Alright the Captain is a three-piece UK band with a van that works less often than it runs. They create noisy math/post/jazz rock and are heading off for another tour of Europe, presumably in that van. We will be reviewing their latest release “Conversational Skills For the Socially Anxious” very soon but wanted to catch up before they left.
Who is in the band at the moment?
Marty: I play guitar, Todd plays bass and more recently synths & samples, we also have new drummer Jamie on board now that Ash has become a dad and is focusing more on Mender.
What is each of you really good at, aside from what you do in the band?
Jamie’s a musical virtuoso playing pretty much any instrument he puts his hand to, he’s also quickly becoming the Origami master.
As for me, I do a pretty decent job at booking our tours and make a great pizza!
Your album “SNIB” from a couple of years ago and your upcoming release Conversational Skills For the Socially Anxious are full of a variety of sounds and ideas, but bass is the common element that stands out prominently, both from guitar and synth. Is bass what you write around?
Marty: The bass is a big part of our sound so both Todd and I bring riffs and ideas we’ve been working on to rehearsals and the three of us will jam through those ideas and put our own little twists to the sections that we all like, it can be tough sometimes as we all have different ideas of what we want to do so we don’t generally tend to work on something unless we’re all happy which means it can take us quite a while to finish a song and keep everyone happy but when it gets there it’s worth it and we hope people like what we enjoy doing.
In “SNIB” you dabbled in a bit of twidly guitar (Neo-Tokyo, Peanut Worm) but where some other UK bands have become obsessed with it, you only dabble and take it further. Are you conscious of not over-doing an element or sound?
Marty: Yeah, I think if we stuck to a specific sound we’d probably get bored pretty quickly, its better to evolve your sound as you progress, “SNIB” in our eyes is quite poppy and accessible whereas our new release “Conversational skills…” feels a lot dirtier and heavier to us, We’re writing a new album at the moment and have added lots of synths and samples to the setup for the first time so the new songs are more groove orientated but still sounds like us with the occasional twiddle thrown in there for good measure too, who knows we might even get people dancing at shows in the near future.
Name five things that do NOT influence your music. Please.
Todd: White dog poo. Cutting glass for windows. The National Health Service.
Jamie: The life of Trevor Sinclair. Billy Bragg’s left nostril, the right one inspires us greatly.
How did the recording process look? How much time do you spend on pre- and post- production and who looks after it?
Marty: For “Conversational skills for the socially anxious” we wanted to try and capture the energy of our live shows so we recorded all the tracks live at Snug recording co. in Derby with Rich Collins, it was all done pretty quickly over a few days and then Mender took care of the mixing and mastering so we’re just getting some physical copies sorted now in time for our upcoming European tour.
How do you find time to write new material when you tour so much?
Marty: It can be tough but we’ve spent the first part of 2013 mostly writing new material with Jamie, we try to get into the studio at least twice a week to write. We’re starting to get a lot busier again on the gig front now so it will be a case of spending long days in the studio when we can and like i mentioned earlier Todd and I both write a lot at home and bring ideas to practice so that we at least have a starting point when we are all together to help speed up the writing process.
Have you tried any of the new songs out live?
Marty: Aye, some of tracks we’ve had in our set for a while now but its been a lot of fun playing mostly new stuff to see how it goes down with people, we’ve been playing the “CSFTSA” tracks and a few brand new ones lately which will be on the new record we’re planning to record in October if all goes to plan.
Do you fit in day jobs or do you live off the millions of dollars the typical experimental instrumental band makes?
Marty: Unfortunately so, Jamie and I work repairing washing machines and microwaves and I run a small booking agency called bUTTONpUSHER in my spare time. Todd is a self employed design/graffiti artist. All our shows are worked around the day jobs. It’d be nice to sack them off and do this full time but we’ve all got bills to pay. 🙁
Europe is clearly the hub of experimental rock and bands from around the world congregate there for festivals and tours, especially around this time of year. What are the fans like there? How are they different?
Marty: We love touring Europe, people seem to be more relaxed in day to day life and are more up for going out to see new bands, i think they just appreciate that bands have travelled a long way to play for them and so they make the effort too, i’m not saying that people in the UK don’t like to party though as we play some excellent shows here too and have made some great friends all over the country.
Fans in Europe just seem that bit more enthusiastic and eager to hear more, we also really enjoy experiencing different cultures while we’re on the road, it’s nice to get away from what you know every once in a while and with Europe you can never tell what will happen next as the next venue could be anything from squats & boats to fancy venues, that’s half the fun for us.
Jamie: They all speak different languages. 🙂
You were at dunk! festival last year. Did you get to catch some other bands? Anyone we need to see or listen to?
Marty: Yeah we stayed the whole weekend at DUNK! as it was right at the end of our European tour with What the Blood Revealed which was an awesome way to end a tour, we had the best time ever there and were treated really well, Joris (Celestial Wolves) and Luc were total legends as were the rest of the dunk crew. Stand out bands for me were Terraformer, This Will Destroy You, San Diablo, Beware of Safety, Pelican, Samuel Jackson Five and Lento. Hopefully we’ll be back again next year to promote a new record.
I’ve read of bands turning up at venues in Europe to find they have no sound gear and a curfew of 7:00 pm but having a great time with the fans who came along. What’s you favourite tour story (or three)?
Marty: That time we sat in a McDonalds in Germany for about 6 or 7 hours while we waited to get towed back to the UK was fun!
Todd: That time we broke down in Germany (see the theme here) and there was s girl asking us if she could hide in our van while she waited for her boyfriend because some creepy dude was watching her from the bushes so we let her in until her boyfriend arrived. We then drove off only to be boxed in by 3 cop cars who stopped us because a local resident had called them saying a suspicious vehicle parked up late at night after a brief interrogation we gave them a CD and they sent us on their way as they had by this stage focused their attention to a van full of polish guys with huge moustaches and we were back on the road to Berlin were we played an awesome show with Cheap Jazz and Heinz Karlhausen & the diatonics.
We generally have a great time on tour and the only downsides have generally been van related so if anyone wants to donate a van to us don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂
If you were animals, what would you all be?
Too easy, a mixture of Honey Badgers & plain old regular Badgers of course!
Why should people come and see you on tour?
Come see us because we’ll be playing lots of new songs and trying to make you dance! we’ll also have a great band from Lincoln called Bear Makes Ninja along with us as support in Europe so you should check them out too 🙂