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Mr MacDougall works as Director of Communications for Canada’s conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. A firebrand leftie, Campbell is no fan of his country’s government at the best of times, but when the hapless MacDougall took to Twitter to mention that he quite enjoyed the newest Stars album, Campbell saw red. He was quick to reply, asking MacDougall if he would kindly stop listening to the band’s music until he quit working for the ‘sociopath who is ruining this country’. A heated exchange ensued, in which Campbell hurled a variety of colourful insults. With the incident still fresh in his mind, he has no regrets. “I think that part of my job, being in a band, is to be provocative and irritating and throw shit at fascists,” he says. “It’s all about fighting those who are abusing their power, and telling them to go fuck themselves.”

Once your music is out there in the public arena, of course, it is impossible to control who listens and how – although Campbell still bristles. “Some people have the ability to completely divorce their personal morality from their public morality,” he says. “I think that’s one of the hallmarks of being a deeply right wing person: the ability to separate those two things. You can be a really lovely person inside your family, and in your personal interactions with people… I know a lot of people in my family who are very kind and very sweet. It baffles me, though, how you can be kind in your personal life, and yet endorse ideas that leave out the most vulnerable people in our society; endorse lying and cheating and policies that are incredibly destructive to the environment.” He pauses, mid-tirade, to consider this. “In my opinion, the fact that a guy like this can support a government who do such terrible things, and then say that he enjoys sitting down with a glass of wine and listening to our music, points to a sort of sociopathic personality disorder.”

Stars have been making music together for more than a decade now, and over the course of seven albums have become one of Canada’s most beloved indie rock bands. Even so, Campbell still worries about their precarious position. When our discussion turns to matters musical, he admits that, even as an established band, it can be difficult to get and hold people’s attention when there is so much other new music to choose from. “We’ve been around for a long time, which is both a good thing and a bad thing,” he says. “We have an established fan base, but at the same time, the focus of a lot of music media is on what’s new, on discovering the latest stuff, so as an older band it can be difficult finding ways to let people know that you have a new album out, or that you’re playing a show. We’ve been incredibly lucky, though. For all the hard times, there have been twice as many good times. We’re able to make a living off music – I feel like that’s pretty miraculous, really.”

All of this means that when Campbell performs with Stars, he always does so as if his life and career depend on it. “Any time I’m playing in front of a crowd, I want to be just as good as any band they’ve ever seen,” he says. “There’s plenty of other music out there, and if you don’t put on a good show for people, they’ll quite happily move on to something or someone else. I really don’t ever forget that, and I don’t take our fans for granted.” Unless they work for the Canadian government, I assume? Harper laughs. “I couldn’t possibly say who our typical fan might be,” he says. “I mean, they look like very nice people to be, they look quite sweet, and they obviously love music, but beyond that, I couldn’t speak for them, and I could never say who they are. I guess I can only speak for myself.”