There isn’t much that Los Campesinos!, a band who join the dots between clattering punk and whimsical indie pop, have in common with Westlife. They sing about grammar, roadkill and The Breakfast Club; rock out with glockenspiel riffs and violin solos; and their new, limited edition album (out next week) comes with a home-made fanzine. But Louis Walsh, lead singer Gareth tells me, is a fan of both.
“We met him on a live Irish TV show,” Gareth says gleefully. “We performed ‘Death to Los Campesinos!’ in a drunken state, and he said that if we were on The X Factor he’d put us through. I really want to believe that.” But it’s unlikely that the band are going to disappear into the industry machine any time soon. What sets them apart, as much as their exuberant heart-on-sleeve pop, is their determination to keep it real.
“We wouldn’t dream of going on tour with bands that the label told us to,” Gareth vows. “It’s very important to me that we do things on our own terms.” That indie spirit hasn’t been dampened by acclaim on their recent American tour or by playing at huge Japanese festival Supersonic, where hundreds of fans prised themselves out of their sleeping bags at 11am to see the band play.
United by a love of alt-rock bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr, Los Campesinos! met as students in Cardiff, and it’s only been 5 months since they released their debut album. The follow-up, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, has the same mix of call-and-response girl-boy vocals, emotional turmoil and fizzy choruses, but the subject matter’s more personal this time around. “I’m sure when certain people hear certain songs there’s going to be a bit of upset,” Gareth says ominously.
One paper described it as a record for people in skinny jeans and sunglasses, but Los Campesinos! have a horror of coming across as scenesters. “We don’t really attract a lot of hipsters to our gigs,” Gareth protests. “Our fans are generally quite geeky.”