Exclusive: Catching Up with Harriet of Los Campesinos!


The exclamation point in their band name is telling: Last year alone Los Campesinos! released two albums and now they’re now back in the States touring with Titus Andronicus, focusing on what Sarah Palin would call “real America” — you know, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma. They’ll end this leg of the tour with a two-night sold out stint at the Bowery Ballroom this weekend, but before these kids from Cardiff bring their delightfully twee indie pop to New York, we caught up with violinist Harriet Campesinos! (pictured above, far left) to chat about Heartland audiences, the free DVDs they’ve been scoring off fans, and the fact they aren’t going prog (yet).

Read the full interview after the jump.

Flavorwire: How’s the tour going?

Harriet Campesino: It’s been really, really good. The audiences have been really great. Getting to see some slightly off the beaten track towns has been great as well because we haven’t done such an extensive tour so far, just big cities. This time we did three dates in Texas, and tonight we’re playing in Lawrence, Kansas.

FW: Oh, cool. That’s where William Burroughs lived.

HC: Yeah, I Wikipedia-ed it. We had a day off yesterday. I’ll have to do some investigating.

FW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour so far?

HC: As someone from the UK, just driving through endless flat plains is pretty amazing. We had to drive eight hours from Dallas, and it’s just flat, nothingness. But the craziest thing? Well, we sent a MySpace message out saying, “If you can’t get in because you’re underage, we’ll put you on the guest list if you bring us DVDs.” People actually did. They brought us really good ones.

FW: What was your favorite?

HC: Well, we got Forrest Gump which was a big success. I actually really don’t like it, but the other blokes at the time were really pleased with that one.

FW: Speaking of the guys, the vocal interplay in your group is great. How do you decide which parts each person sings?

HC: Gareth writes the lyrics. He also does the male/female interplay with Aleks. They become the male and female characters. Other than that, it’s partly just what feels right when we’re recording it. Then we might add the extra shouting and things that goes in onstage and little backup things to flesh it out. It’s just a bit fun to shout really. Gareth’s quite good at the clever one-liner type things. With a particularly juicy phrase, I think we all want to get in on it and shout it out.

FW: It gives the music such a theatrical feeling. With the popularity of Hedwig and Spring Awakening, have you ever thought about writing a rock musical?

HC: Wow, I’ve never been asked that question before! I don’t know if we’re quite at that stage yet, but maybe when we go prog. Give us a couple years.

FW: Looking forward to it. Who are some of your influences?

HC: As a band, it’s quite variable. I think Pavement is the one that drives us all, really. It’s that guitar pop music and also lyrically Pavement’s a big inspiration for Gareth. But I think we have quite diverse tastes because there are seven of us in the band. Neil really likes alt-country and also quite a lot of punk bands like Meneguar. Personally, the violin parts [are influenced by] people like Final Fantasy and the guy who plays with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Mick Harvey. He’s a big influence.

FW: You’ve been cranking out new material pretty consistently. Do you have plans for the next album?

HC: When the leg of this tour finishes, we’re going to go do some recording with John Goodmanson who recorded the last album. Don’t know when it’ll be out, but part of the reason we came to America is to start work on the second or third album, depending on who you ask.

FW: Can you give us a little preview of what it’ll be like?

HC: I think we’re really just going to go in and see what happens. I quite want to not plan it too much before we go in and do a slightly more free album and see what happens, but hopefully not to far from where we’ve been going with the last record. We’re not going prog yet!