Published on October 5th, 2015 | by Candace Parker-Dickerson1
The Captain Midnight Band: Live October 10 at Proud Larry’s
Captain Midnight Band, based out of Nashville, Tennessee, is a genre-defying band that is paving their own way. Lively stage antics, eccentric costumes, and their jam band-meets-R&B-meets-Classic Rock style, make for a band always pushing the musical envelope. On October 10th, Captain Midnight Band will be performing at Oxford’s Proud Larry’s, and Pithecanfunkus Erectus (a.k.a. P-Rex) will open up the show.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Joshua Cooker, better known as Captain Midnight, about his Oxford roots, creating a new genre of music, and the importance of having fun.
Let’s talk about the creation of The Captain Midnight Band. You were a member of the Oxford based band Cardinal Fluff in the 90s. So tell me about that experience and your evolution into the Captain Midnight Band.
Starting out in Oxford was really weird because it was in the height of the grunge movement where having fun on stage and dressing up and trying to put on a show was frowned upon by a lot of people. And we saw a lot of our contemporaries following that trend. So we made a point to adamantly do the opposite of that. And we just decided that if everyone else is gonna be moping around with flannel shirts and combat boots when just a year ago they were putting on an interesting show and writing these introspective lyrics, then we’re going to go out of our way to be overtly entertaining and write about having a good time and partying. We were trying to bring the entertainment aspect back to a scene that had kind of gotten a little too serious for its britches. I’ll put it that way.
I completely picked up on that when I listened to some of your songs. While some music out there is very introspective and deals with some of the harsh realities of life, yours is so fun and feels like an escape from reality.
Exactly! We want to force-feed the fun. But that’s also how we really live. It’s not made up. We just happen to try to have a lot more fun than most people.
You created a genre for your music called “Waterbed Rock & Roll.” How did that come about and how would you describe it?
It has to do more with a time or era before all that grunge stuff happened. A waterbed is a good representation of something that’s excessive, frivolous, and kind of a pain in the ass. It’s not a practical item. But once you get it set up, it’s great! The music that we’re doing has never been about practicality. It’s about enjoyment and having a good time. And if you have to go through a little extra trouble to do that then, it’s worth it. I like to think Waterbed Rock & Roll incorporates elements of classic R&B from the 70s and 80s. It’s got a good groove, but it’s also got the crunchy rock guitar. The Isley Brothers’ and Parliament’s lyrics from back in the day that were kind of overtly sexual with more of a rock format. We wanted to combine classic R&B and classic rock with improvisational music because we like to do a lot of jamming as well.
Speaking of jamming, you guys are very much a live band. What are some of your favorite things about playing live?
There are a couple of things I like about playing live. First of all we have a great band and I like all the people in the band. Most of the people that come to see our band have the same attitude that we do so we’re allowed to take some chances and try stuff on stage. If the audience is being open minded enough to even be at the show then we feel like we have the ability to try new things every night. The other thing I really like is that when we walk out on stage a lot of people look at us and think we’re dressed up because we’re over compensating for a lack of musical ability.
I’ve been told that by people who initially wanted to dislike our band. But you see people kind of standing there with their arms folded and then they slowly remove their helmet of cynicism when they see that we’re actually a great band that can play. It’s a fun thing to witness and be a part of, when you can visually see you opening somebody’s mind and changing their attitude.
What is a Captain Midnight Band live show like?
We’re a dance band. We live in Nashville now and it’s tough because a lot of people don’t dance up here. It’s more of a listening crowd. But we try to get people’s energy out. The main thing with our live show is that we try to get people to let down their inhibitions and dance and then eventually if they’re having a good enough time and not being so self-conscious maybe they’ll bump into each other. And if you bump into someone enough times, you end up making a friend! We just want to bring people together.
Even though many people may know you as a performer, you’re actually a producer too. How does that factor into your vision as an artist?
This probably sounds really egocentric, but I basically try to produce music that I’d want to listen to, not just think of it as a job or a check. I think, will I be able to sit down and enjoy this album twenty years from now? And if the answer is yes, that’s how I base what I do for others and for myself. And if not, I won’t take the job. I don’t want be associated with anything that I’m not super into.
Your last record, Colder Than a Witches Tit, was released in February of 2014. When can fans expect to hear new music?
We haven’t begun recording anything yet, but I’ve started pre-production on a new record. We’ve gone through some lineup changes over the last year. We’d actually recorded a couple of live albums, but some of the people we recorded with are not currently in the band, and I wanted to put out something that’s representative of what we’re doing right now. So we’re gonna be working on a new live album this fall, probably recorded over the course of a few different shows. And we’ll compile the best of that. I’ve also started to demo a lot of songs. So I’m hoping to get a new full album out by early 2016.