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Los Campesinos! are a seven piece indie pop band from Cardiff, Wales, formed in early 2006 at Cardiff University. Though the band formed in Wales, none of the members are Welsh. They released their debut album, Hold on Now, Youngster..., in February 2008 and followed this up by releasing a record titled We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in October that year. Whilst many consider it to be an album due to its length, the band had previously referred to it as a 'record' or EP (extended EP), for contractual and artistic reasons before ultimately deciding to refer to it as their second album out of simplicity. Their third album, entitled Romance Is Boring, was released on 1 February 2010. Their fourth full-length release, Hello Sadness, was released on 14 November 2011. The band's fifth album, No Blues, was released on 29 October 2013. Their sixth, Sick Scenes, is slated for release on 24 February 2017.
Formation, signing, and debut singles (2006–2007)
The group came together at Cardiff University in 2006, originally consisting of Neil Turner on guitar, Ellen Waddell on bass guitar, and Ollie Briggs on drums. In March 2006, Tom Bromley joined the band, assuming the role of lead guitarist, later followed by Gareth David – who became the band's principal lyricist – on lead vocals and glockenspiel, Harriet Coleman on violin and keyboard, and finally Aleksandra Berditchevskaia on vocals, keyboards, and melodica. According to Tom, he met Neil after overhearing him discussing Sufjan Stevens at a club. The band's earliest compositions were long pieces in the style of post-rock, though no recordings from this era are known to circulate publicly. The word campesino in Spanish translates to "peasant" or "country person". All members of the band refer to their surnames as Campesinos!.
The band performed their first gig on 8 May 2006 at a student union club night; they went on to play a number of increasingly well-received gigs around Cardiff. An early demo was recorded featuring the songs "Death To Los Campesinos!", "It Started With A Mixx", "Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks", and "You! Me! Dancing!". The songs were posted on the internet, bolstering the popularity established by their energetic live shows and earning them airplay on Huw Stephens's evening show on BBC Radio 1 Wales. The band's reputation continued to grow, and in August 2006 landed them a slot supporting Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene. In November 2006, the band were signed by Wichita Recordings.
Wichita released their first single on 26 February 2007, a double A-side featuring new songs "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives" and "Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)". In April the band signed to Canadian label Arts & Crafts for North American releases. In June 2007 the band released "You! Me! Dancing!" on limited edition 7" coloured vinyl, which later went on to feature in an advertisement for Budweiser. This release was accompanied by a handful of live performances in Bath, Newport, Cardiff and London. Around this time they were seen playing with bands like Sky Larkin and Johnny Foreigner. Both singles, produced by Broken Social Scene collaborator Dave Newfeld, were released in North America on Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, a compilation album released on 3 July on Arts & Crafts. The band embarked on their first full UK tour in October 2007, following the release of "The International Tweexcore Underground" on 15 October.
Hold on Now, Youngster... and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (2008)
Their debut album, Hold on Now, Youngster..., was released in the UK on 25 February 2008 and in North America on 1 April 2008. They also embarked on a European and North American tour in support of the album. The NME rated the album 6/10, praising its musicality but criticising its cohesiveness, but other sources, such as Pitchfork Media and Drowned in Sound, lauded it. They made their TV début on Tubridy Tonight on 9 February 2008. Two weeks after the release of the album, Harriet appeared on Blood Red Shoes' debut album Box of Secrets, contributing violin on the track "Hope You're Holding Up".
On 1 August 2008, the band announced that a record titled We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed would be released before the end of the year, and the date later confirmed for this was 13 October, although that was later pushed back to 27 October 2008. The band explained: "This is no post-album cash in. It's no B-Sides and rarities or 'songs that weren't good enough to be on the album cobbled together with some remixes and field recordings of Cardiff's indie scene'; it's ten all-new tracks that none of you have ever heard before." No singles were released from the record, and its distribution was limited.
In October 2008, the band performed around England, headlining the Shred Yr Face tour with support from No Age and Times New Viking. In April 2009, the band played in Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, their first performances in South America.
Romance Is Boring (2009–2010)
Los Campesinos! recorded second official album Romance Is Boring in Stamford, Connecticut, with John Goodmanson. It was recorded in multiple sessions, with the second half of a North American tour in-between. In May 2009 it was announced on their blog that they had almost finished recording the album and that it was to be mixed in Wales in June. Two song titles were announced: "This Is a Flag. There Is No Wind" and "Straight in at 101".
On 2 June 2009 it was announced via their website that backing vocalist Aleks planned to leave the band and return to her studies after a US tour in August. On 24 June, they announced on their blog that the album was complete. During 2009, the band toured with Rob Taylor, a musician who performs under the name of Sparky Deathcap. Rob has since become the official eighth member of the band during live shows, performing additional guitars, keyboards, percussion, and glockenspiel.
On 9 September 2009, the band released a song called "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future" as a free download. A video was also made for the song, directed by the band's bassist Ellen Campesinos!. The band formally announced that Gareth's sister Kim would be replacing Aleks as the band's keyboardist and vocalist. The band premiered their new single, "There Are Listed Buildings", on their website a week later. On 25 October, they announced the name, track list and release date for Romance Is Boring.
The band's second official album, Romance Is Boring was released on 1 February 2010. The title track was released as the second single from the album two weeks later to coincide with an extensive UK tour. The band had to cancel their performance at the Culture Shock festival on the campus of SUNY Purchase and the first two dates on their 2010 US tour, as they were unable to get out of Britain due to the air travel delays from the aftermath of the 2010 eruptions of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
The band made their American network television debut on Last Call with Carson Daly, in which they performed "Romance Is Boring", pre-recorded from their show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles in May 2010.
In June, Ollie announced that he had left the band. Four days later, the band explained that all summer dates would continue as scheduled. Just over two weeks after the departure, it was announced that the band would release a new EP entitled All's Well That Ends on 19 July 2010. This is the first release to feature Rob Campesinos! and features reworkings of four songs featured on Romance Is Boring. In July, the band played a show in London for Wichita's tenth anniversary with new drummer Jason Adelinia. He had been the band's road manager and merchandise seller since 2007, and was previously a member of The Ghost Frequency and The Pipettes' backing group, The Cassettes. They later posted through Twitter an image entitled 'The band Los Campesinos!' with both Rob and Jason present, suggesting both had become full-time members of the band.
Heat Rash and Hello Sadness (2010–2012)
On 9 December 2010, the band announced the launch of a quarterly magazine, Heat Rash, and released a new Christmas song, "Kindle a Flame in Her Heart" as a free download through SoundCloud. Each Heat Rash release included a magazine, a limited edition 7" vinyl record, and downloads of new music. The first Heat Rash release included tracks "Light Leaves, Dark Sees" and "Four Seasons".
The band also announced that they were working on their fourth studio album, and third album to be recorded with John Goodmanson, in Barcelona during April 2011. Gareth also announced that he would be working on a side-project with Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls and Freddy Rupert of Former Ghosts under the name Crying. They announced at the beginning of May 2011 that the recording of the album had finished. In an interview with online music website, Skiddle.com, frontman Gareth confirmed that the album would have a more direct and pop orientated sound. Harriet, the band's violinist, left the band on amicable terms in September 2011 to continue her studies.
Hello Sadness was released on 14 November 2011 in Europe and 15 November 2011 in the United States. "By Your Hand", the first single release from the album, was released as a free download on the band's website on 8 September 2011. The band followed this with releasing single "Hello Sadness", on 12 October 2011, a month before the album of the same name. During November 2011, the band played several tour dates, across the UK, the US and two dates in Japan. Tour dates in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe were also played in early 2012, and the band performed their single "By Your Hand" on the Late Show with David Letterman on 20 January 2012.
In March 2012, it was announced that Gareth would be performing as a part of Paul Heaton's performance piece The 8th for six performances during the summer of 2012. The band continued extensively touring, including an appearance on the Main Stage of the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and a headline-spot on the Lake Stage of Latitude Festival.
In May 2012, they released a new song, "Tiptoe Through The True Bits" on their official blog. The song was previously recorded as part of the sessions for Hello Sadness, however was not included from the album after the band decided it wasn't in-keeping with the rest of the album. In an interview with the NME, frontman Gareth also confirmed that they would begin work on their fifth album in early 2013.
On 7 December 2012, founding member Ellen announced she would be leaving the band following their show of 15 December at London's Islington Assembly Hall. She gave her reason for leaving, in a lengthy blog post, as wanting to "try something new". Ellen's final show also featured former member Aleksandra providing guest vocals during the encore. The show was recorded, and later released as a live album. That month, the band released "A Doe to a Deer" as a free download on their website.
A Good Night for a Fist Fight and No Blues (2013–2015)
The live recording of the Islington Assembly Hall show was released as A Good Night for a Fist Fight, the band's first live album, on 4 May. The band's first recording of 2013, "Little Mouth", appeared on the soundtrack for the independent film Benny & Jolene. Another song called "Allez Les Blues", which had previously been released as a Heat Rash-exclusive track, appeared on the Arts & Crafts: 2003–2013 compilation that April.
In August 2013, the band released a teaser trailer for their fifth album, No Blues. The first single, "What Death Leaves Behind", was released as a free download through SoundCloud. This was followed on 8 October 2013 by a second single, "Avocado, Baby", with its music video directed by Craig Roberts. No Blues was released on 29 October 2013.
The band released a six-song Christmas EP, A Los Campesinos! Christmas, on 8 December 2014.
Sick Scenes (2016-present)
The band recorded their followup to No Blues throughout 2016. The group also added a new member, bassist Matt Campesinos!, that June.
In November 2016, the band announced their sixth album, Sick Scenes, would be released on 24 February 2017. They also released the album's first single, "I Broke Up in Amarante" and announced their first North American tour in four years. They released the album's second single, "5 Flucloxacillin", on 16 January 2017.
Band sound and influences
When the band first emerged on the indie pop scene, they were pigeonholed with the 'twee pop' movement, as a result of their lively, joyous music. The band have worked hard since their 2008 debut, Hold On Now, Youngster, to shake this image. With their second recording, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, critics generally applauded the band for adopting a new, darker guise. This continued through their following two albums, though whilst expanding the band's instrumental sounds.
As a band, they have before claimed to be heavily influenced by Pavement, Modest Mouse, Guided By Voices, Blur, The Beautiful South, Xiu Xiu, Broken Social Scene, Built To Spill, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Pulp, Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields, Joy Division and The Smiths, amongst others. They also cite the literature of B.S. Johnson, obsessions with death, and football as their non-musical influences.