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CAPRA's Tyler Harper: "I think we’re at a good place in music with women being able to have a voice and battle it out with any man out there. What a wonderful time to have all these powerful women in music!”

Interview with Tyler Harper from Capra
by Leanne Evans at 11 June 2021, 8:28 AM

CAPRA has been grinding within the metal scene for years, embarking on different projects for decades, prepping them for the glorious day that they’d all combine and form the blisteringly brutal hardcore outfit that they are today. Hailing from Louisiana, there’s absolute zilch southern charm from these rip-roaring brutes, and their latest eleven-track debut album, “In Transmission”, perfectly displays CAPRA’s uncompromising and unyielding onslaught of aggressive riffs, vociferous lyrics and expert blend of metal, punk and hardcore. Metal Temple’s staff writer and interviewer, Leanne Evans, speaks with CAPRA’s guitarist, Tyler Harper, to dig deeper into what exactly CAPRA has come to represent, getting to the nitty-gritty of some of the standout tracks from the new release and touching on some of the very real issues in today’s world.

Hey Tyler, how are you all doing?

We’re all doing great! Thanks for asking.

And how the hell have you all managed over the last 12 months or so? Some of us have nurtured new talents or hobbies, or, for most of us, we’ve developed coping strategies to get through this bloody dreadful time; has there been anything specific that you’ve adopted to survive the pandemic shitstorm?

I think we’ve all coped the best we could, but I don't think any of us changed ourselves or our normal routine too much. I wrote a ton of new songs if that counts? Crow got into streaming games. The pandemic sucked, but we made it.

Thank God you all got through, it’s been tough! Before we get stuck into the band, can you give me a flavour for your characters? I mean, can we expect any rock n roll type shit in hotel rooms, setting fires, wreaking havoc, or are you guys more about tea, cake and yoga?

If you had asked me this 10 years ago, it’d be a completely different story, but at this point in life we’re pretty calm people. We all like video games so we play a lot on the road. After shows, we’re usually all beat up and just get some sleep. No destruction off stage these days.

Being a little more reserved as you get older is never a bad thing… I’m happy with a cup of tea and early bedtime these days! Now, let’s crack on and find out more about the mighty Capra! You’re a fairly new outfit, yet you’re all seasoned musicians, and have roots from other projects. Tell me more about where you all started musically

I remember going to shows at 10 years old and thinking “I want to be on the stage” so that’s just what I did. I always gravitated towards loud music and stage energy. Jeremy and I started playing in our early teens and have been in countless bands together. We met Ben and Crow in the local music scene and in 2015 the cards just fell together for all of us. I come from a heavy hardcore background and that goes for Jeremy and Trevor as well. Crow grew up on thrash. Ben grew up on punk. We knew in the beginning that we wanted to blend all of our influences and genres so it works out perfectly.

Do you feel that this diverse musical foundation has contributed to what Capra is today? Without that background, could Capra have been quite different, or do you feel that the band’s ultimate identity would have always been the same, regardless?

Absolutely. We wanted to put a modern twist on a nostalgic sound, and I think that’s what we achieved on “In Transmission.” We all come from different backgrounds musically, so we all have our own puzzle pieces that fit perfectly into what Capra has become. We’ve gone through a few lineup changes before being solidified and the sound was definitely different, so I think it takes the right people to come together for an album like this.

And did you all know each other prior to forming Capra?

We did! We had all been in the music scene playing shows with our respective bands. Jeremy and I were in a band called Wildfires, Crow was in SickSickSick, Ben played with Come and Conquer, and Trevor is currently a part of Camps. We all have a crazy close bond with each other, and I think that plays a part in the music as well.

So, how did the formation of Capra come about, and did you have a set agenda of what you wanted to achieve?

We formed in 2015 with a completely different lineup. It started because I had just come out of rehab for addiction issues and wanted to write fast, heavy, loud music that was therapeutic for myself. We added Ben in 2017, Crow in 2018, and Trevor in 2021. We definitely had a set agenda of blending hardcore, metal, and punk with a modern day southern twist. It wasn’t until we found Crow that our sound evolved into the monster that it is today. She added so much vocally that it took our sound to the next level.

Yes, Crow really is a force to be reckoned with! You also recently welcomed a new addition to the Capra family! Trevor Alleman joins you as a second guitarist; how did that transpire, and what are you hoping to add and enhance with Trevor’s involvement in the band?

We had asked Trevor to be in the band numerous times before he actually joined. Finally, that fell into place and he agreed to take this ride with us. He’s a perfect fit as he knows the sound we’re writing and he also comes from a hardcore background. We hope to add more layers, more tone, and free the both of us up to do more creatively with the songs on the next album. Can’t go wrong with more guitars, right?

As far as the hardcore scene goes, what are you hoping to glean from being a part of it? Do you look at other established hardcore outfits and think “yeah, we like that aspect, let’s try it”, or is your identity more organic in your opinion?

We definitely have our role models in the hardcore scene as there are countless bands that we look up to just in the way that they deliver themselves and the messages that they bring. Despite that we try to stay as organic as possible and bring our own outlook to the table. We want our own identity in this constantly growing scene and “In Transmission” is only the first set of songs that we’re bringing to the table.

I was honoured to review your album release, “In Transmission”, which is a confident projection of contemporary issues, simultaneously spitting venom and cracking skulls, and a sterling debut for the band. Tell me more about the thematic of the album and your influences and inspiration behind the tracks.

All of us are very passionate about speaking up for others. We’re against so much in the world, and we strive to be that voice for those that feel unheard! There’s not really a theme behind our music other than putting all of our emotions on the table. When I write a song, it comes from a dark place usually. It’s about the struggle we all go through with depression, anxiety, and feeling hopeless. After we structure that into something we feel relays those feelings, Crow comes in and puts her own feelings and emotions over it. It’s a team effort and we leave nothing behind; each song is its own ride.

You can really feel the passion that courses through each track for sure. The songwriting is absolutely KILLER on the album, and the tracks cover so many current and relevant issues; who is the brains behind those vociferous lyrics, or was it a collective effort?

Crow Lotus is the brain behind all the lyrics. They’re all personal experiences and deep emotional outlooks on how she sees the world.

There’s a real sense that the lyrical content of “In Transmission” comes from burning personal beliefs and passion. How important is it for Capra to write songs with substance? Has Capra come to be a natural extension of your personalities and has it become a means of venting, channeling those beliefs constructively, almost akin to a lyrical protest of sorts?

It’s one of those things that just happens. We write about what is important to us and we use our voices to spread awareness and hope. I absolutely believe the band has become a natural extension of our personalities and we try to show that in all aspects.

There are some real standout tracks for me on the album, namely “Medusa” and “Red Guillotine”, and the production of “In Transmission” is flawless! Were there any complexities or challenges that you faced when producing the album, and which tracks are your highlights, and why?

The only problems we faced were when we went in to record “Mutt,” “Deadbeat Assailant,” and “Transfiguration.” These were recorded in the middle of the pandemic and added to the album. We all went in separately with our parts and had to just hope for the best. With that being said “Mutt” is probably my favourite track on the album and definitely my favourite to play live.

When listening to “Medusa”, my perception is that it’s speaking of a wealth divide, unfair treatment between the contrasting aspects of society, and the inherent difference between the fat cats and the working class. Is this a fair overview of the track, am I on the right lines? What sparked wanting to cement these thoughts in music?

You nailed it. That’s exactly what it’s about. I’m not sure what sparked it, but it’s a topic that we all feel strongly about.

Clearly, “Red Guillotine” tackles female oppression and female sexualization. How have you all been affected by such a widespread issue? Crow, especially, have you experienced exploitation, or overt sexualisation, because of your gender? Do the roots of this track stem from something more personal and has it resulted in being a cathartic release?

I reached out to Crow for this one and she said “Yes Definitely, unfortunately it’s been so ingrained into our society that I don’t go a single day without facing this objectification. I live “Red Guillotine” every day, but at least I can give some insights into that experience through the lyrics of the song for those who haven’t been in my shoes.”

Wow, that’s sadly relatable; as a female, I too have experienced “objectification”, it’s almost been normalized! And, I guess, to naturally follow-on from focusing on the female aspect, Capra is a female-fronted band, it really sets you apart. Was this deliberate to make the band standout and have there been any challenges, I guess with sexism and the suchlike, that you’ve had to overcome, or are we now at a point where we can say that antiquated aspect is improving?

It wasn’t deliberate to set us apart from anyone but it was deliberate because we all feel that females aren’t given a fair shot in certain music scenes. They’re just as powerful, if not more powerful, than any frontman. I had the idea to add a woman into the mix after hearing bands like Oathbreaker, Gouge Away, Walls of Jericho, etc.. We’ve had a few sexist sound engineers at shows, but we always blow them away once we finish the show. I think we’re at a good place in music with women being able to have a voice and battle it out with any man out there. What a wonderful time to have all these powerful women in music!

Definitely! Times are hopefully changing for the better! Now, to focus on the future; you’ve laid your foundations, smashed out an incredible record and got Trevor onboard, what’s the next step for the band?

The Tour is first and foremost…we want to travel and meet fans! Other than that, we just keep doing what we’re doing; the work doesn’t stop, and we don’t plan to hold back.

The world on your side of the pond seems to be a bit different to the UK (we’re gradually opening things up); have you got any gigs in the pipeline?

We have a few shows happening in our local area with a tour on the horizon. It’s great to be talking about that and seeing it actually happen!

That’s really encouraging to hear, we have our fingers crossed for you at Metal Temple! Right, we’re going to go off-piste now and wrap up with a few questions that will hopefully appeal to your fun and spirited side! Tell us about a weird and wonderful moment you’ve had in your band days!

I think the moment we got signed was the biggest moment for us! We were all at practice when we got the email and we read it and just kept practicing. Each of us had to process that information but we just kept doing what we do in the meantime. Such a surreal moment.

Most (although, not all) folk in the metal world have tattoos. Call us sadistic, but we love to know that we can put our metal stars on a pedestal, but occasionally remind ourselves that they’re human, or, sometimes, do dumb shit like the average Joe… do any of you have ink that has profound meaning or, conversely, any “life ruiners”, Chinese symbols that you thought spelt your name, but they actually spell out a dish off a takeaway menu, or ink that you regret? Can you tell us more about them?

Each and every one of us are tattooed. I’m not sure that any of us have any that are super meaningful. My first one was a Jean Michelle Basquiat tattoo because he’s my favourite artist, but that’s about as deep as it gets for me. As for any that I regret, not really. I try not to have any regrets these days and when it comes to tattoos, I take my time trying to figure out what exactly I want and where.

I mean, tattoos are there for life…I’m covered and understand the importance of thinking through designs… it seems you guys “measure twice, cut once”, too! We’re a world full of diversity and it’s important to understand more about one another… give us your best local sayings from your part of the world… the weirder, the better!

A big one around here is “laissez le bon temps rouler” which means “Let the good times roll.” We come from a very cajun-french area so that’s mostly what you get from the old timers. We also ask passengers “are you getting down” when getting out of a car. That’s weird, right?

That’s endearingly odd…I love it! And to round things up nicely, (this question always throws out some VERY interesting answers), the signature “Leanne question”, who would you invite to your own metal tea party, and why? You have to have someone to cook, someone to chat to, someone to entertain and someone to party with…

I would invite Geddy Lee to cook, Lemmy to chat with, Ozzy to entertain, and Jordan Buckley to party with. I feel like Geddy can make a mean pasta or something weird. Lemmy has stories for days. I think I could make Ozzy laugh and Jordan Buckley is just a fun dude that I’d love to hang with.

Geddy Lee is quite the popular dude for these metal tea parties! Thanks so much, Tyler, I really appreciate your time, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you and we, at Metal Temple, wish Capra all the best with the tour and hope you guys absolutely smash it out there and have a blast!



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Edited 21 September 2021
 

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