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Five questions with Ollie Campesinos


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Five questions with Ollie Campesinos

Drummer for Los Campesinos!

April 2, 2009

Rising fast in the world of independent rock is Los Campesinos!, a seven-piece band out of Wales that specializes in energetic pop with a caustically funny edge. Formed in 2006 while band members were studying at Cardiff University, the aggressive but melodic septet has already released an EP and two full-length albums, and is hitting Detroit's Magic Stick for a show tonight. Each band member uses Campesinos (translation: "peasant") as his or her last name -- a la the Ramones. The band's 22-year-old drummer, Ollie, recently spoke to the Free Press about the rising fortunes of Los Campesinos!

QUESTION: You released your debut album, "Hold on Now, Youngster," in February of last year, then quickly put out your second album, "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed," in October. What was the reason behind putting out two albums so fast?

ANSWER: Basically we wanted to have more songs to play live, more songs for people to listen to. We were originally going to release an EP at the end of last year, but we ended up with 10 tracks. Our label (Wichita Records) said, "Why don't you put it all out instead?" It made more sense than a 10-track EP!

Q: What would you say is the difference in the sound and feel between your two albums?

A: They're both pop records to start with. Between the two, we all improved as musicians, and we challenged ourselves more. They're still pop songs, but more complicated and more difficult to play. We became more confident in our lyric-writing and everything's improved. The new one is a much better record.

Q: What can you tell us about John Goodmanson, who produced your new album?

A: He had done production on really big albums by people like Death Cab for Cutie and Blonde Redhead and was supplied to us by our management. He mixed "Hold On, Youngster," and we enjoyed working with him. We recorded "We Are Beautiful" with John in Seattle after touring last May and June.

Q: Who inspired you to become a musician?

A: I was born in a small farming town called Somerset in southwest England. My parents encouraged me and my sister to play musical instruments at an early age. My sister's instrument was the double bass, and she played classical music. I went to a concert she was performing in and I spent the whole show watching the percussionist. I got started playing drums when I was 14 and grew up on Deep Purple and Dire Straits, then Iron Maiden and Metallica, and now it's Pavement and Yo La Tengo.

Q: Is your schedule packed the rest of this year?

A: We're finishing off this tour with a show at the Coachella Festival in California and two shows in South America. We're also playing festivals during the summer and then will get back to touring in merry old England in October or November. We did the Glastonbury Festival last year, and that was really good. I live 20 minutes down the road from Glastonbury and always held it in high regard. I started going a few years ago and when we were asked to play there, it was a really nerve-racking but amazing experience.

By Martin Bandyke, Free Press special writer

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