Pat Capocci is nothing else than one of the best thing to happen to modern rockabilly in the recent years. “Modern” is probably not the right word to describe the sound of this rockin’ cat. He sounds as if he came right from the fifties wether he plays rockabilly, blues, hillbilly bop.
And most of all this guy has the whole package that would make more than one envious: he has the look, the songs, the sound, the voice and he’s more than able when it comes to deliver a hot (or a smooth) guitar solo.
All this reasons made that Capocci arrived on the top list of the guys we wanted to interview.
by Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Can you introduce yourself?
Pat Capocci: Hi my name is Pat Capocci, Im a guitarist/singer from Australia.
I’ve grown up my whole life in the Maitland/Newcastle area,kinda in between the country and the coast,but now I’m unfortunatly living in Sydney,its great for gigs as there’s so much more on but it’s so fast, busy and has no soul compared to home
In the liner notes of Steppin’ Out you’re writing that your Dad took you to gigs when you were young. What kind of importance did he have in your discover of rockin’ music?
Pat Capocci: Dad and mum have always been really suportive of anything I do musically, when I was a teenager and into punk rock he kinda pointed me towards the bands I should listen to and then when I started getting into the rockin scene he took to me to see bands in pubs (mainly blues bands) when I was underage,he had a great vinyl collection of early Chicago blues and I guess thats really were the obsesion started to grow
One thing he always made sure was that I remained open minded about all music styles, listen to it and learn something from it rather than just critisize it push it aside,and I guess that’s still with me today and reflects in my influences and my playing
What kind of stuff did you start with? I mean, did you start by listening to modern bands then move backward or did the pioneers led you to the current scene?
Pat Capocci: I gues as far as Rockin/Roots music concerned I’ve always mixed it up, I started with Carl Perkins, Merle Travis, Deke Dickerson, Bob Wills, Little Walter, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rogers (Chicago one), Joe Maphis, Johnny Guitar Watson, Charlie Christian, Jimmie Vaughn and Big Sandy,the list goes on but I guess these fellas are the main guys I lernt/stole from!haha
When did you pick up the guitar? Were you influenced by a guitar slinger in particular?
Pat Capocci: I would have been around 6/7 I think? Dad played a bit and there was always one lying around the house, I was a very curious kid,I had to know what was goin on! haha
But round that age it was pretty much dad picking his folk blues tunes that got me exited.
From 16 on Dave Biller, Junior Watson, TK Smith, Jimmie Vaughn, Kid Ramos and Dangerous Dan were my go to guys
Tell us about your early experiences… What were the first bands you’ve played with?
Pat Capocci: My first serious atempt playing in bands was in high school, I was around 13ish,we had a 1977 inspired punk band,we did a heap of buzzcocks,the clash,the vibrators,all the good English stuff,I was still listening to dads records during this time but
It would have been two years after when I met Ezra Lee,he was 13 and I was 15,we’d seen each other round Mailtland and I managed to track his number down,I called him up and we were jamin the nxt day and pretty indeprable for the next few years after
Ezzys dad played bass in a local legendary band Johnny Greens Blues Cowboys,we were at every gig that was close by and always got asked up to do a few tunes,thinkin back I dont know how good we would have sounded,two young fellas thinkin they know everything about playing a shuffle!haha
That band and the pub we grew up in (The Grand Junction Hotel) gave us good music and life education.
My first real fultime band I joined up with when i was 16 were called The Torpedos,dad took me to see em one Saturday night,the next week I tried out for the guitar spot and that Saturday was my first gig!
They played everything,Rockabilly,Jump Blues,Hillbilly Bop,Blues,Country,Swamp Pop,Jazz,pretty much all the great styles in roots music,we played everywere,pubs,clubs,partys,on the street,wedings pretty much anywere that would have us,it was a good grounding to learn alot of styles at a young age because your brains like a little sponge soaking it all up
I was with the Torpedos for about two years,and they were a good two years,i met heaps of great players,traveled a bit,learned alot about music,the busniess side of it,life,it was good times
Before I went out on my own i tried to set a goal of being able to Travis pick and sing at the same time,I kinda had a direction I wanted to go in and figured if I couldn’t do that I’d be up the creek without a paddle!
That was when I was 18/19 and amongst all the other bands I’m in the solo line up is still the main band we regularly play with
Your debut album “Steppin’ Out” shows a wide variety of rockin’ style with hard hitting rockabilly, Sun sounding Rockabilly, western swing/hillbilly bop influenced stuff, honky tonk… Is this something you deliberately did, as some kind of “visiting card”?
Pat Capocci: That’s a good way to put it Fred!yer exactly,that was pretty much the idea,and that we were big fans of “The Graeme Thomas” sound,we weren’t sure if we’d ever get a chance to record there again,and Graeme is a master of all styles so we set out to try everything
Recording Press Tone Rockabilly 4 with Rusty Pinto
One very good thing on that album is that you penned your own songs.
Was it important for you to release your own material?
Pat Capocci: Defantly Fred,it’s something that Dingo (Presstone Label Owner) has always pushed us to do,his reasoning was that why re record something that’s been done to death by other bands,try and create something new and exiting
Everyone we’ve really dug has written there own stuff so it was just a natural progresion to do the same I think
I remember discovering Preston records in the 80’s with the compilation album “Aussiebilly” on Nervous Records and it was quite a shock especially at a period when most band were more neo-rockabilly sounding.
How do you feel about being associated to such a legendary label/studio?
Pat Capocci: Aussiebillys a great comp! It was defanatly a dream come true to record at Preston,all our favorite Aussie bands made there recordings there, I still remember the first song we ever recorded there and hearing it playback the first time,it was nuts,a very sureal experience!
Graeme Thomas is a genius when it comes to nailing a sound,his music and studio knowlege is spot on!
And now Dingos taken the next step by rely pushing the label into the international market
Preston Rockabilly vol.2, saw you playing guitar for Ezra Lee and Danny & the Cosmic Tremors – both great – in addition to your own songs. How do you approach the fact of playing for other singers. Do you try to vary sounds or use different “tricks”?
Pat Capocci: I think it’s always important when playing with anyone to be a team player,fit in with what’s already goin on,listen to what’s happening and play accordingly
I have my own opinions as to how the guitar should sound for certin styles and usually stick with that unless the singer wants something different,but as for tricks,I think having your chops down in a lot of different styles is key,that way you have unlimited options at the ready
What other bands do you play with?
Pat Capocci: At the moment there’s a few i’m in,there’s my band,Danny And The Cosmic Tremmors,Twilight Rythem Boys,Rusty Pinto Combo,Kieron McDonald,Scotty Baker and a new two piece western swing/rnb/country/Jazz outfit we’ve been doin called Two Timmin Playboys,and that’s been alot of fun!!
Talking about guitar, you cite the great TK Smith as one of your favorite player. I believe that you met him at this year’s Rockabilly Rave. I can suppose that your discussion centered around guitars…
Pat Capocci: I did meet TK which was great, i also got a lesson of him,and that’s opened up a whole new world just from that 1hr lesson
We did talk a bit about guitars also a bit about surfboards,alot people wouldn’t know but he shaped a heap of boards for his label in the 90s,I’ve surfed my whole life and were both into early/mid 60s designs,he’s a true craftsman in every sence of the word
Was this Rave your first time in Europe ? How were the reactions?
Pat Capocci: No,we came over for Screamin in Spain last year,that was our very first time in Europe,I think we went down well at the Rave?we sold most of the merch we brought over,and got some nice comments of the folks,we defantly had a good time,it’s was sad having to leave and come back home to reality!haha
“Delinquent Beat”, your second long play, is slightly heavier in term of sound. One can definitely hear the influences of James Burton and Roy Buchanan when both of them played for Dale Hawkins and there’s even a bit of Deke Dickerson on the guitar too…
Pat Capocci: Yer defantly,the plan was rather than try and cover all bases like “Stepping Out” have a more uniformed style and stick with it the whole record,and the fellas you mentioned defantly influenced that
We’ve talked guitar, but what about the singers and the songwriters you like?
Pat Capocci: I do talk about guitar a bit to much!haha,for modern singer/songwriters I really dig Charlie Thompson, Don Cavali, Joey Simone, Rusty Pinto, Lynette Morgan, Charlie Hightone, The Horton Bros, Sage Guyton and Axel Praefcke and the out of originals I dig Merle Travis, Willie Dixon, Gene O Quinn, Jimmie Rogers, Carl Perkins…the list goes on!haha
Recently you were featured in Marie-Claire. A word about that? Is Rockabilly in Australia that big ?
Pat Capocci: A friend of ours contacted us to see if we’d be interested in doin a photo shoot with the magazine,they were doin a fashion shoot that had absolutely nothing to do with the Rockin scene but wanted central figures from the local scene,strange?but we figured why not,let’s see what the trendy kids are up to.
I think the “look” has defantly become very popular in the trendy circles in Sydney,it’s good in the way that the “look” might turn these folks who wouldn’t usually know anything about the scene onto the music/culture,an it’s been great for me because all the Levis/Lee outlets in town have had heaps of sales and I’ve scored big time!haha
Rockabilly in Australia is no were as big as it is in Europe,however there’s some great crossovers with all the underground cultures comin to the gigs latley
What are your projects ? What are you working on at the moment?
Pat Capocci: At the moment I’m trying to put in at least 3/4 hrs of practice a day,I do the band stuff were playin that week for about 1hr and try to put the other time towards scales and improvising
As far as recording goes,were gunna do a new Lp with Rusty Pinto in December and we’ll be doin a new 45 at that time aswell
There’s some plans to do some recording in states but I don’t want to say anything yet as it’s not %100 locked in and I don’t want to jinx myself!haha
Other than that were starting to plan another European tour for around July/Aug,and we can’t wait!
One last word you’d like to add…
Pat Capocci: Were really looking foward to coming back to Europe,we had such a great time this year,if anyone out there wants us for a club/pub/festival/weding/funeral we’d love to play!haha
We also keep our website updated with new photos,news and merchandise at www.patcapocci.com.au