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Introducing Snap Captain Non-Stop Action
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
I thought I’d dedicate this week’s article to introducing you to a local band that you probably haven’t heard of before, Snap Captain Non-Stop Action. Consisting of Ryan Hartman on guitar and vocals, Nate Weitzel on drums, and Josh Watson on bass, the trio plays a style of rock that can best be described by naming their influences. According to Weitzel, some of the bands that have helped shaped SCNA are Planes Mistaken for Stars, Cursive, and Kings of Leon.
The origins of the band date back to late 2007, when Hartman was writing and performing solo acoustic songs. The three had played together in a band a few years before, but for reasons unknown refused to tell me which band it was. Anyhow, Hartman was doing his acoustic thing, then Weitzel came on board to play drums. “Then we decided to get heavier, so we got Josh to play bass and I bought an electric guitar,” Hartman told me.
In regards to songwriting, the band takes the cooperative route. “All the songs that we’ve written have just come from jamming,” Weitzle said, adding “usually someone comes in with a riff, or I’ll have a drum beat, and we’ll just roll with it until it becomes something.” Each member then writes his own part for the particular song, taking suggestions from the others of course. After that, the band collectively does the arrangements for each song. In regards to this, Weitzel also said “I think all bands should do that unless you’re a solo songwriter.” Lyrically, Hartman does most of the writing, but ideas come from everyone in the band. Sometimes, though, inspiration for lyrics will come from some unsuspected places. “I’ll play a video game and get inspired to write a song,” Hartman says.
Currently, the band is working on recording a six song EP, which they hope to release by the end of the summer. They are taking their time to do it right, though, so the release date might change depending on how well the recording goes. Weitzel describes a previous attempt at recording as coming out “stilted” and “chunky.” “We’re not going to release it if it sounds [un-live], and we’re a live band.”
Aside from interviewing the band, I sat in on a bit of their practice, and they played three songs for me, “Army of Dead,” “Minus Point B” and “Arrogance.” “Army of Dead” sounded like something straight out of the 80’s post-punk era. Following a Pixies-esque soft-loud-soft format, the guitar and bass had a very controlled noise quality to them. Tone-wise, I would compare it to Sonic Youth, except heavier and less erratic.
“Minus Point B” started out sounding almost like song Mission of Burma could’ve written, with a slightly cleaner guitar sound and more use of what sounded like full chords (as opposed to power chords, that is...also, I hard time seeing exactly what Hartman was doing). It continued the soft to loud movement, and ended up reminding me of “Domestica” era Cursive.
The last song they played for me, “Arrogance,” was probably my favorite. This one also started out with more of a clean-sounding guitar, but had more of a jangly quality to it than the previous songs. When it came to the chorus, the band seemed to kick everything up about a thousand percent. Everything got distorted, fast, and frantic.
Weitzel’s drumming, most of the time, reminded me a lot of George Hurley from the Minutemen. Solid, mostly straightforward, but with enough playing around to make it really interesting. I guess you could also say that about Hartman and Watson’s playing. There not a lot of zazz going on, but when you put everything together you get some very cool rock.
In closing I asked if the guys had anything else to add. Watson, who I prodded a little, because he had been so quiet up until then, said “I play bass.” So there you are, Josh; there’s your quote. Well, he also said “we’ve always just played what we want, you know, instead of saying ‘this sounds too much like this.’ If we all like it, we play it.” Weitzel said something similar to this. “I’ve noticed in other bands I’ve been in that [a lot of bands] try to hard to be something. That’s what I love about this band; we’re just doing what comes to us at the moment.” Hartman said “I got nothin.”
If you’d like to sample some Snap Captain Non-Stop Action for yourself, you can check out their myspace page at myspace.com/snapcaptainnonstopaction. The site has demo versions of three of the bands songs, as well as live videos from some of their previous shows. The band is currently looking for bookings and they can be reached via myspace or at firstname.lastname@example.org.