Members of Camper Van Beethoven live in Richmond, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Sweden and Australia. Throw in side projects and other interests, and it's a wonder the band ever tours or records an album.
"It's a little challenging for us to get together to write an album," said Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery, speaking from his home in Richmond, where he's lived since 1990. "When we do get together and we do write, it comes together really fast."
Camper Van Beethoven performs Thursday at the State Theatre. Cracker, Lowery's other band, will also perform.
"La Costa Perdida," Camper Van Beethoven's eighth studio album, came out in January. Lowery said that the material was influenced by California's north coast.
|Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven|
|» Where: The State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St, Falls Church|
|» When: 7 p.m. doors, 8:30 p.m. show Thursday|
|» Info: $25; 703-237-0300; thestatetheatre.com|
The new work is Camper Van Beethoven's first effort since 2004's "New Roman Times." Lowery explained that with his Cracker and solo work, he's kept active.
"We didn't really intend for Camper Van Beethoven to wait that long," Lowery said. "I don't know what really happened. We were busy doing other things."
Camper Van Beethoven formed in 1983, and the band's most well-known song is likely "Take the Skinheads Bowling." The rock act has pursued a slightly eclectic sound, residing just on the outskirts of mainstream success.
"We just sort of have never really been in it except for ourselves," Lowery said. "We've only really made albums that we wanted to make. There's something to doing that.
"You measure your audience two ways, by the breadth of your popularity or people's knowledge; but then the sort of intensity of how much people are engaged in your band," Lowery continued. "That's really high for us. People are very, very engaged in Camper Van Beethoven and it helps us keep going for all these decades."
With the band's 30th anniversary in June, Lowery said there's nothing special planned, though he recognizes the significance.
"I think the average life of most bands that make albums is like seven years or something like that," Lowery said. "It's pretty crazy that we've been together. We weren't together the whole time. We broke up for a while. For a band to stay around that long is fairly rare, and for people to care about them is also pretty rare as well."
When Camper Van Beethoven's members went their separate ways in the early 1990s, Lowery formed the more conventional rock act Cracker, which had a couple of hits in "Low" and "Teen Angst." Though Camper Van Beethoven has long been back together, Cracker still performs as well. On the current tour, including the State Theatre show on Thursday, Lowery will front both bands.
"I play for free," Lowery said, paraphrasing a musician who he can't quite remember. "You pay me to travel. I get paid to travel, do everything else. The playing part I do for free."