Thursday, June 17, 2004

THE RETURN OF CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN

A year or two ago I saw a Camper Van Beethoven reunion show at Bimbo's in SF. They were in fine form, if a little greyer all around (as are we all). I especially liked their version of the Clash's 'White Riot', which in the context of their own comment on rich boy rebellion ,'Club Med Sucks', put the song in an entirely different light. It turns out they're back together again and working on that most feared artifact, a concept album. Says singer David Lowery:

We thought the most Camper-ish thing to do would be a rock opera. We're feeling like this is, politically, probably the strangest time ... I don't know, in a very long time. We wanted to comment upon the politics of the United States, but we wanted to do it in a way that wasn't shrill. So instead, we did a sci-fi rock opera."

In fact, the album was influenced by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's alternate-history cyberpunk novel The Difference Engine.

Says Lowery of the record: "It takes place in the late '60s/early '70s, told through the eyes of a young soldier in the army of the Christian Republic of Texas. North America is a bunch of different, separate nations, and this is the story of this conflict between California and Texas.

"It does involve space aliens," he adds, "just cuz it's a Camper record.