Los Campesinos! in Bellingham
with Keaton Collective and Learning Team
Mon February 6, 2012
Doors at 8pm, Music until 12:30am
$10 adv / $12 day of
Welsh Arts & Crafts Recording Artists (home of Broken Social Scene, Feist, Phoenix, Ra Ra Riot) perform in Bellingham!
Hello! Objective third-person narratives, stereotypical ironic humour and hyperbole at the ready: this is Los Campesinos!'s biography, in all its clichéd glory.
So, where to start Well, the band came together in Cardiff city, Wales. Though none of the band are actually from Cardiff, they're fans of the Super Furry Animals and agree that Jason Koumas is one of the Championship's finest footballers. These points alone were enough to cement the lovely place to both their left and right ventricles.
It was March of 2006 when the band reached its seven-headed form. It started in some way a little time before though, with Neil (guitar), Ollie (drums) and Ellen (bass) getting together to 'jam' on Wednesday afternoons so that they wouldn't have to take part in university sports afternoon. Then, in one chance romantic encounter in the Cardiff Barfly, Tom (lead guitar) joined the fray. He overheard the words "The Decemberists" in Neil's conversation and butted in. Fat was chewed and it was revealed that Tom could play guitar. He modestly informed Neil that he wasn't very good and then turned up to practice with a myriad pop smashes hidden under his hat. It was at this time that the first loveably shoddy demos were recorded, primarily using a microphone plugged into a laptop and placed in the middle of the room as this foetal version of LC! played songs around itOooh, they're SO indie.
Gareth (vocals, glockenspiel), who lived with Neil, subsequently heard the aforementioned demos, "became hugely jealous" (his own words) and decided he wanted to be in the band (interesting story as an aside: Gareth and Neil met on their first day of university, whilst Neil was unrolling his signed Sonic Youth poster and Gareth was wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt: Meant. To. Be.). Anyway, it turned out he was right about being in the band.
Next came Harriet. She was a good friend of Neil's and had the attractive, if incongruous, quality of being an 'actual musician'. Harriet brought both a violin and an ability to read music to the band, and nobody could really ask for anything more than that. Except maybe for a ginger Russian girl.
And so last to join Team Campesinos! was Aleks. The band knew they wanted another girl in their ranks to correct the massive imbalance of testosterone that oozed from all the boys' (and some of the girls') pores. Preferably they wanted a girl who could sing, and Ellen said she knew somebody who fitted that exact criteria. Without having even met her, let alone heard her, Aleks hopped on board. Fortunately, she COULD sing and now at least there would be enough members on stage to provide some sort of distraction from the fact that the band's musicianship left a little (a lot) to be desired. It also meant that it would now only cost £2.15 each to hire a practice room per session. That seemed a reasonably affordable amount, and so it was decided that the band didn't need any more new friends and they got on with proper band stuff.
They played their first gig on May 8th 2006, in the side room of a rather shady venue, while a Pendulum gig took
place in the room opposite. You couldn't really hear the quiet bits of Los Campesinos!'s songs due to the Drum
and Bass pounding next door, but it wasn't so much of a contrast, because you couldn't hear the band's loud bits
either due to the shoddy nature of all equipment involved and soundmen who noticeably shuddered when they saw they were going to have to mic up a violin. Arguably (probably), it was best for everyone involved that no-one heard the band. They weren't very good.
However, a rather fortunate turn of events involving a moderately successful demo recording session and the consequent and unashamed whoring of said demos on music message boards, saw the band ascend to the heady heights of rock'n'roll glory where people actually ASKED them to perform. They went on to play with people like Broken Social Scene and Danielson Famile (actual proper bands! And rather good ones at that): an honour for our seven-piece. And then, somewhat foolishly, the lovely Wichita Recordings signed them up. There have since been a spattering of gigs, not to mention the release of their debut 7" (see details below) back in February, but with their heavy academic shackles the band has been limited to playing only when essays aren't due.
The end (or glorious beginning, depending on which way you're looking at it) is at last in sight, however: the
academic ball is about to crash in a big heap of failed exams, while the big fat ball of rock'n'roll cliché has begun to rollforwards. With the onset of Summer 2007 comes travelling, playing, recording and yet more hard graft
(although this time of the non-academic variety) for LC!. Their second single "You! Me! Dancing!" is set for release
in June, together with a handful of live dates, including a show at London's Scala before the band head Stateside
for their first North American tour, and finally to Canada (eh) to record their debut album with Broken Social Scene
producer extraordinaire and all-round nice guy David Newfeld. There will also be a few of their first festival stopoffs along the way (to be announced). Their debut album is then planned for release at the start of 2008. Woop!
And here's where the band biography gets troublesome, for we've reached the point where we must put the background to bed and describe LC!'s 'sound'. Rather than offer some obvious, essentialising, and not to mention limiting comparisons, nor ubiquitous adjectives like 'scratchy' or 'shambolic', we'll just tell you that this band play 'pop' songs. They're kinda melodic, maybe even 'joyous'. Maybe they have too much going on at once. Maybe not enough. But they like to try and make the most of all the instrumentation they have and like to sing about the 'Three R's, human anatomy, mixx tapes, fighting, other peoples' bands, girls/boys and disappointment.
Phew. The band are very sorry you've had to read this pompous description of what is, hyperbole aside, just some people playing songs they like. They hope you'll find it in your collective heart to forgive them, and, maybe, just listen to their songs and applaud/slander as you see fit. The end.
208 W Holly Street
Bellingham, WA 98225