By Andy

BEN – I’m here with Tim, Keith and Boob from the mighty Capdown, just before they go onstage with Bowling For Soup at the UEA in Norwich. This is your biggest tour so far, as far as the venues go – how’s it been going?
BOOB – It’s been cool! We did the Less Than Jake tour a couple of years ago which was this kind of size, and we’ve done the odd bit of festival and Deconstruction which have been bigger than this, but this is the longest we’ve toured venues this size so we’ve just been getting used to big stages again. All the shows we’ve played of our own recently have been proper basement shows and all the old pubs we used to play.
BEN – Yeah, because you were here at the Waterfront (a smaller Norwich venue) a couple of months ago…
BOOB – That’s right, yeah…
BEN – D’you find you’re getting used to the big stages or do you prefer the smaller venues?
KEITH – You get used to it. I mean, this tour’s already been like 2 weeks long, and we’ve played this kinda stuff before. It’s good fun but in a different way…
BOOB – It’s challenging, it’s much more challenging, because when you play one of those small pubs it’s good fun and a wicked vibe and you don’t feel like you have to push yourself. The LTJ tour was different, because it was all the type of people who like our kind of music anyway, so everyone was up for it. But this tour’s been completely different for us, as there’s only like 100 Capdown fans out of 1000-2000 people. That’s not many! So it’s made it a challenge so that we do our stuff well so that people feel the vibe that we’re feeling.
BEN – Would you say that you thrive under pressure because it’s like being back at the beginning, trying to win more people over?
BOOB – There’s an element of that, because we’re playing to a lot more younger people than normal, and the music we play and the bands we listen to, they haven’t necessarily seen them in their front room on MTV so it is more of a challenge.

BEN – Do you think that Capdown is the sort of band that thrives on this adversity? I mean coming from the toilet circuit to being the UK’s most prolific ska-core band, is there another step for the band to take?
BOOB – We hope so. Ever since the day we started, every time we do something new we get good feedback from it, and that’s how we’ve ended up here. So I guess we do thrive on adversity in a way. The next single’s gonna be on Fierce Panda which is an indie label. That’ll just be another thing, with new people and new ideas. I think we’re the type of band who’ll always try and tour with bands who don’t necessarily sound like us and do stuff that people don’t expect us to do, because we’re gonna try a lot of stuff to find out what we like and we’re always looking for that way to do thing’s a little bit different.
BEN – What’s the vibe of the new stuff like? I heard some at Reading and a few months ago at the Waterfront…have you found it’s still the same Capdown sound and message
BOOB – Same vibe. I think over the last few months we’ve learnt how to play at slower speeds and relax at slower speeds. We used to just use it as an excuse to go fast and frantic again, and now we’re finding that a lot of our songs are written at one tempo instead of speeding up and slowing down and careering all over the place. But we’re still the same people. Jake, our singer, has just had a kid so obviously he’s gone through a lot of changes with that, but we’ve still got the same vibe. It’s aimed at giving people a good night out, and making sure they come away from it thinking about something. We still try and make music for people to dance to and enjoy themselves to, but it’s not comic and novelty.

BEN – With the whole ‘comic and novelty’ thing, do you think that in today’s climate that bands have the right or duty to speak out on what they’re passionate about?
BOOB – I don’t think you’ve got the right or the duty to do anything. I think bands primarily are entertainment, but I think that…[Dan Uncle Brian stumbles in apologetically at this point]…if you’ve got their attention then you might as well tell them something. I know the way Jake sees it is there’s no point shouting unless you’ve got something to say. That’s just a basic thing that we believe anyway, but it doesn’t mean that all bands have a duty to do something. It’s a rule we’ve got, but it’s not a duty.
BEN – You describe yourself as a conscious band, rather than a political one – what’s on your conscious at the moment, what’s getting you going?
BOOB – The fact that we’ve just lost our money belt, and our van’s blowing up! Generally, there’s just so much going on on the world stage at the moment that we all find so frustrating. There are so many big issues that are all interlinked. Prime example of how politics is changing Britain is like my dad works at [building society] blah de blah, and he’s now reading books that I’ve read like Stupid White Men by Michael Moore. I think that shows that how everyone in this society is conscious of what’s going on at the minute, and how everyone knows that George Bush should not be in power and he certainly shouldn’t have his reins on this continent at all because he wasn’t democratically elected. In the last few years there had been the large difference between kids and parents and I think that’s not true any more. Look at the March For Peace – you had Conservatives, landowners, abattoir owners next to vegans, straight edgers, punk rockers, anti-globalisation protestors…it’s just so obvious that people are spotting what’s wrong in the world and it’s a shame that the older generation haven’t linked it back to capitalism yet.
BEN – Does music have a part to play in the possible changes?
BOOB – I think it does. I don’t think it’s a catalyst, or that it’s going to cause a change…(a) for older people, they may look at what’s in their music, and (b) for younger people because this might be the first band they’ve ever seen and could get people to start thinking. Modern punk rock has a part to play in giving people a place to meet and talk, y’know? With the internet, there’s so many forums and they’re not just talking about music anymore, they’re talking about actual issues. I think that’s the thing that live music is good for, whether it’s dub or hip hop or reggae, it’s always been a forum for dissidents as the government would call them to get together.

BEN – Going back to the issue of a UK scene, do you think there’s a lot of coherence between bands points of view, or are there some going for other messages and goals…naming no names…
BOOB – I think we have not got one united scene…
BEN – D’you want one?
BOOB – No, I don’t think I do. I think it’s back to diversity again. No one is ever going to agree on the same set of principles and that is why democracy doesn’t work. I think that punk has shown that, with people going to work with who they want to work with, who they trust…
KEITH – I mean you can go around the country shouting things to people who agree with you forever. Or you can go and do it to people who don’t really know what’s going on outside their TV. It’s a good thing having different styles of stuff.
BOOB – I think that’s something the die-hard, DIY forget. There are some great labels, there are some great promoters, venues and pubs that kids have taken for themselves so they can run their own kind of thing for themselves. That’s fucking great, and it’s respectable, but they’re not interested in looking past the mid-20s, rucksack-wearing crew that they’re already friends with. Like they wanna keep it for themselves, and I personally disagree with that, I think it’s bullshit. Populising resistance, basically. It started off by saying resistance shouldn’t be popular, but in a democracy resistance should be popular. Popular is what changes things, and if you’re not looking for other people to agree with you then what the fuck are you doing? I’ve got no time for that. You gotta start influencing the next generation.
KEITH – I think that’s what Jake does with his words. Some say he writes politically, but I think he asks more questions than gives answers. We’re just encouraging people to think about how they live their life. A lot of the hardcore stuff is ‘You must do this’ which doesn’t help anyone.
BOOB – You can go to a lot of these scenes and you can find it very hard to be accepted and that just puzzles me. We want people to be collecting together, we want them to be agreeing with each other, and too much scene politics gets in the way.
BEN – As punk rock, or ska punk or whatever, gains popularity it breeds elitism…look at [spunge] or Whitmore who’ve become popular…there’s a whole group of kids who are like ‘fuck that, they’re popular, I want to keep it underground’…
BOOB – I don’t think it’s a matter of keeping it underground or not. It’s a matter of doing your shit, doing it well and doing it your way. Bands like [spunge] and Whitmore I personally don’t like but they’ve worked hard and there’s a reason people like their music. They have never had a political agenda or any kind of spreading of information at all, they just want to go and drink as much beer as they can. Fair do’s! I like drinking beer too. But I don’t want to sing about it. I think that elitism comes more from the DIY community than it does from these bands getting popular.

BEN – What would you say to the people who might say Capdown have sold out?
BOOB – If we’d sold out I wouldn’t owe any rent, I certainly wouldn’t be this hungry, our van wouldn’t have blown up…anyone who says we’ve sold out is talking absolute shit. If we ever sign a major label contract it’ll be on our grounds and we’re still going to do what we want to do with the money they give us. Unless you take their money from them, no fucker’s gonna get it. So either you can give it to a load of kids who are going to go and fuck it up the wall and act like idiots and waste all that money or you can go ‘That’s a good fucking band, they’ve got some good ideas, we’re going to help them demo’…there’s just so much you can actually do. People can talk what they want about us. A lot of people who lead these HC scenes are our friends, and they don’t think we’ve sold out, it’s just the people who follow them with that glazed look in their eyes…that holier-than-thou attitude that I’ve got no time for and it’s a shame the people don’t see that life is bigger than a local pub. A lot of the people who organise these DIY HC things, they work for BT on 25 grand a year. BT’s afar bigger multinational than any record label. They see it as fine for them to have their jobs and clever IT skills, and to go support some small band, but it’s wrong for that band to then go and work for the same corporations. It’s just completely idiotic and hypocritical in my mind. I do know people like that who do drive very nice cars, but if I drive the same car, I’m a sellout. You can go there and fucking hate your 9 to 5 for the next 30 years, but who’s the sellout? Who’s given their life to the system?
BEN – Is it time for Capdown to start taking for themselves? I don’t mean in a selfish way…
BOOB – Yeah yeah, I know whatcha mean! Basically before we came on this tour we were I a fucked position. Day 2 of the tour our van blows up, we’ve just had the worst week ever resulting in losing 3 grand the other day and we’re asking ourselves why are we being so ethically sound? No fucker helps us when we’re down and out, but people brand us as sellouts. I saw something on a message board, which was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, on the HHN board. It was ‘Capdown sign to…’ and all these labels think they’ve signed us…
BEN – Apparently you’re doing a split with Hundred Reasons…
BOOB – See! People don’t ask questions about this sort of stuff! What it is, is that HR have a singles club which means their label will produce records that get sent to the fans, so they get a free single. Whoever they tour with, they do a split with, and it’s just a promo mailout that goes to the kids on their mailing list. Fucking wicked – kids get free music. Next thing is, we’ve done a split single on Sony…
KEITH – …Coming out on Columbia…
BEN – Yeah, I heard that one…
BOOB – Y’know what I mean?! They’re just making it up! And the best one I heard was from Britassert (HHN forum poster) who is Mr Hardcore Socialist DIY…we get on with him…funniest thing I saw was ‘Capdown sign to…’, then you open it and it says ‘Real Madrid’, and that just sums up the bullshit if you ask me. We’re more likely to talk to Real Madrid [laughter].
BEN – But can Luis Figo play better bass than you?
TIM – Probably could with his feet!
BOOB [totally thrown off his train of thought…] – Erm…the other thing people don’t realise is that people take the American model of DIY. America is a continent, not a country. We live with a population of less than one American state, they’re very fortunate to have all these record labels set up by musicians to create a viable alternative to the mainstream music industry, through Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Go Kart, all those things. We have nothing like that in Britain. The biggest underground label is HHN, we’ve talked to them about it and we’re technically bigger than them – they can’t offer us any more than what they’ve done for us. If you’re in America you can stay DIY for the rest of your life because Brett from Epitaph can support you. He can print loads of singles and advertise them. Excellent! But all these kids take that as the example and don’t realise that we live in a small shitty island in the North Atlantic. I mean we’ve got HHN here (hand at chest level) and all the majors here (hand at way above head height). Everyone’s like you’re gonna go there, but where the fuck else is there to go?
BEN – Yeah, with Golf, and Moon and 20 Deck and all that lot, they’re all trying to supersede themselves…it kinda seems like they’re always gonna be 27 steps below major labels.
BOOB – Exactly, and we’d happily settle for something between the majors and HHN, but there’s nothing there.
TIM – There’s not enough to make it viable for labels to be in that middle ground. It’s either gonna be underground or major.
BOOB – XL and Ministry of Sound are the only two large enough indie labels. Neither would touch us with a shitty stick coz we don’t do what they do, and Ministry is funded by those £8 bottles of beer that those idiots go and drink in Ibiza every weekend. All we’re doing is taking money off a brewery!
KEITH – What they do is they set up different companies with different names. We actually got approached by Ministry under a different guise…what were they called again?
BOOB – B*Unique…
BEN – That’s the one [spunge] were on…
KEITH – Yeah, they offered us a publishing deal, but we said no.
BOOB – It’s a shame that there aren’t many alternatives, and people think we can change it.
KEITH – That’s the thing. If you’re trying to sell your records across the world, you’re not going to able to do it from this country without a big boost. As Boob said, the big independents in the States like Epitaph and whatever, they ship all their stuff through Sony anyway. All on the same trucks, channels, whatever.
BOOB – We don’t wanna be one of these big globally dominant rock bands. We just wanna be able to go to Japan once a year, sell a nice amount of records – nothing over the top. We just want to be able to work hard for the rest of our lives doing what we want. We’d like to get some money for that, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Doesn’t mean we’re gonna disregard everything we believe in and sign every stupid clause in a contract. We don’t want to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but we’d love to go to America, release a record, go up to Canada, tour mainland Europe properly and not in a battered old transit van and we’d love to get to Japan again.
KEITH – All the other bands we’ve played with are in the same position. They just want to sort this shit out instead of just taking the money and saying ‘That’s my rock career.’
BOOB – That’s so it. When you sign to a major, everyone thinks you get a load of mystical money, but you don’t. They think the minute you do it you’re sorted for the rest of your life. And that’s absolute fucking bullshit.
KEITH – Yeah, if your record doesn’t sell, they’ll drop you like that.
BOOB – It’s like, ‘Next disposable income, don’t give a shit about you! You owe us this money, now fuck off.’ But if you could turn round to your mates like Five Knuckle, or Vanilla Pod, or Howards Alias, or Leif Ericsson, whoever…Joe Ninety…and say “We’ve set up our own tiny little Japanese label, it’s really tiny but kinda cool because it’s our British label in Japan. Do you want your records released over there? Yes, wicked. There’s 2 grand as an advance. Go buy a new guitar, service your van…”
BEN – Do you reckon that’s gonna be…seeing as there’s such a massive gap between the mainstream and the independents…d’you reckon that’s gonna be the middle ground?
BOOB – It’s something that can be worked for, definitely. I don’t actually see any other alternative. I know so many great bands who fuckin’ either…disappear into thin air because they can’t afford to go on, or basically work themselves into the ground because they’re juggling the band with some horrible warehouse or office job. If we could change things, we would. If that means Capdown getting bigger, and us taking some of the wealth for ourselves before we redistribute it, then that’s what it means. It’s a natural progression. We’re lucky. We’re considered by everyone, even though it’s bullshit, as the biggest underground band or whatever, and we’re fucking lucky and we’re having a hard time because there are loads of bands having ten times more grief than we are. At least when we ring people up and try to do stuff we say the word ‘Capdown’ and if they’re in punk rock then they either love us or hate us but if it’s in the mainstream music industry then it’s more ‘I’ve kinda heard that name somewhere…’ because we’ve been out there and got people’s attention. It frustrates me how people are only looking into the underground, not out of it. We’re looking out, for new challenges and new things to do. We’re not looking back.

[Boob’s phone rings, with a comical ringtone – this signals the end of the interview!]

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]