Emocapella Interview

Emocapella Interview Conducted by JMcQ
Simple opening question – we can ease into the harder questions after this. Who are Emocapella currently, and what exactly does Emocapella try to do with live performances, your new album (I’m Sorry) and the like?A = Eric Denman
T = Ted Blumenthal

A: Emocapella is a 13-15 person all-male acapella group with heavy “emo” tendencies. We’re currently doing mostly shows with other acapella groups while we promote the album and try to get a larger fanbase so it’d be possible to do more off-campus stuff.

T: With the powers of our members combined, Emocapella can form Captain Planet. At our live shows and on the album each of us tries to personify wind, heart, earth, fire by rocking out like no one’s business.

Emocapella can go out there and perform numerous songs, and the tracks on the disc are just a beginning to the litany of tracks that could appear at an Emocapella show. Now, are there any songs that individuals members would love to cover, but have been vetoed down by the rest of the act? What new songs would audiences hear if they would go to an Emocapella show?

A: haha yea. I do most of the arranging, and although the songs usually work out well, we tried to do a song by the Mountain Goats (“Love Cuts the Strings”) and it really didn’t have the energy we try to maintain. It got scrapped after one performance, even though i still love the song. Some of our newer stuff include San Dimas High School Football Rules by the Ataris, and we’re going to be working on a cursive song, a juliana theory song, and a few others (further seems forever?), as well as keeping some comical tracks in there as well.

T: I really want to cover Green Day’s “Longview” because I think that it’s in my vocal range. But the kids in the group that are ultra-emo won’t allow it. I think I might stage a coup.

While artists like “Weird Al” Yankovic can parody various songs without fear of reprisal, the only thing that could really be said to differ from Emocapella’s version and the original is perhaps the lack of band instruments and some slight differences in tempo. Have you ran into any problems getting the rights to record some of these tracks, and even more so than that, have any specific bands been really into the idea of being covered by Emocapella?

A: First off, the rights were a HUGE pain in the ass to get. Since almost all of the bands are on small labels, I had to call each of them individually, and in many cases the process took over a month to get approval. If we do another album later on, i feel sorry for the guy who has to handle that stuff. On the brighter side, several bands have noticed us: Taking Back Sunday liked our version of Cute Without the E so much that we were placed on the front page of their website, from which alot of our publicity sprouted. We also later got to sing with them at the 9:30 club in DC, in front of a huge crowd. It was pretty amazing. Other bands (Alkaline Trio, Mr. T Experience) have seen our stuff, but haven’t taken to it quite as much as TBS did.

T: Eric got all the rights for the album and I think some groups were more difficult than others. I know that Taking Back Sunday and Alkaline Trio have enjoyed our product.

In all of the performances I’ve heard or seen, most of the songs that Emocapella performs are done with a certain amount of humour infused into the act. Now, I can see where humour can come in with “Just A Friend” or “Fuck Her Gently”, but is Emocapella trying to do the a capella equivalent of a reductio ad absurdum argument, trying to “out-emo” the emo kids?

A: i don’t think that was ever our intention. The comedy tracks were introduced mainly because we’re a bunch of goofy guys, and it wouldn’t work for us to be sad the whole time on stage. We like to keep the shows upbeat, and those help. We encourage people not to take us too seriously, because we obviously don’t take ourselves that seriously.

T: It’s funny b/c I’m one of the only people in the group that would know what “reductio ad adsurdum” means, even though I got a D+ in Logic. We try to have fun and at the same time we also mock some aspects of the Emo scene.

How many people usually attend an Emocapella concert? Has there been a cult of personality that has formed around the band since the beginning? Are there any specific performances that are particularly memorable?

A: we usually get a couple hundred people to show up for the big shows at GW. We have a pretty big student fanbase, although they can hardly be described as a cult. People definitely have their favorites: I know there is a lockheed fan club, as well as a slew of girls who are in love with dave shapanka (that bastard). One of our shows last fall was incredible…it was when we were still building a fanbase, and we had the show in this 100-person capacity room. We overfilled it, and the energy was amazing. We introduced the wifebeater encore at that show too. The CD release show was great too.

T: Our shows are awesome, we usually sell them out. I’d say that we can get upwards to 200 people at one of our shows. My favorite show was when someone threw French Fries at me during “Just A Friend.” That was totally sweet.

Is it conceivable that Emocapella could continue on for an extended period of time, even after this last popular wave of “Emo-rock” goes through the halls of college radio and MTV? A number of individuals have already graduated and replaced, so a lack of support doesn’t seem to me to be an issue, but could Emocapella become Hardcorapella or even Dancepunkapella?

A: I’m not sure if that’s where it’ll go. It all really depends on the leadership when this flavor of rock fades out. Since several of the founding members are graduating this year, the group definitely might change directions, but you’ll all just have to stay tuned to see 🙂

T: I think Emocapella will stick around for a while, but always keep the name. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the group will have to sing “Emo” songs however, at this point, we already have a fairly eclectic set.

What was the point when Emocapella realized that “Hey, we’ve actually gotten somewhere?”

A: It was either when we saw the full-page article in Entertainment Weekly, or when we were on stage at the 9:30 club with TBS.

T: When we got to sing at the 930 Club in DC and open for Taking Back Sunday in front of 1000 people, I realized that we had done something.

Could you give us a little information about your debut release, I’m Sorry, and perhaps go over some of the highlights on the disc, in your eyes? How can individuals that might be interested in Emocapella find information about the band, and how can they pick up a copy of the new album?

A: hands down, the best resource is the website (www.gwu.edu/~emocap), which has sample mp3s, videos, pictures, bios, etc, etc. It has everything. The album was recorded at Omega Studios in Maryland, and we’re all really happy with it. The song by brand new (it’s one of the mp3s you can download) is a late addition, and sounds pretty amazing, i think. The last track on the CD still makes me laugh my ass off: it’s our first original composition. The title may give you some indication of the content. It’s an excellent record, and we hope people will get a copy. They can be purchased on http://www.smartpunk.com (there’s a link from our website, or you can go straight there). Buy a copy!

T: People can pickup our CD on the Internet from Smartpunk and they can also check out our website at www.gwu.edu/~emocap. When we recorded our CD we realized that recording sucks, mainly b/c putting thirteen guys in a tightly packed room is bad for the ozone layer, if you catch my drift.

What pop-culture quotes probably could be said to influence your life more than they should? Which bands, either current or in the past, would Emocapella like to share a bill?

A: for me, the line in Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, where Matthew Broderick talks about Cameron marrying the first girl he lays. It’s awesome (and we put it into our version of San Dimas by the Ataris). I would be overjoyed to share the stage with any band we cover. From the brief taste we got with TBS, I think we would be pretty thrilled to play with real bands anywhere.

T: ZEPPELIN RULES, FUCK EMO!

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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