Genres: Hardcore / Punk / Screamo / Skramz / Rock
Related artists: The Saddest Landscape, You & I, The Assistant, This Ship Will Sink,
In First Person, Black Kites, Less Life and Birth Screams.
Country: New Jersey, USA
Years Active: 2012-present
Song: "I Am Better On Pills"
Album: "The Unexamined Life"
For fans of: Ampere, Orchid, Bucket Full Of Teeth, Back When and Neil Perry, aka Proper SCREAMO.
The second CAPACITIES released 'Preliminary Recordings' online last year, I was all over that shit. I pretty much lost my mind as soon as I saw the "members from" section. Thomas Schlatter, one of my 5 musical heroes, was the bass player and co-vocalist. Not only that, but Eric Mauro of The Saddest Landscape fame was also in the band. I had also stumbled across Less Life and dug their sound, as well.
Let's quickly focus on Tom Schlatter for a second ("second", ha!), if you don't mind. Tom has been in a slew of hardcore/screamo bands since You & I in the late 1990s. All 5 of his former bands have resonated deeply with my own musical taste, attitude and political views (for the most part). Tom was gracious beyond all expectations, and granted me the opportunity to ask him some questions about his former bands. All 5 of them.
So, over the next 5 months, OPEN mind SATURATED brain will be releasing excerpts of the interview related to each of Thomas Schlatter's 6 previous bands with discography reviews - culminating with the inclusion of the final and complete interview in December 2013. Now, back to CAPACITIES.
CAPACITIES play a very fast and aggressive style of hardcore/screamo that can be likened to the stylings of Ampere and Bucket Full Of Teeth, mixed Thomas Schlatter's distinctive scream. The band began as an attempt to record and play 5 songs in under 4 minutes - but thankfully for us, and the band, they continued on and have since made extremely aggressive and punishing music that is woven togethe with spastic melodies and 3 guys screamng, which generally reminds me of seminal screamo acts Neil Perry and Orchid. FYI, Neil Perry was the home to another one of my top 5 musical heroes. With their most recent release on Dog Knights Productions, 'There Is No Neutral', CAPACITIES have expanded that violent and condensed style and incorporated more experimentation and longer song lengths. Eric described it as having more peaks and valleys - and I couldn't agree more, especially on the final 7-minute epic "Sons Of A Silent Age".
The band recently announced a split 12"LP with Itto, Calculator and Innards - for a total of 4 phenomenal bands that I already listened to repeatedly before hearing about the project. The record will be released jointly by Melotov Records and Flannel Gurl Records. It is slated for a fall release - so I'll assume September.
The band answered a whack o' my questions prior to their California tour with Itto in early July. Check out the answers below. We talked about genre classifications and screamo, touring,- the current state of the world and the band members listed their top 10 records of all time. Holy shit!!! I love doing this fucking blog, because nothing beats talking to your heroes!!!
Describe yourself, quickly.TOM: I play bass for Capacities. Rob often gets mad at me for shaving on tour.
ERIC: I play guitar and eat a lot of tofu
CHRIS: I make fun of Eric and play the drums.
ROB: I play guitar and usually argue with Chris in the middle of our sets.
Can you reveal anything interesting (and perhaps not well-known) about yourself or the other
TOM:I dye my hair because I’m not mentally prepared to be grey yet. I’m coming to terms with it.
How did you become involved in CAPACITIES together?TOM: I met Eric and Rob from going to shows in NJ. I met Chris the day of the first Capacities practice. After practice I watched him eat a peanut butter and jelly burrito. He regretted it.
ERIC: Rob and I wanted to start a new band so I wrote five songs and then we asked Tom and Chris if they were interested playing with us. Originally the idea was to just play those five songs and have a four minute long set.
CHRIS: I’ve known Eric for quite some time and through playing shows and working a job together, he asked me to try out for this new project. I didn’t know Tom or Rob previously. I haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly burrito since then.ROB: Tom and I have known each other for a long time now and have played in a few bands together previously. I met Eric years ago as well through playing in bands and mutual friends and I thankfully met Chris for the first time when we all started playing together.
Can you describe any of conflicts within the band?TOM: Surprisingly, we do well not to get on each other’s nerves.
ERIC: Except when Tom and Chris shave on tour.
ROB: Typically there are very few conflicts, unless Tom is trying to sleep while we’re playing UNO.
What would you like to say about your new material?TOM: These days music is very spontaneous for me. I am affected by something so I sit down and write a song. So it’s all sort of “in the moment” for me.
ERIC: I feel like we take steps to be a little more dynamic with each release. The LP is fairly straight forward as where the 10" has some more peaks and valleys.
Discuss your thoughts and opinions regarding the ‘screamo’ genre.TOM: In the mid to late 90’s we just called everything “hardcore”. I didn’t hear “screamo” really thrown around until the 2000’s. It’s been interesting watching mainstream music grab the title and try to recreate it with a ton of those “eye-liner” bands in magazines like Alternative Press.
ERIC: It's really like any other genre of music out there. Some bands are amazing and consistently put out awesome material and other bands are just simply not good.
If you had to slap a genre label on CAPACITIES - so potential new listeners could get a good idea of your sound without hearing you, what would you label yourselves as?TOM: The kids are calling it “skramz” these days I’ve heard. At the end of the day we’re a DIY hardcore band.
ERIC: If someone asks me I just say we're a screamy punk band. I usually get an odd look after that.
What kind of emotions and thoughts occur when people define your band, on purpose or by accident?TOM: I have no control over someone’s interpretation of my music, nor could I ever try to employ any control like that.
ERIC: People tend to just want relate one band to another, or if one detail sticks out to them about a band they'll tend to latch onto that. We've heard us compared to bands who (in my opinion) we sound nothing like, but we tend to take those things with a grain of salt and are usually just happy if people like our music and are listening.
CHRIS: I’ve never concerned myself with how people define the music I play. I love and believe in our music so that’s pretty much all that really matters to me.
Please describe the people, in general, that are associated with the music that you create – whether it be during the process, talking to people at shows, etc.TOM: It’s just the four of us. When it’s time to put it to tape we go to Steve Roche and he records the whole thing.
ERIC: We all get along and that creates a really positive environment for us to make music in, which, is probably why we wrote 30 songs in the span of a year. Recording with Steve is always fun, and everyone from the labels we've worked with have all been really great and supportive as well.
What things have happened in 2013 thus far, that you would like the readers to know about?TOM: We released a new record called “There Is No Neutral” on Meletov/Dog Knight Records. We did a 9 day tour with Coma Regalia up to Canada and through the upper Mid Western United States.
ERIC: We also recorded a song for a 12" comp that's coming out on The Blue Sky Writings that will benefit the Hopi Education Endowment Fund along with four songs for an upcoming release.
What are your future recording and touring plans?TOM: We leave on Friday to do four shows with Itto and Calculator in California. We have another release already recorded and it will be out this Fall. I can’t talk about it much but involves the two bands I just mentioned.
ERIC: We spent all of 2012 writing and recording. We might've gotten a little too ambitious so we're taking a break from writing right now to play more shows, but we'll probably start writing for something again in the fall.
Can you reveal any interesting stories, ongoing jokes or routine things that happen to CAPACITIES on the road?TOM: Chris and Rob love Black Metal. Rob does the voice of Samuel L. Jackson very well.
ERIC: There's too many inside jokes to list that aren't really funny out of context, although, Chris and I tend to start doing little skits and characters when we've been in the car for too long.
CHRIS: Tom doesn’t like Taxi Driver or Forrest Gump.
ROB: Chris and I usually have an absurd amount of jokes going at all times. Some catch on with everyone and some fall flat but by that point we’ve already moved on to something else.
What are the band members’ favourite CAPACITIES songs to play and why?TOM: I never thought about it, because we usually play our sets in “blocks” of 5 or 6 songs at a time. I’ve come to know the songs in that manner rather than as individual pieces.
ERIC: I like playing songs on the 10" and the newer songs that aren't out yet, but that's probably just because they're a little more fresh. But the real answer is any song where there's a part for a jump.
CHRIS: “A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee” because it’s so brutal and of course the Twin Peaks nod.
What have you given up to play in CAPACITIES, especially while touring?
TOM: My life at home is pretty great. I have a great relationship with my girlfriend, two cats, an easy job, and I like where I live. I wouldn’t change it. To play in a band you have to juggle a lot of things, especially when you’re older. It’s all about balance.ERIC: I was in a band called The Saddest Landscape when Capacities started up. I also started a business with my best friend this year. Being in two bands while working another job and starting our own business was a lot of work for me so I left The Saddest Landscape. I'm still good friends with all of them.
CHRIS: I haven’t given up anything that I can think of but then again there’s not much I wouldn’t give up to continue to play with these fine gentlemen
How do you like touring?TOM: We’ve done one tour so far and it was a blast. Meeting great people, walking around new cities, playing to new people; it can be a great experience when everything goes smoothly.
ERIC: The last tour was a lot of fun. The first time we played in Canada was great along with one of the last We Were Skeletons shows at The Secret Art Space in Bethlehem, PA.
CHRIS: Our tours consist of eating at awesome places, going to comic book and record stores and playing with our friend’s pets and children. They have all been the best.
Which band has been nicest/coolest/grooviest/craziest/best/adjective that you have had the pleasure of meeting?TOM: There’ s a band from New Jersey called Off Camber. We mesh pretty well with them musically, personally, politically, etc. They are great people.
ERIC: Also We Were Skeletons, Fox Moulder, Coma Regalia, Beau Navire, and the labels we've have the privilege of releasing records through were already or have become good friends.
CHRIS: It’s a tie between Off Camber and Coma Regalia.
Do you find it hard to balance objectivity with emotion when listening to/playing/talking about music?TOM: Sometimes an open chord is just as fulfilling as playing 26 notes per measure. Emotion and dynamics play a huge part in listening and writing music to me.
TOM: I always viewed it as the potential we have as people, the band is a reflection of that, for us to display our capacity for creating something.
ERIC: It's more of a positive than a negative, which, is something that may be hard to swallow for kids who listen to screamo, haha.
CHRIS: It’s a very Zen thing to me. The idea to be constantly pushing oneself to reach and maintain this inner-strength at all times. To accept the daily struggles and push through them to reach tomorrow.
As lyricists who have generally written about personal/political lyrical content, do you have any thoughts or opinions on lyrical content ‘nowadays’?TOM: Greg Graffin of Bad Religion does a great job, but you can’t expect much less from a biology professor.
ERIC: I think there's a lot of kids out there who are really influenced by Saetia and bands that really went out on a limb to express their feelings through this medium, but I feel those kids now miss the mark more often than not. Not that we're the best lyricists or put ourselves above other people who write music, it's just an observation on some bands I've heard over the past year.
What are your thoughts on the young generation? Your generation? The older generation?TOM: It’s strange to me that punk and skateboarding are so popular and accepted now. When I was young I was getting made fun of all the time for being into those things.
ERIC: I've noticed a lot of kids right now tend to romanticize bands they were never around for and I feel that might distract from some really great bands that are around right now and are playing awesome music.CHRIS: It seems that each generation is getting more lost and unsure what to do with their lives. There’s a lot of this attitude of giving-in to what’s supposed to be done or giving-up and accepting this failure and not doing anything about it. The idea of dreaming is so profound, at least to me, right now. Everyone has a list of what he/she wants to do in their lives and what they wish they could do and there’s never any action, I am also in this state. The lack of motivation, the fear of failure, the reoccurring thought of “oh, someone else will do it/has done it better”, all of these reasons that keep you planted. Luckily, there are still some who get their dreams to become reality but I feel in generations to come the dream will start to slowly phase into just being what it is, a dream.
What scares you?TOM: The doctor’s office. I have no idea why.
ERIC: Just general uncertainty of the future, and going to family events or seeing friends I
haven't seen in a really long time. I get anxiety from those things.
I personally feel that as of late there has been shift in the world. It seems more apparent than ever that corporations have governments by the balls, the rich are attempting to monopolize ownership of the world at any cost and that a large portion of people are blindly bringing about their own imminent destruction, which is exponentially increasing in likelihood with each passing day. Any thoughts?TOM: Debt-based economies are doomed, we saw this with the housing crash. When a debt based economy no longer works, I think the next big thing is the privatization of utilities and resources (water, air, etc).
Leaning a little further on my previous rant, I also jotted this down the other day:
“I'm always talking shit about human beings relying on the economic model to sustain our way of life - as, for the most part, it simply cannot continue this excessive cycle without destroying the world and most of the people in it. But if money was taken out of the equation all-together, I wonder what percentage of the population would continue to be active, helpful members in their communities and at their work. I mean, addiction to excess + the introduction of no moral/community responsibilities = implosion. Maybe I'm writing too many people off.”TOM: The first thing people outside of the hardcore scene ask me when they find out that I play in a band is “How much do you get paid?”. When I tell them that we play for gas money they are usually appalled. I typically say “Don’t you have something in your life that would do just because your passionate about it?”.
What gives you hope?TOM: Seeing how much things have changed. I went vegan in 1995 and you had to go to a speciality shop to get soy milk. Now, you can get it anywhere. People seem to be generally more aware in this regard.
ERIC: When any battles are won for civil rights.
CHRIS: That there is still a need for creativity and passion.
Top 10 records
TOM:Mineral – The Power of Failing
Endeavor – Of Equality
Converge – Petition the Empty Sky
Bad Religion – Against the Grain
Ida – I Know About You
Groundwork – We Will Not Be Invisible or Silent
The Subhumans – The Day The Country Died
Have Heart – The Things We Carry
Introspect – S/T 2x7”
108 – Threefold Misery
ERIC:Tristeza - Spine & Sensory
Ampere - All Our Tomorrows End Today
Refused - Songs To Fan The Flames of Discontent
Majority Rule - Interviews With David Frost
City of Caterpillar - S/T LP
Envy - All The Footprints…
Modern Life Is War - Witness
Fugazi - Repeater
Khantra - The Red Album
Dillinger Four - Midwestern Songs of the Americas
*This was tough I'm not good at these top 10 things. There's too many records I like.
CHRIS:Fugazi – 13 Songs
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – Roxy and Elsewhere
Swans – Love of Life
Ween – Chocolate and Cheese
The Jesus Lizard – Goat
Tom Waits – Closing Time
Black Flag – My War
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
The Melvins – Houdini
Earth – Pentastar : In the Style of Demons
Lifetime – Hello Bastards
Neurosis – Through Silver In Blood
Reversal Of Man – Revolution Summer
Dillinger Four – Midwestern Songs Of The Americas
Unbroken – Life. Love. Regret.
Deadguy – Fixation On A Co-Worker
Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
Modern Life Is War – Witness
Thou – Summit
Mineral – The Power Of Failing
Unknown/Obscure bands that need more recognition
TOM: Seven Days Of Samsara, There Were Wires, Zeogta, Dawn Treader, Off Camber
ERIC: Khantra, Van Johnson, My America Is Watching Tigers Die, The New & Very Welcome, Emphasis, Tiny HawksCHRIS: Sex Cups
BooksTOM: Anything by Pete Hamill. Fatale by Ed Brubacker is blowing me away right now too.
As stated in the interview, CAPACITIES have released a prodigious amount of material in a very short span of time. Here is their DISCOGRAPHY:
2012 - Preliminary Recordings digital release (download here)
2012 - The Unexamined Life 12"LP (stream/download/purchase here)
2012 - Coma Regalia split 7" (stream/download/purchase here)
2013 - There Is No Neutral 10"ep (stream/purchase here) (PURCHASE HERE)
2013 - Itto/Calculator/Innards split 12"LP
2013 - Benefit Compilation for the Hopi Education Endowment Fund compilation (contributed
"Leadership Roles") (stream here)
youtube )))))embedded official video / audio((((( links
(2012) CAPACITIES - "All That One Can Do" (from 'The Unexamined Life' cd)
(2013) CAPACITIES - "God To The Flatlanders" (from 'There Is No Neutral' cd)
CAPACITIES 'Preliminary Recordings' mp3 download