When: 7.30pm on Friday 31 May 2013
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE
We’re delighted to be presenting the first Manchester show for Camper Van Beethoven since 2004 – and only their second here in the past 25 years.
Camper Van Beethoven introduced an eclectic, often humorous blend of hippie psychedelia, avant-garde improvisation, country-western shadings, pseudo-ethnic sounds, and a hardcore punch to the mid-1980s postpunk scene. What saved the group from novelty status was its genuine talent for making interesting, adventurous music.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in cities around the globe as an air force brat, CVB leader David Lowery ultimately landed as a teenager in Redlands, California (just outside of LA). By 1983 Lowery was studying mathematics at UC Santa Cruz and had begun playing with his first band, Sitting Duck, which experimented with ethnic sounds by way of TV shows and advertisements, and played alongside thrashy punk and psychedelic rock & roll. The earliest version of Camper Van Beethoven grew out of Sitting Duck and included Lowery, Krummenacher, Molla, and guitarist David McDaniel (who actually named the band shortly before leaving). It wasn’t until the next year, however, that the Campers began following their eclectic muse in earnest. Lowery had returned to college in Santa Cruz and was soon followed by Krummenacher and Molla. There they met up with local guitarist Greg Lisher and composition student Jonathan Segal.
The band’s first album, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, on the arty LA-based label Independent Projects, produced the single Take the Skinheads Bowling, which became a cult favourite among college students. The album also featured a slowed-down, violin-drenched version of Black Flag‘s first single, Wasted. The album was followed by a string of equally offbeat collections of songs —which featured titles like ZZ Top Goes to Egypt and Joe Stalin’s Cadillac —on which the Campers experimented with everything from Beatlesque tape manipulation and Arabic-like drones to absurdist lyrics and offbeat covers (such as Ringo Starr’s Photograph and Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive). In 1987 the group recorded with the eccentric guitarist Eugene Chadbourne —calling themselves Camper Van Chadbourne —for the tiny indie label Fundamentalist Records. Virgin signed the band in 1988, releasing the more accessible (yet still very offbeat) Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie.
In 1988 Krummenacher, Lisher, and Pedersen took the band’s arty quality to their side project, Monks of Doom, and Segal recorded a solo album. Camper Van Beethoven parted ways in 1989, and Lowery took the hooky pop side of the band into his group Cracker. With guitarist and Redlands friend Johnny Hickman, Lowery relocated to Richmond, Virginia, to make music. Coming immediately after Camper’s far-out Key Lime Pie, the feisty roots-rock sound of Cracker initially earned derision from alternative circles, as it discarded Camper’s violins and strange polyrhythms.
New Roman Times was Camper Van Beethoven’s first major recording project since the band quietly reunited in 2000 to share some live bills with Lowery’s popular post-Camper outfit Cracker. The resurgent combo’s performances were rapturously received by longtime fans and new admirers alike. But, rather than rushing to cash in, they chose to wait before recording a new album, instead releasing a pair of unconventional archival releases. Those discs – 1999’s Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead, a collection of rarities and live tracks retooled into a suitelike sonic opus, and 2002’s Tusk, a distinctive song-for-song remake of the Fleetwood Mac album of the same title – functioned as a test runs for the reunited bandmates, allowing them to rekindle their collaborative rapport in a relatively low-key manner.
True to the freewheeling, joyfully schizophrenic swirl of rock, punk, ska, folk, world music and (insert next genre-bending style here) that has defined the Camper Van Beethoven aesthetic since the enduring lineup took shape circa mid-80s, La Costa Perdida, their debut on 429 Records and first recording since New Roman Times in 2004, brings a listener into the strange world of the northern California coast above San Francisco.
Support comes from WALK. Now Then said of them: ‘Rik Warren’s display of electric blues minimalism, manufacturing crunching grooves with the fewest of notes and giving repetition a good name. His new project with David Schlechtriemen (aka The Pickpocket Network and also of Driver drive faster and Honeyfeet) is named WALK but Stomp might be more apt given the similarity to Junior Kimbrough’s persistent riffs. The kick with WALK is the evolution to sequencer blues; leaving electric blues in the past by warping their sonic creations with 21st Century electronic gadgetry.’ Here’s their video for Please Don’t.