Los Campesinos! Guitarist Neil Campesinos on Euro Cup Soccer and Recording Music in Spain
Photo by Jon Bergman
On the shore of Lake Michigan in the small city of St. Joseph, indie poppers Los Campesinos! enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation before embarking on the latest leg of their North American tour.
The day after Crossfade speaks with the band's guitarist, they're scheduled to co-headline Chicago's annual Taste of Randolph Festival with Tennessee group Those Darlins. But before the Wales-based septet takes the stage, their focus will be on the UEFA European Football Championship.
"We're English through and through," says Neil Campesinos, who, like his band mates, has adopted the Campesinos surname and was born in England.
"We've got it all planned out. We've been in close contact with our tour manager to see where we need to be to watch the [England vs. Sweden match]."
Though widely considered one of the world's elite squads, England's Euro Cup performance history is rather disappointing. In fact, England's tournament history altogether has been considerably depressing since their World Cup victory in 1966, the English's first and only finals appearance in a major soccer tournament.
"There's always a lot of media hype and hysteria over England in international championships, and everyone always thinks we're going to win," says Neil. "I think that this time around, people are more aware of our ability. I think people are optimistic in that they see that we can build on something, if that makes sense. We can build for the future."
England's past, however, is ever-present on last year's Hello Sadness, the group's fourth LP.
Los Campesinos! frontman and principal songwriter, Gareth, penned an ode to his beloved country's team, "Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)," lyrically detailing the intense wave of emotions triggered during each match. (England soccer players wear an emblem with three lions on their chest, a derivative of the country's Coat of Arms).
"These three lions that were sitting on my chest/ Are clawing hard into my skin
As I am gasping for my breath/ And as they each play noughts and crosses/ On the scratches they have left/ I have to screw up both my eyes/ As it goes into sudden death."
Ironically, Los Campesinos! recorded Hello Sadness outside of Barcelona, Spain, a country who's national soccer team currently is
"We were more rehearsed than we ever had been for a recording session," says Neil. "[Album producer John Goodmanson] often says that setting and surrounding can dictate the tempo and feel of an album. We were in the Catalonian countryside; life slows down, pace slows so down. You can play things at tempo's you've rehearsed, but it feels faster up there because of the environment."
Neil adds that the region kept everyone in good spirits and had a positive impact on the group's approach to recording the album.
"I'd like to go back to Barcelona," he says. "But there're plenty of other places to try; the more exotic and the more exciting, the better. Maybe we can go to South America or Japan or Thailand."
Before they get into a studio again, however, Los Campesinos! will have to complete a 14-city trek in the United States, main-stage slots at two of Europe's biggest festivals, Leeds and Reading, and a handful of gigs in Spain, more than Neil could've ever imagined.
"It's not like we went to a music college with the intention of perfecting an instrument and pursuing a career in music," he says. "Obviously we are musicians--at least that's what it says on our (work) visas--but it's just something that happened, and we got caught up in, completely organically."
Humbly reflecting on his group's success, Neil admits, "It wasn't like we planned any of this, or had any goals. We're just going along with it and are quite happy to do that."
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