Canadian band Calling All Captains offer up an infectiously aggressive pop-punk sound blended with delicious post-hardcore and screamo elements.
The band is formed of five friends from Edmonton and St. Albert, in Alberta, who had all been in different bands and crossed paths in their local music scene. It began with Brad Bremner (guitar and vocals) and a former vocalist, who posted a Kijiji ad looking for a bassist, through which they discovered Nick Malychuk and started recording and gigging. The trio immediately created a local buzz and attracted more musicians, including Luc Gauthier, who came to their first show, and his friend Connor Dawkins (guitar and vocals). A while later, their original singer left so Luc moved onto vocals and they recruited Tim Wilson as his replacement on drums.
Our first taste of what Calling All Captains has to offer is their debut album Slowly Getting Better, which was released at the end of last month. The album is the follow-up to their 2019 EP but is the first full-length record any of the band members have ever created.
On the release of the album, they told us: “Beyond stoked! We’ve all put out EPs in the past but this is our first full-length album, so it was an entirely different experience altogether. It was great to take 5-6 weeks off work and focus just on the songs every day, making sure everything turned out the way we wanted it to. We wanted the album to feel like it had grown from the roots of the Nothing Grows Here EP, but we also wanted to explore some other song styles and showcase how diverse we can be as musicians.
“There’s something on this album for everyone. It’s still undeniably heavy pop-punk overall, but we have songs that lean heavily into the POP punk side, some that are post-hardcore and mostly screamo, some with clean verses and 12 string guitars, and some that are straight rock.”
The band also worked really hard to whittle down a long list of songs to compile the 11-track record. As they explain: “Yeah, we started with 20+ songs and trimmed it down to 11 final songs, which was incredibly difficult. We had a really hard time picking singles for the album, so to be honest we’re just excited for everyone to hear all the songs and see which ones the fans relate to the most!”
Interestingly, the band single out the album’s final track Friends & Family as the one they’re most looking forward to people hearing. It starts out with light guitars that continue under palm-muted and laid-back vocals, which build up to a big chorus “I say that’s bullshit, You think you’re tough but really you just talk shit, I wonder why you thought that you’re a cool kid, Better get your judging ass right back to school kid, It’s like you never even clued in, My mind is playing tricks on me again, My sanity is slowly being spent, I hear them demons in my head, And when I’m falling into bed, They call my name ‘til the bitter end.”
A brief laid-back verse feeds into a lyrical variation on the chorus that ends on heavy screamed vocals. Light guitars take over, then stabbing guitar chords that continue more vicious screams that feed into a powerful conclusion.
On the track, the band tell us: “It started out as an emo trap song that Luc was working on and we turned it into a full band song that has kind of an ADTR vibe. The lyrics in the bridge/outro of the song have the phrase ‘I’m slowly getting better, you can make this happen if you just put in the effort,’ which is where the album name came from.”
There’s plenty of fun heavy pop-punk to get stuck into before it on the album, including the hard-hitting Tailspin. An intro of spinning guitars and big driving drums kick into big catchy opening vocals “The reason I get fucked up, Is the seasons, Just leave me busted, leave me bleeding, I’ve torn up the roots I’ve seeded, But was it needed?”
Faster vocals take over in a big chorus, then an equally lively verse feeds into an extended version of the chorus before a fun instrumental outro. Check it out in the video here:
The album is packed with cracking tunes like the viciously catchy Loving Cup and excellent opening track Laurel Canyon. There’s also the infectious Steady Pensive, the vicious Loyalty that features a funky little guitar solo, and the big singalong Undone and Vacant Sentiment.
But a personal favourite track is Wasted, which opens up with big chords supported by driving drums. It drops into engaging vocals that feed into the chorus “You know I’m tired of getting wasted, But still I act if nothing’s wrong, I play along I’m stuck at home, I know my memory’s fading, I know you’re sick of my complainin’.”
A fun little burst of guitars feeds into fast-paced vocals through the verse and another catchy chorus. Another fun section of guitars drops into a cool solo then big backing vocals “I will be alright” as heavy screams take over to bring the track to a powerful conclusion. Check it out in the video here:
The Calling All Captains sound draws influence from a wide range of bands and musical genres. Connor’s favourite band is The Beatles, Luc loves heavier stuff like Northlane, Nick is big into the hardcore scene, and Tim and Brad are more into the pop-punk giants like Blink-182, The Story So Far and Knuckle Puck.
And on what inspires them to write music, the band explains: “We write about things that happen in our lives and that have affected us. This album explores some heavier themes that we hadn’t really written about before in our last EP. Things like mental illness, substance abuse, and death.”
There’s plenty more to come from Calling All Captains, including touring, playing more shows and getting their superb album out to as many people as possible. And expect them to be hard at work doing what they love and starting on their next album.
Slowly Getting Better is out now via Equal Visions (USA), New Damage (Canada) and Rude Records (UK and Europe). And the band add: “We’re really proud of these songs and put our hearts and souls into them. We hope our friends and fans will connect with them as much as we do.”
You can follow Calling All Captains on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music and Deezer. Also check out a series of videos behind the scenes of the album on their YouTube channel.
Image Credit: Alan Bremner