I don’t know how to start this, other then diving right in so….I’ll dive.
It is with a sad face I have to report that I am leaving Los Campesinos!. The show on the 15th of December in London will be my last, and I shall spend it struggling not to cry. Please don’t point out my tears if you come along. Simply pretend it is eye sweat.
Over the last seven years I have been blessed, not by God, because he doesn’t exist, but with opportunities and a life I will not fully appreciate until I am about forty-five. I will look back at old photos of the band, with our smooth skin and questionable hair, and go “fuck me. That was mental.”
The past and present members of Los Campesinos! have been my family for the last seven years and seen me at my lowest, my highest, my most angry, sad, happy, broken, fixed, grown up and immature. They have seen me fail, succeed, let myself and them down, learn the hard way, but they have also seen me grow. And they have always had my back, and I hope, I sincerely hope, I have done my best to have theirs.
There is not a terribly exciting reason for me leaving, (so please start some exciting rumours), I am just going to try something new. Fulfil my ambitions of becoming a failed writer and developing a opium habit. It’s all going to be very retro. I leave with the upmost love and support from the band, but I have requested my replacement not be too cool.
I would say I am sad to go, but that is too simple a word for the variety of emotions I have swimming around my head right now. I am sad, but mostly I am drowning in warm and happy flashbacks, vinaigrette images of us all laughing in the van on long drives across America. Joe Puleo, tour manager, at the front telling a story, Jason playing quizmaster and hosting a game of “Guess the Song,” from an app he has downloaded, and we all scream out responses. Rob taking photos of the scenery on his lomo, Neil watching gangster epics on his laptop, and maybe later on this long long drive Paul and Tom will play Tiger Woods Golf whilst I work out how long I can hold my bladder for before requesting we stop. I was the most frequenter pee needer on long drives. I am not ashamed of this. I owned it.
I felt warm and safe on those drives, listening to everyone tell stories, share experiences, make each other laugh. I am lucky to have shared a hotel room with so many exceptional ladies over the years, Aleks, Harriet and especially Kim, who shared my fear of the cold, love of porridge and put up with my ability to make a mess in any room in under 5 seconds. Starting and ending the day together, we did some good chatting.
I have seen a lot of this world, and I didn’t have to go on a gap year to do it. I have travelled across the breadth and depth of the US and the UK and I have seen a lot of different faces, and sampled a lot of backstage humus.I have seen a lot of graffitied backstage cocks.
I have met and worked with countless wonderful, interesting and horrifically talented people inside the industry, inside the venues, inside the recording studie and inside our practice space. (I won’t gush too much about how talented the people in the band are, you might get diabetes from my sincerity, but it has been a pleasure and a privilege to play the music that Tom writes.)
Also fans. Fans are awesome. You made it possible for us record an album in Seattle. To play a show outside of Wales. To play in a baseball stadium in Japan. A haunted restaurant in Santa Cruz. a handful of US universities and see Mexico! I saw Mexico! You girls and guys are truly humbling, and I hope I never took you for granted too much. I probably did. Thank you for knowing the words, for bringing cakes, and books, and t-shirts, and comics, and buying us drinks and for waiting and driving miles and cheering and clapping. For reading or watching or listening to anything we have ever done. Thanks. You kept us going and will continue to be the life blood of the Los Campesinos! family.
I was trawling through old photos trying to find the best one to represent a start and an ending, but I got lost in old memories and the process of ageing.
(God we looked young, look at our skin! Look at our clothes! Cardigans and ripped up Distillers t shirts, oh I still have that.)
I have eons of photos of the band at the start, at rehearsals, house parties, with experimental hair, (mine black, Gareth long and wispy, Neil’s fringe nearly covering his eyes and Tom always wearing his hat) and at our first shows. I remember when we first started, our summer of label romance where everyone wanted to take us out for a pub meal, and all we ever did was go out in Cardiff drinking and dancing. We said we would change our last names to Campesinos! if we ever played in the states, but we tempted fate, and we never changed out names but we did get to go to America a lot.
I sometimes wonder what alternative universe me would be doing if she didn’t go to that first rehearsal in Ollie’s bedroom. I think she is picking her nose right now in a bath of baked beans, bored and crazy because she spent all day in an office sitting next to a woman who told her about the time she slept with a navy seal. No one cares Brenda.
So 500 plus gigs, millions of air miles, gallons of backstage whisky and wine, a tonne of sweaty cheese and pita bread, a litre of tears shed on stage, hundreds of “don’t fuck up,” panics, hundreds of fuck ups, hundreds of “this is blowing my mind” moments whilst starring into a sea of unfamiliar and impassioned faces, break ups and ill advised hook ups later (don’t date musicians, like ever, we’re all mental,) I realise I have seen all the travel lodges, service stations, and states of America (apart from Alaska) and I have tasted more Marks and Spencer’s meals then I thought possible. I’ve been with some of the finest people I know doing a very unnatural thing, which is both the best and the worst experience and often at the same time, but never the same any given year. And we have done it fucking well. The best we can.
God I’m being dramatic, but I can’t help it, I was a middle child.
So some more self-indulgence.
I want to thank some people for being ace. John Goodmanson – a brilliant producer and a lesson in style and grace under pressure. Joe Puleo – the best tour manager, you never feel anything but safe in his company. Kelly Pickard – inspiration, mentor, wisest woman. Paul Rattcliff- The loyalist soundman whom gives so much. Kev and Alun and Mark Bowen, Wichita, Ben and Vicky, Gareth Dobson, anyone we have toured with or supported or who I have met along the way, everyone I forgot. I haven’t forgot, I am thinking about you.
My mum, because she told me I could be anything and do anything except get my tongue pierced. And I did that anyway, and she still wasn’t mad at me.
And the band.. Kim, Jason, Gareth, Tom, Neil and Rob who I will miss sharing experiences with that no one will understand, I love you guys. Like, loads. From our first Sweet Dreams, until our last, thanks.
Okay, too long, too emo. Bye bye.