No demo review yet
No live review yet
Their rapid rise to fame has taken everyone by surprise, not least the band themselves, and they formed in Cambridge! Music-Zine spoke to singer Rik in the middle of their current tour with Keane in support of their hit debut album “This Is Hazelville”
You haven’t been together very long - can you give me a brief history of the band?
Basically we all played music in various different projects before this. Captain formed just over a year ago. Mario was doing national service in Greece before he came to Britain, which was when I met him. We started a club night in Cambridge called The Hat and needed to find a female singer. A mutual friend of ours introduced us to Clare in Cambridge. I had played in bands with (drummer) Rueben for a while beforehand, so we got him in as he was available, and Alex answered an advert we placed on the internet. He’d been playing on cruise ships and before then in a Danish circus bizarrely.
Are any of you from Cambridge?
No, actually. The Hat club started in Cambridge where myself and Mario were at college doing a degree and Clare was working at the Junction. We then moved the club night to a venue in London
Is The Hat club still going?
It is, but it’s becoming harder and harder to do it – the last one we had was just before this tour started and we’re going to try and do at least one more before the end of the year, but when we’re not in London it’s virtually impossible! But we’ve got the line-up ready for a big Christmas one, and possibly one at the end of the summer so hopefully it’ll resurface, but it’s currently on hold while we’re on tour.
How have you taken to the sudden success you’re experiencing?
We’re just working very hard – it’s funny, the only time I really notice it is the quantity of gigs we’re playing, and the amount of people that show up, so it’s nice on that level; and getting in the charts is a very cool thing. But I’ve been playing gigs since I was 13 and been in bands most of my life.
Had you already built a fan-base before signing the deal, or was it more a studio project at first?
We signed our deal after about 20 gigs, so we had a fan-base, but probably more from The Hat than for the band. But it was growing and we had an increasing amount of people showing up, mainly in London rather than anywhere else.
So how has the tour been going and how are you being received?
It’s been going great! We’ve done some festivals like T In The Park and Wireless, and lots of Barfly venues. We did a 20 date tour with The Delays previous to that earlier this year, which is the first proper tour we’ve done, so it’s all been really good.
So I heard that EMI signed you after your second gig, is that correct?
Err.. not exactly – we signed a singles deal to a small subsidiary of EMI after our second or third gig, but we didn’t sign the proper deal until a little bit later on, but within 10 gigs I think.
But it was still really quick, what do you think EMI saw in you to give them the confidence to sign you that quickly?
I guess it was the strength of the songs. A lot of the songs were written just on acoustic guitar – we’re all into singer-songwriters as opposed to just making a fashionable noise, if you know what I mean, and the nature of our music is quite different to what’s around at the moment, and I think record companies are always looking around for something different. I think they like the bold, honest song-writing – at least that’s what we try to make.
This Is Hazelville is the new album – how did the recording go?
It was amazing! Trevor Horn produced it after seeing us play at The Borderline, which is pretty cool. He requested our demo, and we went out with him a couple of times and had a chat about what we wanted, then went to his studio at Ladbroke Grove and recorded it in about 5 weeks. It was great – working with someone like that is incredible. He’s a really experienced guy with a genuine love for music and an amazing guitar collection!
When were the tracks written for the album?
A lot of it I’d written on acoustic guitar, and the singles “Glorious” and “” were written by Mario and myself in front his computer and brought to the band. Everything’s evolved quite a lot since then from playing the songs with everybody. I think the next record’s going to be slightly more of an equal collaboration, but everything’s happened so quickly for us that the album was written before we were even properly together, so we recorded what we had basically.
What is the significance of Hazelville?
It’s the road that Mario lived in. His flat was where we turned our ideas into songs basically and we just glamorised it by taking off the “Road”. We wanted to have a fairytale kind of feel to the album, a kind of Hans Christian Anderson feel.
Who would you say were your main influences?
I don’t think we have a main influence. Everyone in the band listens to quite different music. Mario was really into instrumental stuff when I first met him – stuff on the Constellation record label from Canada. He’s also into Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine – the big sounds on the record definitely come from him. I’m more into singer –songwriter stuff like Elliot Smith, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, bit of Flaming Lips, people like that, so the songwriter stuff comes from me. Reuben’s into all sorts of stuff from Sugar through to Nik Kershaw, Clare’s into Peter Gabriel quite heavily… I think she wants to marry him! Alex never tells me what’s he’s into (Alex shouts “Britney Spears” !), so our influences are all over the shop, so I guess it was a bit of a happy accident in a way.
Glorious reminds me of some of the great Eighties bands like Deacon Blue, Prefab Sprout etc. Were they a reference point at all?
Yeah, we get that a lot, but none of us had ever listened to any of the bands we’re being compared to. Having then given them a listen myself I can hear what people are getting at with the mail/female vocals, and I guess Trevor’s production is quite eighties influenced, a very pop production. But I’d like to think that our record is quite a lot more alternative than any of those bands, but I don’t mind the comparison at all. It certainly wasn’t a conscious thing.
How have you dealt with suddenly playing to massive festival crowds – has that been nerve-wracking or have you taken it in your stride?
It’s weird really, because I tend to get more nervous playing to small crowds. I get nervous about things breaking or something going wrong rather than playing in front of people. We’ve all been doing this a long time so once you’re confident with what you’re doing it doesn’t matter how many people you’re playing to. It was a bit nerve-wracking playing support to The Kaiser Chiefs at their sold-out Brixton academy show as you’re playing to someone else’s crowd, but once you’re through the first song it all settles down.
Rik, you formed the band – what were you looking for in the band members you chose?
It’s funny because it was quite considered. First of all the songs were already written for a male/female vocal so it was a priority to find a female singer, and also me and Mario were into the big sound so that was clear in our mind that we wanted people who could perform that.
Who has been supportive media wise so far?
NME really love it and were very helpful breaking it, we got album of the week in The Sunday Times, Channel 4 have been really supportive and we’ve had great support from radio as well.
Any good tour stories?
There was this girl waiting for Mario after a gig we did in the Isle of Wight who invited him back to her place for the night. It was only when they got there that he realised it was a vicarage and she admitted she was the vicar’s daughter, who was asleep in the next room! That was a bit of a shock for him. He also trashed a NME journalist’s hotel room and left him with the bill, which was a bit rock n roll!