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Tuesday  Decmber 14  12:00 AM ET

11 Questions with Camper Van Beethoven

By Brian Briggs

Real interviews with real people. Unlike the rest of BBspot there's nothing made up here. I know it's a difficult transition, but I'm not fooling. We did e-mail these questions and these were the responses.

The interview continues...

BBspot (6): What's the strangest thing that has happened to the band on tour?

CVB: Good god, where to begin? I got hit in the neck with raw chicken liver at a show in 1985 in SF. That's just the beginning. It got weirder from there.

New Roman TimesBBspot (7): Tell me about the concept for the new album New Roman Times, and does the title have anything to do with the Times New Roman font?

CVB: Oh of course! Victor is the art director of the Bay Guardian in San Francisco; we couldn't let a pun like that go by. Times New Roman was invented for the London Times in the 1930s I believe.

Ok, new roman times is both an allegorical story that compares a pseudo-modern USA to the Roman Empire circa 100AD (look up the stories of Emperor Domitian). In our alt-country, an alternative version of America, where the political landscape is more like South America – separate countries exist rather than states. The republic of Texas in our story is a theocratic totalitarian regime. They have annexed the republic of California. The resistance group in California is called the CVB, maybe like the SLA or the Black Panthers (both from my hometown of Oakland!)

The main character is a young man in Texas who has a dead-end life that he wants to escape from by joining an elite military unit (51-7) but he rapidly becomes disillusioned, loses a limb in a meaningless battle, and, subsequently, in the process of being indoctrinated by covert operatives, becomes re-illusioned by the resistance in the republic of California, the CVB. The space aliens in the storyline are on both sides of the battles. There are different groups. They are perhaps the theocracy that isn’t the Jesus-based one.

As far as blowing things up, I attribute that to both realism and the fact that we have a dark sense of humour. We’re a bunch of sickos.

Alternative history science fiction is usually considered the lowest form of fiction, but we love Philip K. Dick still.

BBspot (8): Has technology changed the creative process or is it still a matter of sitting down and making music?

Lindsay LohanCVB: The creative process isn't changed, but technology certainly allows some people to bypass it to make music! Look at garageband! The process of making music is much like the process of listening to music. When you hear something you like, it repeats in your head until you hear it again. Like a pop song virus--it eventually burns itself out. But writing a song is the same, it repeats until you get it down the right way... then you can play it. Using technology opens new avenues to discover new ways of putting things together or getting newer sound to play with, but ultimately it's up to the artist to "com-pose", that is to say, to put together the sounds into a composition.

BBspot (9): Your gear was stolen recently out of a trailer in a parking lot in Montreal. Anything we can do to help and do you think President Bush will use this as a pretense to invade Canada, especially the French-speaking parts of Quebec?

CVB: Well, I blame bush for continuing to create an environment of fear and poverty around the world. besides this incident, our van was broken into again a couple weeks later in Columbus Ohio. i haven't seen this much rampant crime since the latter years of the last republican administration. Right now, I'm in Europe and acutely aware of how the dollar is tanking heavily - it's over $1.30 to €1.00!

BBspot (10): Tell us about the crappiest venue you've ever played in.

Camper Von BeethovenCVB: Again, a tough one, given that we've played probably over 1000 venues. Perhaps most of the post punk rock spray painted black rooms where roaches crawl over the soundboard, the stage is a wet carpet and there is no backstage bathroom, and the club's bathroom has no doors to the shitter, or a toilet seat? And people smoke and drink and spill their drinks into your gear and vomit onto the front of the floor so that other slip and fall in it.

BBspot (11): Has anyone yet conquered Wyoming?

CVB: No. Can't be done.

Check out Part I of the interview.

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