Los Campesinos!, No Age and Times New Viking conquer the UK.
Dazed readers will doubtless agree that there are few types of people more regrettable than Afterparty Bores, and I hate them as much as anyone, but I am going to say this anyway: nothing in the awesome Shred Yr Face tour could quite compare to its (free) afterparty last night at Bar Vinyl on Inverness Street. Los Angeles hardcore punk duo No Age played on the floor in the room the size of a tobacconist, and it was easily one of the most exciting gigs of my entire life. With the amount of beer on the floor and sweat on our flanks, the crowd were sliding around like contestants in a sadistic Japanese game show, but it only added to the sense that No Age had opened up a wormhole into a basement in Washington DC some time in 1982. Utterly electric.
Among the soggy throng were several members of Los Campesinos!, who had finished their set at the Electric Ballroom only about half an hour earlier. ‘You’re too old for Los Campesinos!’ Dazed’s Music Editor had told me, and indeed the crowd did tilt quite a bit towards the Still Pleasantly Surprised To Be Legally Drinking, but I didn’t care because Hold On Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed are among my favourite albums of 2008. The band, in front of what was apparently the biggest indoor crowd they’d ever played to, were superbly self-assured, with lead singer Gareth practically emoting himself bald. Times New Viking, meanwhile, I missed because I was getting rained on outside, but I heard they were on top form. Below, you’ll find my interviews with all three bands.
Times New Viking - Call and Respond
Dazed Digital: What’s your favourite part of Britain?
Adam Elliott: Brighton. We played here at the Great Escape festival. Everything is so much older, here. All the buildings. We’re Anglophiles, a little bit. We’re excited that we’re going to get to each town a little earlier on this tour so we can walk around and see all the weird little alleys.
DD: Anywhere else?
AE: I went to Glasgow School of Art for nine months so I really like the vibe there.
DD: How did that happen?
AE: I was at art school in Columbus and I had a fascination with Glasgow and a lot of the bands there, so I asked if I could go. It was awesome. And now we’re playing the School of Art, so it’s come full circle.
DD: You’re playing first every night. Was there any wrangling over that?
AE: No way, we love playing first. In the states we always play last and by that time it’s always one o’clock at night and people want to go home. On this tour, we’re playing at eight o’clock, so we get to set the mood.
DD: Are you fans of the other bands?
AE: Yeah, we’ve met Los Campesinos a couple of times and we’ve played with No Age a bunch of times in America. What’s common between us is that none of us act like rock stars. We really like to talk to our fans.
DD: Do you think the show will change over the course of the tour?
AE: I’m hoping we start playing on each other’s songs. In Columbus, when our little scene start happening, we would play “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” at the end of every show, and whoever was there would come up on stage and play on it, so we’re going to try and make that happen.
DD: Los Campesinos use tons of instruments, but your set-up is much simpler.
AE: Yeah, we’re notorious for our soundchecks only being two and a half minutes long. When we were learning how to play, we barely had soundchecks, so we don’t have to sit there and bang on the drum for 20 minutes. It makes the sound guys happy.
No Age - Eraser
DD: What have you done today?
Dean Spunt: We ate at this vegetarian Hare Krishna restaurant and then Jared from Times New Viking bought a book about The Fall. We’re all excited to read that.
DD: Which town are you looking forward to?
DS: Glasgow. They have these samosas in cardboard boxes. The ones with the red tips have meat in them, so we don’t eat those, but the other ones are great.
DD: Doesn’t that exist in the US?
DS: No, there aren’t so many little Indian stores.
DD: Maybe you should start a business.
DS: Yeah – Samosa Box!
DD: You’re touring Europe soon. Are you going to be sad to miss the election?
DS: No, I’m glad we’re going to be away. It’ll be interesting to see it from the other perspective. Sometimes it seems like people in the UK are more concerned with it than people at home. I went to this Indian restaurant in Brighton and the owner was asking me about Obama. Did you see that photo from the debate, where Obama looks like John F Kennedy and McCain looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex? It’s so perfect.
DD: Do you think touring is a bit like being a presidential candidate?
DS: Yeah, kind of. It’s like each band is trying to get elected. Hopefully, it’s a tie. Actually, no, hopefully we win!
Los Campesinos! - Miserabilia
DD: That No Age gig at the after party was incredible.
Gareth: Yeah, I was slipping all over the place. My jeans this morning are so gross, I can’t wear them for the rest of the tour. And my legs are all contorted, cuts and bruises everywhere. I think it was really nice for No Age to play in a completely different environment. The scrutiny placed on bands playing live can be a bit excessive when sometimes we just want to have fun.
DD: Your audience is a bit younger than usual, that must be nice.
G: One of the things we do that some bands aren’t as fussed about is that, as far as possible, we make all the gigs that we play 14+ or even sometimes all ages. I think younger people have fewer inhibitions, for a lot of them it might be their first gig, so they’re the ones who want to dance and have fun and get involved. In America we’ve played to kids who are 11 or 12 years old.
DD: In past interviews you’ve mentioned some great comics like Scott Pilgrim and Phonogram. Are you a big comics fan?
G: I read a lot of a certain type of comics. I’ve never got into the superhero, Marvel Comics-type stuff, I just like the stuff that is about normal everday existence. I like the angsty teenage emo stuff with pop culture and girl pop. Adrian Tomine, Daniel Clowes, but especially Jeffrey Brown, who made a poster for the new record. I really recommend Clumsy, which is the story of him losing his virginity and his relationship with his first serious girlfriend. He’s so honest, he captures so many emotions and so much heartbreak.
DD: Is that the approach you take with your lyrics?
G: I just want to write about true things that have happened to me and be as honest as I can. I haven’t got the imagination to come up with songs about gremlins and living on the sun. I just like venting my spleen.
DD: Don’t you run out of material? One can only have so many ex-’s.
G: Well, I can be ridiculously smitten with someone in a short space of time, so by the time I have to write some more lyrics, I’ll probably have a bit more to write about!
DD: I expect a lot of people like your music because they’re a bit like that themselves.
G: When people say, “I heard this lyric and it’s like you’ve said something that I didn’t know how to say myself,” that is very flattering. But it can get me in trouble that I’m so honest in the songs. There’s this one ex-girlfriend, I don’t know if she’s heard the new record… I don’t imagine she has, because as soon as he does, I’ll probably get a phone call!
Shred Yr Face continues in Bristol tonight and in Manchester tomorrow night.