Album: II & III.
I remember three things about my on-air interview with Camper Van Beethoven at KFSR in 1985:
1) I accidentally taped over the Paul Westerberg interview I had done only a couple of months prior. This is still the single stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life that didn’t cause any physical or psychological damage to anyone else. Oh. I then lost the tape of the Camper Van Beethoven interview. Look, I got out of the 80s alive, that’s all that matters.
2) Then, for some reason, I compared the sound of Telephone Free Landslide Victory to that of The Basement Tapes. I think that I was reacting to the lo-fi-ness of it all – not to mention the “we’ll try anything” spirit – but in retrospect, this is a pretty stupid observation, because the only electric violin that Bob Dylan had on any of his records until Desire was in the lyrics of “Desolation Row.”
3) At some point in the proceedings, one of them – let’s just assume it was David Lowery, because why not? – grabbed my sheet of the questions I’d prepared in advance and said, “Let us ask you the questions!” Which led to this following exchange:
DAVID LOWERY: “Why do you write so many instrumentals?”
ME: “Because we don’t know how to write lyrics.”
Luckily, being good sports, they all thought that was a hilarious answer.
And, of course, the first couple of Camper Van Beethoven albums were chock full of instrumentals, my favorite being the song that led off their second album, II & III, “Abundance.”
A near-psychedelic melange of sawing violins and big drums (augmented by some kick-ass tambourine), “Abundance” has always been my favorite of the Camper Van Beethoven instrumentals, because it sounds like they weren’t trying to do any kind of particular style, but rather combining everything into a totally unique whole.
I’m also pretty sure that they gave KFSR (or one of our DJs) a tape of “Abundance” a few months in advance of II & III, because I’m almost positive there was a cart (a special 8-track-like tape for radio stations that always circled back to the beginning of the tape after the content was over) of it that we played before the album came out. Not that there was a huge gap between records.
Video for “Abundance”