Los Campesinos!

In a Heavenly Land

May 15, 2009 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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"It's like a magical, unreal, heavenly land, isn't it?," observes Los Campesinos! violinist Harriet about the Coachella music festival. The Welsh band is hanging out backstage at the festival in the California desert a few hours before their energetic performance later that afternoon. Los Campesinos! released their first two albums, Hold on Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in 2008. The band has been recording their third album in Connecticut, but took a break for a short U.S. tour, including their Coachella appearance. We spoke to Harriet and drummer Ollie as they spilled the beans on what to expect from their next album, which is due out next year.

So, is this your first time at Coachella?

Harriet: Yeah.

And what do you think of it so far?

Harriet: Well, it's like a magical, unreal, heavenly land, isn't it? It's all beautiful soft grass and flowers everywhere.

Ollie: It's pretty good already because it's sunny, and it's not wet and muddy.

Harriet: Like the usual festival experience for us.

So compared to Glastonbury and English festivals, is it a lot more chill than those festivals?

Harriet: Yeah, I guess so. No, probably not more chilled out. Glastonbury's pretty chilled out, but I don't know what the audience are like, if they're going to be all hippy and nice.

They're pretty chill here. There's no riots or anything. Nobody throws bottles here.

Harriet: Ah, okay.

So, you are guys are working on a new record? Are you finished with the new record or are you working on it?

Harriet: We're on a break from working on it. We took three weeks in Connecticut and then we came on tour for three weeks and then we're going back to Seattle for two weeks, again to record.

Who's producing it?

Harriet: John Goodmanson. He's from Seattle.

And in Connecticut were you in one of those rural studios?

Ollie: We were in the Carriage House where Doolittle was recorded by the Pixies.

Harriet: It's like suburban Connecticut with those big white suburban houses. It's really nice.

What would you say you're doing differently with this record with the sound compared to your last record?

Harriet: Well, I suppose we're being more ambitious because this is like our second proper album release, isn't it?

Ollie: Yeah. Experimenting with different sounds, a bit of electronics, extra instrumentation from people outside the band, which is really exciting.

Anybody notable?

Ollie: I'm not sure if...there will be people on it that will be noticeable, but I'm not sure if we can actually-I'm not sure if I want to say it yet.

Is there a particular release date for the record?

Ollie: I think probably February next year. So, there's still a while.

You guys still going to be on Arts and Crafts?

Ollie: As far as we're aware, yeah.

Harriet: They haven't said anything to us.

That's a good label to be on. Obviously, that's run by people from Broken Social Scene. Have they given you any kind of advice or mentored you in anyway?

Harriet: Yes! We saw Kevin Drew in Toronto. He was really nice to come out and have dinner with us. He was just giving us advice like, "Eat healthy." Yeah, he told us that people in bands age very badly so you have to take care of yourself when you're young, which is always good. Just generally, he seemed very positive.  So, it's really good. I think they're coming here, aren't they?

Ollie: I think a few people are, yeah.

From the label?

Ollie: Yeah. 

Harriet: They didn't really say, "Oh, give us this kind of album." They haven't said anything creatively, which is nice.

Have they heard some of what you've been doing? 

Harriet: Not as far as I know.

Do you have any song titles from the record that you're ready to give out yet?  Or do you do that last?

Harriet: I can't remember any of it.

Ollie: I think most of them have demo titles at the moment, which aren't very exciting. 

Harriet: "Demo 3" And a lot of them betray who we may have stolen ideas off of. 

Ollie: I think you have to wait.  I think the titles have still been...

Harriet: It's the Beatles one!

Are there any new influences that you're bringing into this record that maybe weren't on previous records?

Harriet: I think whatever you listen to, whatever you hear around just always seeps into the music. You can't help it. So, I think definitely-like what [Ollie was] saying about more electronic influences-Tom's got very into glitch kind of ideas. He loves the first Efterklang record, which has got lots and lot of weird noises and stuff.  So, he's really into that. And, that's something that we never touched upon in the first two records.

What about lyrically? Are there any new themes that you're tackling with the lyrics?

Harriet: I've not heard that much of them. From what I've heard, it's sort of similar.

Ollie: Yeah, it's all still autobiographical, but I don't want to say too much 'cause I think Gareth is still writing some of them.

Harriet: He said, this one, he's found it much easier this time to write lyrics. So, I think it's been a lot less of a painful process for him. So, we're excited to see what comes out in the next record, in the next session.

How do you guys feel about where the band's at right now and what you guys have been doing?

Harriet: Well it's been crazy.

Ollie: Well, you can't really complain, can you? We're here at Coachella, and we've been in the States since January touring and recording. So, it's been an amazing few months.

Harriet: It has been really positive.

Have you guys been going back to Wales?

Harriet: Well, you popped back, didn't you?

Ollie: Yeah, I went back to Scotland for a week. But most people have stayed over here, have taken advantage of being over here.

Harriet: Yeah. We got to spend two weeks in New York, which is amazing.  I mean, it's crazy being away from home for this long, but at the same time we just feel really lucky to be busy and touring and recording and having all of these opportunities. 

Anything else to tell me? Any crazy stories? Any crazy tour stories? Anything newsworthy or wild happen to you lately?

Ollie: We had a window fall off the bus, but I think that's the excitement really. I don't think anything really that exciting has happened on the tour. Not that I can remember. I always think of stuff after we've done the interview. 

Harriet: Yeah, I can't either. Sorry!

Who are you excited to see [here at Coachella]?

Harriet: Gang Gang Dance and Leonard Cohen.

Ollie: TV on the Radio, definitely.

Check out a full gallery of photos of Los Campesinos! at Coachella

(www.loscampesinos.com)



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