Kick Ash!

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Posted May 6, 2010 in Music

Last month, Los Campesinos! felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano. Set to launch their latest North American tour, the British seven-piece were driving to Heathrow airport when reports started pouring in that volcanic ash had halted air travel. The indie rockers spent the first few days in airport hotels and the next week back home in Cardiff, and just when all seemed lost, the band finally got the green light to cross the Atlantic. They arrived in time for a rescheduled NYC concert where fans avidly chanted, “Fuck volcanoes!”

 

“That chant did break out, and it was very nice they were supporting us over the volcano,” laughs vocalist Gareth Campesinos! “We were really pumped to go on tour and had already said goodbye to everyone, so it was really anticlimactic to be back home. Plus, we would not have been able to do half a tour for financial reasons—it would have broke us—and we were just a day away from having to cancel everything. When we got the news about the flight, it just made us that much more thrilled and grateful to be on tour.”

 

Los Campesinos! are just the type of band that would enjoy a good anti-volcano chant. While the group writes strong melodies, they are especially loved for their dark humor and full musical sound. The band members add violins, horns, keys and other instruments to their indie rock sound, while Gareth adds literary depth to the lyrics.

 

Asked about his use of humor, the singer reflects, “I guess perhaps it comes from an awareness of how ridiculous the whole medium of storytelling through songs can be. The things I am often compelled to write about are dark in direction, and if presented entirely without humor, it would become incredibly over-sincere. The humor helps keep it a little more grounded and makes sure it doesn’t get carried away. It keeps me from going too deep into a dark hole.”

 

Los Campesinos!—which means “peasants” in Spanish—came a long way since forming at Cardiff University four years ago. They cracked the U.K. charts with their 2008 debut, Hold On Now, Youngster . . . and quickly followed with We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. Earlier this year, the group returned with Romance Is Boring, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. 

 

In addition to good tunes, Los Campesinos! built a strong base by being proactive with their fans. Their website includes features like drummer Ollie Campesinos! food reviews, band member ramblings and humorous video libraries. Their blog even asks fans to send in suggestions for where to eat and places to see when the band comes to their town. The restaurant recommendations can be especially helpful to Gareth.

 

“I’m vegan so a good recommendation is a godsend,” he says. “We are really lucky that people who like our band like to be involved with us and help us out. We try to break down any barrier between fan and the band, and people who like us are always forthcoming.”

 

Los Campesinos! performed at the Glass House on two previous occasions, and they return to the popular venue on Monday. They will conclude their tour the following night and then head back across the pond for a show at London’s O2 Shepherd Bush Empire and a homecoming gig at their old university. That is, of course, volcanoes permitting. 

 

Los Campesinos! with Signals at the Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802, www.theglasshouse.us, Mon, May 10. Doors open 7PM. $15. All ages. 


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