quinta-feira, outubro 16, 2008

Interview with Los Campesinos

This was published in the August edition of Noize Magazine.
Here, the "writer's cut" or unedited version, in english.
And yes, theremust be a lot of mistyped stuff...

Me: Let’s start from the beginning: tell me your names and how the band started.
Aleks: We formed the band in the second year of Uni. All began when Ellen, Neil and Ollie started practicing together, playing around and then gradually others joined one by one. First Tom, then Gareth, then Harriet then I joined finally. It was just something that just happened. Nobody had plans on having a career. We would just get together once a week, played songs, worked towards playing one gig.
Me: What were you studying in Cardiff?
E: I studied journalism, media studies. Harriet, tom and neil did english together.
Me: It must be hard to be a university student and a rock star at the same time. How did the band affected your studies?
A: I think in the second year it wasn’t that intense, coz it wasn’t intense with the uni and it wasn’t intense with the band. We had a couple of gigs here and there so it didn’t really interfere with university work. Then that was the third year, when it got a lot more serious. We all didn’t wanna compromise finishing our degrees in order to have to be on the road all the time. We took a quite long break, actually, about 3 months.
E: yeah, we really couldn’t do anything, cause we were really serious students. (laughs) There was no way we could do both: touring and taking exams.
A: knowing that we were doing gigs in the States, that we wre touring in the summer, that motivated me a lot to do the work I needed.
Me: Why Los Campesinos? How did you come up with this name?
Ellen: Because Neil did Spanish and we were thinking about the name of the band and it just came up. At the time I thought it was rubbish, but I got used to it… there’s no meaning behind it, it’s just because it sounds nice. Then the exclamation mark came in later.
Me: Can you talk about your album “Hold on now, youngster…”?
A: We recorded the album about a year ago now. After a couple of months focusing on uni work we had the chance to go to Canada and work with the producer we had worked before and we wanted hi to produce the album because we felt really comfortable working with him and he had great new ideas. Because it was our first experience in a studio we needed someone who wouldn’t intimidate us, who would be in a friendly basis with and David Newfeld was that person for us. We spent 5 weeks in the studio, working.
E: It was surreal.
A: Yeah, strange, but certainly an experience.
E: I’m really proud of the outcome of it. We like it.
Me: Is it hard to make decision in such a large group of people? Do you have problems with decision making because you are such a big group?
A: It really depends. There are certain things some people have really strong opinions about, but I like to think even though there those different opinions sometimes everyone feels comfortable to say something to someone at least. Especially musically. This is our fisrt album. I don’t think any of us is professional and expert enough to KNOW something is not gonna work. So generally if anyone comes up with a suggestion we would try out and see how it sounds. And if it sounds rubbish, it’s ok to say so.
E: it’s really hard when you are 7 people. It’s good because you get diverse opinion and it’s bad because you get diverse of opinion. Some people are more opinionated, some people are more opinionated, so we try to understand that and appreciate it. It’s just more interesting having more of a group dynamics, specially when spending more time together.
Me: Who writes the lyrics, usually?
E: Gareth. And tom records the demos on the computer and send them to us and then we all have a listen and change things, keep things, leave things and structures. It’s all an organic process.
Me: What do you think about being labelled as TWEE band?
E: I think it’s stupid.
A: I can see maybe why people would initially label us as that without knowing anything about us and our music, or maybe the essential ingredients could potentially be there, but I think it’s a bit just one dimensional to just look at us and tsay something like that. Maybe from live performances and stuff like that . Actually I find difficult to put certain music groups a certain label, cause everyone wants to think description in music journalism like what do they sound like, what labels do they fall under. I guess It’s easy to just group us into something, but at the same time it’s not that one dimension.
E: If you saw a photo of us you could say we are twee, but I don’t think our album is twee, I don’t think live we are twee at all. And when someone says it, it’s like a spiral – everyone starts calling us twee.
Me: I’ve seen that in a couple of concerts, some fans invaded the stage. Does it happen a lot? How do you see it?
A: It depends. Sometimes it’s really exiting, because they are people enthusiastic about your music, but there are different types of stage invaders. We have the one that just wanna have a good time and wanna be a part of the band experience and they’ll make sure they don’t disrupt any musical equipment and then there are the ones who just wanna go on stage…
E: … because they want some attention and then they touch or steal stuff.
Me: Did it happen? Stealing?
A:, yeah, someone took my melody horn at one gig, but they got it back in the end.
E: I’ve had a couple of people coming in stage and kissing me, which I really don’t like. Like, in Amsterdam a couple of teenagers came and kissed me on the cheek and that was cute, cause they are teenagers. But then in America a guy got on stage and kind of kissed me and that was kind of gross cause he was 35 or something and I thought it was inappropriate. And also he came after me in the backstage… that was uughh..
A: I guess this is the kind of danger of putting yourself out there so much, exposing yourself to the public. People feel they’ve got a claim to you.
E: I think there are people who do it with innocence, but some people are just creepy and it pissed me off cause it’s like: you don’t have the right to do that!
Me: What is the importance of playing live for you?
A: I think the live experience when talking about us is certainly important and completely differente from listening to our records, a new energy comes across. When I see bands and I see that happening that is really exciting. There is a certain atmosphere about live gigs. Isn’t it becoming more popular? I read that even though the music industry is kind of dying slowly the live music is the only part of it that is really expanding, because people are realising that that is something they can’t get online, just download for free.
E: doing a gig is extreme in the sense that you can do a gig and you can feel really good or really bad about what what you are doing, depending on your performance or your mood. I’m very genuine, so I can’t pretend I’m enjoying myself if I’m not I the mood.
A: yeah, you’ve got the sexy moody reputation…!
E: Ha ha
A: but don’t you think that playing a live gig can actually improve the way you’re feeling? Like sometimes I shake myself off of a bad mood just when we are on stage. Certain crowds can really lift you.
E: yes, the crowd makes all the difference.
A: And also we can never be happy 24/7 , but that’s a good thing about being 7 of us: there’ always someone who’s really into it and it helps.
E: If one of us is really loving it it can change completely the energy of the stage, cause then everyone is like YEAH!
Me: You’ve been playing in a lot of festivals… how do you like it? What’s the difference between playing in a festival and a regular gig?
E: the food and hospitality!
A: every festival has its own personality. We can go from playing in a massive festival like Glastonbury to tiny festivals like this we played in kent, it was like a kids day out environment. You never know what to expect from each festival, we all enjoy that aspect of it.
Me: Can you name a favourite one?
E: I think that one in Kent is one of my favourite ones so far. We played in this tiny winny tent and the audience was really really good. Playing in Glastonbury is obviously amazing, but you’re playing in this big stage far away from the audience, I feel isolated and that’s strange.
Me: You seem to take very seriously the band project and most of all its identity: you all have Campesinos as a last name and you also have this whole universe surrounding the band (the zine, etc).
E: I like that, we’ve came up with this methaforical or mythological universe. I think it’s really important to have that, an identity that extends beyond the music. It’s important for people to appreciate something else and understand. It’s also about sharing with everyone else and being more accessible to people so they can feel oart of it.
A: I think it was also a way of showing that we have other interests as individuals as well. All of us individually, we are not just about music. We have a variety of hobbies and things we are passionate about. Doing things like writing the zine, even making decisions about artwork and stuff like that lets us project our personalities more on to things we are doing every day, like the band.
Me: What are you major influences?
A.: We listen to a lot of north-american bands, more than average of british people. Bands like Broken Social Scene, Pavement.
E: it’s hard to come up with a band that everyone likes. Recently we´ve been listening to newish bands.
Me: What have you been listening to lately?
A: The Age, Time New Viking…
Me: You guys are playing everywhere, even in Japan! Did you expect such a worldwide success? Isn’t it overwhelming?
E: I don’t feel overwhelmed because I don’t think about it. I’m just appreciating it and not stopping to analyze it, cause if I do I’ll probably go mad.
A: I think we accept it but we didn’t expect it.
Me: I read there is the possibility of adding more people to the band in the future…
E:Yes, it would be nice. Having more instruments, adding more layers…
A: I think 7 is enough but really… we cannot predict. Our rule is never say never!

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