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Steven Wells hated us.
Though I scowled and said he was an over the hill idiot when he started slagging us a couple of years ago, I knew, deep down, a lot of it was true. I DID have shit hair and in hindsight my embracing of ‘twee’ was embarrassing, and something I dislike in others now. He hated our band, and I respected him all the more for it. As a middling touring indie band we do a lot of interviews. And though I am always very grateful that people care to speak to us about our band, most of them are mind numbingly boring and repetitive or somebody taking a journalism degree being kooky in an attempt to make a name for themselves within student media. Whenever we’ve passed through Philadelphia, I’ve hoped he’d be in attendance, or would be there to interview us and give us the same treatment he gave B&S in the ’90s. Every time we’ve played in Philly I’ve glanced around the venues looking for some snarling bald man in a corner.
“Sometimes right. Sometimes wrong. Always certain.”
A lot of his final pieces, writing for Philadelphia Weekly were on his battle with cancer, and were as brutally honest and moving as anything I have read on the subject since B S Johnson’s The Unfortunates. Last year, a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, and I referred him to some of Swells’ articles, and this inspired him to start documenting his own fight and I believe this was a great comfort to him for a time.
What I say about the man is inconsequential. I never knew or even met him, and there are plenty of accolades from those who did on his final article here. But, basically, there have been a few things that have stood out above others in Los Campesinos!’ short history that have made me think “shit, we’re really doing this”, and one of them was the first time I read Steven Wells ranting against us. That we were on his radar, and that he deemed us worthy of his bile was an honour. I think that says a lot for the man and how well respected he is amongst his peers and music fans.
In October last year, Swells wrote:
“I have seen the future. It’s Garry Bushell being kicked senseless by Gareth from Los Campesinos! forever. So it’s not all bad.”
I promise, if I ever get the chance, for the only good thing I can think of to ever come from Swindon, I will do that. Steven Wells, you will be missed.
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