The Captain’s Son discusses their new album, running their own label and what’s next

California pop band The Captain’s Son, comprised of Paige Byrd (guitar/vocals), Jarred Hayden (drums) and William Hopkins (bass/vocals), blend catchy warm guitar melodies, laid-back harmonizing vocals and upbeat drum rhythms, reminiscent of early California surf pop.  Living in Long Beach, California, the band formed after Byrd and Hayden started playing together as teens. Hopkins later joined the band and after realizing they shared the same passion for music, it encouraged them to continue their journey together as The Captain’s Son.  The trio combines indie surf pop, beautiful layered harmonies and classic garage rock n’ roll.  Taking influence from 60’s artists and modern indie groups, the band have succeeded in crafting a unique sound all their own.  Taking their name from both Woody Guthrie’s “Muleskinner Blues” and Star Trek: Deep Space 9, the band was officially formed in late 2015, before Byrd, Hopkins, and Hayden made their cross-continental exodus from the native Southern Missouri hometown to the west coast. The Captain’s Son have since started making a name for themselves in the California scene, writing new songs, conquering new haunts and putting out a succession of singles and an EP release (Busty Crustacean), including track, “Oh My Where The Time Goes (Live in Hollywood),” both released earlier this year.   Those were predated by 2018’s doo-wop shambolic, “Do You Think Of Me?”, surf punk rambler “Quick Before You Blackout,” ska-tinged “Long Beach,” and “Sun & Clouds.”   The band is definitely onto something but don’t try to peg ‘em down.  Gracefully blending about a half dozen sub-genres including punk, surf, psych, ‘50s vocal groups, ‘60s soul pop, ‘70s in Laurel Canyon, ‘80s post-punk, and beyond, it wouldn’t be unusual to catch a bit of Wall of Voodoo mashed with Dion and the Belmonts, or Violent Femmes taking on early Sublime in one sitting.     On Halloween of this year, the band released their self-produced debut album, Feel Good Slam-Pop For Animals.  Ahh, “Slam-Pop”! That’s what we call it!  The band recently added a 4th member and, aside from finding their sound as a 4-piece, they plan to write more music, possibly tour and experiment with some different instruments!  You can follow The Captain’s Son and stay up-to-date on all upcoming band, album and tour news, as well as stream and purchase their music, via the following links:

 

 

You released your debut full-length album Feel Good Slam-Pop For Animals on Halloween and have said it’s one of the best things you have recorded.  What can you tell me about the process of writing the album and the inspiration behind it?  How do you feel your sound with this album compares to your earlier work?

 

Paige- Fidelity wise, this is the best thing we’ve recorded. We upgraded our system from an 8 track analog cassette machine to a 16 channel digital interface. The big thing with that was having enough channels to do drums with. Our early EPs and singles, Jarred would hook up 4 mics around the drums and then 2 channel them out into the Tascam. Leaving us with 6 channels to make the rest of the song. That machine was a great learning experience for us and that knowledge came in handy once we got our digital machine.

 

The writing process for this album was weird because most of the songs we already had finished for a while. Some we’ve even recorded before, but things had changed within them from playing them live. The inspiration was from years of teen life and growing up, rebellion, love, angst, observations and memories picked up along the way. At the start of recording, we had about 13 or 14 songs we wanted to make sure we got down, pretty much any new ones we had and some personal favorites that had never been properly recorded. We ended up tracking 20 songs worth of rhythm guitar, bass and drums before we ran out of time at our friends space. And for the next few months, every day after work or anytime we had a day off, we worked on the album in our apartment. Eventually bringing it down to 12 tracks and adding an intro/outro.

 

The album contains a mix of older and new songs.  What led you to want to re-record older tracks to include on the album and how did you go about deciding which tracks to re-record?  Was it a pretty smooth process to blend the older tracks with your new songs?

 

Paige- The whole process was pretty smooth for us. We enjoy recording a lot. But like mentioned above, we started with the new songs and a handful of one’s we for sure wanted to cut – personal favorites we didn’t have released otherwise. Once we got those and still had a day of studio time for tacking drums, we ended up laying down any song we could think of that wasn’t recorded already. Also we always try and write a different sounding song than the last one, with so many influences, it gets hard to stick to a genre. We knew it’d be eclectic. When we mix a song we wrote 5 or 6 years ago with a brand new one, our hope is that they will always be cohesive together because the songs sound like us and and not an idea of us. Not only that but we’ve gotten used to playing with each other and have always had a sort of ease blending our instruments and ideas together when writing songs. One reason being that Will and I have similar writing styles/influences so they blend well together and we all see pretty eye to eye on the minor changes within songs. Same with Jarred and influences. We speak the same musical language and sometimes the parts write themselves. I’m not worried about the songs blending together.

 

 
You started your own label, Ham N’ Dregs, a few years back.  What can you tell me about the name?  I read that you have experience in a wide range of areas such as recording, mixing and sound, to name a few.  Did the three of you plan from the start to start your own label and to operate the band as DIY/self-sufficiently as possible?  How have you gone about blending the business side of running the band with the writing, recording and touring?  Do you have plans to record for other artists, as well?

 

Paige- Most of my mixing and sound knowledge came from observing and working with others in different studios, professional and at home (and now our new stuff). I started off recording layered demos with dubs on programs and would also track live to cassette decks and recorders because they were very cheap to buy, and it sounded different. Once I started recording with different people “running” things and mixing I started to observe what they knew and the general process. Layering tracks on top of each other started being fun.

 

After working in other people’s studios we found we had more control over how and what we recorded when we did it ourselves. It seemed easier (and cheaper) to do it how we wanted than to have someone else adding effects and what-not. I was very picky. The recording process became more appealing when we realized how exciting learning a new facet of the music business would also be, besides having complete control and possibly even record other artists. Learning other aspects of the business just seemed like it would be better for us as musicians. It’s more common knowledge now that you don’t need a major record label to “succeed”. When we first came to California I think we started to realize that – and started to realize we were gonna do it our way entirely. Following, we bought the 8-track Tascam machine because we wanted something different, and had a few mics and started from what we knew. Some mistakes were made of course. It took some time for sure. Some stuff we haven’t even released yet. I remember recording as much as I could in Missouri with the space. Even songs on my upright piano in the living room.

 

We taught ourselves and had some help from friends along the way. Currently, Jarred is working in a friends personal studio and has been learning a lot and we’ve applied that knowledge to the most recent record. And more so, have learned more about our machine. So hopefully next time we capture an even better sound which I’m sure will happen. And yes, it has always been the idea to stay as DIY as possible. Ham & Dregs was something I came up with and the boys liked. It was more a means to get people to take us seriously and establish our own thing because the industry will shit on you if you don’t at least act like you know what you’re doing. But we would eventually like to take on bands/solo artists. Producing and arranging are very fun and sometimes ideas come very easily to help another’s sound that’s wanting it. In recent years Ham N Dregs has mostly been a vehicle for our music though, since we’ve remained so busy. But that will eventually change. Earlier this year we signed with a local label out of Huntington Beach called Slam Jam Records. It’s been a lot of fun working with these peeps and they are helping us a lot to spread our tunes around.

 

 

What can you tell me about the early days of the band in Missouri and what led you to decide to move to California specifically?  I read that, since forming the band in 2015, that the three of you have sought more opportunities to play, learn and travel as musicians.  Do you have a “wish list” of places to which you are hoping to travel/tour?  What has your experience been like living in Long Beach and what kind of influence has California has on your sound as a band?

 

Paige- Well, Will joined Jarred and myself in 2015 in Springfield, MO where we all lived. At that point, Jarred and I had already been playing together since 2010. In 2014 the two of us and our old bassist hit the road for a few months and eventually landed in California. We were hooked from that point and realized music is what we’re doing for the rest of our lives. Our bassist at the time didn’t see it that way and quit on us. We went back home to Missouri and met Will. He had went to M.I. out in Hollywood and was looking for a reason to get back out to California. The three of us knew we wanted to play more than the Midwest could offer, so we sold everything that wasn’t music gear and left for the coast in 2016. We all had the same dream in mind. It was amazing. I felt relieved to my core that I had support, and didn’t feel like such a crazy person anymore.

 

Long Beach has been great to us and the eclectic music scene is right up our alley. It’s a big city but has a tight, connected atmosphere. The right amount of nice and sketchy, too (haha). Couldn’t of found a better city to move to in our minds. As far as our wish list, it’s always growing. Seattle/Portland is a big one we’d like, Europe, New York…The next step we want to take is hop back out on the road for another tour. Or maybe record another album first. Really just to keep doing what we’re doing.

 

 
You have said that even when something doesn’t work out for the band as expected, that you always walk away from the experience having learned something?  What kinds of lessons have you learned over the years from things that didn’t work out for the band/mistakes made?

 

Paige- The biggest lesson learned and one we are still learning is expectations and to not have them. The more we focus on the songs or just having fun, the better. When you get into situations where you expected this from a gig or that from a release, you can be let down and ultimately thrown off from writing or music in general. We’ve made little mistakes but we just try not to repeat them. Most detrimental mistakes have been huge recording errors and overdoing it to some degree. But the overdoing it for small shows or whatever usually pays off too. Try not to over think it and just do it. We make music for ourselves and just hope people like it. If they don’t, oh well, we do!

 

 
You recently added a 4th bandmate to your line up!  What can you tell me about how you met him and how he came to join the band?  Had you been thinking about adding another member?  What has the process been like in finding your sound as a 4 piece band??

 

Paige- Josh and I met in high school in Augusta, Georgia. I was always going back there for the Summer since most of my family is from there, but my mom sent me to live with my Dad and sisters for awhile and attend school there to get me out of Missouri for a bit. I didn’t jam with Josh at that point, but I was constantly missing my band/pals I had left in Missouri and always noticed him in the hallways with his band pals, laughing and having a good time…So he stood out to me and I used to listen to his band online. I noticed a little later he was checking out my acoustic videos and what-not I had online. We seemed to have a lot in common. It felt right and comfortable. And music was definitely a topic of discussion when I figured out he had also moved to LA. It made the world seem smaller, as what seems to happen more and more from what I’ve experienced…

 

Throughout the years Jarred and I have had friends play with us here and there but nothing stuck. Even when Will first joined us we were trying to be a 4 piece with the guitarist he use to drum for. That didn’t work out either and that’s when the 3 of us left town. About a year ago is when Josh moved out here. He came to a few shows and we were trying to arrange a jam for awhile, probably months. The way he melded into our sound was seamless. He shares our same ambition of life and the pursuit of doing what you want!

 

 
What inspired your artwork for not only your new album, but your previous singles and EPs?

 

Paige- Minus a few singles, almost all of our art is a group effort idea and Jarred is the one who photoshops it all together. My step-dad did the “Sun & Clouds” art with colored pencil – Will picked the pyramid for “Long Beach, CA”. Crab people for “Busty” was our idea. As far as the album goes. The Orange logo was something Jarred came up with a little while back and it’s something we’ve wanted to use. I believe he got it from an actual orange he bought. He spent a few days on the art and showed it to us. There wasn’t much changed from the original concept. It was all about a simplistic approach and to make something that would get people interested by visuals alone.

 

What’s next for the band?

 

Paige- Finding and working out that new 4 piece sound. Also got to hit the studio by the beginning of the year and get on to the next set of songs! Hopefully a tour as well! Maybe more keyboards and different instruments. Also some visual stage effects at shows! Lights, projection videos and ACTION! And fog.

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