Sunday, May 20, 2007

Interview with The Capillaries

Last fall I did an interview with Matt Southworth from The Capillaries. But, rather than posting the full interview, I did a profile type of thing in which I pulled out the quotes. I was just on their myspace page, and they had the full text of the interview up, and I thought I would go ahead and post the whole thing here.

You can tell the interview is a bit dated (it refers to a fall 2006 release of their new record, which is actually due out in a month or so). But, it's still a good read:

1. How did the band form? What's the history (timelines/backstories/etc.)?

The band formed in 2000 in Los Angeles, where I was making an independent film, breaking up with my live-in girlfriend and having a nervous breakdown. I had played guitar for a long time but had never led my own band and had actually given up on music while working in film. But I started writing songs and recording them in the basement and then started to put together friends to play them with me. There was never any intention of being a professional musician, there was only the desire to write more songs because I found it helped me to release a lot of the anxiety I had.

Things led to things, and we played a lot of shows, got some radio play in Los Angeles, and things got more focused. However, our bass player had to quit to focus on his job on the exact weekend that our drummer revealed he was going to have to move to Chicago for work and I confessed I was thinking of moving to Seattle. It was the easiest band breakup in history--we all made the same decision at the same time, totally unaware of each other.

So I came to Seattle and rebuilt the band. I made a record with the first version and we got a lot of airplay off of that, and I hunkered down and wrote over a hundred songs in 2004 for this one. Then I got into the recording process and got obsessive and here we are in 2006 and the new record, LOVE CONQUERS SOME, is finally done.

2. How many releases do you guys have? What's your take on how they've been received?

We have two records--OVERNIGHT LOWS AND DAYLIGHT SAVINGS is the first record, out in 2003, and LOVE CONQUERS SOME is the new one, out in fall 2006. OLDS was very well-received--all told it cost about a hundred and thirty six bucks to make and people really seem to like it. It was a pretty accurate picture of a certain mind-state that people seem to respond well to.

3. What are your feelings about the state of powerpop in the Northwest and Seattle in particular?

I think Seattle has a really strong connection to art in general. Something about being in the corner of the country makes the people more social here, more interested in art, particularly more so than in Los Angeles, where it's much more focused and financial. There seems to be a solid audience here for power pop just like there is for hip-hop and roots country and metal. I like that, particularly since the fans of each style don't seem to be competing with the other fans over whose style is better, and that gives musicians lots of room to incorporate elements of other types of music into their own without turning off the people they're trying to speak to.

4. If you could open up for any band (any time period, any location), who would it be and why?

It would be Led Zeppelin right at the beginning of their career, mainly just so I could see this amazing group of musicians before things got muddled by careers and jets and 14 year-old girlfriends and was just about them making this music, playing off of each other. Think about it: you're going out with some friends on a Thursday night, just want some drinks and there's some band setting up, and twenty minutes later your jaw's on the floor from the intensity and quality of this band. Particularly that drummer. I'd like to see that.

5. How do you think others would describe the Capillaries, and is that the same or different than you'd like to think of yourselves?

I think people are currently curious about what's happening with and to us. Which I guess is the same as I see us, too. But generally speaking, I think of us as a highly literate band with an unstable side that comes out in shows. We have a tendency to go off the rails, and sometimes we're able to reorient and other times not. I think that combination of emotional instability and verbal acuity is interesting--just having a lot of literary tools doesn't mean you can express your feelings more clearly, but it makes it interesting to try.

6. What's the future hold for you guys?

We'll put out this record, LOVE CONQUERS SOME, and play as many shows for as many people want to come see us. Maybe we'll all get married (not likely).

7. What's the future hold for powerpop in general?

I think power pop is nothing more than forceful melodic music, actually, which can cover everything from that "You're a Grand Old Flag" song to Superdrag to "Since U Been Gone". I think as long as there are relationships going south, there will be an innate desire to write about it and to mask those feelings in pretty little melodies. Sometimes that teary, trembling smile is the most effective way to express deep sadness.

And I know that as long as politicians get more and more venal and that there is more corruption and bald dishonesty in government, there will be more explosive anger in the public, and that's going to fuel the "power" part.

8. Who plays what instruments in the band? Has your line up been stable or a rotating cast?

We've had sixteen members since the band was formed. That includes several people who only played a couple of shows with us, etc., and also includes my having moved the band from LA to Seattle, but even in Seattle there have been a few different casts.

The core of the band in Seattle has been me, Matt Southworth, on guitar and vocals and Jon Foley on drums. Now we also have Michael McGivaren on keyboards and Aaron Brown on bass. (Blogger note: This is one area that has really changed for them -- see my previous post about the Comet show)

9. What do you want people to know about The Capillaries?

I want people to hear the stories in these songs. Some of them are very specific, about specific people and places, and I like telling those stories. I also want people to see us play. A magazine once called us "Seattle's most entertaining live band" and I think that's a ringing endorsement.

10. Anything else to add?

Just to thank you for asking the questions. I hope I've answered them clearly, but who knows? If people want to check out some songs, they should visit us at And come see us at a show and tell us you found out about us at Seattle Powerpop.


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