Posted May 19th, 2010 (1:13 pm) by Tim Gilman
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In a time when most bands seem to lay dormant for two or more years between albums, Los Campesinos! has risen to the occasion as a band frequently releasing great albums. Over the course of less than three years, the prolific band has released an EP and three full-length albums. Each album seems to mark a progression for the band's sound: from the very peppy Sticking Fingers into Sockets to their much more dynamic new album Romance Is Boring, each release sounds different from the one preceding it. Somehow, in between all the writing and recording of new material, the band has been able to go on extensive tours and entertain rabid fans with their hilarious and always interesting blog. This combination of strong, frequently released music and willing, enthusiastic fan interaction, makes Los Campesinos! one of the most exciting bands going today. Recently, Inyourspeakers had the opportunity to speak with the band's drummer Ollie Campesinos! about volcanic ash clouds, food portion sizes, and why Romance Is Boring is the best Los Campesinos! album released so far in the band's burgeoning career.

Inyourspeakers: So how has your current American tour been going so far?

Ollie Campesinos: It's been going very well actually – we've had some really good shows. It was frustrating not being over here during the first week because of the volcano, but we're finally over here and getting into the flow of everything.

IYS: I did read that you guys were stuck in Heathrow for awhile. What did you do that whole time you were waiting to get on your flight?

OC: We mainly watched the BBC news channel, which was quite depressing because they'd always be like, “We're going to have another update in five hours,” and then we'd watch it and they'd just say nothing had changed. We got a flight a week later.

IYS: Well, I'm glad you got out eventually! I read a statement on the Los Campesinos blog that the shows would be 'violently euphoric' because of that frustration. Has that been the case?
OC: Yeah, I think so. We've really enjoyed being able to get over here and play.

IYS: How do you like playing in America versus playing in the UK? Any differences you enjoy?

OC: Well, we love being in America because of all the places over here, but there does seem to be a difference between American crowds and British crowds. I don't know if it's because we're a British band, so we play more often there and people are used to us or whatever, but we do seem to go down better here.

IYS: Oh really?

OC: Yeah, I'm not really sure why exactly. It might have something to do with the different sorts of American college bands like Pavement or Modest Mouse or whatever, I'm not sure if that's it or whether people just seem to understand us a bit more.

IYS: I would think a big difference would be having to travel far distances for shows in the US, sometimes over eight hours, whereas it seems like the UK is slightly more compact. Is that fun for you, or is it sometimes like, I wish I wasn't in a car for eight hours?

OC: Well on this tour we're on a bus, but on the last three tours we did here we did it in a van and we were able to appreciate the distances and how short they are in the UK. On this tour the shortest journey we've done is three hours, and in the UK that's the equivalent of driving from Cardiff to London. So it is a lot different – you can't complain about driving in the UK after touring in the US.

IYS: I would imagine! That's cool that you guys got a tour bus now, sounds like you're moving up in the world.

OC: [Laughs] Yeah, it's comfortable. And we get to wake up in the cities so we have more time to look around and everything.

IYS: So obviously Romance Is Boring came out a few months ago and, like all of your albums, it was very well received by critics. But it's funny because the sound of the band has sort of changed over time, at least in my opinion. Have fans seemed equally supportive despite the change in sound from what people were first introduced to?

OC: It hasn't been a problem. I think people realize that we're developing, and if you were to expect us to just churn out the same old stuff, like what we did on [debut full-length] Hold On Now, Youngster, then that would be a bit boring. It can be nice to listen to bands that do the same things on each album, but it's also nice to follow a band from the beginning to watch and listen to them develop and improve. I think that's what we're doing: we're still improving and we're challenging ourselves more now.

IYS: Definitely. So your desire to challenge yourselves was one of the driving reasons why your sound changed from happy and poppy to something slightly moodier?

OC: Yeah, I think that's it. It's also because we're still finding our sound – it's all still developing. There's a motivation to write sort of different songs.

IYS: Keeping on that topic, once again looking on the blog, which I tend to read frequently, I noticed that there's a statement that Romance Is Boring is objectively the best Los Campesinos! album so far. I was curious as to what your take on that was – why do you think that's true? Just because it sounds more mature and you're challenging yourself more, or is there another reason for that?

OC: No, I think that's it. But also, we can all still listen to it now and be happy with it. Whereas with the last couple, we sort of listened to it a couple months down the line and were like, “Oh, we should have done that differently, or put some things there.” But with this one we're still happy with it.

IYS: When the new year started I enjoyed reading everyone's 'best albums of the decade' list on the Los Campesinos! blog. Do you have any early contenders for your best albums of 2010 list?

OC: I think my number one is, at the moment, and probably will still be by the end of the year unless a band that I really like finishes an album, The Monitor by Titus Andronicus. It's an amazing album. We toured with them last year and loved touring with them and getting to know them and then hearing the album, you knew that was what they wanted to do. It all kicks in during the first song, there's a line that Patrick sings which is a reference to Bruce Springsteen that goes, “Tramps like us, baby we were born to die.” Every time I hear that line it just sends shivers down my spine. It's just an amazing record.

IYS: That's awesome. I totally know what you mean, that album is really good. Did you get to see them play any songs from it when you toured with them? I know that was a year ago, and I'm not sure if they finished writing it at that point.

OC: They were actually playing more than I realized – I think they played about three songs off that record. We did a show at Maxwell's in Hoboken at the beginning of this tour and they were playing in the evening and I really wanted to watch them, but I was just so tired and jet-lagged so I didn't. But they're playing at Primavera in a couple weeks and we're gonna be there, so I'm definitely going to watch them then.

IYS: Awesome! I got to see them in Boston last month and they were definitely good live. Well, another thing I really enjoy about the blog is all your food reviews. Have you always been super into food, you know, more into taste and texture versus some people who sometimes just eat food to survive without caring much about taste?

OC: [Laughs] Oh no, food is important and I wouldn't go out and eat any rubbish. It's good to feel full after a meal, but there's no point in feeling full after a meal if you haven't enjoyed it. Food's an important thing!

IYS: To keep making comparisons between the US and the UK, when you get food here versus there are there any striking differences? Like, I always hear that portion sizes are smaller there than they are here.

OC: That can be the case, but you can also go into a proper, old-school country club in the UK and be given a massive pile of food. You still get that in the UK as well.

IYS: So since you guys released the album recently, it sounds like you're just going to keep touring hard over the summer for now playing festivals, that sort of thing?

OC: Yeah, you know, we want to do as much as possible!

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