Happier Campers

The members of Camper Van Beethoven are talking -- and touring -- again a decade after an acrimonious breakup.

"When I did all the interviews with Tom Adelman when he was writing a Camper book, one of the things that pissed me off was having been written out of history," says Segel. "I don't believe that rewritten history is not real history. Even though it's a fictionalized novel, it is real. That's why I think Tom's a fuckin' asshole for doing that in that book. Because he doesn't realize the extent to which he's creating a factual past by fictionalizing something that was actually a real story. Ten years after talking to him about that, he did it again."

In defense, Joy, who lives on the East Coast, says, "I was trying to create a context where this stuff could be understood thirty to forty years from now, when all the references had fallen away. To me, that couldn't just be a fact-finding mission. It had to be told in a setting that took liberties. The history isn't fictionalized; it's a fictionalized perspective. I had this raw material...all the stuff about them is true. And all the stuff about Lowery and Hickman is true."

"I just sent an e-mail to the publisher," says Lowery. "It's really fiction. To tell you the truth, up until about halfway through the book, to me it was really funny, and I kept forgetting that it was sorta me in there, a fictionalized me. The thing that disturbs me is, he wanted to get to the point where rock journalism and stalking his favorites were mixed together."

He's got the eye of Fatima: Cracker's David Lowery (second from right) revisits his roots with Camper Van Beethoven on a new album and tour.
He's got the eye of Fatima: Cracker's David Lowery (second from right) revisits his roots with Camper Van Beethoven on a new album and tour.

Such a postmodern approach is not entirely alien to the Campers, particularly given the way in which they've handled their own work for the upcoming album. "I feel this new material is somewhere between making music and archiving things," says Lowery. "It's very modern and very 'of the age.' It's not post-rock; it might be pre-rock."

"It's a very postmodern way of dealing with the legacy," says Krummenacher. "We went back and took old tapes and actively screwed with them. A lot of the live stuff had Morgan playing and Jonathan manipulating the tapes, so it was kind of a cool revenge."

The Camper family circle now remains only slightly broken: Fichter was last heard from on the front lines of the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle; Immergluck, who tours with Counting Crows, will appear when he can; former and itinerant member Molla and longtime drummer Pedersen (who lives in Australia) will not be around for this model of the Camper Van, which officially started rehearsals last week in the California desert, a stone's throw from where it began. Krummenacher and Segel say the set list includes songs from throughout Camper's history, from "Skinheads" to "Eye of Fatima."

"David gave me twenty Cracker songs to learn, and I know ten more, so we've got this huge set list to learn," says Krummenacher. "Once we get going, I think that's the idea, to just go out there."

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