Interview with Gareth Campesinos

by - Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here at Safety In Sound I've been going a little bit interview crazy. As a music fan, there is nothing more rewarding than getting the chance to actually meet and talk to the people behind your favourite songs, especially when they prove to be as funny, self deprecating and friendly as you could have hoped. Such was the case with Gareth Campesinos, who my coursemate Kevin and I were lucky enough to catch up with before their set at this years Live At Leeds festival. Chat included festivals, a potential new album and Gareth's love of Take Me Out and Football Manager. 

Interview with Gareth Campesinos, Leeds. Transcript 05/05/2012

JW: Gareth from Los Campesinos, a pleasure to meet you!

GC: again!

JW: ha yes, in a more formal setting.

GC: As equals! You’re not the work experience girl any more(I first met Gareth in 2010 working backstage at Underage Festival). We wouldhave been drunk by the end of that festival so I can’t be held accountable forwhat I was like. It was a very early day, we were on at some obscene time. Butunderage is a good festival because it has sponsors, so you can blag freestuff. I remember the free converse, but I didn’t get any shoes, most of theband did, I wasn’t quick enough.

JW: So you’re closing this year’s Live at Leeds festival,are you excited?

GC: Yeah, I am excited. But equally… this is going to soundterrible, but I’m not sure why I’m excited. I think it’s partly because ourname is one of the biggest names on the poster, and the bigger we are,generally speaking, the less good the festival is.

JW: I wouldn’t say that!

GC: (laughs) Well that is generally the case, because we’renot a famous band! It makes no sense to me. I think the only way you can getthrough being in a band and going to all these places and doing interviews isto be honest. A lot of places we play are horrible, boring places; we play alot of gigs that aren’t that fun. But Leeds is always amazing. We’ve sold outcockpit four or five times, we’ve played Irish centre… last time we playedcockpit, in November, We did the normal gig, and then we did the club nightgig. The thing with the club night was that Jason (who plays drums) had thissort of mixer and an iPod that triggers samples and stuff, and between thefirst gig and the club night gig, it was so sweaty the ceiling starteddripping, and dripped onto the mixer, and broke it. So we got them to buy us anew one, because it wasn’t our fault it broke. (Laughs) But yeah, that’s howsweaty it was. It was just a brilliant gig, and Leeds is always lovely. It’s sonice to be back here, we haven’t played here in 2012. We’ve played thisbuilding before for Constellations festival back in 2010 actually, but weplayed the hall room.  I remember seeinga bit of Les Savy Fav in the stylus room where we’ll be playing, and it wasamazing. So we’re happy to be here.

JW: Are there any other bands on today’s line up you’ve managed to catch?

GC: No, there were bands I would have liked to have seen,but probably not any I will see now. I would have liked to have seen BlackListers at The Well, although every time I mention that venue people are like nah,don’t go there! (Laughs) There was someone else I wanted to see, whose name Ialways forget, but I’ll have it on my iPod, I was listening to it just before…(long pause whilst Gareth fishes out his iPod from his bag and scrolls through it)…I know the letter it begins with… Jessie Ware! I would have liked to have seen her. But that’s the thing with playing festivals, you always have to compromise. The later on you are in the day, you have to load in and sound check.I guess Leeds is a place with a really vibrant local scene, so bands like Eagles and Hawkeyes and probably a few others I would have gone to see. You see a lot of bands on tour, so sometimes it’s just nice to just come, and to drink, and to watch the FA cup final.

JW: Happy with the result?

GC: yeah, I did want Chelsea to beat Liverpool. I hate both teams but I hate Liverpool a little bit more.

JW: You’ve taken Hello Sadness around the world during 2011and 2012, is it nice to be back in the UK knowing you have a little bit of abreak ahead of you?

GC: It is, but we’re also very impatient. I think we’re allpretty much ready to want to do another record now. It’s just that its costsmoney to make a record, and it has to be timed right. But we’ve got a nicesummer lined up, a few exciting festivals. We’re opening the mainstage at Readingand Leeds which is really exciting, so we’re working towards that, and we havea Spanish tour in September.  I don’tknow, it’s nice to have the time off but equally, you’ve got nothing to do. Ireally wish I could be in the band, and then when I came off tour I had a job Icould go and do, but because we’re on tour so frequently you can’t get one,nobody will be that patient with you. So when we’re off tour it’s just daysdoing nothing, you can’t really afford to do anything because you’re notearning, which gets frustrating. But it is definitely nice to be back in the UK,to see friends and family and watch the football and do this, but it’s a doubleedged sword. When you’re on tour you miss home, and when you’re at home, youmiss tour.

JW: It’s a bit like me and Uni…

GC: Yeah, exactly. When you go home for summer, you getbored.

JW: So as you mentioned, you’re playing Reading and Leedswhich is a pretty big deal, and a potentially huge crowd for you. Are younervous at all about it?

GC: I’m not nervous. I don’t really get nervous aboutanything because I think I’m very aware of what a ridiculous situation we’rein. There’s no pressure; nothing bad can come of us playing badly, so there’snothing to be nervous about. You just have to enjoy it. I’ve been to readingand Leeds, we’ve played there a few times and I’ve been as audience member aswell. It’s a big honour to play obviously, but then you look through the listof people who’ve played the mainstage as well and there’s so many terriblebands that nobody has heard of since! But it’s the sort of thing that people fromhome who know you’re in a band, know you haven’t got a proper job but still haven’theard your band and know you’re not famous can relate to, you can just be like‘we’re playing Reading and Leeds!’ I put it as my Facebook status, which is apretty desperate move to make, but people I went to school with are like ‘hangabout, is he actually doing this properly?’ And I guess we kind of are. So Readingand Leeds will be amazing. And we get to see At The Drive In for free, which isexciting…

JW: See, I’ve got the problem of picking between watching atthe drive in or going to Kasabian and acting like a lad…

GC: (laughs) That’s a big problem for me as well! Because we’re on the mainstage, that means we get the ultimate backstage experience, our passes mean we can go anywhere. So, I could watch Kasabian from side of stage,with an unlimited supply of beer … is it ITV2 the reading coverage is on? BBC? Well I could be there, in the background on the BBC, stood at side stage, with a warm can of Carling in my hand…

JW: Living the dream!

GC: It really would be though!  It’s the sort of thing that you can then go‘hey guys, not only did I play Reading and Leeds, but if you check out theKasabian footage, here I am!’ But in truth, we’re always very excited aboutmeeting famous people, so if we get to do that it’ll be brilliant.

JW: You have quite a strong personal connection with yourfans via the Heat Rash fanzine and the confessional nature of your lyrics. Doyou ever worry that by playing these bigger venues you maybe risk losing oralienating some of the fans who think of you as ‘their band’?

GC: There’s always going to be a handful of people like that,but they’ll grow out of it. I used to feel like that. When I was 17, 18, I waspretty obnoxious and elitist… well, I say 17, 18, I probably mean more like 20or 21 (laughs). But you grow out of it, you realise that you want it to keepbeing exciting for the band you love and support. We did these gigs with TheCribs in 2009, supporting them at Brixton and a huge sports centre inDoncaster, but they kept that intimacy on a huge stage. It is possible to do: hugebands like arcade fire still do it, not that we’re getting to that point. Butas our band does develop, even with things like the Budweiser advert, peoplehave been really supportive. Because of the relationship we have with peoplewho like our band, they’re just happy that we’re happy.

JW: And surely that’s the way it should always be?

Headlining Live At Leeds 2012
GC: I think so, yeah. You don’t make money from being in anindie band, so if you’re not enjoying it, it’s not worth it. The more people weplay to, it’s still a bit ‘what the fuck, this many people want to see us?’ It’samazing. So the more people that want to see us, the better. If you’re at thefront row, you’re at the front row, you have no idea how many people are behindyou. It just depends how forcefully you are pushed against the barrier! Peoplewho like our band are rooting for us and want us to do well, which is a reallylucky thing. We’ve been doing this for 6 years now and it’s just not gotboring, we’re still totally wide eyed about everything that happens to us.There’s no reason that anyone should give a shit about the band that we’re inand the fact that people do is embarrassing and flattering at the same time.

JW: Begin pushed against the barrier is how Kevin broke hiscamera, at your gig at 2000 trees.

GC: (laughs) 2000 trees for us is probably in our top 5worst gigs we’ve ever played. We just didn’t play very well, and the sound washorrific. It’s difficult with festivals because you don’t get a propersoundcheck and I don’t like to be too much of a diva, so you just get to apoint where you’re like yeah, that’ll do. It’s a shame because 2000 trees isdefinitely my favourite festival of that size, loads of those kinds of eventsget too ambitious and pay too much money for big bands but this year thebookings have been really great again.

JW: As you said, you’ve been going for six years and havereleased a lot within that time, all songs that are very intimate and personalto you as a lyricist. Which album would you say you’re most proud of?

GC: I guess it’s kind of inevitable that the most recent albumwould be the one that stands out, because it’s the most relevant. It’s weirdwith us because each time an album comes out, a good percentage of reviews say‘this is a big step for Los Campesinos, a big sign of progression’  , but then an equal amount will say ‘they’vemade the same album again’, which just means that I just don’t trust musicjournalism.

JW: Thanks Gareth!

GC: (Laughs) Sorry! But with each record, I do feel that wehave pushed ourselves and made a progression.

JW: I’d agree with that, definitely.

GC: Well thankyou!  Idon’t like the first record very much, I think it sounds terrible, theproduction is terrible, and a lot of the lyrics I wrote when I was 19 or 20, sonow I’m 26…

JW: Do you get fed up of still having to sing those songsbecause you know fans will expect to hear them at your gigs?

GC: Not really. When we rehearse, we don’t ever play thembecause to stand in a practice room and rehearse these songs we wrote six yearsago, it’s really going through the motions. But when we play them live, it’sapparent that a lot of people do want to hear them. You might not be excitedabout playing the song, but as soon as you start and people are in front of yougoing crazy for it, you can’t help thinking ‘you know, maybe this is a goodsong’, and you start to enjoy it yourself. We’ve started playing a couple moreolder songs more frequently which is nice, but yes, you’re obviously moreexcited about playing more recent stuff because you have to be more alert toplay it. Talking about the 6 years thing, tonight’s gig is nearest gig to the 6year anniversary of our first ever gig, on May 8th 2006. We had bandpractice yesterday and I realised that we’ve played the song Death To LosCampesinos at every gig we’ve ever played. So then I worked out how many gigswe’ve played, round about 480 in 6 years. It is still exciting. You don’t thinkit is, but you can’t be too precious about it when people enjoy it.

JW: Plus it gives people like me and Kevin the chance to do ourkaraoke duet!

GC: Which sounds disgusting! (laughs)

JW: I want that image in your head later when you’re singingit.

GC: Oh god! I’ll just have to keep drinking so I don’tremember this conversation (laughs)

JW: Moving on, there’s something I’ve noticed, I’m not astalker I promise…

GC: But… (laughs)

JW: But I do follow you on twitter, and I’ve noticed thatyou’re a bit of a fan of the cultural phenomenon that is Take Me Out.
GC: Yes, big fan.

JW: would you ever consider going on the show?

GC: No. (laughs) Mainly because I am very aware of mypersonal appearance, and my accent. I would love to. In fact, I would reallylike it if a friend of mine went on it, so I could go and watch it.

JW: To point and laugh?

Signed delights!
GC: Not even that! I think it’s brilliant, and I love thegenre of dating television, it’s my favourite type of TV programme. Blind date,Man Oh Man… and things like Street Mate as well, that was wonderful. Dishes aswell, did you ever see that on Channel 4? Presented by Kate Thornton, it was the same principle as Blind Date, butthe interviews would take place whilst the three contestants were cooking ameal, and then the other one would taste the meal and decide who they wanted togo on a date with. I think it’s due a comeback, with the popularity of thingslike Come Dine With Me and Take Me Out…

JW: isn’t there one like that called Dinner Date?

GC: Oh, you’re right! Dinner date is amazing, they’ve onlydone one pilot series I think, but I loved that. Dating TV shows are myultimate.

JW: But say you were going to go on Take Me Out, what wouldyour skill be?

GC: It would be defensive headers. Each of the 30 girlswould have a football that they’d throw to me, and I would head it away asforcefully as possible. That’s what I’m best at.

JW: Also, we’ve noticed, as editors of the Huddersfield UniversityStudent Newspaper…

GC: Is this a Huddersfield related question, about my FootballManager? Well, Football Manager has been the most consistent thing in my lifesince I was about 11 years old. Genuinely, the past 15 years there has barelybeen a day where I haven’t played it; it’s the one thing I can rely on. And you’requite right; my current career on Football Manager is managing Huddersfield.

JW: Have you ever actually been to Huddersfield?

GC: (laughs) I’ve been through it, trains from Leeds to Manchesterwhere you stop in between. I always take in my surroundings, and imagine theheroes welcome that I deserve.

JW: Well to aid that image, we’ve actually bought you apresent, to help you with your managerial method acting. (We give Gareth aHuddersfield Town FC managerial tie, to which he displays obvious delight)

GC: (laughs) You have no idea how exciting this actually is,for a couple of reasons. A, I’ve got a present, which is always exciting, B, I canwear this when I play the game, and trust me, I will, and C, tomorrow our soundguy is having a christening for his daughter in Manchester, I had a reasonablysmart shirt and trousers and no tie, but now I do! And I will definitely wearit. That’s very kind, thank you so much. I’m very chuffed. After I’ve worn it Ithink I might display it.

JW: Our pleasure. So just to wrap up, do you have any tipsfor Huddersfield students about how to survive Uni life?

GC: what year are you?

JW: First.

GC: And you’re already music editor? Wow. What are youstudying?

JW: Music Journalism.

GC: Well in that case I’m very sorry, and I shouldn’t havesaid what I said before about journalists. (Laughs) I would say, being astudent, just don’t take yourself seriously. Me and Neil (Campesinos) both wentto Uni together, and we took ourselves a little bit more seriously that weshould. Once you’ve been a student and you’re lucky enough to be in a band, youcan’t go around being a piss arse all the time, so just enjoy it. Drink as muchas you can, have sex with as many people as you can, and get the essays out theway first so they’re not worrying you. (laughs) That’s my three best pointersfor being a student!  I don’t know, itseems like so long ago. I guess for you, music journalism, it’s mostlycoursework based, so you’ve got it made.

JW: Yeah, we get to talk to people like yourself and call itwork!

GC: Oh, imagine! The gold I’ve given you in this interviewmust be wonderful!

JW: It really has been. Thank you so much for your time Gareth.

GC:  You’re more thanwelcome. Thankyou!

You! Me! Podcasting! 

(scuse the pun, had to be done)

Part of the interview is available as audio in a podcast made with my coursemate Kevin on Edit Radio, which is available below. We hand selected all the accompanying music as well, so have a listen!

Or on iTunes store'

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  1. Questions are a bit boring and the way it's written needs a bit of work (grammar, syntax, etc) but good try. First interview? Well done, you'll improve!

  2. Not my first interview no, (see below) but thanks for taking the time to comment anyway, criticisms are always taken on board. Is there anything in particular you would have liked me to have asked Gareth?