ACL Interviews: Los Campesinos!

The ATH crew is heading full blast into our ACL Festival coverage this week with some spotlights, interviews, battles and any other craziness we can think of.  Today we’re coming at ‘ya with our first interview of the season from Welsh band Los Campesinos!  Prior to the festival, we sent some interview questions to band member Tom Campesinos! who was kind enough to answer our tough questions.  Follow the jump for his answers.

ATH: When we first interviewed you guys in 2009, it seemed like you were kind of in this transitionary period as a band.  Your sound was becoming more “mature” and intricate and maybe even “darker”.  How did the decision come about to make that move as a band?

Tom: I’m not sure it was a conscious decision, necessarily.  I’m sure there are lots of small decisions you make over time, but it’s felt like the changes we’ve made as a band have come about pretty naturally.  There’s definitely a change in attitude between being a band writing your first ever songs in a room with your friends to being a band that’s on a label and writes for a ‘living’, and so I guess you do start to take it all a bit more seriously.  It’s more about being as ambitious as possible, though, pushing yourselves as far as you can go and trying to write the best, most interesting songs you can.  Whatever changes happen are a result of that, I think.

ATH: Are you happy with the decision to change a bit sonicaly as a band?  Would you go back and do anything differently?

Tom: Looking back there are always things you’d do differently now, but hopefully that’s a sign you’ve grown and maybe even improved as a band.  I think it’s important just to look back at the songs you’ve recorded and see them as snapshots of who you were at the time.  I wouldn’t go back and photoshop the embarrassing photos of me as a kid, and I have the same attitude to our songs. I’m pretty proud of nearly everything we’ve recorded up to now, though, and I think even if some of the performances or choices of arrangements are a bit ropey, they’re an honest representation of who we were back then.

ATH: Now that you’ve progressed as a band and have a bigger discography of music, how do you pick what to play live?  Oldies with some new ones?

Tom: It’s getting harder and harder, but yeah, pretty much that!  You try not to lose perspective of what it’s like to be a fan, and showing up to other bands’  gigs, I’d just want to hear the hits.  It is generally an emphasis on newer songs, as those are the ones that best represent you as a band now and that you’re most excited to perform and you have to try to keep moving forward as a band.  But you want it to be an ‘event’ and to be as exciting and interesting as possible; you should reward the people that’ve paid to see you, so there’s always plenty of older, more familiar songs.

ATH: How do you approach playing outside as opposed to an intimate indoor venue?  Plan on doing anything differently.

Tom: I guess you need to take the weather into consideration, so we might sacrifice our usual dazzling sartorial choices for something more practical.  But at festivals you’re aware that there are more ‘incidental’ audience members there: people who might not know you or who are curious about how you even got on the bill, so we tend towards the ‘crowd pleasers’ we have that might rope some extra fans in.  Plus, sets are generally shorter in length, so we just blast through our best songs as quickly as possible to cram as much in.

ATH: If you could create the perfect festival with you guys as a mid-tier band, who would open and who would headline?  3-4 bands you’ve always dreamed of playing with?

Tom: My instinct would be to pick some really rubbish bands so that we could upstage them all and maybe come across as more than a ‘mid-tier’ band.  But that’d make for a pretty poorly attended festival so I’d probably just pick bands I’d like to see or I know are good live.  Maybe Modest Mouse, Kanye West, Jim O’Rourke, Cloud Nothings?  Maybe a Life Without Buildings comeback show.  Jimmy Eat World doing ‘Clarity’.  A Beyonce and Jay-Z mega-mix.  Simon & Garfunkel.  Maybe John Talabot as a post-headliner 4am set.

ATH: Have you had a chance to check the ACL lineup?  Anyone you’re excited to see or some old friends you can’t wait to hang out with?

Tom: It all looks really great *flashes winning smile*, but I’d like to see Neil Young, and I really like Andrew Bird.  Neither are playing our day though, and I wouldn’t describe either as old friends.  Weezer will hopefully be good.  I want to hear that Gotye song live, too.

ATH: 3 keys to surviving the road… GO!

Tom: 1. Don’t be too fussy with food, you have to embrace the limited options at gas stations.

2. Eat well, you don’t want to get sick.

3. Don’t make rules, you’ll just end up breaking them.

Thanks again to Tom for making some time for us.  You can catch the live set by Los Campesinos! on the Bud Light Stage Friday at 12:30.


Download: Los Campesinos! – Kindle A Flame In Her Heart [MP3]

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