Camper Van Beethoven

Camper Van Beethoven

Infobox musical artist
Name = Camper Van Beethoven

Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = California, United States
Genre = Alternative rock
Years_active = 1984-1990
Label = I.R.S. Records
Pitch-A-Tent Records
Rough Trade Records
URL = [ Official website]
Current_members = David Lowery
Frank Funaro
Victor Krummenacher
Greg Lisher
Jonathan Segel

Former_members = See List of Camper Van Beethoven band members

Camper Van Beethoven is an American alternative rock group. An eclectic band even by the standards of '80s underground music, Camper Van Beethoven mixed elements of pop, ska, world music, punk rock, folk, country, and acid rock.


Camper Van Beethoven formed in 1983 in Redlands, California, although they would soon relocate to Santa Cruz. Early members included bassist/vocalist David Lowery and guitarist Chris Molla. Other notable early bandmates were future Cracker guitarist Johnny Hickman (who played in pre-Camper bands with Lowery and Molla, including the Estonian Gauchos,) and drummer Bill McDonald, later the subject of their humorous tune "Where the Hell is Bill."Fact|date=June 2008 Lowery switched to rhythm guitar when Victor Krummenacher joined on bass. Although the band grew out of the punk scene, they disliked its purism, and were fond of confusing hardcore audiencesFact|date=June 2008 by playing countrified versions of punk classics and ska-inflected instrumentals with Eastern European and Mexican melodies.

Their ethnic experimentation was improved with the addition of violinist/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jonathan Segel. Segel was a trained musicianFact|date=June 2008 who fit in with the band's diverse musical experimentation, yet he was also able to embrace Camper's irreverent, non-purist approach to world music. By the time they recorded their debut album, "Telephone Free Landslide Victory", the lineup was Lowery, Molla, Krummenacher, Segel and drummer Anthony Guess.

The group's trademark violin-coated melodies and ironic, Frank Zappa-influencedFact|date=June 2008 lyrics progressed from the absurdist novelty tunes of the debut "Telephone Free Landslide Victory" to experimental music with the intricate, psychedelic pop meanderings of their self-titled third album. The band had also scored some underground college radio hits with songs like "Take the Skinheads Bowling" and "Good Guys and Bad Guys". By that time, Guess had left the band, to be replaced by drummer Chris Pedersen, and lead guitarist Greg Lisher had joined. Chris Molla also left after touring for the third album, leaving the band as a five-piece with Lowery, Krummenacher, Segel, Lisher and Pedersen.

Camper Van Beethoven signed to Virgin Records in 1988 and released two eclectic yet somewhat more accessible LPs, "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart" and "Key Lime Pie". Jonathan Segel had left the band after "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart," to be replaced by violinist Morgan Fichter. Steel guitarist/guitarist/mandolinist David Immerglück also joined the live Camper lineup in 1989, although he did not play on either of their Virgin releases. The band scored a minor hit with a cover of the Status Quo song "Pictures of Matchstick Men", and Key Lime Pie ended up being their most commercially successful album. However, tensions within the band were growing, and they ended up breaking up in 1990 during a European tour.

After disbanding, singer/guitarist David Lowery, along with the pre-Camper band Box O-Laffs guitarist Johnny Hickman formed the band Cracker with bassist Davey Faragher. The other members - Krummenacher, Lisher, Immerglück and Pedersen - played in Monks of Doom. Immerglück later joined Counting Crows. Jonathan Segel played with Dieselhed, Sparklehorse, and fronted his own bands Hieronymus Firebrain and Jack & Jill, later and to this day playing under his own name. He has also recently been involved in experimental and electronic music, including collaborations with Fred Frith and Joelle Leandre, and an electro-acoustic duo with Dina Emerson called Chaos Butterfly. Victor Krummenacher has made several solo albums of Americana- and blues-tinged rock music with such notable guests as Dave Alvin. Krummenacher and Segel collectively run their own record label, Magnetic.

In 2000, ex-members regrouped to compile the experimental rarity set "Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead. Long Live Camper Van Beethoven". In 2002, they released "Tusk". Allegedly recorded in 1987, it had all the same tracks as the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name, and a parody of the original album's cover art. Later, the band admittedFact|date=June 2008 that they had actually recorded the album in 2001, as an experiment to see if they could work together in the studio again. A series of reunion tour dates followed with many of the band's former members, with Lowery, Segel, Krummenacher and Lisher forming the core of the reunited lineup. Former members Chris Pedersen, David Immerglück, and Chris Molla have also appeared with the band in some live shows, although Cracker drummer Frank Funaro is now Camper's main live drummer. They are also joined by Cracker keyboard player Kenny Margolis on accordion during some live shows.

In 2004, the band recorded "New Roman Times", their first studio album in 15 years, which, unusual for a reunion album, was well-received by critics and fans. A live concert disc was also released entitled "In The Mouth of the Crocodile", capturing a 2004 reunion performance in Seattle. Segments of a 2004 performance in Chicago were released the following year as "". They have continued to tour and perform regularly since their reformation. A compilation of greatest hits entitled "Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty" was released by Cooking Vinyl Records on June 23, 2008.

In 1993, the band Sublime's singer and songwriter Bradley Nowell covered the Camper Van Beethoven song entitled "Eye of Fatima." The chord progression of this song was also used in the Sublime song entitled "What Happened." Teenage Fanclub's cover of Camper Van Beethoven's 1985 staple "Take the Skinheads Bowling" was used as the title track for the 2002 Michael Moore film "Bowling for Columbine". A portion of the original Camper Van Beethoven recording can be heard as an introduction to the DVD release of the film. The song has also been covered by the Manic Street Preachers, and can be found on their B-sides album "Lipstick Traces".

Members of Camper Van Beethoven collaborated with Eugene Chadbourne on a number of records under the name Camper Van Chadbourne.

Band Members

* Daniel Bloom - violin (1984) []

* Eugene Chadbourne - guitar, banjo (1986, studio sessions only)

* Morgan Fichter - violin (1989-1990)

* Frank Funaro - drums (2004-present; 2000-2004 as guest)

* Anthony Guess - drums (1985)

* David Immerglück - guitar, lap-steel, backup vocals (1990; 2000-present as guest)

* Victor Krummenacher - bass, backup vocals (1984-1990, 2000-present)

* Don Lax - violin (1989)

* Greg Lisher - lead guitar (1985-1990, 2000-present)

* David Lowery - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, drums (1984-1990, 2000-present)

* Stephoni Lowery - unknown (listed as former member on original vinyl press of Telephone Free Landslide Victory)

* Kenny Margolis - keyboards, accordian (2000-2006 as guest)

* David McDaniel - guitar (1984)]

* Bill McDonald - drums (1984)

* Chris Molla - guitar, vocals, drums (1984-1986; 2002-present as guest)

* Chris Pedersen - drums (1986-1990, 2004; 2002-2004, 2004-present as guest)

* Jonathan Segel - violin, guitar, keyboards, mandolin, vocals (1984-1989, 2000-present)

* Richie West - drums (1984)

* Mike Zorn - harmonica (1984) []


tudio albums

* "Telephone Free Landslide Victory" (1985)
* "II & III" (1986)
* "Camper Van Beethoven" (1986)
* "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart" (1988)
* "Key Lime Pie" (1989)
* "Tusk" (2002)
* "New Roman Times" (2004)


* "Take The Skinheads Bowling" (1986)
* "Vampire Can Mating Oven" (1987)
* "Turquoise Jewelry" (1988)

Compilations and special releases

* "The Virgin Years" (1993) (by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker)
* "Camper Vantiquities" (1993) Rarities Compilation
* "Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead. Long Live Camper Van Beethoven" (2000) Rarities Compilation
* "" (2002) Box Set. Includes "Telephone Free Landslide Victory", "II & III", "Camper Van Beethoven", "Camper Vantiquities", & "Greatest Hits Played Faster", a bonus live disc.
* "In the Mouth of the Crocodile - Live in Seattle" (2004) Live Album
* "" (2005) Live Album
* "Look at All the Love We Found" (2005) Sublime Tribute
* "Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty" (2008) Compilation

External links

* [ Official web page]
* [ Camper Van Beethoven collection] on the Internet Archive's live music archive
* [ Jonathan and Victor's label, Magnetic]
* [ Interview] with Crawdaddy!

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