Can a jazzed up indie rock be great…we chat we Captain Squeegee
By Dan Locke
The enigmatic Captain Squeegee has landed, brazenly pushing the boundaries of indie-rock with their unclassifiable sound, show, and style. Just last year the band began producing a winning streak of highly-praised music videos, all aimed to accompany their full length art-rock LP, “To The Bardos!” (Released on 80/20 Records). After sweeping “Best Videos of the Year” (Phoenix New Times, AZ Republic, YabYum), their newest video “Our Children” is their latest release.
Born into the Phoenix ska scene in 2002, Captain Squeegee has dramatically expanded their sound, resulting in “a heady brand of neo-psychedelic prog… [like] a van full of jazz performance majors raised on ska would play it” (Ed Masley, AZCentral). Their horn-driven instrumentation, metaphysical lyrics, and intense multi-media performances, has hailed them “one of the toughest acts in town to follow” and “prepared to headline Coachella, tomorrow” (Jeff Moses, Modern Times Mag).
Unratedmagazine: Your band was formed in 2002. How did you guys get together? And how did you go from Ska to progressive rock, jazz, and theatrical music?
Captain Squeegee: Our formation was pure chaos. We are ALL replacements. All of us. We don’t even know who started, or named the band. Over 15 years we transformed from teenage marching-band-nerds, to proggy jazz-school wyld-folk. We’re essentially a high school ska band that driftied into psychedelic jam-land.
You performed at SXSW. How did you get on the bill and tell me something about your showcase? Who showed up to which you play? And how did SXSW help your career?
SXSW is always fun. We did it punk-rock style for years… busking, coffee shops, dive bars… but finally playing RIGHT on 4th street, was such a ridiculous honor. We didnt care who was in the room, industry or not, we just raged that stage for everybody & tried to bring something truly unusual to such a high profile festival.
Since Van Warped is closed out this upcoming year, Can you tell me how long you did the tour? What was your favorite part of it? How was the food? The haircut (yes I know they have people doing haircuts backstage)?
Warped Tour was & will always be magical to us… feeling lucky we got to ride the wave before the end. The best part was accidentally waiting in the catering line next to rock gods. Pretty sure I was sniffing Anthony Green’s (Circa Survive) hair for like 20 minutes.
Since you have been a band since 2002, how do you stay healthy while touring?
As a touring musician, eventually you just accept the reality that touring is not “healthy”… it’s bold, unpredictable, sleepless, and a perpetual party machine. Just pound vitamins and most importantly STAY POSITIVE.
What is the best club you performed in and why?
To us… it’s not about the club itself. It’s about the humans we get to play for. Squeegee fans, no matter where, prove to be the most supportive & unique individuals in the universe.
I see Captain Squeegee has opened for acts such as Thank You Scientist, Parliament Funkadelic, Foxy Shazaam, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Widespread Panic, and Beck. How was it hanging out with George Clinton? I had a chance to talk to him once and it was a wonder experience.
George Clinton is such a radical creature, and he heavily influenced our newest music video (“Our Children”). That being said, we mostly hung out with his kick-ass band backstage hahaha… playing with P-Funk was a definite life-changer.
How would you explain your live performance?
Who else have you opened up for?
When we were a Ska band we opened for all the big names… Reel Big Fish, The Aquabats, Mad Caddies, Streetlight Manifesto, etc… But since we’ve drifted to the outer edges of music it’s been bands like The Dear Hunter, Tera Melos, Squirrel Nut Zippers, etc… No matter what genre though we are honored to share the stage with any music legends!
How did you get the gig to write and record the soundtrack for Lucidity?
Our front-man Danny Torgersen was actually a lead actor & writer for the show… so scoring the music was a totally logical & lucky byproduct of that arrangement!
You did crowd-funding for an album and made over $10,000. Many bands have been wanted to do this. How did you do it and any tips you can give other bands out there?
Crowd-funding is SO awesome… and SOOOOO stressful. The trick is staying calm, waking up every day, and saying “what can be done today to make this happen”. For us the trick was reaching-out on a personal level & not losing hope. We must have sent tens of thousands of FB messages, texts, emails, phone calls, carrier pigeons… and whomever expressed interest, we followed-up with in the least annoying way possible lol. Seriously, between your fans, and all your band-members’ families & friends, it is SHOCKING how many folks are out there and who is willing to give if you just ask nicely & persistently!
You have made many videos over the years. Can you talk about the making of your latest video “Our Children” And how did you pick the director and the art director for the video? And why do you describe the video as Squeegee’s terrifying, inspiring, psychedelic, & colorful propaganda?
This video was A BLAST to make. It was also a total break from our norms… we didn’t want a plot, characters, or a story… just ‘a vibe’ & ‘a look’. That’s why the director & art director choice were ESSENTIAL. We’ve always loved Cory Davis (director) for his cinematography & his editing style, and Kandice Barreda (art director) was running a costume shop at the time that we’d often go to for outfits & on-stage FX… it was a treat to hire her for an entire project like this. This video seems playful & celebratory on the surface… but after a few watches you’ll start to notice that something very unsettling is going on, that maybe we WON’T be saving the world anytime soon. We also put Danny’s head in a pyramid to give it that “illuminati propaganda/distraction” spin. Like… maybe this “save the world party” is happening pre-maturely… maybe this planet is totally screwed & we’re just acting like it’s gonna be fine.
If someone was listening to you for the first time, what 3 videos would you tell them to look at and why?
Oooooo… that’s a tough one. I’d say “The Factory” because it shows our political side. Then “Seek” as it explores our fascination with aliens. And finally “Our Children” just it’s just freakin crazy hahaha.
How do you see your band in the next 5 years?
Mostly-peaceful global domination.
Anything in closing you would like to say?
Please save the world if we don’t.