Camper Van Beethoven will be releasing their first record since 2004’s “New Roman Times” on January 22, 2013 via Savoy/ 429 Records.In the second half of the 1980s, Camper Van Beethoven-David Lowery (vocals, guitar), Victor Krummenacher (bass, vocals), Greg Lisher (guitar), Jonathan Segel (violin, guitar, keyboards) and Chris Pedersen (drums), plus late addition David Immerglück (guitar and various stringed instruments)—was one of its era’s most original and influential indie rock bands. The quintet effortlessly combined an iconoclastic, irony-laced lyrical stance with a free-spirited eclecticism that encompassed a dizzying array of stylistic influences, from punk to folk to psychedelia to all manner of world music. Camper’s visionary embrace of disparate genres established them as innovators, while their songs’ combination of barbed satire and poignant humanism stymied those who’d attempt to pigeonhole them as a mere novelty. They joined me for our 5GB before their show.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
Well, I’m gonna tell you about the first gig I didn’t attend. I was 11 and my family had moved to Tucson for a year (1975) and I didn’t have many new friends there, so I would wander downtown after school and vista the record stores. They turned my ears from the Beatles to much harder stuff, so I listened to the rock radio all the rest of the day. And they had tickets to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I called and won them!
The place they played was only about 10 blocks away, and I had two tickets… but my mom wouldn’t let me go. I had to give the tickets away. I have always wondered what it would have been like for a little long haired 11 year old kid.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
You know, this would get updated every tour. For me, playing the violin is a bit tougher to keep it together than playing guitar, so it changes every gig. When it all works, the tuning, tone, stage sound, band energy, audience energy, it is amazing. And it seems to have most, if not all, of these things at least every week.
That said, our last Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven (8th) annual Camp-Out Festival in Pioneertown last September was pretty high up there all around.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
This is by far the hardest of these questions, both due to the inconsistencies of memory and the fact that I’ve enjoyed an awful lot of shows! One that does come to mind is from back in the early 90s when Richard Thompson started playing solo. My friends and I went to Slim’s in San Francisco and got there (after a few beers elsewhere) to a crowded club. Somehow somebody grabbed us to fill in spots at a table (there were tables set up on the floor for this show, I guess because it was “acoustic”) and the table turned out to be right in the front and center. He came out and we were sitting directly in front of him, and we had not yet heard, for example, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” before. I remember actually crying by the end of the song. I’m getting goosebumps now, just writing about it.
Gig you would most like to play?
I’d love to play some of the really big festivals with Camper Van Beethoven, that’s something we haven’t done. In the US or the UK or Europe, either way, just to experience it.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
I’ve seen some Fillmore West posters that came close, gigs where you had Miles Davis and then Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin, or something like that. I wish there were more gigs like that these days, with wildly disparate types of music.
I’d like to see one where Camper Van Beethoven plays with some amazing jazz ensemble, and maybe some Arabic band.
And then Radiohead on last.
See Camper Van Beethoven at The Earl, January 26th!