“My plans for the future would be to buy some kind of truck and deck it out as the Rapskallion roadshow,” Capaldi explains. “Then we’d take it all around Australia! I know quite a lot of people who are in the circus and sideshow people, so to create some kind of travelling carnival would be a lot of fun and probably quite possible. I just love that old idea of travelling circuses and carnies and going around in a big group from place to place, and even having the sideshow freaks! I know plenty of freaks! We’ve got a few gigs nailed for next year and we’ll do an album tour in March, but it’s strange even talking about next year because it will be 2012! I feel like the whole end of the world thing is upon us and everybody is a bit wary of it. Maybe it’s because I hang out with those kinds of people who are into that kind of thing. But it is weird.”
In the lead-up to the launch of Rapskallion’s new five-track EP The Cat And Fiddle, Capaldi explains the upcoming record is a live taste-test for audiences to sink their teeth into before the band release their full-length album. When it comes to the overall vibe and atmosphere of Rapskallion’s recent material, audiences should think “alleyways” and “cityscapes,” according to Capaldi.
“The tracks on this EP are done entirely live and it’s just the band playing, no overdubs or anything! It sounds very ‘full’ and we’ve got a good three-piece horn section in there as well, so it’s very creative. All the vocals were done on ’50s ribbon mics which were the same type that Tom Waits used on most of his album – and that totally sold me because I am a huge, huge fan! The recordings we’ve been doing for the album are a bit of a departure from our normal sound, I guess I could call it ‘steam punk blues’, sounds from the alleyways, percussion-heavy stuff. We live in Brunswick and we’re surrounded by that city feel anyway, so I think that’s bound to have an influence on you. A lot of people put us into the ‘gypsy’ category even though we don’t do gypsy music, but maybe it’s because our influences are all over the place – personally, I am hugely into the blues.”
Perhaps the gypsy category derives more from the band’s appearance and vibe, as Capaldi offers, with Rapskallion containing a very heavy visual element when it comes to live performances.
“We’re a very character-filled experience when you come to see us and we are very genuine about what we do. It’s very visual and theatrical and colourful and there are some pretty bright characters in the band, and there’s a romantic element to it too. We performed at the Secret Garden Party in England, which is this classic boutique festival, and we actually played three gigs in 24 hours. One was on a stage, the next one was at five in the morning, and the third one was us hanging from an Oak tree in harnesses! I had this little Madonna-like mic thing in my mouth and we were all delirious because we hadn’t slept in so long, but then someone pressed the wrong button and we nearly fell off it! Our accordion player was hanging on by one arm and soloing at the same time and I just turned around and went, ‘fucking hell!’ through the mic… It was great but we were literally hanging for our lives!”
The upcoming series of EP launches around the east coast won’t be anywhere near as life-threatening for the band nor the fans, Capaldi promises. Except, who would have thought organising gigs would be so much exhausting work – all’s not “cocaine and fun,” as Capaldi jokes!
“Years ago I thought I was just going to be a travelling muso, but it turns out there’s a lot more to it than that! You’ve got to organise the artwork, promo everything, there’s so much more to it! The travelling part is true, it’s the best part of it all. So far we’ve been able to play overseas as well as home, which isn’t always easy for bands to do. It’s nowhere near as glamorous as people think but we’re lucky in that we’re a bunch of travellers anyway. We’re a bunch of people who were used to roughing it out before we even got this band together, so having to do a lot of camping out and not necessarily staying in hotels and living communally, that’s not new to us. Europe has been really good to us in that respect, we’ve made a lot of friends and contacts there, so next year we’d like to back there but also Canada and the States. But then again next year is 2012…”