In Conversation with: Little Captain

Having seen Little Captain play the music of The Velvet Underground at the Grace Emily during the Fringe, Tulpa decided to catch up with the band to see what they have in store for the future. A residency at the Grace Emily throughout May will be first on their agenda. This time, however, it won’t be The Velvet Underground, they tell me, it will be their own music.

We’re sitting upstairs and outside at local bar Proof, where Grace Goodfellow, Todd Bennett, Kris Jaw-Moss, and Josh Pullinen let us at Tulpa in on the ideas they’re currently working on.

In the lead-up to their Fringe performance, Little Captain had been preparing since October and worrying about how many people the lure of The Velvet Underground would attract, eventually playing to a packed Grace Emily. The result was not just the old die-hard Velvet Underground fans coming along, but also others new to their musical offerings. As Grace Goodfellow recalls, some of the audience came up to them afterwards to say they didn’t really know the Velvet Underground but thought they’d check it out. All agree it was nice to do something a bit offbeat.

Covers will still be present in their May residency, alongside their own original offerings. What the covers will be is resolutely kept a surprise. Sadly, no exclusive here on that score. All I can get from them is it will be a bit more contemporary than The Velvet Underground.

With a host of support bands to compliment them during the May residency, the band look forward not just to taking the stage with their friends but also debuting a new song. The band expresses a shared fondness for the Grace Emily so the oncoming residency is an exciting prospect on their horizon. Little Captain consider the Grace Emily a champions of local artists and very supportive of local music. The free beers don’t hurt much either.

Beyond the May residency, what does the band have planned? As far as plans go, nothing concrete, but Little Captain have goals for more recording, the release of another single, and taking what comes next as it comes. Having played a lot last year, the band wishes to turn their focus towards recording and writing some new songs, as the experience of booking, planning, promoting, and playing was an exhausting one.

The band, having originated with Grace and Kris, has a number of songs, so the prospect of adding to their collection seems to be one they’re passionate to undertake this year. Or possibly going to Morocco for the year and returning tanned and possessing bongos, offers Josh.

How do they find the balance? There’s the one side of planning their gigs and getting everything ready, and the other side of the performance itself. The answer is it’s something of a work in progress. The band is playing every weekend this May, but they feel a residency is a better plan than being a band playing a pub somewhere in the city every weekend and risking the apathy of the crowd. It seems the band plays by the old adage to always leave the audience wanting more.

Asking what the audience of their Velvet Underground Fringe gig can expect to find different about their own shows, I learn it will probably not be quite so loud. Possibly fewer drug references. Though there’s no great consensus on that. There’ll also be just as many – if not more – guitar solos by Kris. Maybe a larger crowd too (the show is free).

The future, Little Captain hopes, also sees them playing further afield than the Grace Emily, much as they love the place, and a desire to grow their presence – being played on Triple J being a major goal.

They have already played plenty of other venues including Jive, the old Rhino Room (where they played in the last ever show), the Cranker [Crown & Anchor], and the Semaphore Music Festival. Little Captain has even played as far afield as Melbourne where they played at the Workers’ Club and The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

The Grace Emily has been their ‘constant’, though. They played their first performance as a whole band there. They also built their initial duo there. Grace [Goodfellow] was opening for musician Patrick James and Kris [Jaw-Moss] joined with guitar. After this, a reviewer wrote they considered the best part of the set to be the duet which led them to opening as a duo for others.

As new drinks arrive, we enter a deep discussion about the merits of mint and its importance in cocktails. It’s a conversation that slowly, and indirectly turns towards the origins of the name ‘Little Captain’ after the conclusion of an exhaustive list of mint-based band names. With two ideas for the new-born band’s name being ‘Little Silver’ and ‘Captain Gentleman’, the two proposals were merged, resulting in the eventual ‘Little Captain’.

The band discuss how the name Little Captain has, on occasion, led some to come to their gigs expecting a sweeter style than theirs (though they hasten to add they do offer some gentler songs), leaving the occasionally surprised punter. Across my hour with the band, I learn that what they lack in sweet songs, they more than make up for in ‘dad jokes’ as all band members offer their best (or worst) dad jokes.

During the residency at the Grace Emily, Little Captain will be supported by Elli Belle and Beyond the Picture on May 4, Georgy Rochow and Bromham on May 11, Ron the Ox and Ty Alexander on May 18, and to round the month out is Panacea and Hey Harriett. The band members have ties with many of their colleagues from being high school bandmates, to being neighbours, to playing in connection with them.

Should the audience come back week after week, I ask. With two different support bands, free entry, the unique nature of the Grace Emily, and of course, the talents of Little Captain, yes, is the answer. You can get told you’re a great audience every week, they say.

On a broader note, how is the current state of Adelaide’s music culture? The answers range from ‘brilliant!’ to ‘it’s pretty good’, so generally a good and hopeful view from the band. There’s more variety, and every night offers a good gig somewhere in the city, they tell me. It’s come a long way in the time they’ve seen it grow, resulting in the challenge of picking support bands due to the high quality of bands around the city.

With a good future predicted for Adelaide’s musical climate and Little Captain sailing towards broad and exciting horizons, I leave them, finding myself enthused for the future of Adelaide’s gigs and shows. At least until the May residency, when it seems the offering will be too good to turn down.

Perhaps we’ll see you there!

 


Words by Liam McNally

Thanks to the members of Little Captain.

Little Captain will be playing at 8pm at The Grace Emily every Friday during May.

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