Captain We’re Sinking prove that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
By Polly Watson
You know where’s a dumb place to do a photo shoot involving a whole lot of weed? A garden. You know when’s a bad time to do it? In the glaring light of early morning, hours after your subjects have sweated through a rowdy, beer-soaked show and minutes before they depart for the next one. You know who doesn’t care? Captain We’re Sinking.
The band members are huddled under an arbor. Drummer Bill Orender has been charged with holding the double fistful of sticky nugs, and though he’s doing his best to keep it under control, buds are dropping out of his hands and rolling away, not to be seen again for months (when the garden’s owner can look forward to harvesting an unexpected delight). Bob Barnett and Leo Vergnetti, who share guitar and vocal duties, search half- heartedly for the crumbs, but soon return their sleepy gaze to the camera’s lens.
The northeastern Pennsylvania pop punks could be said to have applied a similar laissez-faire philosophy to their brief and bubbly career thus far. Since forming in 2007, they’ve toured only sporadically, usually accepting invitations to play Fest (basically the punk SXSW) in Gainesville, FL, and then filling in dates along the way down. Their practice schedule is spotty at best: As Orender explains via e-mail, “We all live in different places, so we only get about a weekend a month to practice. We have to gather ideas and then remember how the other new songs went.”
The songs are where this band delivers, however, abandoning their who-cares attitude to craft roaring, melodic anthems. As a result, their 2008 full-length debut, The Animals Are Out, and a handful of seven-inches have earned them fans in the basements, dorm rooms and pizza kitchens of the less glamorous regions of the country. A quick scan of their YouTube oeuvre reveals thousands of views for even a video of the band rapping about Star Wars (“I know a Wookie that can tear off your arms and legs!”) in a fan’s kitchen. That’s the kind of grassroots following major label A&R scouts would have been slobbering over a decade ago. But that system is now shattered – and even if it wasn’t, there’s no indication the band has any desire to “take it to the next level.”
CWS are as DIY as they come, more interested in making friends than in making money. Plenty of friends means plenty of smoke, especially on tour, where bassist Zack Charette can be counted on to know who will hook them up in any given town. Though all the members of CWS smoke, Orender admits to laying off when the band gets down to business: “Weed usually makes me sleep, so that kinda hinders playing drums!” Hopefully it won’t hinder the production of their forthcoming full-length, which they’ve been promising fans for over a year now.
And if they’re worried about paying for the recording session, at least they can count on a wicked harvest in that garden come spring.
Captain We’re Sinking’s latest release, With Joe Riley, is on evilweevilrecords.com.