Except for the occasional killer groove, I think it was a case of remembering it better than it was”. It was then Dan had the idea of forming a band that could not only play the uncompromising style of 1970’s funk big band but could also reinvigorate the music solely for the purpose of personal listening and dancing. “It was an unusual process. Me, Chris and Matthew had played together in Big bands when we were kids, so we had the founding experience we needed. Matthew and I also played in a lot of rock and soul bands so that was the other experience we needed.
It was like putting the two things together. Playing in a big band requires a lot of discipline. You have to practice the parts, learn to read and make sure you don’t mess up, otherwise you have 30 musicians giving you the evil eye! In a rock band its different. Its obviously more relaxed.
You turn up, play, get drunk and go home. I loved doing both”. The bands signature funk sound didn’t come easily admits Chris Donnelly. “It involved a lot of rehearsing, demos and re-arranging to get the music to fit what it was we were trying to do.
We would rehearse and rehearse until the grooves sounded right”. “We did the Cop Funk thing for a few years” Dan explains “but at that time I’d gone back to writing songs. ‘Boogie Man’ was one of the new batch. It was very much a hybrid of the two things, big band meets soul band.
It had soundtrack elements to it fused with James Brown street funk. Then came ‘Barbarella’ and then I knew we had to get a singer”. It wasn’t the most likely place to meet a great soul singer but the Peel pub in Bradford was where Matthew Windler found himself stumbling into one Tuesday night and hearing the future of Capri. “I knew Dan was serious about getting a singer, but apart from a few feeble auditioners, we hadn’t found anyone.
Then, the next thing I know, I’m in the Peel seeing Ben sing for the first time. I just thought Get him! He’s the man!”. Before long Ben was singing with the band in Leeds at the fondly remembered Underground club. The club had put on some great names in Funk such as Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley (both James Brown players), Pee Wee Ellis, Donald Byrd, Azymuth and Roy Ayers ( blacksploitation soundtrack composer ) to name a few.
It was also a place were the many worlds of Funk met, such as the time when Roy Ayers’ rhythm section heard ‘Car Chase on Phoenix Avenue’ over the house P.A and demanded to know who had created such an outrageously funky piece of music. Very quickly the Underground became the capital funk/soul venue outside London. The next big club to follow was the Wardrobe which again promoted live original material. Capri were all too happy to join the roster, regularly playing there with their eleven piece band. It was around this time Capri started recording songs for their first E.P.
Although the E.P. was well received by club DJs and funksters it didn’t get much support on a wider scale. “This isn’t a particularly rhythmical nation” admits Dan “all the highly rhythmical music in this country always remains underground, its so frustrating”. Chris adds “I remember us playing at a ball in Cambridge and I’ve never seen so many confused faces in all my life”.
Meanwhile, another Leeds Funk band the ‘New Mastersounds’ were starting to break through with their album “Keb Darge presents the New Mastersounds” and was making people take note of the growing Funk scene in Leeds, and Funk in general. It seemed like Capri had just finished recording their E.P. when they began work on their first album. Originally titled ‘Firebird’ their first album was going to be an eclectic mix of all the musical stages the band had gone through since their formation. “Getting hold of all the musicians we needed wasn’t a problem” reveals Chris.
“There’s been a steady influx of Jazz and Soul musicians coming into Leeds since the 60’s”. Great players like Joel Purnell, Jim Corry, Dale Gibson, Omar Puente and Lara Rose had all come to Leeds via the music college….. perfect timing for a 12 track funk opus. ‘Boogie Man’ was released in 2004 and was an instant hit with critics and music aficionados.
Air play has been building steadily since then, both on FM and digital radio. In May Capri joined the download revolution and are now available from all the major download sites worldwide. Capri’s next projects include releasing Barbarella as a single and music video, a live DVD/audio CD and ultimately a second studio album. Thank you and good night. D.C. Read more on Last.fm.
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