An Interview with Captain Wilberforce on the release of their latest album, When the Dust Just Won’t Settle

by Chelsea Ness

This week, we caught up with Northern Indie Pop band, Captain Wilberforce to find out more about their latest album, ‘When The Dust Just Won’t Settle’. Find out everything you need to know about the album through this detailed interview…

You have just released your latest album, ‘When the Dust Just Won’t Settle’ – where did the name come from and how does it feel to finally get it out ? 

It initially popped in my head about the whole Brexit saga, and one of the songs on the album (Green Unpleasant Land) is my take on that. But then I realised it works in lots of different contexts; difficult relationships and mental health issues for example, which are referenced in the album’s lyrics as well. The title seems even more relevant now than when I came up with it last year – not sure when the dust is going to be settling on the current crisis.  

The album did take a while to come to fruition as we had a series of obstacles that had to be hurdled to get it finished.  We had to leave our old rehearsal / studio building and it took a long time to get settled into our new home (although we’re in a much better situation now!).  Our bassist at the time, (Max) had to move back to Italy after a family bereavement.  Carl, our drummer was unwell for a while – a bunch of things really that meant it came out nearly two years late.  So in answer to your question – it feels fantastic, and at the same time, a relief.

What was the creative process regarding the album? Was there a particular message you wanted the album to represent throughout? 

The creative process for us is that I usually come up with lots of scraps of chord sequences and melodies that I try to patch together into a full song structure.  The ones that I don’t get fed up with quickly get presented to the other guys in the band at rehearsal, and we try and bash them into shape so they work live. I have a pretty strong idea of how things will sound, but there’s some leeway for everyone to have input, with me having the final say. Yes, I’m a tyrant.

The album is just a collection of songs – it’s not a themed album or tied together lyrically like The Lemon Twigs – Go To School. It’s hard enough coming up with lyrics for 12 songs without having the extra fun of running a thread through them! As I mentioned before, maybe a loose overarching theme is that things more often than not take a long time to get over.

Was there any particular bands / musicians that influenced the album and if so what drew you to them? 

This album was brought to you with the inspiration of:

Elliott Smith – From a Basement on The Hill

Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Gaz Coombes – Matador

And probably a million other artists that have infiltrated my subconscious over the years.  I’m a sucker for outstanding melodies and great harmonies, so that’s what hooked me into these bands.

What’s your favourite track from the album and why? 

Honestly, it’s different every day – today, maybe the opening track, Sad Machine.  I’m really pleased with the structure – how the middle eight heads off on a tangent that I don’t think anyone would have seen coming. How the guitars sound so meaty towards the end. And because initially we didn’t have the piano parts at the beginning of the song, and though it sounded great, but adding them just took it to a different level.

What was the productive process of the album – how long did it take to produce it? 

Rob, our guitarist, is also a formidable engineer / producer.  He’ll take this one  –

“For the first time, we found ourselves in the position of having a consistent line up and our own rehearsal and recording space.

I went into the tracking of the album in the mindset that we would rehearse the songs and when we were feeling it, just hit record. We managed to get live rhythm tracks for the most part which gave us a good feel and a solid foundation for the overdubbing phase.

Finishing the final tracks for the last album had been quite laborious in places and we learnt a lot of lessons which helped the new tracks be a lot more effortless.

Apart from having to pause to build a new studio mid project, things went a lot quicker and mixing took a lot less time due to our emphasis on getting the arrangements really locked-in during the rehearsal and tracking.”

Was there a particular sound or genre you had in mind when you first starting writing it?

Not really – we try and have a magpie like approach to writing and recording – stealing anything that sounds good, adapting and integrating it. But unlike Bowie, for example, we don’t try to approach totally different genres and change identity with every album; it’s easier to do that when you can rope in all the best musicians and producers from the genre to help! But hopefully we’re not in that Oasis style rut where every album sounds exactly like the last. The aim is to write memorable songs with catchy melodies – which is what I like.  I think there’s a definite Captain Wilberforce “sound” without it being too predictable.

What track did you find hardest to write? 

The hardest song to write was I’m the Fool – the structure was a nightmare to pin down.  We wanted to start a song with the chorus for a change as we never really do that, but eventually it didn’t quite gel and we ended up with a solo over the chorus chords as the opening section.  The lyrics took forever too.  I had a very strong melody in my head while I wrote it and I couldn’t get words to scan over the melody how I wanted.  I had to give myself time away from the song, come up with a melody that was just as strong, then come up with a set of lyrics I could believe in that fitted.  Massively happy with the end result though.

What’s next for the band?

Writing a new album in our lovely new studio – I ‘ve already got lots of promising ideas that should make interesting songs, with a bunch of time and effort invested.  Also we’d love to get out and do some gigs (now we have our new bassist Dave Naylor on board), although the current pandemic situation may have a knock on effect to that side of things for a while to come. If that’s the case then we’ll probably try and live stream a gig from our studio. We have a decent enough following in the USA and Europe, to make it worthwhile – and we could hopefully bring in other musicians; piano, strings, backing singers – which we couldn’t dream of doing in gig settings because of the logistics.  Whatever happens, we’ll just continue writing, recording and promoting our songs.  It’s what we love doing.




INSTAGRAM: @Captainwilberforce

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