By Amy Sondova Capital Lights won’t take “no” for an answer. Instead of accept rejection when they sought a record deal, the band continued to perfect their craft, eventually ending up with a spot on Tooth and Nail’s coveted roster. Releasing their first album, This Is an Outrage in July, the guys in Capital Lights—guitarists Brett Admire and Jonathan Williams, vocalist Bryson Phillips, and drummer Michael Paul Phillips—have had a busy summer touring across the United States. Bryson was kind enough to take time out from re-reading his Harry Potter books to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.
A lot of bands don’t realize the hard work that actually goes into getting a record deal. You guys sent several songs to Aaron Sprinkle, who eventually ended up producing the album, but what was it like, for lack of a better word, to deal with all that rejection?
Oh, yes, it took a lot of work for us! We sent emails out to every label and producer out there. Rarely did one of them email us saying they weren’t interested; we just hardly ever got a response at all. This was something we all wanted really badly so no matter how many times something didn’t work out, we kept trying.
Actually, Sprinkle was one of the few that actually responded. He said, “Keep me updated when you guys write some new songs.” This basically meant “These songs aren’t very good.” Now most people would take that as rejection, we took it as someone finally taking the time to respond. We kind of celebrated. I think Sprinkle responding sort of gave us hope because whether he meant it or not, we took him up on his offer. I emailed him every song we ever wrote after that. Haha, it finally paid off!
Capital Lights definitely has the sound of early Relient K, yet you started with a screamo base eventually deciding to pull together your own sound—how did this come about?
It’s really weird because, yes, three of us played in a Story of the Year-styled screamo band, and Jonny came from a metal band. We aren’t really sure how pop music was formed here. Actually, before we got this group together, I was just the bassist, and when we were looking for vocalists I decided to give writing a try. I wrote a couple songs and they ended up coming out pretty pop rock sounding. This is the kind of music I mainly listen to and all the other guys love it too, so everyone decided to stop searching for a vocalist and make this happen.
People keep asking me what “Let the Little Lady Talk” is about—so what’s it about?
Haha, OK, well most of our songs, including this one, are pretty sarcastic. This one is basically just about couples fighting. Not a specific couple, just in general, boyfriends and girlfriends getting into it. I say the word “I” a lot but I’m usually not referring to my actual self. I just put myself in the place of the character in the song. This being said, I’m not a jerk who likes to come over late to my girls place and fight with her. It’s just a song.
There are a ton of songs on this album, and since we only have five questions—can you give me a run-down of a couple of my favorites—”Return” and “Mile Away”?
Sure! “Return” is one of the few songs that actually means something deep to me. Like I said, most of the songs are pretty sarcastic and don’t deal with anything too serious. Well I remember while I was writing the album, one day our A&R guy, Jon Dunn, called me and said he and Sprinkle wanted me to write a song that wasn’t so fast-paced on the vocals. They wanted me to slow it down a bit so people could actually understand what I’m saying. So I thought, if I’m going to slow it down just for people to easily understand what I’m saying, I better have something good to say. So I wrote “Return” based on Matthew 24. As this world is gets worse–no matter what tribulations may come, we Christians will stand firm to the end. We can see many things happening in the world today that may very well be signs of this happening soon. Basically, it’s a song of encouragement.
“Mile Away” is a completely different song. Although it may sound serious, it really isn’t. I don’t have a girlfriend, so I don’t have much drama in my life. If I want to write a song about that kind of stuff, I create my own stories. I wrote “Mile Away” about a guy who leaves his girl and runs off to California. Once he gets there, he misses what he had, and realizes that he belongs back home… and home is with her. There have been people who have told me they got something completely different and more meaningful out of this song, which makes me happy. I’m glad a song can have different meanings to different people.
Bryson, why do you thank J.K. Rowling in your liner notes? Are you a big Harry Potter fan? (I’m personally a HUGE Harry Potter fan and even have a silly blog dedicated to letting people know that Fred really isn’t dead…just a little FYI.)
Oh goodness… I LOVE Harry Potter! Jonny and I are the only Harry Potter fans in the band. I’ve been waiting for the trailer to Half Blood Prince to premier for so long! I watched it literally minutes after it was posted online 2 days ago. I really need to find this blog you speak of because Fred’s death was the saddest to me… of all the deaths in all the books, I really did not want that to happen. BUT, I do have to say the way J.K. Rowling ended the 7th book was amazing! I was shaking all the way through the last 3 chapters!
Have you heard of Wizard Rock? The genre of rock bands that write all songs about Harry Potter? Yeah, I started a WR band. We are called The Boyz Who Lived. We already have 2 songs. We wanted to be called Hufflepuff-daddy. Or we were thinking maybe The Rowling Stones but we were afraid she may somehow sue us. She does that a lot. The Boyz Who Lived is a cool name though, don’t ya think? Especially how “Boyz” is spelled with a “z” instead of an “s”. Makes us look kinda gangsta, like it makes me want to start Wizard Rap. Anyway… yes, HUGE Harry Potter fan. Check us out on myspace.com/theboyzwholived.