Debut album ‘This Time Next Year’ – a raucous magnifying glass cast upon society, released during 2020’s lockdowns – established Hastings four-piece Kid Kapichi’s motives, but it was born out of the promise of a brighter future. One that doesn’t quite seem to have appeared yet.
“That was a phrase we heard a lot, ‘this time next year’,” vocalist Jack Wilson remembers. “Because like many other people, as we were about to release our first album, there was a worldwide pandemic. So we were just constantly hearing, ‘it will get there, it will get there’.”
It was also a time when Donald Trump was in power, and Boris Johnson had just begun his nefarious stint. “It was a question of, we don’t know where this is going as a collective in the world, and it was scary to see,” adds Jack. Suffice to say, as Jack surmises, “It’s turned into something a bit darker, if anything.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with him. But being the mouthpiece for Kid Kapichi, a band who put the strife of seeing the residual crap cascading down from the purported powers that be into tunes that bubble and bounce as much as they snarl in a fit of catharsis, helps. Just take a look at their recent single ‘New England’ featuring Upset faves Bob Vylan. A frank compendium of the mindset that got us into this mess in the first place, talking to Jack, it becomes clear they aren’t just firing off shots willy-nilly.
“That was the first time we experienced people getting angry at us!” he marvels. “But I thought it was amazing that it’s causing that kind of reaction because it’s making people think, and that’s all you can do as a band. All you can hope for is that people listen to it, and that’s your bit done. I’m not there to sit and debate in the YouTube comments with them about what’s right or wrong but to know people are questioning us, then that’s good.”
Indeed, it’s easy to see that ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ is the natural progression to ‘This Time Next Year’. That’s not to mention that these two phrases could easily open the future chapters of textbooks covering these unprecedented pages of history. Their second album is a sneering time capsule, bottling up the madness and putting it to ballads (‘Party at No. 10’) or anthemic calls to arms (‘Cops and Robbers’, ‘Rob The Supermarket’), and this is all with extreme purpose. “They are going to do their absolute utmost to make sure you don’t remember that, and if I can make sure a few people do remember that, then I’m happy.”
If this all seems a bit doom-and-gloomy, well, that’s because things aren’t great at the moment. But Kid Kapichi are also a dab hand at bringing a touch of joy to the occasion; no one likes being preached to. “That’s why that tongue-in-cheek element is so strong in our songs,” Jack explains. “Because we are talking about really serious issues, and we’re talking about stuff that fucks up people’s lives on a daily basis. You don’t want to sound like you’re taking the piss, but you also don’t want to sound like you’re telling people what to think and how to behave. That’s a really fine line to try and get right, and with this second album, I feel like we did a good job on that; I feel like we honed our skills.”
It’s one thing to be a band charging towards the indifference that consumes many, but when there are others not doing the same thing, it makes what you’re doing all the more important. Indeed, when it comes to the landscape around them, Jack has a few thoughts. “I don’t get fed up when I hear pop music because it’s doing what it is designed to do,” he reasons. “It’s just there to be something to listen to, and I listen to pop music; we all enjoy it. I get sick when I hear bands being praised like, ‘Oh wow, these guys are really saying something. They’re really punk,’ and I listen to it, and I’m just a bit like, this is drivel, you’re not saying anything.”
It’s the discussion around duo of the moment, Isle of Wight’ers Wet Leg, that falls victim to Jack’s crosshairs. “I listen to [them], and I’m just like, what is this?” He questions, baffled. “I know everyone loves them at the moment, but I listened to it, and I’m just a bit like, how is this classed as edgy music? How is this classed as saying something? That winds me up when I hear stuff like that more than anything.”
Clarifying, he says: “That’s no insult to them; I’m sure they’re amazing, but I hate it when it’s more commentary on that sort of stuff when people say ‘Oh yeah, and here’s this song, and it’s really edgy’, and it’s just like, how is it edgy singing about a chaise longue or whatever?!”
On the flip side, however, Jack does admit that he “would go crazy if every single band was writing lyrics like we write,” since too much of one thing can dilute the issue. However, there are a few up in the mainstream toting similar messages, but Kid Kapichi are certainly in the direct minority, which leads to comparisons that miss the mark for Jack. “Everyone always thinks that we are a lot like IDLES, but I’ve actually, genuinely never actually got into them or listened to them properly.”
Experiencing their moments on the likes of BBC Radio 1, and with other vocally dissenting bands getting some airplay, Jack reckons this is a sign of the times (“let’s be honest, Radio 1 are just trying to be popular, as they should”), and change is inevitable. But he also reckons, “the only way we’re gonna see change and the only movement we’re gonna see is from ourselves and through communities and people working together.” Seemingly, from music to the wider consciousness, it’s us against them, and at the moment, they’re winning.
It was realising how rubbish things were getting back when he was in his late teens that Jack first started using lyrics as a catharsis. Under the control of the same Tory government, he noticed Hastings was changing, as it’s continued to do so. “The place it is now is not the place it was when I was growing up,” he reflects. “But it’s always had an attitude. It’s always been pretty punk in ethos and pushed to the sidelines – middle-child syndrome, like no one really cares about us and we’ve always kind of had points to prove.”
Which is why it was easy for Kid Kapichi to manifest. Each member – Ben Beetham (guitar), Eddie Lewis (bass), George MacDonald (drums) – brings their attitude to the mix, ultimately giving the band a master personality, one that feels like they could be your best friend or worst enemy depending on who you are.
“We’ve always had the problems that we face, with this town being so deprived and not looked after,” continues Jack. “Like a lot of towns, may I add. So it’s inherently within all of us in this band, because the town we live in is so inherently punk in attitude and ethos and antisocial in a lot of ways but also the most accepting group of people I’ve ever been a part of.”
As a by-product of the conversation, Jack’s able to rattle off the numbers of Hasting’s political standing, and it’s here that Kid Kapichi’s power lies – they understand. They’ve crunched the numbers and want to flip the switch on this current state of play in the only way they know how.
Similarly, there’s no one much like any of us, particularly anyone reading a music rag, in the big capital. Which is the reason punk first existed and is once again finding its place as the piss and vinegar soundtrack to a disenfranchised nation. Jack notes, “I see that with communities being built around the whole punk movement and everything. I see people getting together and making change through that.”
As for anyone at the top who can help, the ghosts of “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” linger in the air, “[but] that didn’t work,” he gravely mentions. “And where we are right now, I don’t see anyone who is standing for the government that is going to speak or make any change that is relevant to my life. In fact, probably the opposite. And I don’t see anyone that could even possibly understand. I think we’re in one of the worst governments we’ve ever had, and I don’t see any opposition. I can’t believe that we’re in that time right now.”
Not wanting to leave things on too much of a sour note, how does someone who’s put their bread and butter on translating the awful into raucous and digestible tracks stay sane when there’s so much going on? “Make sure you’re doing the right thing,” beams Jack. “Take your trolley back when you go to Tescos, don’t just leave it in front of someone’s car. Just the little stuff, man. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your family and your friends, and your loved ones. If you’ve got that, then you sorted, really!”
Taken from the October issue of Upset. Kid Kapichi’s album ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ is out 23rd September.