Like the miles of shelves at some big chain record store, filled with thousands of anonymous album covers and random advertisements begging you to sample what pretentious critic #471 of Snooty Big City Times called “the best stuff I ever put in my ear holes”, the world wide web can be a downright frustrating place to find good music. Or, lemme back up. There’s a lot of crappy music out there. Hapless, banal and ordinary. The internet surely doesn’t help this; in fact, it enhances it. For every distinct, original performer like a Bob Dylan or Tom Waits, there are, quite literally, thousands of “artists” (if you will indulge the label) with no clue that their MySpace full of garbage music is actually, really, garbage music. They remain oblivious, and take their songs as seriously as an airport bomb threat.
Keep this angsty music worldview in mind, then consider The Capitalist Youth, a trio of former high school classmates who play “acoustic indie rock combining a living room full of misfit instruments with lyrically driven songs about summer camp, existential crises and gubernatorial indiscretions”.* They don’t write and play the kind of music that will leave listeners dumbstruck over their redefinition of a genre, but they’re able to adeptly inject something into their music that only a handful of others have done well: humanity, with a laid back sense of humor, and without any of the awkward pauses that come from other bands who get lucky on a song or two and can’t maintain things the rest of the way. That same levity that transcends the music industry is what makes their debut album, At The Campfire, so special, and what should undoubtedly carry them to bigger and better places. I’m just happy to be able to say I discovered them so early.
01. Who are you?
The Capitalist Youth is Greg Kamprath, Eric Heveron-Smith, & Frank Wartinger. We all grew up together in western NY, but now we live in Philadelphia, Boston and Boston, respectively. The Capitalist Youth’s debut album At the Campfire was released in June 2010.
02. What do you sound like?
Greg Kamprath: We’ve been saying Pedro the Lion, The Frames and the New Pornographers. It’s hard to be objective about your sound, but… we admire them.
03. What do friends say you sound like?
GK: I’ve heard someone say we reminded them of Ben Folds. And just yesterday someone said the Jayhawks.
04. Full-time musicians or wage slaves?
GK: I have a job in audio visual, and Frank works as an audiologist, frequently with musicians. So that’s like living the dream right? Right? I guess Eric is mostly living the dream.
Eric Heveron-Smith: If by “living the dream” you mean “being broke a lot but getting paid sometimes to play or record music,” then hell yes- That’s exactly what I’m doing.
Frank Wartinger: I look at ears all day, and tell people not to use Q-Tips.
05. Current band highlight?
GK: Our song “Arcade” was played on NPR’s All Songs Considered. That’s not just awesome exposure but also flattering to be on a program you really admire.
06. Favourite decade for music?
GK: I’m probably more inclined to like recent music.
EHS: I listen to classic jazz and swing from the 40s and 50s,
07. Should music be free?
GK: I’m not sure if music ought to be anything. I think it’s possible and great for artists to give recordings away and still make a living selling tickets or merch. But at least in the second case you’re really just shifting costs. Artists will create even if they’re not getting paid, but it’d be great if they could make money for their actual work instead of t-shirts and stickers.
08. Which 3 musicians would you invite round for dinner?
FW: Vince Guaraldi, John Paul Jones (of Led Zepplin), and John Paul Jones (of America).
09. Preferred tour reading?
GK: Kurt Vonnegut (I can probably speak for everyone on this)
10. Best mood for songwriting?
GK: When I’m in a place where I’ll keep working despite inevitably getting frustrated
11. Last record you bought?
GK: I have an emusic subscription, so technically I simultaneously bought Architecture in Helsinki Fingers Crossed, Jens Lekman When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog and Biz Markie Just a Friend.
FW: Jóhann Jóhannsson And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees.
12. Five favourite albums?
GK: This is ridiculous and impossible to answer. But:
Damien Jurado – Rehearsals for Departure
Matt Pond PA – The Nature of Maps
Pedro the Lion – Control
Denison Witmer – Joy & Sorrow
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
FW: Can we add CRUDBUMP: Nastyjams?
GK: Frank, technically it’s Na$ty Jam$
13. Your biggest rock and roll fantasy?
GK: Playing music and being with friends and being happy. IN SPACE.
14. Goals for the next 12 months?
GK: Play shows. Record new songs. Pay bills.
15. First time listeners, where should they start?
GK: Listen to At the Campfire free on our site! Some good songs to start with may be “Arcade”, “12 Step” and “State Governor’s Lament”.