Dark Captain Light Captain are a Walthamstow-based band with an impressive track-record. Their first album, ‘Miracle Kicker’, came out in 2008, and the single ‘Jealous Enemies’ was the iTunes Single of the Week in America. Their second album is set for release in Summer 2011, and they have big plans for festivals and touring throughout 2011. The band are: Dan Carney, Guitar and Vocals; Giles Littleford, Guitar and Vocals; Mike Cranny, Bass; Chin of Britain, Drums; and Laura Copsey, Flugelhorn. Walthamstow Scene asked Dan and Mike from the band to tell us more.
Hi Dan and Mike. How long have you lived in Walthamstow?
Mike: Three out of five of us have lived here for about five years. The two non-locals may see it as spiritual home though, as we practise at a studio on Blackhorse Lane, and a lot of the second album was written and recorded in Walthamstow.
Tell us about the sound of Dark Captain Light Captain.
Mike: It’s been getting louder recently as we take advantage of a sound proof room to get ready for live outings. I don’t think it’s been a conscious decision, but collectively we seem to be getting more into hypnotic loops and electronic sounds. There are always some constants to the sound though – you can never have enough CSNY-style harmonies and finger-picked guitar riffs.
Dan: It’s still clearly us, but I think the second album has more of a “band” feel; it’s fuller and louder. But still with some very delicate moments.
What inspired you to form a band?
Dan: It was more of a happy accident, really. All the best musical things I’ve been involved in have started with no explicit aim in mind; the “let’s form a band” conversation has always come after a bit of recording, songwriting etc… with no particular long-term motive. I’m always writing music and playing the guitar, and at the time this came together I just felt it could benefit from a few more pairs of hands.
Who have been your main influences?
Mike: Recently we’ve rediscovered mid-nineties Stereolab and have been enjoying the hypnotic oeuvre of Wooden Shjips.
Dan: Too many to mention! But Teutonic psychedelia, Elliot Smith and Robert Wyatt are never too far from the equation.
You’ve got a new album coming out. What can we expect from that?
Mike: We’re really proud of the new batch of songs and how they’ve come together as a cohesive piece of work. We tried to make an album with more highs and lows than the last one – hopefully this variation (and the fact that the songs are all great of course) will keep listeners coming back for more.
Dan: It’s a bit more hooky as well, and hopefully more memorable. And better than the first one.
What else is on the horizon for Dark Captain Light Captain?
Mike: We’re all looking forward to the album coming out in the summer and touring it as far and wide as possible. Obviously album number three isn’t going to write itself either!
Dan: We’ve been doing the odd remix lately as well, and have been quite seduced by the process; getting all the song files already recorded and there to be instantly played with. After spending months meticulously mic-ing up acoustic guitars, it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. And we’re off to Prague next month to play with Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab fame. We’re all really excited about that.
What’s been the best show you’ve ever played, and what made it special?
Mike: In Autumn 2009 we played some dates supporting Sophia in Germany and Austria. We’ve always enjoyed intimate gigs in smaller London venues but the excitement of playing to a packed hall of music-loving Germans was quite a contrast and a real eye-opener. The most surreal live experience we’ve had is playing a friend’s birthday party at The Castle in Walthamstow in 2009. The audience pretty much consisted of the under five age group, and they all lay down on the floor to appreciate the bass frequencies. It was a lot of fun – and we got to play after the puppet show!
Dan: That was very strange! But yes, Germany/Austria was a high point, as was supporting 65daysofstatic at the Indig02, and selling out the 100 Club around the time of ‘Miracle Kicker’. But we’ve done some great shows in smaller venues – when those places are packed out, there’s nothing like it. It’s lovely when people know the songs as well; I always get quite thrown when I see someone I’ve never met mouthing the words along with me. I’d quite like to get over to Scandinavia with this album, but I guess we shall see. Prague should be great.
What does a great night out in E17 look like to you?
Mike: Nag’s then Castle and/or Queens… and inevitable Spotify disco in the living room.
Dan: What he said.
What’s the one thing that can be done to improve Walthamstow?
Mike: The council should really buy back the cinema and reinvent it as community centre and cinema.
Who’s your favourite band/artist/composer and why?
Dan: I refuse to answer this question on the grounds of its sheer difficulty! I’ve listened to, and obsessed over, so much music in my life that it’s impossible to pick one thing.
What’s your favourite thing about Walthamstow?
Mike: Having about four decent pubs all within walking/stumbling distance of each other, and the vibrant community spirit that this encourages. The feeling of being outside the madness that inner London can sometimes be, yet still close enough to get immersed in it if you want to.
Dan: That pretty much sums it up. But I’d also add the huge number of really interesting, friendly people that I’ve got to know since I’ve lived here. It’s a great place to live, with a lovely atmosphere.
Thanks Dan and Mike.
Dark Captain Light Captain will be headlining the Euroconnections event in Prague on 31 March 2011. Their second album will be released in Summer 2011. More information on the band can be found on their website.