Summer 2017 marks yet another substantial gig for Hastings’ own four-piece rock band Kid Kapichi. The band will be performing at the Hastings’ Pier Charity’s Zooquarium Festival alongside various other distinguished Hastings acts and supporting Essex-born headliner Rat Boy.
I spoke with founding members of Kid Kapichi, Ben Beetham & Jack Wilson, to discuss their upcoming EP, recording at Dr Savage’s own Savage Sound and what the future has in store for the band.
Over the years Kid Kapichi has become a predominant part of the music in Hastings. Can you give me a bit of insight into the journey it took to get to this point?
Ben: That journey over the last 6 or 8 months has probably taken its most prominent and drastic turn for the better; we’re more excited than ever about how our music is going. We were about 18 when we started playing music together and from there it just stemmed from writing for a few years, going through processes to find our sound and our live show. You know, all the little bits to be a fully-fledged band. It’s quite interesting because most people will be in loads of bands before they’re in the band where they’re like, “Right, this is the band that speaks to me.” We’ve kind of done all of that in one band, we’ve gone through all of the different stages and always been moving forward – that’s what has kept us feeling strong about it. The Kid Kapichi has always been moving in a forward direction and never backwards. The music we’ve just made is insane, we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
Jack: Yeah, we’ve been around for years and years but it feels like the real Kapichi has only been around for like, 6 months or something. One of our friends who comes to all of our gigs heard the new stuff and was like, “This sounds more like Kapichi than your previous stuff did.” So that was pretty good.
Ben: It’s super exciting for us to kind of finally hear our own band. I mean we’ve only listened to it in the studio at this point but we were finally all sat there like, “What the fuck. This is our band.” With our arms in the air.
You released your single Ice Cream in July 2016. How well was it received and what was behind the accompanying lyric video?
Jack: It’s so difficult when you’ve got a song and it’s like having a kid, you may think the kid is really beautiful but everyone else thinks it’s really ugly. It’s the same with your own music because it’s hard to tell if anyone else is going to enjoy it or if it’s just you. When it came out and we’d sold all the vinyl before we had even played that gig – I mean that was amazing. Also the fact that we were getting comments from people across the UK and other countries tagging their mates and giving us good feedback was great. I think that off the back of that it’s made us more eager to do the new stuff.
Ben: It was definitely the first step into the sound that we’re cultivating at the moment. When we first met with the guy we’re working with he’d already heard the music we’d put out there and he said, “This is an interesting direction to pursue.” That was pretty much the catalyst for us to move forward.
Jack: 99% of anything I write is just singing the first thing that comes into my head – I was just singing “ice-cream” and it went from there. I had this visual image in my head and I swear to god everyone came up to me like “Oh, it’s about this” and I genuinely didn’t think about that as I was writing it – I mean maybe subconsciously. Now it’s really interesting because it’s a bit of a joke, it’s cool that the meaning has come from how other people perceived it rather than whatever I was saying in the first place.
Ben: When the first word you sing when you’re writing is a wicked phrase or word you’re like “Yes!” and it just spirals from there.
Jack: Also “ice-cream” is instantly one of those words that evoke colourful and fun imagery. Ben was in charge of the video.
Ben: Yeah. So that was some footage we got a hold of and we worked with an editor who, randomly, was working with Justin Timberlake like two weeks before. I went to his house and we figured out all these kaleidoscopic effects for the footage. Originally we thought it should be a video of us, but I quite like the fact that it’s 100% based on content rather than it being part of a package and an image of us, you can just hear the words and hear the song –
Jack: -and it’s now the song that everyone knows the words to.
You’ve been off recording your new EP and teasing your fans with very cautious, Adidas-heavy photos from Savage Sound. Is there anything you can tell me about the recording process, as well as your new material and what we have to look forward to?
Ben: It was insane working at Savage’s, there was just such a great vibe. There was amazing gear and working with Kevin Vanbergen, our producer, was a pleasure from start to finish. It was such an exciting process for us to be at that point and be able to execute it in the best possible environment – it was mad. Like I was saying before, this journey has ended up in a place where we understand what our music is. In the past, we may have been a bit guilty of writing music that was trying to be accessible and attempting to please everyone, but when the music really started resonating with us was when we went, “Right, forget whether anyone else likes it. Let’s try and put as much of ourselves into this.” I mean, people are either going to hate it or love it but we’ve done right by ourselves. Think of the bands that you love – there are people that hate those bands and think they’re shit, but there are also people that love them.
Jack: We just had to stop trying to, in our minds, please other people and start pleasing ourselves. That was when I was the most excited about anything we’ve done. When we did our gig at The Tub after maybe 4 months of being away and writing we were kind of like, “What if nobody likes them?” But everyone loved it, of course, we had people telling us to play the old stuff but overall we got a really good reaction. I’m excited to see what everyone thinks about this, and it’s nice to know that people are excited to hear it. I’ll bump into people asking, “When’s it coming out?” and I’m just like… I don’t know yet.
Ben: I think the other cool thing about bridging that gap between putting so much of yourself into it and not worrying too much about whether people like it or not is that it’s a hard game to be in terms of a success rate – at least you know you’ve done it your way and no matter what happens you won’t have any regrets about it.
Jack: We haven’t even heard it properly yet. We heard it whilst we were recording it, but that was just-
Ben: -super dry stems. Everything.
Jack: We’re just waiting every day, checking our emails to see when we get something back.
Ben: Just waiting for it to blow our ball sacks off.
Have you faced many struggles as young musicians?
Jack: Luckily in Hastings, everyone is given a chance.
Ben: Nobody asks for I.D.
Jack: I think it’s just hard being a musician in the first place. Trying to promote yourself as an original band, especially out of town, is really difficult because it’s mainly about how many people you can bring, which is hard when you’re playing somewhere where people haven’t really seen you.
Ben: It’s a two-way street working with promoters because they need something from a band as much as you need something from them – it’s a give and take thing. Age isn’t really a factor, it’s always hard.
Jack: I think it’s a bit easier when you’re older for people to take you seriously, but generally the bands that are most exciting tend to be younger because it’s something new. The things we’ve learned from doing this are that there will always be people, like Paul from The Tub, who will always give bands a chance. Wherever you play you will always find people like this, you may have to message a bunch of venues and only get a few responses, but once you find that place to play you’ve got that place.
Ben: There is something that was a massive learning curve for me as I got older. I remember being maybe 18 or 19 and having this ideology looming over my head like, “If you haven’t made it by the time you’re not classed as a young band anymore then don’t bother, you’ll be too old.” You just feel like there’s this deadline approaching when you’re a certain age. If I could go back to myself then I’d just be like, “It doesn’t fucking matter.” It’s about when you’re sound is ready and when you’re ready to give that out.
Jack: Nobody heard The Beatles and went, “Well, how old are they?” I mean, most of the success stories you hear are because people are young but that’s not really the norm.
Ben: People like Prince, George Michael or Arctic Monkeys are often talked about because they started young, but there are also so many bands who came about at an older age.
Many of the prominent artists in Hastings appeal mostly to the older generation. Do you believe that more young artists should be associated with that collective or should there be an entirely new movement within the Hastings music scene?
Jack: I don’t know if it’s just Hastings or music in general, but I think they all go together. In Hastings, most of the people who have helped us have been Mr – no – Dr Savage.
Ben: Professor Savage.
Jack: Also, you know, Dr Blair.
Ben: I had a friend who came from London and lived here for a bit, he was a bit younger and the thing he loved most about Hastings was that young and old completely mesh together. From a young age, my friends have ranged from 16 to 50 years old. I think that’s a really cool thing but it does depend on your environment, I know a lot of people who have always lived in Hastings but don’t know anything about that music scene. I talk about all this mad stuff that’s going on and they have no idea. I suppose young people who feel a bit alienated by it should just go out and look for it. Everyone is ready to hang out together.
Jack: I think it would be impossible to have a separate thing. I mean, at our gigs we’ll see people of all ages and they love it. It also depends where you play – there’s always a different demographic.
Ben: Everyone just goes everywhere.
Jack: I also think that a lot of it is in the hands of the older musicians, and we’re lucky that the majority are ready to welcome us in.
Ben: Everyone in Hastings is really encouraging, the audiences especially. Also, there’s this thing where it’s quite far removed from the trendiness, like in cities where everyone looks to each other, but here everything is able to grow in its own unique way without people trying to be like whoever is drawing the biggest crowds. There’s just such a mix – jazz, punk, rock, metal. That’s one of the beautiful things about it, there isn’t any pressure to be a certain way. Just be who you are.
Zooquarium is a festival by young people, for young people. How important do you think it is for there to be an event like this?
Ben: We need to keep the regeneration of culture alive.
Jack: Especially this moment in time, it’s more important than ever. Not just music, but music does tend to be the way to unite – it can be political or otherwise. It’s the most important thing.
Ben: Even the young at heart, just coming together for festivals. Also making your own scene, we’ve kind of done that here by bringing bands down from out of town.
Jack: That’s something we did and what I’m most proud of. I remember we’d always drive up to London and drive back after seeing all these amazing bands and being like, “It’s such a shame they can’t come and see what the gigs are like in Hastings – they’re the best ones.” And then we realised we can get them to come to Hastings; Nova Twins are one of them, as well as Where Fires Are. We’re not saying we’re solely responsible but these bands did come down and people loved them.
Ben: We’re just proud we’ve been able to share that – it’s a nice thing.
Jack: The line-up for Zooquarium looks wicked and Rat Boy is the right headline act to have. It’s great that there’s going to be a lot of younger people attending who may be in the same position we were in at their age, realising they have potential, forming bands and becoming better than us and we’ll hate them. Also, even if it’s mainly bringing together young people there’s still stuff for the older generation.
Ben: I can’t wait to play on that stage. To play in that bit of air where everyone else played for years and years. It’ll be Blair’s second gig on the pier I think, he did a gig on the pier like 25 years ago. I can’t wait for that, man. It’ll be an honour.