Capitaan: The UK-based funksters

Saturday 1st June 1996

As one of ICC's first signings to their new ICY label, corrosive funksters CAPITAAN are more than just a little happy. Geoff Howlett talks to lead singer, Anthony Gorry.


Alt's really nice and very encouraging to be signed to ICY," enthuses Anthony. "They're taking a whole new shot on things, looking at younger people and going with the more youthful audience - which is what we're about."

Things started to happen for Capitaan at last year's Soul Survivor Festival, when they met Ron Fernihough from Promotential Management. "It was definitely a bit of intervention from God," says Anthony. "We were very young, in the sense that we hadn't really done a lot, but he was very supportive and, basically, has been managing us ever since." Soon after, Capitaan decided to record a CD at ICC studios with the financial support of Anthony's parents and drummer Rob Alvis' grandmother. While it was being recorded, ICC's Product and Sales Co-ordinator, Adrian Thompson heard it and offered them a contract.

The resulting EP release, 'Driftwood', has received good reviews from the media and, generally, people have been very positive about the music. "They're also quite shocked that we've come so far, so quickly," Anthony adds. "With there not being much of this sound around in the UK, the response has been great. Even kids of six and seven have been dancing around to it, although our main audience is 15 to mid 30s." To me, 'the sound' is a mixture of Jamiroquai meets Shakatak, but I asked Anthony just how he would describe it.

"We're bringing together a whole group of popular styles," Gorry replies, "to create our own style, which is pretty new - corrosive funk. It represents both our personality and musical styles, because we are all very different people, with different backgrounds. It's like when Jesus chose his disciples, they were all very different."

Now, Anthony turns the tables and asks me what I think of the new release. I've got to be honest, it's not the sort of stuff I would usually play, but I am impressed by three of the tracks on offer. He laughs, in almost disbelief, as I point out what I believe to be the weakest cut. "You're the first person to ever say that," says Anthony. "It's usually said to be the strongest track." The song in question is called "Elegance" and Anthony goes on to tell me why it was written. "As a person, you're often viewed by the world by how you look, what you do, and how successful you are. Jesus was a simple man and he was an elegant man in the sense that we, as Christians, might not be seen as the best looking people or the richest because that's not important for us. We are called to serve."

Anthony and Rob formed Capitaan in February last year at university, while studying Performing arts and specialising in jazz and popular music. The idea was to play non-compromising Christian music which had commercial viability and could be taken out into the world. "We basically play to non-Christians and plant seeds," says Anthony, "because there is such a lot of secular music that is quite empty." Since those early days, there has been one or two changes in the line-up but currently joining Anthony and Rob are: Marc James (guitar and flute); Noelle Keene (backing vocals); and Gary Richardson (bass). Four of them worship together at the same church but it's quite obvious from the interview that the band are really together as one.

On the live scene, this quintet from St Albans are currently booked to play at least twice a week until November, including a mass of university venues. The clean sound of the CD is, perhaps, beginning to change on stage. Anthony continues, "Because of where God is taking us, we've moved on and our style is becoming a little harder." So, I ask, what reactions do you get from your audiences? "As I said earlier," Anthony replies, "80 per cent of what we're about is planting seeds to non-Christians. We've played everything from the Brixton Academy to WKD, which is a prestigious little venue in Camden Town, and we've yet to have a bad response. The exciting thing about it is that the people are saying that the music's great, but it's not stopping there because they're also acknowledging the Christian element."

Any heckles heard at Capitaan's concerts are all directed towards their faith, not the music. The band sees this as a positive response because, as Anthony says, "They're questioning their own faith. We do concentrate more on the secular venues because these are the people who do not know God at all."

By having both excellent management and record companies behind them, the band have come a long way in quite a short time. Ron Fernihough (Promotential) and Adrian Thompson (ICC) have been instrumental in their success by giving encouragement and support in just the right mix. But, if we jump ahead to the end of the year, how will Anthony and the rest of the group evaluate their success? "By visiting as many cities and countries as possible," he says. "We don't want to plant just one seed and leave it, we want to build up a big forest and have the word of the gospel spread with it. If we've done that at the regularity that we're doing now, then we know that next year we can go back and water them. It isn't how much money we've got, or how famous we've become, it's how we've served God."

There's certainly something refreshing about Capitaan and their music. Where their journey will take them next, who knows but God himself? Well, Anthony and Rob hazard a guess (tongue in cheek) having taken the animated Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear as their mentor, and his catchphrase "To infinity and beyond!". Yes, they are prepared for just that.

Catch Capitaan at both Cross Rhythms and Soul Survivor this year. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Geoff Howlett
Geoff Howlett lives in Hull, is a member of the rock band Giants Will Fall and co-ordinates a musicians prayer diary.


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