Captain Midnite’s debut EP “Purple Heart Vendetta” delivers five tracks akin to a stroll through Epcot: Diverse, memorable and most refreshingly foreign to anything you’re going to hear on your local alternative stations. Captain Midnite blends together a precise formula of hip hop and electro beats, post-hardcore stylings, a dash of Gothic-tinged vocal pandering that recall a neo-Voltaire in a less toe-tapping mood (“Coldly Tuned,” “Garnett”). Top it off with appropriately-timed screams packed with an aching ferocity that would make Vic Fuente’s (Pierce the Veil) heart swell with the pride of a pimp watching his prized whore give her first Congressional blowjob, and you have one aural recipe daring Warped Tour to take a swig.
Every last beat and dark lyric of revenge and tattered hearts come directly from the brain and fingertips of Joe Symanski, the crackerjack behind Captain Midnite’s sonic sundry. Joe was awesome and agreed to sit down and be interrogated by me. (I’m assuming he was sitting. He might have been squatting. I couldn’t see him all the way from Pittsburgh.)
1. In today’s scene, rarely do you run across a band labeling themselves as just “alternative” or “rock” or “metal.” People want the music they love to be stuffed into specific packaging and lately these gift boxes don’t seem complete unless they have the “-core” tag dangling from them as well; we’re seeing everything from metalcore to noodlecore to christcore. Each song on your EP varies so much, I imagine it must be near impossible to pigeon-hole yourself into one genre. How do you respond when asked to slap a label on your music?
I’m fine with whatever tag people want to throw on my music because it is all about how they want to interpret it. You’re right, the music I make ranges from Post-Hardcore to Hip-Hop to Alternative Rock to Pop to Electro. So people can make what they want of it, but I just throw together what sounds right to me at the time. It helps having been a beat maker for so long working with so many different styles. I am able to understand pretty much every genre out there and how that particular music works or doesn’t work. Having been featured in Alternative Press recently (AP) has been a blessing too because it has helped people that love that “style” of Purple Heart Vendetta start to follow my work.
2. How would your best friend describe you?
A relaxed person with a dark sense of humor and intelligent swagggggg ;)
3. You’ve performed with your other group The Let Go, but have you had the chance to take the stage as Captain Midnite? And since every instrument on the record is played by you, quite incredibly, do you perform (or plan to perform) as a solo artist or employ a band to take on the road with you?
I’ve performed a few times with my solo stuff and my favorite time was with my buddy Nima drumming. My plan is to continue to do the solo music but also start a full band on top of that. In my upcoming shows I’ll have a band with me playing guitar/drums/bass and I’ll be singing and playing keyboard and maybe some guitar.
4. More pressing than the chicken/egg question, what came first: making your own music or producing hip hop beats?
Making beats for hip-hop artists came first before anything. It was what I was feeling at the time when I was 16 and so I stuck with just that for a while and I’ve now found a kind of music I like to make on my own as well with me singing. I’ll continue to do my work with hip hop artists, and my group The Let Go, and continue to release music with Kyle Lucas as well. I don’t mind working between genres at all. It’s actually super fun. Kyle Lucas and my new hip-hop EP “The Sky Is Falling And I’m Fine” is almost finished up and I’m so pumped about it! I think it crazy how much better we have both gotten since “I Brought Dead Flowers to a FUNeral.” And I love our record “…Dead Flowers” so it’s a good feeling to feel like we outdid that one!
5. Best show you’ve ever attended, the sort that makes your heart seize up and gives you a major post-show hangover?
I went on a road-trip with my girlfriend about a year ago down to San Diego and we ended up catching back-to-back night Pierce The Veil shows in their hometown. One show was full electric, the other was all acoustic. I’d never seen anything like it. Seeing a band with that much passion, love for music and love for their fans in their hometown was absolutely incredible. I’ll never forget it. Plus Vic is one of the most phenomenal live vocalists out there, so it’s hard to lose with someone like that on your team!
6. What would you be doing if making music wasn’t an option?
I’d probably be either involved in film or graphic design. I’m just a very artsy person, but I like to think I am also very grounded. It’s important for artists to not forget about real life sometimes. Can’t always have your head in the clouds.
7. I feel that what a person listens to often says a lot about them, so I ask everyone from co-workers to hobos under the pier. Here is the obligatory “What are your favorite bands?” question.
Well, Pierce The Veil as I said before. And I love Thrice and Brand New. I have to throw Sade in there because technically she has a band and everything. She might be my favorite artist period. Her harmonies are not human. So beautiful. And I know Cee Lo Green isn’t a band, but I could never deny how much his music inspires me. It is insane. Also, lately I’ve been really into the new Chiodos record with their new singer and also the new Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows with the old Chiodos singer. Funny how those two albums I think are the best albums I think Chiodos has done and also Craig Owens (DRUGS) has done. Annnnd I can’t leave out Bring Me The Horizon because they are so awesome to see live. Energy like no other.
8. Warped Tour is pretty much the zenith of today’s alternative music scene but there seems to be a perpetual debate about it. There’s the one side who think it’s jumped the shark by diverging away from classic punk bands, and the other side who feel that its progression and diversity is what’s keeping it alive. What does Warped Tour mean to you, as a fan and an artist?
I think the reason Warped is able to stay so huge is because of like you said; them incorporating many different genres. If it were just straight punk bands playing it wouldn’t do nearly as well. Kids like these hybrid and pop bands more and more these days. Artists can’t complain about it. Either deal with it or adapt.
9. I’m a sucker for male/female collabs, like the Lights cameo on the latest Bring Me the Horizon album. If you were given the chance to work with any female singer of your choice, who would it be?
The Lights feature on BMTH’s album WAS EARTH-SHATTERING! If I were to work with any female singer it would be Sade as stated before. I think it’s even more awesome that she is like 30 years older than me! I couldn’t picture a more beautiful collaboration than that, I would feel beyond blessed.
10. What does Captain Midnite have planned for the future?
A lot more shows this upcoming summer. I got a free song coming out this Wednesday March 16th called “Gateway Love” coming out with my buddy Grumps, so snag that! I’m working on a follow up EP to Purple Heart Vendetta at the moment too, but before that is dropped I’m going to drop some singles and some free DLs!
And now I leave you with some essential links where Captain Midnite can be found:
Purple Heart Vendetta on iTunes (I bought it after only hearing one song. You won’t regret it. When have I ever lied to you? I mean, other than that one time.)