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INTERVIEW: Captain of Sorrow

How would you classify The Captain of Sorrow’s sound?

Fresh, spontaneous and good playful instrumentation with a heavy load in the lyrics and vocals. From all the records I have heard John Agnello has mixed the albums with the best sound. We have a very good time when we work together. He has a very well developed sense of humor.

What do you want your fans to take from your music?

I wish that they can board it, get into it and listen to it again and again and then unboard it when they have reached their destination. That’s what I do when I find a new band that I really like. A fan once sent me a letter saying thank you for the music, and she told me that the record had helped her through a breakup and heartache. I think it’s wonderful, if the music can relieve others pain.

Who are your all-time or current top 5 musical influences?

I have no idea, to tell you the truth. I can tell you what I have listened to, but not really what has influenced me. I think it’s a subconscious process that I have no control of. Sometimes people say you sound like this and this band or musicians, and they are musicians that I have never heard about. This happened to me once in the states where someone told me that we sounded a bit like Catherine Wheel. I had no idea who that was, but when I heard it, I understood exactly what they meant.

How’s the music scene in Denmark?

It sucks! There is no scene for alternative music. There’s no audience which are interested in investigating new music they don’t already know. Most Danes are descendants from “Trelle” which were the slaves of the Vikings. They all follow the leader and do what they are told, so trendsetters have a big influence. They say: “Jump!” And people ask: “How high?” Breaking in the music scene in Denmark takes National Radio Play and that has been hijacked by an American Destroyer pointing its guns at the National Radio whispering in the dark: “Play our music”. Getting your music played in the national radio is very profitable, so big international companies somehow seem to have lobbied their way in there. It’s really crappy music produced with autotuner on the voices (even though the singers can actually sing?!?), and it sucks out the last little music that there is in the sound. Many Danish music artists who want attention take up that trend to match the format, and to be totally honest I don’t know if I am too old or what has happened, but it just doesn’t sound like music to me. On the positive side some bands have somehow tried to pull away from that radio format and are beginning to make a more free format kind of music. I hope we have inspired them to do this. Veto one of my favorite bands, Catch the breeze have just released a stunning single, and Aphyxion, IamFire, Alcymist are all doing their own thing. I think music should be made because you can’t help doing it, not to get attention.

What is the best concert you have been to?

Rage Against The Machine at Roskilde Festival many years ago. They started playing, and everyone just started jumping and dancing to the beat of the music. That same year I passed the scene where Jeff Buckley played at the same festival. I hadn’t heard his material back then and he was making a lot of noise at that point in the concert, so I moved on. I regret that today. After that I have listened quite a lot to his music.

What do you like most about playing out?

Well I have not always liked to play out. In the beginning I was very nervous and drank a lot of beer just to settle my nerves to get on stage. Now I like it when it works, when the message gets across when I revisit the songs and experience the same weird feeling I had when I created them. I like getting in contact with the songs again and then bring the story across to the audience and feel the same thing again. It’s actually a very nostalgic experience. I like it best when it works, when the sound is good, when we are playing really well and we can see that people who were not actually there to hear the band get caught into the music.

Is there a song on Racetrack Babies that stands out as your personal favorite?

Siamese Scars means a lot to me. My parents became alcoholics after I grew up, we persuaded my mother to go into rehabilitation after my dad had died. I participated in 4 days of group therapy with other adults which had alcoholic parents. It was very intense, and I had to leave the room several times because the stories, that the others told, were so terrible and made me sick. I was not able to cope with them. I don’t think anyone in the room didn’t cry. To me the sessions were like lifting the lid of my head and all the bad stuff came out. My mom stopped drinking after that, and we enjoyed her last 5 years with her. Siamese Scars is for these others which has experienced the same thing as I have. The song is about the special connection I had with these others.

Do you think of yourself as a captain of sorrow? Or do you think that nickname is undeserved?

l like sad songs when they drag me into their universe. I called one of the songs Melancoholic on the album, not Melancoly. It’s me. I am addicted to sad songs. I am a Melancoholic. When they punch me out, I am happy. When I’m left on the floor and can’t get up, I like it. I don’t know why but that’s just how it is. With me in a band you would always experience me letting the music lean towards minor. Sometimes I joke with my friends when a danger or something shows up and say: The good thing about being suicidal is that you are not afraid of anything.

What do you think is the best way to experience your sound? Headphones? Video? Live?

I think the good sound of our record deserves some good sounding headphones or speakers. Since the songs are more or less recorded live I think we would also be a treat with a good live sound.

What’s next for Hans-Christian Andersen and TCOS?

I have started working on the next album and the working title is “God is a machine”. I’m listening to a lot of sketches and pick out the ones that I want for the final album. I’m thinking about production methods and sounds and trying out a lot of different things. I like the spontaneous idea when making music that we used on the album “Racetrack Babies” but this time I think I would like the songs a bit more finished before freezing them, but I’m not sure yet.

Any touring plans stateside or elsewhere?

We would love to tour The States. We have to get a nice tour together.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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