Tuesday, April 28, 2015

telephone free landslide victory

Camper Van Beethoven went to the moon and came home for lunch with this absurd ambiguous amalgamation of bowling skinhead stomp and breathtaking border ska. The group formed at the University of California in Santa Cruz with David Lowery, Chris Molla, and Victor Krummenacher with a revolving cast of characters under the moniker Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol. 

 Lowery reveals: "We had the name before we had any songs. David McDaniel was one of the founding members of the band. He was my funny, quirky friend, very devout Christian who spent most of his life as a minister. He also had this crazy stand-up comedy persona that he did where he would say these jokes that had all the reason and rhyme of jokes, but they didn’t really make any sense. He would do some foreign Borat-type accent and say, ‘My country is so small every time we change a tire, everybody laughs!’ I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. And he had this rhyme and reason that was his sense of humor — this whole series of never ending things that sounded like they could be jokes but they deconstructed and destroyed themselves in the process. That’s where Camper Van Beethoven came from...We thought ska sounded like that, at least the ska that we were listening to back in the early punk-rock days when ska and punk-rock were all mixed together. We would just use those scales and those kind of melodies but we were also really influenced by surf-bands, but we just didn’t play surf beats, but that’s what we were into. But we just put ska and punk rock, and sort of put punk beats and rhythms into the song. Surf music was obsessed with the sound of other cultures."

'Telephone Free Landslide Victory' was recorded during January and February of 1985 at Sámurai Sound Studio in Davis, California. The sessions were engineered by Dave Gill and featured David Lowery on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and drums; Jonathan Segel on violin, mandolin, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals, and noise; Chris Molla on guitar, backing vocals, and drums; Victor Krummenacher on bass and backing vocals; Greg Lisher on guitar; and Anthony Guess on drums.

Lowery elucidates: "We’re playing with words. There’s a good story that goes with that title. There was this band back in the 60s that we idolized called The Kaleidoscope. One of their classic albums, Beacon From Mars, was actually supposed to be called Bacon From Mars. But apparently it went to the printing plant and somebody just figured it was a misspelling or a typo or couldn’t read the handwriting, and they changed it to Beacon From Mars. Strange parallel: Telephone Free Landslide Victory was originally called Telephone Tree Landslide Victory. But when we sent it to to Bruce Licher to print the cover, he misread our handwriting and thought it was Telephone Free Landslide Victory. We were like, ‘No, it’s Telephone TREE Landslide Victory!’ And he was like, ‘Oh, shit!’ But he’d already hand-printed fifteen hundred covers. And the we were like, ‘Wait, that’s better!’"

'Telephone Free Landslide Victory' was initially released on the band's own Independent Projects label and sold over sixty thousand copies. It charted at number thirty on the UK indie album chart.

Krummenacher considers: "Rarely do I listen to my own stuff, but when I do listen to it… you know, I guess they say “lightning in a bottle” is the way to describe certain things that just kind of happen that are unexpected and spontaneous and very real. I think that record is a really good example of something that nobody anticipated being anything other than what it was. We were just making a record for a friend. We did it in four days – two days of recording and two days of mixing. It’s 17 songs or something. It’s basically about everything we were playing at the time. We just threw it in there, and had no clue that it would become this culty kind of thing that people like R.E.M. would be interested in, and basically it secured us a place...You know, Camper was a joke band. Camper was the band that played at parties. We all had serious bands that we were trying to play with at the time. I think we were serious about making the record, we thought we were a pretty cool, interesting, weird garage band. But I don’t think we thought it would be what it was. Which is good – there were no expectations going into it. I think that’s when the best stuff is made, when you just don’t have an expectation. Expectation is really kind of the enemy of rock ‘n’ roll. Once you get too thinky about things it’s just not good."

Lowery expounds: "The first Camper Van Beethoven record is all bouncy and poppy, like when you were 18 and you smoked pot, it actually made you sort of energetic, and then like when you were like 35 and you smoked pot and you went to sleep."


"Take the Skinheads Bowling"
became a college radio sensation and went to number eight on the UK indie chart.
Lowery: "I just got this idea that I thought a lot of great songs really didn’t mean anything; it was kind of just cool, the way the words went together, and that that should be celebrated. So, I was really carefully trying to make it so that each line didn’t really seem like it had anything to do with the line before it."
Krummenacher: "It’s funny, when I listen to it now, there’s a huge bass mistake at the end. It’s really, really loose. I had no clue that it would be a hit in Britain. Or that it would ultimately allow me to buy my house because when Michael Moore bought it for “Bowling for Columbine.” That was a big deal for a lot of us."


Every day, I get up and pray to Jah
And he decreases the number of clocks by exactly one
Everybody's comin' home for lunch these days
Last night there were skinheads on my lawn
Take the skinheads bowling
Take them bowling
Take the skinheads bowling
Take them bowling
Some people say that bowling alleys got big lanes
Some people say that bowling alleys all look the same
There's not a line that goes here that rhymes with anything
I has a dream last night, but I forget what it was
I had a dream last night about you, my friend
I had a dream--I wanted to sleep next to plastic
I had a dream--I wanted to lick your knees
I had a dream--it was about nothing

"The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon"


"Ambiguity Song"

'Telephone Free Landslide Victory'

full album:



Side one
"Border Ska" - 2:50
"The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon" - 3:14
"Wasted" - 1:59 (Greg Ginn, Keith Morris)
"Yanqui Go Home" - 2:41
"Oh No!" - 1:54
"9 of Disks" - 2:36
"Payed Vacation: Greece" - 1:52
"Where The Hell is Bill?" - 2:06

Side two
"Vladivostock" - 2:22
"Skinhead Stomp" - 1:48
"Tina" - 1:37
"Take The Skinheads Bowling" - 2:32
"Mao Reminisces About His Days in Southern China" - 1:59
"I Don't See You" - 2:23
"Balalaika Gap" - 2:13
"Opi Rides Again - Club Med Sucks" - 3:55
"Ambiguity Song" - 2:29

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