Straight out of Cardiff, Wales, Los Campesinos went straight from being seven university students to being indie darlings with the release of their 2007 debut, Come on Now Youngster. The album contained its share of bratty (yet somehow endearing) lyrics that served as both a travelogue and commentary on the band’s meteoric rise from academic anonymity to pop acceptance. Each song was inventive and sizzled with the kind of energy that indicated the band might be one and done in the album department.
As if to answer critics with the same attitude that informs their music, the band released We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed roughly eight months after their first album. The songs, culled from the Come On Now Youngster sessions as well as a recording stops made on tour, showed that Los Campesinos had plenty more left.
Which one of you is the “fun” Campesino?
Aleks (keyboard): I’m definitely not the fun one in the band. I’m not anything, really. I’m an enigma. I’m totally beyond description.
Ellen (bass): I don’t really think I’m the fun one. I’m the more the quick-witted, clever one. Wait a minute — people in the van are laughing at me for saying I’m quick witted. I guess I’m the special one, then. There are lots of things about me that are very interesting and good.
Gareth (glockenspiel): I would say that I’m more the suave, brooding Campesino. I’m not like depressed or anything. I’m more like the Fonz or Kenicke from Grease. I’m the type of person, very smooth, who a woman could definitely imagine buying her a drink.
Tom (guitar): I’m definitely not the fun Campesino. I’m the grumpiest Campesino. I hate everything. I hate people. I hate traveling. I actually hate anything that resembles fun. Anything like that I just take and channel it straight into our music. When you sound as fun as our band, it’s hard to be fun the rest of the time.
Neil (guitar): It’s also kind of hard to be fun when you’re in a van. You’re packed in a little close, and you’re listening to music and watching the scenery go by for six hours. And the only people here are in the band; maybe when we get of the van we’ll find some interesting people and throw a rave.
Ollie (drums): Well, I would say that I’m definitely the fun one. I’m more fun than Mickey Mouse. He’s all in Disney World, there with Pluto and Minnie Mouse and having fun. I’m definitely all the fun that Mickey and Minnie have together.
Are you sure that you want to go there? Lots of people don’t exactly care for Disney.
Ollie: It’s OK. We’re only going to Jacksonville and Gainesville on this tour.
Finish this sentence. If you buy one album this year, buy We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. If you buy two, buy…
Aleks: I’m not really one to recommend music, so this is hard. I’ll go for a nice classic. Bjork, Photogenic.
Gareth: I’d have to say a band called Kenicke, At the Club. It’s absolutely brilliant. Kenicke is like the Beatles if they had been born as girls.
Ellen: I don’t think you should buy our new album. I think you should steal it. If you steal something else, I would say that the new Amanda Palmer is excellent. Ben Folds is on it, and they go together so well.
Neil: After we’ve been playing with them, I’ll say Titus Andronicus. They’re doing some amazing things and have been great tour mates.
Ollie: There’s a band out of Glasgow called Dananananaykroyd. They’re just a lot of fun, and more people should seek them out.
Tom: I would definitely say that you should buy our first album. It was also excellent.
Who are Los Campesinos!?
Aleks: We’re a band who loves what we do. We’re seven individuals working together to create a party for your ears. Does that sound OK? I hate to be put on the spot by questions.
How did the name come about?
Ellen: Neil did Neil did Spanish A-Level, and he remembered it from the class. He liked it, and the rest of us thought it sounded good, so we went with it. We were in a bad, and we needed a name; we really didn’t think too much about it. It’s not a social or political message or anything deep. We didn’t think it mattered, because the furthest thing from our minds was that we would ever see our name in lights.
How has the band evolved since its inception?
Neil: We’re still a relatively young band, so we’re always growing and learning as musicians. I think the biggest thing is that we’re becoming more comfortable with each other and what we do can do as a band. We’re getting better individually as musicians, but also at becoming a strong group.
Was there ever a moment where things became overwhelming, and the band was concerned that things happened too fast?
Ollie: I think there was a point in the band’s history where that could have become an issue, but we all had one year left at university and so we decided to finish up before cutting an album. We had some offers and probably could have made a record, but it would have been rubbish. We had some issues to work out, and that last year of school allowed us to not only to focus on them, but to take the business end of music at our own pace. It allows us the time to enjoy things like being on tour rather than being overwhelmed by it.
What is the best part about being on tour?
Gareth: It’s definitely just getting out on the road and seeing all these different places. Going to the United States is particularly rewarding, because everybody here is so friendly. The people who show up at the shows are always so enthusiastic and seem to genuinely care about the music. It’s very flattering to think that these people living thousands of miles away care enough about our music to come and see us play.
What are your long-term goals for the band?
Tom: I don’t think the band really has long-term goals. We were a bunch of university students who started a band without having any expectations of success. Here it is not even five years later, we’ve released two albums and are on tour in the United States. This is beyond the wildest dreams any of us had when we started playing. Maybe this is the high point and the rest of our lives will be a slow decline into obscurity, trading off the early success of Los Campesinos.
Do you see reality television in your future?
Tom: Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point, but I think that Gareth would like to land a slot on Celebrity Love Island. Actually, he wouldn’t have to be desperate to do that. He’d probably quit the band if he could get on Shot of Love with Tila Tequila.
I think she’s off the market now.
Tom: Oh no. Really?
Yes, she’s found love. There are twins on the show now. It’s called Double Shot of Love.
Tom: Well he’d probably still be interested in that. He’d take a double shot or even a triple shot. Gareth is really interested in all the love you’re willing to give him. Maybe that makes him the fun one after all.