Los Campesinos! Interview: "We didn't even think we would gig outside of Wales"

Cardiff band Los Campesinos! talk to Skiddle about the third album, creative side projects, and how the 'continually evolving' band has grown from three to (at last count) eight members.

Jayne Robinson

Last updated: 8th Jun 2011.
Originally published: 7th Jun 2011

Cardiff collective Los Campesinos! talk to Skiddle about the third album, creative side projects, and how the 'continually evolving' band has grown from three to (at last count) eight members.

In this band there are eight members, each of whom share the same ‘surname’ - exclamation mark in tow.

They are indeed the eight Campesinos!, and whether they are related or not is irrelevant, because it’s the music they create when together that has brought them to the position they are in today.

As we speak, the Cardiff octo-group are putting the finishing touches on the follow up to 2010’s Romance Is Boring while simultaneously flexing Rob Campesinos!’ amazing ‘drawing skills’ for their recently launched zine ‘Heat Rash’.

Ellen Campesinos! talks to Jasmine Phull about the importance of something tangible while simultaneously praising the Internet for its wide expanse and infinite endings.

You’re currently in the studio. What’s the one lesson you’ve applied to the creation of the third studio album?
Before we went to Spain we sat down to discuss what direction we wished the album to take and without restricting ourselves too much with particular rules or dos and don'ts, we all conceded we wanted it to be a more direct and poppier affair then the last one.

While working on the album have you isolated yourselves or structured your recording environment in a specific way?
We recorded it in Spain in a fairly isolated rural setting and I think the lack of distractions certainly helped us focus on what we were there to achieve. The structure of the recording process was quite loose as time is always of the essence. If there is a spare moment to fit in a keyboard part then it should be fitted in, but there was always a vague plan each day. There was also a nice set of mood lights we would wack on in the evening whilst doing rhythm section parts.

Is creating a third album kind of like having a third child? By the third have you become a lot more relaxed in your approach? Is there less stress?
I think by the third time you kind of know what your doing a bit more, and have more faith in yourself and your decisions. There is always stress and time pressures but that was probably felt more keenly by John Goodmanson, our wonderful producer, and Tom than anyone else.

Your quarterly zine Heat Rash is a side project that has become part of the Los Campesinos! creative output. What was the decision behind adding this element?
It is a way of producing stand alone tracks for fans without worrying about how they might fit on a album as well as a chance for us to spread our creative wings in varied and interesting ways. We basically wanted to be able to put out more content for people to enjoy and take hideous advantage of Rob Campesinos! and his drawing skills.

Why did it seem more relevant now compared to when you started in 2006?
I guess it’s less a case of relevancy and more a case of wanting to evolve and expand as musicians and creative type people who are trying to find new varied ways to produce more content, which will be heard rather than becoming an irrelevant b side. Due to the ever diminishing returns in the music industry people have to find new interesting ways to excite and reward their fans for their loyalty, as well as producing tangible items people can't just download illegally, which can spoil the fun for everyone. Also with eight of us it is a chance for everyone to contribute in new and exciting ways to the band, and it’s a rather fun thing to do.

What compelled you to start Los Campesinos! and what’s compelled you to continue?
Compelled by the idea of playing music with friends, compelled to continue by the continued joy of playing music with friends. It's still fun and exciting and I guess we are continually evolving and learning and finding new ways of putting our music out there. Plus we have not made it to Australia yet, and we have five fans out there who will be sorely disappointed if we stop now.

Los Campesinos! consists of 8 members, which is quite an unconventional number for a band. How did the band first come to form? Was it just a natural progression where more and more people kept contributing or was it a conscious decision?
It was a natural progression, we didn't even think we would gig outside of Wales when we first started so it didn't really matter how many people there were in the band. We started out as three then we had more people who could play things and sing things, and it expanded outward from there. I guess with Rob it was more of a deliberate decision. At first as we needed someone to do the extra stuff on the live songs that we couldn’t. He also does a lot of our merch designs but it feels much more complete now he is in the band.

How important is the Internet to Los Campesinos!
Incredibly important, isn't it to most bands? It's how we got noticed in the first place and our blog is an essential part of our relationship with the people who like our music. It enables us to keep them in the loop on what we are up to, as well as being a place for self-indulgent ranting - my favourite activity.

As a band from Cardiff, Wales can you describe the music scene in that city? Have you witnessed its evolution?
The music scene in Wales is a close knit yet varied community and l don't know if I have witnessed it evolve as such but it's certainly as thriving now as it was when I first went to uni here. I think it's more a case of there being an incredibly vibrant and welcoming scene for any potential musician to involve themselves in.

Last song you listened to?
‘Song 2’ by Blur was playing on the Adam and Joe show. I thought about how Damon Albarn was probably sneering in contempt as he wrote those lyrics.

First album you bought?
It was most definitely a Now That’s What I call Music album.

Interview by: Jasmine Phull
Twitter.com/j_fool

See Los Campesinos! news, events and info

Catch Los Campesinos! at Get Loaded in the Park this Sunday, and Hudbu Festival in September.