After a reunion of sorts due to a stint at the University of Leeds, four friends merge once more to create a series of tales of late-night sadness.
Plummeting to the depths of the ocean at some considerable pace, such was the heavy burden of emotions filling up ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’, the brave exterior could no longer be maintained as the damn was finally breached and the gaping wounds too vast to shore up. All is not lost, however, as the poor despairing fellows at the heart of this vessel decided, in their abject misery, to leave a (current) legacy of ten deftly crafted songs dripping in heartache.
Famous Last Words (FLW) clearly has its work cut out today as a cheery shoulder to cry on is unlikely to be enough to lift morale especially after our ears have just been treated to ‘You Don’t Need To Care’ with its lovely quirk of backing vocals bursting forth when prompted by ‘Cue the choir, That sings for lost desire’ suggesting there is humour afoot here, but it is the turning break of piano that sees the tears cascading once more as that sinking feeling literally engulfs the song’s climax. If this is what the sound of ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’ sounds like, then FLW will take one hundred more of these without further ado, something of which soothes the brows of our current creators of late-night tales of sadness, Captain Gone.
“We want to write music that affects people in the same way as you’re affected by the songs which touch you. It’s trying to capture that feeling and send it on,” says Lyndon Riley [keys/trumpet] as if reading our very thoughts.
“That’s what I feel as well, the unspoken mentality when we play,” adds lead vocalist Jon Arne Bjørnstad. “I think when we hit the right moments when we perform live, it’s a very sensitive moment and it’s contagious for the audience as well. It’s like when you see a theatre performance and you forget that they’re actors as they are professionals with a salary and everything, but they have the ability to make you feel horrible or good. I think we are a small theatre group when playing our instruments, as there is a lot of drama going on.”
There is certainly a lot of drama going on beneath the surface of the band’s album ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’, as suggested earlier, due to the at the foot of the seabed sentiments coursing throughout. On closer inspection, the clues can be identified in the song titles – ‘Love Is Murder’, ‘Wherever You Are’ ‘You Were A Dancer’ – suggesting any feelings of happiness have long since imploded. However, it must be stressed that Captain Gone is not without humour, often understated and knowingly so, due to a profound understanding of the art of songwriting as portrayed by the unfolding drama on display. Such insight, however, was not always clear during the band’s initial years.
“An important part of this process is that when we started to do this properly and knew that we were going to make an album, we kind of found our own voice because before that we weren’t quite sure who we were,” explains Lyndon. “We were influenced by different people at different times, so there wasn’t really one mode of expression. After a while it all gelled and came together and the feeling was that we can relax now and we don’t have to struggle with it anymore as everything we did sounds like us.”
“That makes it easier for album number two as well because now we have found a recipe,” adds Jon Arne.
The four members making up Captain Gone – Eirik Skaar (drums] and Olav Senstad (bass) completing this foursome – started off life in Jon Arne’s “humble flat” because “he had a home studio” which consisted of “sitting in my bedroom making songs”. It wasn’t, however, until some serious offers started to trickle through, that the band Captain Gone is today started to think seriously about the potential prospects that may lie ahead.
“We had been playing a bit of jazz together and we had been offered a gig for which we needed original material,” comments Lyndon. “So we just started writing for that one gig and we thought that it was so much fun that it just snowballed from there, and since then we have been writing songs.”
It has been mentioned in these pages before that Captain Gone is reminiscent of such classic artists as the Finn brothers – Neil and Tim from some band known as Crowded House – to Guy Chambers only foray in the music industry fronting the Lemon Trees, who also had a knack of creating short bursts of pop brilliance. The similarities preside also due to the deep understanding of the dynamics involved in terms of creating pop songs that truly compel.
“Jon Arne and I are very much into the great era of songwriting such as the seventies and singer-songwriters with properly structured songs with a beginning, middle and an end,” says Lyndon regarding the band’s songwriting approach. “That affects the sound as well because when you have that structured approach, you’re always referring to your favourite artists and trying to put something of yourself in there as well. Obviously those influences come out, so we’re kind of a mixed bag of different approaches that I think we have quite successfully pulled into one kind of expression throughout the album.”
Having accurately summed up ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’, Lyndon Riley is chiefly responsible for the lyrics detailing the often unrequited sentiments involved with many a relationship. With such a one-sided love affair proving rather plaguesome, it would seem that Captain Gone has a bad case of the blues, with the sea acting as a metaphor to further emphasise the emptiness felt.
“I think it’s a matter of not just the sea, despite it being vast, but it’s about love that goes wrong a lot of the time,” comments Lyndon regarding FLWs’ observation of the band’s lyrical focus. “So I think there’s a theme of bitter love songs going on and the sea is like a symbol for this thing that just floats away. We certainly don’t sing about sailors or boats!” he finishes smiling.
It is left, however, for Jon Arne to breathe life into these lyrical compositions and take on the role of the protagonist due to being the frontman of this four-piece band. A role he nonetheless relishes due to seeing the theatrical aspects of such a duty, but also because he completely empathises with the feelings being expressed.
“It feels very personal singing the lyrics,” responds Jon Arne. “I mean it works as I think it’s a good script for being an actor and to perform the songs with feeling. I think that’s one of our strengths as well, to be a bunch of guys who actually wear their hearts on their sleeves.”
It must still be quite strange singing the lyrics penned by your fellow cohort though?
“Yeah, but when I sing them I feel as if he has been inside my mind before!” says Jon Arne. “I understand them as well, so it’s really good and well-adapted.”
“Stealing your dreams!” quips Lyndon to a now rather worried looking Jon Arne.
Considering the intimate and often lonely isolated atmosphere of the songs, it comes as no surprise to learn that Captain Gone created their sound during various sessions holed up in a cabin in the depths of the surrounding forest of Asker before Nordic Records (Norway) decided to take the plunge and offer the band a platform to promote their music. With the added addition of producer Jonas Kroon to help guide this vessel, “He really did become the fifth ‘Beatle; he had the George Martin role”, Captain Gone finally gained the security and confidence to refine their sound and condense the number of songs to a manageable figure from a vast back catalogue accumulated over the years. Once more though, it was life’s nature which helped lend a helping hand when it came to providing an inspiration for the band’s album.
“We had been in Hardanger with intense periods of practising and writing and just hanging out,” explains Lyndon. “When you’re there, the view of the sea is unavoidable and is a presence. So I just think that seeped into our consciousness in a way as you’re aware of it and there is an underlying strain of melancholy in the whole place with travel and tragedy, as there is a tradition of people going away to sea. It’s very much part of the culture, and I think that really appealed to me as I’m English from way inland where the sea was a place where you went once a year to go bathing. So that really sparked off a romantic association in my head for my part anyway.”
Just as the search party arrives to salvage this wreckage of broken love otherwise known as ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’, it is left to Captain Gone to express their ambitions for the remainder of this promotional campaign.
“Digitally it is out there worldwide, so anything goes,” responds Jon Arne in terms of Captain Gone’s debut album. “I hope that we can come out of this place [Norway] for many reasons as we’re a bit spoilt up here. Also, I think if people like something it’s only for a short period as well, and therefore people forget you. I think there is a huge music scene outside [Norway]. Just go to Sweden and pop music is actually credible and it is respected, whereas maybe we have a ‘snob’ mentality towards pop music. I would love to go on tours and play live as that’s our main goal. Having said that, a Grammy wouldn’t hurt!” he finishes laughing.
“We look at the album as being a finished thing that is out there living a life of its own and almost separate from us,” continues Lyndon. “So now are we really geared up about playing live, and the more places we can play the better. If that’s just Norway, then great or if it’s just Scandinavia, then that’s great as well, if we go to the rest of Europe, then that’s even better.”
‘A Hundred Nights Like This’ is reviewed in Famous Last Words Records (FLW) and is available on Nordic Records.
I would love to go on tours and play live as that's our main goal. Having said that, a Grammy wouldn't hurt!"
Jon Arne Bjørnstad, Captain Gone
FLW - From the Tapes
Captain Gone blow the cover on the whereabouts of their favourite retreat when recording and rehearsal duties call. Say “Hello” to Hardanger.
“The great thing about it is that there are no distractions up there and that’s why we’ve had a couple of retreats up there because it’s just music, chopping wood and drinking basically. So it’s a good place to go and recharge your creative batteries. A large part of who we are comes from being there,” confesses Lyndon Riley. “It’s halfway up a mountain, and when we were practicing up there we had to load up all of our instruments on to this carriage.”
“Yeah, we send it up for a kilometre or something in to the mountains, it’s silly!” says Jon Arne.
“It has a small motor up there, which somebody made approximately 40 years ago,” pipes up Olav Senstad. “Everything is homemade and there is a farm up there which is 300 metres above sea level. There is no road, so you have to walk on these small paths. So it’s very different and has been the focus of a Norwegian television programme as it’s about places people insist to live and really amazes the rest of Norway. This place is fantastic with its views and is generally a great place to be.”