The more things remain the same for seminal college rock act Camper Van Beethoven, the more they change.
The band performs at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Sky City, 1157 Broad St. Admission is $12 advance or $15 at the door. See www.
skycityaugusta.com for details.
Camper Van Beethoven formed in the early 1980s in Northern California and initially drew a large and intensely loyal following with its unexpected blend of pop construction, punk rock attitude and more than a little Americana twang.
Landmark records included Telephone Free Landside Victory, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie. Songs such as Take the Skinheads Bowling and Eye of Fatima remain college radio staples.
Despite its prolific output, the band’s initial run was relatively brief and it broke up in 1990 citing internal tensions. After the split, band members went their separate ways but never strayed too far from music. During the 1990s, former Campers could be found among the members of Counting Crows, forming and fronting the more straight-forward rock act Cracker and coming together as the similarly eclectic Monks of Doom. The band officially reunited in 1992 and has enjoyed an intentionally on-and-off career since then.
Time, according to bass player and founding member Victor Krummenacher, has made all the difference. Camper Van Beethoven, which formed as an art rock act, has finally learned how to enjoy its art.
“We had a lot of weird adulation when I was young and that makes you feel like you are the smartest person in the room,” he said during a recent telephone interview from his home in California. “I, for one, had to learn a long time ago that wasn’t the case.”
Krummenacher said that finding a sense of satisfaction within the band meant knowing what fans wanted and expected from the music, what the members, as musicians, needed to feel and understanding that the two goals were not all that different.
“At the pinnacle we were a hot college band,” he said. “We were in our 20s and so was the audience. It’s funny, because now I do personally feel a lot of responsibility. There’s a generosity that has been shown to us because this music has affected people. But the truth is the only thing I bring to the music is the music. I can’t come in with expectations.”
Coming together without expectations, Krummenacher said, allowed the band to record La Costa Perdida, an album scheduled for a Jan. 22 release. It’s the band’s first studio album in more than eight years and, according to Krummenacher, a fitting release for an act now more concerned with evolution than revolution.
“I’ve made a lot of records, we have all made a lot of records, that were not Camper records,” he said. “Together, we have about 120 years’ experience and that means we sound pretty good together. We know what we bring to this band. We know what we can do. I know I’m a punk rock kid that learned to play the bass pretty well.”
Although Krummenacher maintains a close relationship with music generally and Camper Van Beethoven specifically, he said his approach to playing has changed over the years. Camper, he said, is no longer a career. It’s no longer an obligation. He has a successful career as a graphic artist and sees playing, recording and touring with the band not as something he needs to do, but as something he is allowed to do.
Scheduling, he said, is not always easy. It is, however, always worthwhile.
“Camper is my family,” he said. “And the music industry is cruel. So it is nice to know that this option is always out there.”