Campesinos! gang of seven of today is a conglomeration of multiple interests; each member imprints their mark upon each song. Describing their songwriting process on the latest album Hello, Sadness, drummer Jason remarks on a process similar to a game of catch or show and tell. "We start with a main idea and then go around the room and as you pass, you can change or add your own part."
Tom Campesinos notes that crafting Hello, Sadness was a unique and deliberate experience. "We all sat down and began to discuss what kind of record we wanted to make and how to go about making that record. We spent quite a while and everyone was in agreement that we wanted all the arrangements to pull in a certain direction. It was much more focused, deliberate, and dynamic instead of having a whole bunch of half-finished ideas." The title track is evidence enough that all ideas were fully explored, a cacophonous spinner, which exclaims "Goodbye courage!" Courage and heart are definitely features of the group. These characteristics are easily ingrained from the clan's gentle evolution as pals who met at university to full-fledged indie pop band.
Hello, Sadness naturally enjoys a different sound than previous outputs due to the inclusion of three new band members. "Just having different voices is quite a big change," offers Tom. The record also works with a very potent wound-- Gareth scrapped most lyrics the night before recording after just suffering a breakup. Deadlines are a good thing for Gareth. "He generally writes very last minute. He needs that pressure to be like 'you're going to bare your soul today,' what's it gonna be?" notes Kim, keyboardist and vocalist (and Gareth's sister). A therapeutic process glimmers through these tracks-- "It's good for him I think" notes Tom. "His lyrics are very heart on the sleeve but also very cryptic. I often think some of the greatest moments of listening include having to piece together his references." Gareth is not the only entity able to vocalize his experiences and interests though. Around this time last year, the group launched their fanzine Heat Rash. Each Heat Rash release is to include a limited edition 7? and mp3s of exclusive Los Campesinos! music that will not be available elsewhere. "It's an outlet; since there's so many band members with different interests, it's nice to have a special place where we can all get excited and write about our own things," Kim describes.
The conversation next touched upon the process of making music videos, in particular the stellar video for "Hello, Sadness." "It's obviously very difficult to visualize a song and we often work with what's given to us. This time is was this abandoned shopping unit. There were all these mannequins and they were all just laying around. I think it's kinda of scared a lot of people and I think that's kinda a good thing," Tom provides. "I think it describes all the torturous elements of being in a relationship," Jason morbidly offers. "It's more fun to take it upon yourself, without what others think often. One of our favorite videos was we went to a seaside town near Cardiff and with a group of friends we got drunk on the beach. It fit the song very well," Tom reminisces.
The warm, upfront, and cheerily self-deprecating Los Campesinos! want to extend friendship to most of the awkward and excitable people who love the band. Often listening to their tunes, a friendly comfort pushes to the front of emotions. The jovial members are also just loads of fun to chat with. I learned that recording Hello, Sadnessin a rural idyllic Spanish village meant expensive trips to the supermarket upon which it was necessary to bring back a particular kind of fairy cake dessert. "These were like the heroin of fairy cakes," Tom jibes. The recording studio also was host to a prior visit from Shakira. The band were pleased to say they swam in the same pool as her, joking that there's "space on the last track-- if you play it backwards you can hear Shakira singing "Hips Don't Lie." Tom, and Jason were also excited about Kim's new puppy Darla-- "the sweetest thing ever" in Jason's eyes.
Puppies, cake, and Shakira are important things to the clan of Los Campesinos! I joke. Meeting and speaking with them showcased how tremendous it to come across people capable of encapsulating all things good, infectious, sharp, honest, and plain beautiful into one exclamatory package.
Discover for yourself as Los Campesinos! embark on their 2012 US tour.
1/19 Paradise, Boston MA (18+)*
1/20 Sala Rossa, Montreal (All Ages)*
1/21 Lees Palace, Toronto (19+)*
1/22 Lees Palace, Toronto (19+)*
1/23 London Music Hall, London (19+)*
1/24 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland OH (ALL AGES)*
1/25 Skullys Music Diner, Columbus OH (ALL AGES)*
1/26 Bluebird, Bloomington IN (21+)*
1/27 Metro, Chicago IL (ALL AGES)*
1/28 The Sett At Union South, Madison WI*
1/29 Varsity Theater, Minneapolis MN (18+)*
1/31 Bluebird Theater, Denver CO (16+)*
2/1 Club Sound, Salt Lake City UT (ALL AGES)
2/3 Electric Owl, Vancouver BC (19+)
2/4 Neptune, Seattle WA (ALL AGES)
2/7 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR (21+)*
2/8 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR (21+)*
2/10 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco CA (ALL AGES)*
2/11 Echoplex, Los Angeles CA (18+)*
2/12 Casbah, San Diego CA (21+)*
2/15 Club Dada, Dallas TX (ALL AGES)*
2/16 Fitzgeralds, Houston TX (ALL AGES)*
2/17 The Parish, Austin TX (ALL AGES)*
2/18 The Parish, Austin TX (ALL AGES)*