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Camper Van Beethoven comes around

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Camper Van Beethoven plays "Mountain Stage" Sunday at the Culture Center. The band, which has produced a family of solo acts and bands including Cracker, is back with new material after nine years.
WANT TO GO?'Mountain Stage' With Calexico, Camper Van Beethoven, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bahamas, Piney GirWHERE: Culture Center TheaterWHEN: 7 p.m. SundayTICKETS: Advance $15, at the door $25INFO: 800-594-TIXX or www.mountainstage.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There comes a point in the life of every band when the members have to decide if they're OK with where their career has taken them.For the guys in Camper Van Beethoven, which performs Sunday in "Mountain Stage's" first Charleston show of 2013, that point came some time ago. And bassist Victor Krummenacher said they're OK with who they are and what they've become. "I think it's amazing we're still a band after 30 years," he said. "Camper Van Beethoven's chance at fame was a long time ago, but I think we're fine with being this cult band for the rest of our lives."Best known for a handful of fun tunes including "Take the Skinheads Bowling" and a cover of Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men," the latter day punks/early indie rockers have endured as a family of different solo acts, ensembles and bands including the indie rock outfits Cracker and the Monks of Doom.The band's new record, "La Costa Perdida," is its first record of new material in almost nine years, which Krummenacher acknowledged was kind of a long wait, though it was unintentional. "I don't think we intended for there to be any quiet from us," he said. "But like a lot of people we have to straddle day jobs because you know, you've got to pay your mortgage."Krummenacher works for Wired magazine, including doing page design. He said he doesn't really mind having to work a day job, though.
"I'm very lucky. I get to do creative things and make a living doing it," he said. "I work with extremely intelligent, compellingly talented people. I've been doing editorial work for a long time and double duty for years."
Still, having to ask off to go on tour is kind of a hassle, but he said the people he works for are decent about letting him do his music. It helps that some of the people he works with have heard of his band and even saw Camper Van Beethoven back when it was playing college town clubs in the 1980s and early 1990s.Things are very different now. Some of that is good, and some of it is bad.One of the good things lately, he said, is Kickstarter, which helped him fund his latest solo project. He said it wasn't a huge project, not compared to what he might have done 20 years ago, but there's a certain efficiency to the crowd-sourcing website: people get what they want.Most of them, of course, want digital downloads for their iPhones and iPods, even if Krummenacher himself prefers to listen to his music differently.He said, "From a fairly educated listener's standpoint, if I had to choose, I'd listen to the master mix off analog tape in a sonically-designed studio. That's where I'm going to get the best replication."But most people, he acknowledged, don't have access to a modern recording studio.
"At home, I tend to prefer the sound of a good turntable," he said. "If the record has been recorded right -- say a hi-res recording or analog recording -- that's going to sound the best to me."CDs, he said, have never sounded that great, and MP3s are garbage.A few people agree with him, he said. Through Kickstarter, he pressed 300 vinyl albums and 250 CDs. He still has about 100 CDs left, but only a few LPs.Most people took the digital option, which wouldn't be Krummenacher's pick, but at least it's getting his music out to the people who want to hear it.Krummenacher sees this as a kind of success. It's not a Justin Bieber kind of success, but it's good to get something out there for his fans.He has the same hopes for the new Camper Van Beethoven record -- just getting the music out to people who might appreciate a good thing."And maybe we could play a few shows, too," he said.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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