Los Campesinos! Interview!

on Wednesday, August 16, 2006
You must have heard about Welsh-yet-not-so-Welsh uni student collective Los Campesinos! by now. If not, you've either been living under a rock or you actually have a life that doesn't involve the internet. Taking the best bits of American indie pop and adding their own secret ingredients, simply put they're grrrrreat. Better than Frosties in fact. But with no press release or biog in sight, Keep Hope Inside seeks to unpeel the layers of the Los Campesinos! onion....

Let's start with the basics, in a Cilla-Black-Blind-Date format. What's yer name and where d'ya come from?
Gareth: We are three sevenths Somerset, two sevenths London-way, one seventh Northern and a last seventh Russian. None of us are actually Welsh, but Cardiff is where we are home and happy. It’s our favourite city I think.
Neil: I’m Neil, the Northern part of Los Campesinos!. Neil, the token Northerner.
Harriet: I’m from Surrey but my gran is from the Rhonda Valley and her dad was a miner so he wouldn’t mind us being called a Welsh band. Also, my grandad on the non-Welsh side was in the navy and once spent a night in Cardiff prison when his ship left without him.
Gareth: I think that qualifies us as Welsh!

How did Los Campesinos! form?
G: I’m afraid the formation isn’t a very exciting story. It’s just a tale of friendship and indie snobbery. Basically we stopped recruiting when we were able to afford to hire practice rooms.
N: It's quite a romantic story. It started initially with the four of us when I was out and chatting about The Decemberists and Tom stuck his head into the conversation. He’d been in my lectures for a year and I didn’t even notice him. Or his hat. I live with Gareth and I knew Harriet and Ellen knew Alex. The band came together really naturally some time in March.

Where did the band name come from?
G: Once upon a time Neil was fluent in Spanish, and so I guess that’s where the idea for the name came. It doesn’t mean anything though.
N: Well, it literally means the peasants but the meaning has changed due to Spain’s social changes. It doesn’t actually mean anything to us though.
G: I just like the fact that it sounds nice and looks nice written down. The exclamation mark was added in an attempt to make us cool and hip. Actually, thinking about it, I think the initial idea for the exclamation mark may have been a joke. A good joke though.

There seems to be a Peruvian folk outfit who share your name, will you be Ctrl+Alt+Deleting their faces anytime soon?
G: Haha, quite crucially those folksters don’t have an exclamation mark in their name, so we’re hoping that that saves us. Also, there’s the comfort that I’d imagine nobody in Peru will ever hear of us.

Fellow Cardiff centric band The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club are also beginning to make it into the media spotlight - is there a burgeoning new music scene in Cardiff that we should know about?
G: Cardiff has an awesome music scene. If you manage to avoid the angry teenagers forming shouty bands in the valleys then bands such as Gindrinker, Little My And Friends, Yossarian, Stray Borders, Silence At Sea and Sweet Baboo are all really exciting and worth listening to.
N: Gareth’s got this one covered. Cardiff has an excellent music scene.
H: Yes, it’s fantastic to be in such good company.

How does it feel to be a quoteunquote blogging sensation?
: I think it’s quite nice, as it is easy to avoid. It’s lovely when people have nice things to say about us, but I also find it quite scary, as, well, things were never meant to happen like this. Though it’s easy to hide from the internet, so I don’t know how big a deal it is.
N: It’s quite exciting, although weird. We were on The Hype Machine thing in the top 10 for 1 week. What’s that all about? The Peruvian Los Campesinos must have had a chart hit that week.

'It Started With A Mixx' seems to be inspired by Hot Chocolate's 'It Started With A Kiss' - why did you decide to "rework" that track?
G: It was just in case people ever got confused, I wanted to highlight the fundamental difference between myself and Errol brown. Whereas he gets to do kissing, I make mixx tapes for girls to try to make them love me. Somebody wrote about this song and said it was satire. It is completely not. Each word is from the bottom of my pathetic, simpering heart. If a single person puts this on a mixx tape for somebody they are trying to impress then my life will be whole. It mightn’t be very subtle though. That must be where I’m going wrong.

Following the fantastic news Los Campesinos! are about to support Broken Social Scene (huzzah!), are there any other bands about at the moment that you'd love to play with?
G: After the inevitable embarrassment I cause myself at this gig, I am going to hope and pray that we never get offered to play with a band I like, ever again.
N: I don’t think there’s another band around right now that I’d like to play with more. I’m shitting my pants already.
H: I know its going to be mega!

With major label interest around the corner (perhaps already here?), are there any plans to release a single/EP or a full scale tour in the near future?
G: We would love to do all those things. We just need to find people that will let us, and help us organise it because we’re rubbish at organising stuff.
N: We’ve still got one year of uni left, which means we’re going to be taking things quite slowly. A full scale tour is something that we all want to do. Touring sounds like the best thing ever.

Los Campesinos! - It Started With A Mixx
For other tracks and to read more about them, check out The Hype Machine [link]

And there you have it, my first ever band "interview" and apparently only the second one Los Campesinos! have done. I think their first one was with a porn mag. Awesome. Let me know what you thought of my interview and many thanks go to Gareth, Neil and Harriet Los Campesinos! for being ace.

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