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Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes

Written by James Parker on February 4, 2009

So you’ve just arrived at a gig. You hand over those precious greens for your ticket, get your wrist stamped and make your way through the gathering crowds to the bar. As you look up over the brim of your golden goblet (that sounds so much better than flimsy plastic cup of Tooheys New doesn’t it?) you notice that the openers tonight are called Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes. Maybe you chuckle to yourself. More likely still, you groan. Either way you raise your goblet to your lips a second time, this time for a slightly deeper gulp. This could be a long night.

What do you expect then? Costumes surely. A cape at the very least. And presumably a bunch of jokers fresh out of high school with plenty of charisma and capable of making one helluva racket, but crucially lacking in a little thing we in the business like to refer to as talent. So when the Captain does eventually arrive on  stage at some point during your second beer, naturally you have your back turned away in conversation.

OK, so perhaps you’re not quite as judgemental as I am. But Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes are likely to come as a pleasant surprise nevertheless. Because far from the bunch of clowns you might reasonably expect from the name, they are in fact an impressively intelligent sounding prog-rock outfit from Sydney’s north shore. And MusicFeeds are not the only ones to have noticed that fact either.

Having formed a couple of years ago, they won a competition through MySpace last year that they didn’t even know they had entered. Bass player Hugh explains,

“Secluded Studios were just scouring bands off the net and contacted us through our MySpace page to tell us that we’d won a free recording session with them. They’ve got a studio in Camperdown so we went there and recorded for three days, maybe even more with over dubs.” The resulting self-titled EP was released right at the end of last year. Although even with the studio time safely in the bag, apparently it nearly didn’t happen.

“Originally it was going to be Mark from Killed Two Birds who was gonna do the mixing, but then we decided that we’d like to do it ourselves. And so we just took it home. We actually tried to bang the record out in one session of 26 hours for a gig at the Gaelic the next night, because we’d already advertised the release of the CD that night. But that didn’t work at all well. We got 50 CDs out but they were shockingly bad. That was a lesson in how to approach these things.” Or how not to, I suggest. “So anyway, we then spent the next couple of months doing it again and that’s what the final product is now.” And what do the Captain and his merry men make of it this time? “Yeah, we dig it man. We’re stoked. I guess that’s the power of MySpace eh!”

When I ask Hugh about the first EP, it turns out there’s a pretty funny story to be told there too. “We did our first record with a singer who we were trying out for a while,” he explains. “We were like ‘yeah, we’ll write some pop songs and get them on the radio and all that jazz.’ But that didn’t work out too well in the end.” Why not? What happened? “Well, we did this 4-track EP with him. And he sung on the first three tracks. The last was an instrumental. We were all happy, moving along and everything and started to get used to each other and then one night we went out for dinner at the Lansdowne and we’re all chatting away and then at the end of the night he hands us a note, a little folded up letter. It had a page of waffle explaining that he was quitting. But to this day we don’t really know why. He ended up becoming a primary school teacher.”

Not the most obvious career choice perhaps. And one that is particularly bizarre when you consider that on Brand New Benny from that first EP he sang the lyric “I teach all my children to use automatic rifles, their paper maché warheads made of pages from the bible.” As Hugh so eloquently put it, “he’s one confused mother fucker!”

It’s no big loss, I suggest. I like the instrumental stuff better anyway. “Yeah, well so do we. That’s the music we want to make. After the singer left, we were just like fuck that, you know. We’ll do whatever we want and see what happens.”

Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes are currently planning a tour up the coast for the second half of the year. In the meantime, you can check them out on their MySpace or at the Déjà Vu warehouse party in Marrickville on February 7th.

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