Spotlight: Camper Van Beethoven

La Zona Rosa, 1am

Spotlight: Camper Van Beethoven

Camper Van Beethoven at SXSW in 2003? No, it's not a hallucination. Within the past six months, the self-described "surrealist absurdist folk" band has Cigarettes and Carrot Juice, a box collecting their first three LPs, a collection of previously released rarities, and a disc of unreleased live material. Then there's the note-for-note re-creation of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, which was originally recorded in one crazed weekend in 1987, recently salvaged for release last fall.

According to David Lowery, the band's de facto frontman, this really isn't that big a deal. He says The New York Press had the best description of the band's end more than a decade ago: "They didn't break up as much as dissolve like a urinal cake."

"The falling out seemed bigger to other people than it did to us," claims Lowery. "I kept in contact with everybody. Me and Jonathan [violinist/accordion player Segel, who left first] patched things up the quickest.

"We didn't know how many people would come and see us. We booked a night at the Knitting Factory in New York, and it turned into three nights. The other part of it was we didn't know if we'd want to play the songs, the youngest of which are 13 years old. But we enjoyed it."

They enjoyed it so much that they've just completed dates in Europe, are barnstorming the U.S., and next plan on heading to Australia and Japan. There's even the possibility of a new album next year. As for Tusk ...

"Camper was good at being able to pay tribute to something, while at the same time sort of mocking it," explains Lowery. "We actually liked that record. Jonathan literally had an obsession with it. In Europe, it's being taken very seriously. I love that. I feel like Jerry Lewis, you know?"

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Camper Van Beethoven, Cigarettes and Carrot Juice, Tusk, David Lowery, Jonathan Segel

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