Genius in progress, Pat Capocci is causing something of a ripple on the rockabilly circuit. This same ripple will soon be creating waves on a much broader scale.
“There has definitely been a progression as far as our musical style and playing abilities because we’re always trying to better ourselves as musicians. If you didn’t want that as a musician, then you’d be stuck in one spot and not really going anywhere. So the album definitely has a lot of different styles such as western swing and jazz as we’ve been trying to play that kind of thing. However, there is still a lot of the rockin’ stuff and rhythm and blues in there too. So, I think it’s definitely a more adventurous record.”
When it comes to musical reference points, it was not always like this for the brothers Capocci, otherwise known as Pat Capocci and Damien Lewis. The progression they refer to in relation to their current effort ‘Call Of The Wild’ is accurate in its description, but when hearing of their penchant for other genres of music it was more the short, sharp shock treatment of punk rock that was providing their bedroom kicks rather than the broader palette from which the brothers draw their current inspirations.
“It’s what we grew up on and I think it’s an important grounding,” explains Pat Capocci referring to their love of punk music. “A lot of people from the punk scene do crossover into the rockabilly scene as they get older. In fact, I always listen to The Clash as they’re always on high rotation due to being a favourite [of mine].”
“I have been listening to a lot of 50s rhythm and blues lately,” adds Damien Lewis, “but I always like my punk stuff as well, such as early AFI or the Dead Kennedys and things like that.”
At this juncture FLW utters something along the lines of it being extremely fascinating to be interviewing a predominately rockabilly band who is more than comfortable to cite other musical reference points outside of the more traditional and familiar sounding names when it comes to talking about influences in relation to the rockin’ scene. It does not come as a surprise, however, having witnessed a captivating set during this year’s Rockabilly Rave that the likes of The Clash remain a staple in the Capocci household, as one could cast a myriad of artists that set Pat Capocci in the enviable position of possessing crossover appeal.
“We have been trying to do that because our influences are very traditional regarding rockabilly and rhythm and blues stuff,” comments Pat Capocci regarding his band’s efforts to venture out into more uncharted waters when it comes to audiences outside of the rockin’ scene. “We do try and branch out and that’s definitely a starting point where we’d like to go from. Having said that, it’s not always a conscious decision as it just comes out that way as we like to mix everything in [musically] and can’t help but for things to come out in that manner.”
Is it easier in Australia when it comes to performing with different artists outside of the more traditional rockin’ scene?
“As far as gigs are concerned, we’ve just taken on new management and we’re trying to do a lot more, as you said before, indie gigs and play with those kind of guys,” explains Pat. “It’s happening a bit in Australia, and easier to do than some of the rockin’ gigs, because it’s a bit more accessible, definitely for the audience, as the rockin’ gigs are not really well advertised and not as out there [in terms of promotion] but they’re getting there. So maybe aim towards that crowd a bit more, but to try and keep everyone involved.”
Do you feel that Australia has provided inspiration in terms of the style of your music?
“Probably America and Europe, as there’s not that much [rockabilly] in Australia to be honest,” replies Damien. “There’s not much happening with the scene or even in terms of the history of rockabilly or rhythm and blues as that would be more England, Europe and America.”
But has there been one certain element about Australia that has influenced your music?
“I guess because we’re so far away that Australians have a different kinda twist on the whole scene whereby we do things differently to other countries and that has affected us in some ways,” replies Pat. “As Damien said, people are not as into it [rockabilly] as much as people here, I suppose. Australia has definitely shaped a few things we’ve done, in the sense of it being a bit more rough and tumble, because we’re used to playing regular pub crowds as there are not too many rockin’ gigs due to there being more of an alternative [scene] with punk, blues, rhythm and blues and a surf kinda vibe.”
When you perform in Australia what sort of reception do you get if the rockin’ scene is not such a big attraction…look of disbelief perhaps?
“Sometimes,” says Pat laughing.
“It depends where we play, I guess,” adds Damien. “For example, sometimes there will be people there for the music and they seem to like it, but then there are people there who are not necessarily there to see you [perform], but they really seem to appreciate it as well. So, it’s a funny crowd as it’s almost as if the people who are into it aren’t into it, but the people who aren’t into it get really into it when they’re hearing the music.”
So there is no rockabilly revival scene to speak of in Australia at the moment?
“Imelda May is pretty big in Australia, and she has been for a while, but she has definitely helped a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard the music get into it,” responds Pat. “There are bands like The Living End who’ve been around for 10 years now, and they’ve got a lot of different people into it [rockabilly] through the punk scene as well. It’s getting there, but very slowly” he finishes laughing.
Pat Capocci and Damien Lewis’ initial discovery of rockabilly music came via their parent’s love affair with western swing and rhythm and blues when the brothers were mere teenagers. As a result, the punk record collection was temporarily replaced with earlier versions that predated The Sex Pistols et al and originated during the fifties under the titles of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll. Add to the mixture one half of the parents being a dab hand on the double bass “so that’s where Damien picked it up from” and in the process leaving the doorway open for a guitar player – step forth Pat Capocci – then it’s safe to say the brothers’ upbringing was a major force in terms of where they find themselves right now.
With role duties defined between the two brothers when it comes to the actual instruments, the lyrical content making up the songs of latest release ‘Call Of The Wild’ is left pretty much to one half of the Capocci brothers with Damien explaining, “there are some collaborations but Pat writes a lot of the stuff” leaving FLW to question if there are moments of sibling rivalry when it comes to making such decisions?
“Yeah, it’s alright,” comments Pat with a slight grin and looking for confirmation from his brother regarding the dynamics of the band functioning smoothly considering their blood ties.
“We don’t live together, so it’s alright,” replies Damien with an even wider grin across his face.
So a little bit of distance between the two of you goes a long way when it comes to creating the broad palette of songs that is ‘Call Of The Wild’?
“Yeah, it does,” continues Damien still grinning. “There’s a little bit in there [distance], so it’s ok.”
“The newer stuff, which is not on this record, we’ve been writing a lot together,” responds Pat suggesting further that the working relationship between the two of them is proving rather fruitful. “We didn’t really talk about it [first] as it just happened organically. The latest record, [however], was written whilst I was doing my day job. For example, if I had a good idea I’d just go to the toilet and write it down… tales from the toilet!” he continues laughing. “So a lot of it is from that I guess, and maybe a bit more adventurous in the words in terms of being darker but that wasn’t really a conscious effort as it just happened.”
“Yeah, definitely,” confirms Damien in response to Pat’s description of their latest album. “There are all sorts of styles blended in there compared to before, where maybe the other albums were more rockabilly. As Pat said, this album has all the different styles in there and I think musically we have stepped it up a little bit and it’s sort of a snapshot in time compared to the last record where you can see that progression.”
Hopefully, Pat Capocci will continue to remain adventurous when it comes to the various musical references being sliced and chopped into the ever expanding melting pot because it is a formula that functions to great effect and one projected compellingly when it comes to performing live. As it stands, ‘Call Of The Wild’ is a mighty fine record and one that is due to receive the 45 vinyl treatment in the coming weeks with the song ‘Slave For The Beat’ on Wild Records.
“We are trying to do a 45 of our own with the song ‘Slave For The Beat’ that will be released on Wild Records,” explains Pat. “In terms of recordings, we have been working on new songs as Damien and I have been writing some songs together and that’s much the same vibe as what we’ve been doing before.”
“So we’re aiming to keep all those different influences in there, and I guess keep playing, keep doing what we’re doing and try to get better as musicians. More importantly, try not to get sick of each other along the way!” concludes Damien laughing.
I always listen to The Clash as they're always on high rotation due to being a favourite [of mine]."
FLW - From the Tapes
Pat Capocci and his brother Damien Lewis remained tight-lipped when it came to spilling the beans regarding drunken rock ‘n’ roll tales in their native homeland. The chaps did reveal, however, an irksome habit concerning their drummer and a time when Mr Capocci’s trusty guitar almost went walkabout.
“Our drummer is always a man of mystery, and there are a lot of stories we can’t tell you about, but his snoring has to be one of the worst things ever! Every time we play together or travelling he has to have another room because he is so, so loud! There’s been a lot of stuff, but we can’t really talk about it.”
“There’s been plenty of debauchery and plenty of crazy things but maybe they’re best unspoken,” says Damien laughing. “Nothing springs to mind particularly interesting, bad or funny, but there has definitely been a whole bunch [of stories] in there.”
“I guess maybe a guitar last year when we came to Germany,” remembers Pat. “I got to Heathrow airport super early to make sure everything was on time. When I got to the place in Germany, there was no guitar! It didn’t turn up for five days and Marc & the Wild Ones helped us out, but it was a really frustrating situation because the guitar is my main love kind of thing. So I was a bit worried, foreign country and a lost guitar…not good!”