Feature: Los Campesinos! at Skully's
Albums pour out of Welsh indie-pop group Los Campesinos! at a rapid clip — last year’s “Hello Sadness” was their fourth in four years.
As one might expect from a band named after Spanish peasants, the Cardiff combo also keeps up direct contact with its fan base through ventures like the quarterly fanzine Heat Rash.
Come show time, the prolificacy and populism find themselves at cross purposes.
“I think we’ve got designs to write and perform new songs that probably is greater than people’s desire to hear new stuff,” guitarist Tom Bromley said, calling from Cardiff. “It’s already become quite difficult for us to come up with [a] setlist.”
So don’t expect to hear unreleased tracks when Los Campesinos! headline Skully’s on Wednesday. Do expect to hear that exultant guitar anthem from the Budweiser commercial.
The group licensed its 2008 breakthrough hit, “You! Me! Dancing!,” to the mega-brewery for big bucks in 2010, an increasingly common move among underground rock groups in an age when the reality of music piracy is blurring taboos about “selling out.” If anything, Bromley considers the endorsement deal a legitimizing move.
“We’re just excited they wanted to use our song,” Bromley said. “Every time it comes on now I still get excited.”
On one previous stateside tour, that excitement was enough to get the lifelong soccer fans (four support Manchester United; multi-instrumentalist Rob “Sparky Deathcap” Taylor backs Newcastle) hooked on American football.
“Not only did we begin to watch football, but we got to see the advert on every commercial break,” Bromley said.
Though the ecstatic “You! Me! Dancing!” is a signature song of sorts, the group took a sharp turn toward darker subject matter on sophomore LP “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” and haven’t looked back. They’ve always made everyday life sound downright epic, but they shed much of their cuteness since forming at Cardiff University in 2006.
“I thought we were pretty happy-go-lucky growing up and not worrying about the future, and those were accurate to how we felt at the time, to be in a band for the first time playing songs live,” Bromley said.
As primary lyricist Gareth Paisey has pressed on to more adult concerns, Bromley and his bandmates have strived to keep the sound spritely and inspiring. They’ve always been a hand-claps kind of band; they’re now the kind of band that pairs hand claps with a line like “You know it starts pretty rough and ends up even worse.”
They maintain a playfulness that keeps them vibrant no matter how deep the lyrics plunge into quarter-life crisis. Underneath the ardor, they’re still just pop music obsessives who crib T.I. lyrics, use the last name Campesinos as if they were Ramones and can’t quite believe the good fortune they’ve struck.
“We’re flattered that anyone cares about our band,” Bromley said. “We don’t really see ourselves as proper musicians and a proper band.”
Skully's Music Diner
8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25
1151 N. High St., Short North