Like any regional scene, the greater Dayton musical community has had its share of triumphant feasts and disappointing famines. Guided by Voices (and most things related to Robert Pollard), the Breeders and Brainiac certainly fall into the former category while a good many lesser lights comprise the latter.
Captain of Industry frontman Nathan Peters has a firsthand grip on the subject of Dayton's rising and falling scene.
"I think Dayton has a lot of cool stuff going on right now," says Peters. "There's a lot of young bands and the next generation of bands is popping out. Bob's doing his thing again and the older scene is picking up a little more. But Dayton has seen better days as far as the industry is concerned; Hawthorne Heights really hurt us in a lot of ways. Pitchfork really dogged the Motel Beds and they were like, 'Thanks, Dayton, for another great band.' They didn't really deserve that."
Captain of Industry's first two albums, ! and The Great Divide, showed a band with a number of disparate influences and a huge wealth of potential. But their latest, The Bronze, is a solid bid for inclusion in Dayton's eventual Hall of Fame.
Combining the Math-like precision of Pavement, the sprawling Prog of Red-era King Crimson, the Indie Pop angularity of The Shins, the elegant edge of David Bowie and the visceral uptown nerve of Television, Captain of Industry offers a sound that will guarantee an audience well beyond the confines of the Gem City.
Captain of Industry began six years ago in the wake of the break-up of local faves Pig Eye Jackson, when drummer John Lakes and bassist Ian Sperry started jamming occasionally. Guitarist Kevin Oldfield fell into the impromptu group and Peters showed up to the sessions and became a member by physical proximity.
"They sort of started the band and I sort of joined," says Peters with a laugh.
For the better part of a year, COI did little more than jam in the house that some of them called home and all of them called a practice space. With no pressure to write for recordings or rehearse for gigs, the band built a foundational sound slowly and organically.
"Some of my fondest memories of playing music are just that year, playing in the house and fucking around," says Peters. "There's a lot of camaraderie with the writing. It's a team effort. I wouldn't say that anybody is the songwriter of the band. We all do it and it's a very cool band to be in."
COI eventually moved out of the house, graduating to regular gigs around Dayton and then organizing regional and national tours for themselves. They also hit the studio; all three of their albums have been helmed by friend and former Pig Eye Jackson member Noel Benford.
"I don't even own them anymore, but if you can ever get a hold of the Pig Eye Jackson records, you should check them out," says Peters. "These are things that Neil did in his basement on a crappy soundcard in '99 and 2000, and they're awesome. He has a great ear for sound. He makes some decisions that we questions sometimes, but in the end it sounds great. I love the way he does stuff."
Although COI didn't overthink the details going into recording The Bronze, the one thing they knew they wanted to do was record primarily as a unit in a live studio setting. Their previous albums had been recorded piecemeal with a lot of overdubs, and on The Bronze they were determined to inject more of their live chemistry into the recordings.
"We got what we wanted to do really together and in four days we knocked out these live recordings," says Peters. "The past stuff we've done has been to a click track and I don't like recording that way. It's so much better when it's just five dudes in a room. You know when the take's right."
Perhaps the biggest change in COI was the recent addition of local guitar hero Tommy Cooper (Motel Beds, Dead Like Presleys), giving the band a versatile second guitarist.
"He married my sister so we started hanging out more, then we started writing some songs," says Peters, laughing. "Tommy frees up Kevin to be more of the freak we all know he is, then they both get a little freaky. They're both weird rhythm guitar players that don't ever play rhythm ever, they just do this noodley rhythm stuff. It's the battle of the noodle rhythms. It's awesome."
Immediate plans for COI include a 7-inch split with All Hail Records labelmates Take No Damage, which should be done in September, just in time for COI's appearance at the MidPoint Music Festival. The band has also been active in the Columbus market as well; they've spent the past two years serving as the backing band for former Royal Crescent Mob/Howlin' Maggie frontman Happy Chichester on his solo tours. With a packed calendar ahead of them and great press accumulating for The Bronze, it looks like smooth sailing for Captain of Industry.
"I'm proud of the project and the feeling of it, and I'm proud that a band like us can continue on, against all odds it seems sometimes," says Peters. "We've managed to stick it out when a lot of bands we grew up playing with haven't. I'm almost more proud of that than the recording. We're keeping it together."