Indie pop-rock band Capital Soirée knows how to write a song with a sticky, stuck-in-your-head melody. Since forming in 2013, the group has released a handful of singles, including two EPs called Next Weekend and Take Me Anywhere. Founding members James Kourafas, Max "Rom" Romero, and Steven Rejdukowski have also been playing around the city for years, recently adding on a live drummer, Griffin Shaw. Last weekend, we chatted with the four-piece before they headlined the main room stage at Wicker Park's Subterranean to not only celebrate their upcoming EP, but the one year anniversary of Griffin joining the live band....and Max's birthday. In our interview, the group discusses their new music, the lessons they've learned over the summer, their evolution as a band, and more. Here are five things you need to know about Capital Soirée!
They've Changed Roles Since the Band Started
The three core members of Capital Soirée are all multi-instrumentalists and have all been able to take on multiple roles throughout the years. After initially starting to play drums at age 6, Max Romero eventually picked up the bass, which has since remained his role in the band today. Vocalist and guitarist James Kourafas describes his start in music, saying, "I was like 9 or 10. [Max and I] initially had met in third grade. We had this whole thing that we were gonna start a rock band." Steven Rejdukowski, who now plays guitars and keys in the current day lineup says, "I learned how to play drums so I could be in a band," after meeting Kourafas and Romero and finding out they needed a drummer to complete their band. He had initially picked up a guitar and learned to play at age 14. Griffin Shaw came in to play the live drums with a lot of experience already under his belt. "I've been playing [drums] 12 years now. My grandpa plays jazz drums. So he got me into the drum world pretty early," he recalled. The band's ability to be flexible and take on playing multiple instruments had led them to a seamless live show, even with the new material they debuted at the Subterranean.
They've Recently Taken on Producing Their Own Music
The band have been working away on new music that not only features a more developed sound, but a more in-depth process behind the scenes. Talking more about their current recording process, Rejdukowski says, "We record at my house. I’ve been building a studio for the past 6 years or so. We recorded at a few places before when we were younger and we kind of hated it." Echoing that sentiment, Kourafas says, "It took us a while to come to the realization that so much of a record’s sound actually has to do with the way it was recorded and produced and mixed. At the time when you’re younger, you don’t necessarily have the words to express what you’re trying to get down so you’re kind of at the mercy of the producer who’s recording you. That’s kind of what drove us to want to do the DIY thing." As far as who takes the lead in their production work, the band says it's a democratic system, each on them getting an input. "Yeah we kinda all just sit around the computer, and one person drives, and we all make our own comments," Romero describes their process.
The band also discuss some of their favorite producers that they admire and look to for influence. "I really like the band Hoops, their production style. It’s not so much an inspiration for our music, but I admire that sort of lo-fi production. But we also like hi-fi, like super high fidelity electronic stuff. There's all sorts of different styles that we’re trying to mesh together," Kourafas says. "If I had a big influence...Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. He was the whole reason I wanted to record and build a studio, besides that I’m tired of hearing other producers tell us what to do. He opened my eyes," Rejdukowski chimed in.
They Spent the Summer Locked Up in the Studio...and Other Places
The band have spent a large chunk of the summer recording and producing their upcoming EP. Talking more about the direction of the songwriting style for this new material, Romero says, "It’s slowly been evolving. Back in the day, one of us would write a song on acoustic guitar, bring it to the group, and figure out parts from them. Nowadays it’s more like ok we have a song pretty much written. For the most recent recordings, we had demos that we made ourselves and we brought them all together and kind of decided which one was gonna be the best and from there we opened up the doors. So anyone could add on anything they want." The amount of collaboration varies track by track with the band's best interest in mind. "A big thing with the technique we’re using now is we’re trying to get past our own personal egos and make music that we feel is the best possible music we could make. Being in the studio... it really lends itself to coming up with different sounds," Kourafas adds.
So while the band has been working hard, remaining locked up in Steven's studio to get this new music complete, they did also have a scheduling conflict pop up, when Romero got literally locked up for getting caught with a little bit of Colorado's finest export at Bonnaroo Festival and didn't show up to his hearing. Consequently, he got sentenced to two weeks in jail in Coffee County, Tennessee. Despite the setback, Romero gained some wisdom from the experience. "The biggest lesson I learned besides don’t take drugs across state lines, is don’t stress the shit that you can’t control. Cause you can, especially in jail, go crazy. Like, I can’t do anything about the fact that I’m gonna be in here for two weeks. You just have to sit back and let the world do it’s thing. Control what you can and don’t kill yourself over the shit you can’t control," he says.
The Subterranean Holds a Lot of History for Them
The band has played all around the city over the years, but the SubT holds a special place in their heart. Their show last week acted as one of several times they've played that stage. So what are some of their favorite memories from the Wicker Park venue? "There was that one time you ripped my shirt off [to James]. That was one of the first times I had my shirt off at a show," Romero recalls. He also describes another time he stage dove at their last EP release show, saying, "I was over on the front by the monitors. My friend who is like 6’5, pretty large guy like grabs me and picks me up. This was during 'The Count.' I’d never stage dove before. It was kind of scary cause I was like I still have to play these parts... I didn’t want want to hit anybody with the bass!" Griffin Shaw also played his very first show with the group on the SubT stage.
This most recent performance will most likely go down on their list of Subterranean memories, seeing as Romero did take his shirt off again at the end of their set, and they played one of their unreleased tracks. The experience of playing this new song already proved to be landmark for the band, Romero pointed out. "It’s weird because before when we wrote songs, we would play them all together before we would even record them. This is the first time we’ve flipped it around. So we recorded first and now we’re playing it." Kourafas agrees, saying, "It’s kind of goofy cause we had to like learn our own songs. At the time when we recorded, we lay down what we lay down and don’t necessarily think about it too much."
Their List of Dream Collaborators is a Cross-Genre Super Group
If the band could collaborate with anybody in the world, Rejdukowski says he'd love to work with Tame Impala, since Kevin Parker has inspired him as a musician and producer. Romero throws out The Weeknd as a personal bucket list collaboration, while Kourafas says Phoenix and Shaw named Hans Zimmer. Basically, their dream collaborators sounds like an ideal super group that needs to happen at one point in the future. The group also shout out their bucket list venues and festivals, Rejdukowski saying, "Absolute dream place--kind of cliché, but Red Rocks!" Romero mentions Shaky Knees festival, which takes place every Spring in Atlanta.
Although they'd love to one day work with more established acts and work their way up to playing bigger shows, the band also have a lot of hometown appreciation. Talking about the Chicago scene, Romero says, "Rare is it that we’ve found people who are shitty. Everyone is pretty supportive honestly. The Chicago local scene...I’ve never really been around other local scenes, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty large." Rejdukowski agrees, adding, "Even like a lot of the bands we play with, they don’t necessarily sound like our music, but that’s the best part about it. The people who come to the shows are exposed to more genres and everyone is just vibing on it." As far as their favorite fellow Chicago musicians, the band shout out Floral Couches. "They’re great. Last time we played here we got to meet them. We all really fuck with The Walters. I like the Symposium. Post Animal’s great. [Twin] Peaks..." Romero says.