For Welsh septet Los Campesinos!, it’s not enough to simply offer fans new albums, like its musically upbeat but lyrically melancholy fourth effort, “Hello Sadness.”
Their cultlike following deserves something unusual and special, the members recently decided. So they launched Heat Rash, their own quarterly magazine, with each issue including a 7-inch single with two exclusive tracks, unavailable anywhere else.
“The ‘quarterly’ element has suffered a bit, because it is a bit of an undertaking,” says singer-lyricist Gareth, who — like his bandmates — has adopted the surname of Campesino.
What else do subscribers get? The upcoming third issue contains a thesis-length article by Campesino, dissecting all 10 “Hello Sadness” cuts.
“So this whole Heat Rash is based around our recording of that album,” says the ex-student-newspaper journalist, who brings his artsy collective to The City on Friday.
The single’s songs, “Dumb Luck” and “Allez Les Blues,” are outtakes from sessions in Girona, Spain.
Tracks so good, Campesino says, “It was difficult not to put them on the album, because thematically, they really fit with what else is going on in the record.”
Echoing Paul Heaton’s classic, underrated work in the Housemartins and the Beautiful South, songs such as “Life Is a Long Time” and “Baby I Got the Death Rattle” peal valiantly over Campesino’s maudlin thoughts.
Ironically, Campesino had started penning a happier disc. But a week before recording, his relationship splintered.
“So I scrapped everything I’d written and then wrote about the breakup,” he says. “I didn’t want to be singing these songs that were complimentary toward someone I was no longer with.”
He invites listeners to buy Heat Rash for the full story. It may have started out hand-Xeroxed, but it’s not a fanzine.
“It’s all professionally printed, full color, and it’s 7-inch size, as well, so it fits perfectly in a 7-inch mailer with the single,” he says.
The circulation still stuns him. Grateful for “an attentive fan base that would humor us in such an adventure,” the band currently has readers on every continent. “We mail it ourselves. Everything is hand-packaged, all the postage is put on by us. So you really get to see how far and wide it’s going.”
Eventually, Campesino would like to graduate to a full-length novel. But he’s also realistic. “I can’t play any instruments and I can’t write songs,” he admits. “But I can write words occasionally, so a book is something I could probably spew up at some point. But not for a few years. I don’t think I’m wise enough yet.”
If you go
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com