Pop Quiz: Camper Van Beethoven

Aidin Vaziri | Camper Van Beethoven is gearing up to release its first new album in nearly a decade, “La Costa Perdida,” just in time to mark its 30th anniversary of making left-field pop. The band, best known for the 1986 college radio hit “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” has deep local roots and returns to the Bay Area for a pair of live shows this week, at the Independent in San Francisco and the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, with front man David Lowery’s other band, Cracker. He told us what to expect.

David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven
Q: You’re the front man for both Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. How does it work doing double duty on tour?
A: It’s not too strange. Camper is easier physically because I’m just one of the instruments in the group. With Cracker, I’m front and center the whole time. There, I’m singing and playing guitar on every song. There’s more shouting and, on some songs, screaming. The two bands have influenced each other over the years. Cracker has gotten stranger over the years – we’ve moved away from the strict roots-rock sound – and Camper has learned to rock more.
Q: So which one is better?
A: You know, there are things that I enjoy about both bands. One is cerebral, more physical – one is more intellectual. Actually, I don’t know if that’s fair, because both bands trade places occasionally. Camper is more intricate. There’s a certain concentration and focus we need to achieve to play the notes. Cracker got asked to open for Lynyrd Skynyrd once, and we did it and did it really well. Playing arena rock – that’s really fun to do.
Q: Basically, you get to use both sides of your brain at these shows.
A: That’s right. I knew there was an easier way to put that.
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