Los Campesinos! lead singer Gareth Campesinos! wrote his group’s new album Hello Sadness while reeling from one the worst breakups in his life. What came out of that heartbreak is arguably Los Campesinos!’s finest and most honest release to date.
Los Campesinos! headline the Great American Music Hall this Friday. Gareth spoke with SF Station about the process of making Hello Sadness, the band’s current U.S. tour, and more.
Congrats on Hello Sadness, your fourth album. This album was made a little differently than previous ones. How did you come to record the album in Spain this time instead of the U.S.?
Well a lot of very fortunate coincidences. This was the first time we were intending to record from the U.K even. We are very close to a good studio owned by the Manic Street Preachers and we were intending to record there but every time we were booking times something came up with their schedule so they needed it. And then we signed ourselves into a situation where we were offered two gigs in Spain very close to each other and they were the sort of gigs where well one was a festival and the other was a club opening and they’re the sort of things that often pay a band more than they deserved to be paid (laughter), especially with something like a club opening.
So we find ourselves in Spain, and more specifically playing a show in Barcelona, which was very close to a studio that the band the Super Furry Animals had recorded in before who we share management with so we had the contacts for that and we thought well we’re in Spain so we may as well make the most of it. So our producer John Goodmanson came out from Seattle and we recorded there in beautiful sunshine , next to a swimming pool in a studio Mariah Carey and Shakira recorded in so it was pretty blissful.
Do you think you channeled any Mariah on Hello Sadness from being in that studio?
Sadly not, but we were quite enthusiastic about asking the people that worked there about the two of them as much as possible (laughs).
Speaking of John Goodmanson, this is the third time you’ve worked with him on an album. What does John bring to the records that keep you inviting him back?
Well we’ve only worked with one different producer before, so perhaps John is actually terrible but we don’t really know any difference (laughs). If that is the case he does a good job of hiding it.
He’s just such a wonderful person, in fact I’m in Seattle at the moment and last night he hosted us. We went to his family home and had dinner and played with his dogs and sons and just hung out. It was really amazing and I think that’s a testament to what a nice guy he is, it’s at that point now that when we’re in the studio he is essentially a member of the band. And he’s just so honest but sensible and when you look at the bands that he has worked with in the past you can’t really argue with that sort of experience.
After your relationship ended, you went back and rewrote the whole record. How did the group react originally when you told them this was what you wanted to do?
I only write the lyrics to the music, but lyrically also I am very protective of the words until the last minute. Nobody really hears or sees the lyrics until the actual recording of them because I like things to be as raw and as in the moment as possible.
I think I’m slightly discouraged by when the band started initially, some songs went by the waste side with some terrible lyrics which occasionally my dear bandmates will remind me of. But I don’t want to give them an opportunity again so I leave it until I’m certain I like what I’ve come up with. It didn’t really affect their headspace very much, they’re very trusting to let me get with it and do as I want in regard to lyrics so it didn’t cause them any trauma.
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