Capstan on Soft Sound Press

Interview: Capstan create post-hardcore magic with ‘SEPARATE’

One of the things I think often holds bands back is having to juggle their music and the day jobs they have to work in order to fund the dream. I find myself wondering what could be accomplished if they had the time and resources to focus fully on their creative projects. Post-hardcore band Capstan has given us a glimpse into what that’s like with their sophomore album, SEPARATE, out now via Fearless Records and — spoiler alert — it’s absolute magic.

When the world shut down in early 2020, the band left tour and decided to hunker down and wait things out together while putting together a new album. The singular focus and excess of time combined with the band’s talents and lessons from past releases came together to create something on a whole other level. SEPARATE is a no-skips album full of high energy riffs and deep, dark emotions. The combo will leave you feeling drained, but you’ll want to go back and listen again as soon as you resurface.

We chatted with vocalist Anthony DeMario about working with their idols, the benefits of working with others, and what it’s like to create an album like this when you have literally all the time in the world. Read below + check out some of the many videos from this album cycle!

Hi Anthony, congrats on the release of SEPARATE! The new video for “blurred around the edges” just dropped ahead of album release. What was the process behind making this video?

We did all the other videos with live band performances but we felt that because this song was so introspective, maybe it should just be centred around one person. And then we decided, instead of it being an actor or somebody else, why not have it be one of us? It’s much more personal that way.

I think a really interesting addition to it was Saxl Rose bringing some classy saxophone to the track. I always like when bands bring in a new element that you don’t usually hear in that genre. Did you have any other ideas that you tried on this record that you hadn’t done before?

We were looking to feature multiple people on the record, just because it’s always fun to collaborate and work with other musicians. On one of the songs we’re featuring a female vocalist, which I think is pretty cool. Having Shane Told on “Alone” and then Saxl Rose who’s an amazing saxophone player… he did work with the part that we gave him a bit and I think it turned out pretty groovy. It definitely hits with the feel of the song, for sure.

I was going to ask you about working with Shane Told! As a Canadian, I know the weight that carries. I know y’all grew up listening to Silverstein as well, what was it like working with him on your album?

It was pretty amazing. We were all talking about it. Our 16 year old selves would be shitting ourselves, you know? He’s just a really great guy and his vocals speak for themselves. He’s incredible. Since the tour with them, they’ve taken us under their wing and been Team Capstan. It was just an incredible experience to get to work with them.

That’s awesome. I love seeing when bands reach the same level as the bands they looked up to.

Yeah, it’s a monumental point in your career where you’re like, I’m working with this person now?

Yeah, that’s so cool. And I feel like this album, SEPARATE, definitely lives up to the standard of bands that have come before you. It’s got to be a lot different creating an album when you’re on the go with touring and everything, versus now when that’s the one thing you can work on waiting for the world to open. What was it like putting this album together compared to past releases?

You speak right to it, with COVID hitting and us not knowing how long it would be until things came back. We were on the road when it started. So we were like, “okay, the tour is canceled, let’s go home.” We took a few days and realized, if we have all this time and we’re already together, let’s just make it a 9-to-5 job. We would grind day in and day out, Joe would be writing, and then we would start demoing. I would have to say with the amount of time we had being able to work on it, we were able to create so much music that we had choices. This was the first album that we’d ever demoed songs with vocals and not put them on the record. We scrapped probably 10 to 15 songs before finishing and picking these ones for the record. So I feel that it shows in the music that we had the time to do it. And I feel that now that we have a structure to base, it might not be as hectic when we’re on the road writing again.

I know you also said with this album, you’re creating just bangers as opposed to filler. That really showed in this record. Every track is like… you’re exhausted by the end of it because the energy is so high the entire time. The one song that really stood out to me, just because it’s so different from the other tracks, is “take my breath away // noose”. It’s a little poppier, super playlist-friendly. It’s a really good entry point to the album for people that are just getting into post-hardcore. Was this track an outlier by chance or was it intentional?

I believe it was somewhat intentional. When I first heard the baseline when we were writing and it wasn’t complete yet, I remember I said, “what is this? I don’t know about this, I’m not sure that I’m liking it”. But as the song came together, the more it grew on us. I feel like we knew we were going to get some shit for putting that out from our fans, especially as a single right off the bat. But it’s a really fun song, and we love to kind of do what we want. It turned out to be something just far enough outside of Capstan, but still Capstan enough for us to maybe bridge a gap, you know?

For sure. It’s such an interesting track because you come to expect what a band sounds like, and then you get to hear a new side of them. It’s exciting.

Exactly. I think that was another piece behind it — we want to show people we can do more, you know?

Absolutely. And this is your sophomore record. What did you learn from recording the first album that made it easier or a different process recording this one?

With the last record, we all had to work and we were recording right in our backyard, essentially. We’d go to the studio, and then people would go to work. Luckily we were fortunate enough this time around to go somewhere and just all be together, and that’s the only thing that we were focusing on. We were lucky to do that, but I feel like that was a huge part for me — being solely at the studio, instead of living our normal lives outside of it. I feel like the creativity and energy shows in the music, when comparing the two records. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast recording the first full length as well, but the second one just had that cohesiveness of “this is the only thing we have to worry about.”

That definitely shows. And you also have the support of Fearless Records behind you. I feel like they’re one of the best labels in the scene right now, in terms of supporting their artists.

We have the best team I’ve ever worked with. That goes from product managers to lawyers to everyone in our corner. Everyone that I’ve talked to or worked with are just the most wonderful people. And they really do care about our band, which is nice to see.

As a band, you’ve self-released music in the early days and then moved to Adventure Cat, and now to Fearless. What’s it like having that support versus doing it all on your own?

I think it’s a great thing having Fearless, and Adventure Cat even. They kind of created their own platform. Like Adventure Cat, we were one of the first releases for their record label, but we got some insight and the team that we worked with was very amazing and now they’re creating a platform. And then when we joined in Fearless, they have the platform that we need. So it’s not necessarily like, “oh, we need a label,” but we wanted one because it helps give you that platform. We could do it on our own, but we wouldn’t reach half of the people.

Sometimes it’s just nice to have somebody else that can do the things you don’t want to do, or aren’t as adept at. You’re good at making music, you don’t have to be good at social media, branding…

Exactly. You have a team of individuals that work together, but they’re all professionals at what they do, for both the label and for the band, which I think is another incredible thing.

note: there is a GREAT ‘blegh’ on this track after the first chorus

Another aspect that I was thinking about while listening is that you created this introspective album in isolation. For me, I know it can be a fine line between having a cathartic experience or just sinking deeper into what I’m feeling and going through. What was it like creating this record from that perspective?

Joe wrote most of these lyrics. I’ll study the lyrics, I’ll get to know the melodies. I get into the song and really know it so that when I do get in the vocal booth, I can pull an experience that I’ve had, which may not be exactly what he’s talking about — it may not be even close to the same experience — but I know by the mood of the song how I need to be and how I need to sound, certain emotions I need to pull from. It’s awesome to get it out. I feel like it’s a release, but sometimes I can leave the vocal booth feeling pretty down, you know, because you’re constantly thinking that and just pushing. But most of the time, I pull this feeling from deep down in me and I just get it out. It’s nice to get it out there. That’s what I try to do.

I think that sounds like a good way to approach it. I found myself having a different way of looking at things over the course of isolation, including my place in the music industry and what I want out of life. What sorts of changes have you had over the last year, in terms of where the band is going or what goals you have?

I would say the goal is to reach as many people as possible. We started realizing that, since this time off, we need to be ready to go when touring comes back. So I think that we want to grow our live show as much as possible — tour permitting, of course — and I think just continuously getting better as musicians. The live show is what really matters. We can record now, but if we can nail the songs every single night, that’s kind of what the base of our band has always been. We just want to continue perfecting our live performance.

You’ve put together this album, touring is on the way… with everything happening, what can we all do as your fans and audience to help support you as we come out of this pandemic?

If you’re in the area, come to a show. I know that will be a couple of months from now, but that’s a great way. Sharing our stuff on the internet is great word of mouth. Listening to our music on Spotify or Apple Music, any of that is great. And then we also have a Patreon, so if you want some inside access to different stuff that not everybody gets to see, we also have that. We have a monthly podcast with the guys, and then for the top tier subscribers, we’ll do a Zoom call with everybody at the end of the month. There’s a bunch of tiers that you can pick from as well. But mainly, just listen to our music.

Follow Capstan

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Paige Williams

Paige is a writer & artist manager from Toronto, Canada. Every band she loves breaks up eventually, but she can't find the witch who cursed her to this life. You can find more of her work on Billboard, Consequence of Sound, A.Side, and Paige Backstage.

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