The Potato Pirates take various styles of music considered dead — or at least exhausted of ideas — and injects them with an infectious, youthful exuberance. Part ska, part punk, part whatever it is that this quintet has absorbed over the years, the resulting sound crackles with a wiry energy. The act's eponymous debut is nothing less than a great party record, yet subjects as weighty as racism, class and social oppression are tackled with thoughtfulness and humor. In advance of the band's CD-release show, we spoke with singer/guitarist Zach Capaldo-Smith and drummer Steve Stackhouse about the new album, the band's roots and its serendipitous Nederland connection.
Westword: How did you come up with the name for your band?
Zach Capaldo-Smith: Our singer in high school went through a phase when he was really into being Irish. He also went through a pirate phase. He went around through neighborhoods stealing stuff from open garages and hiding it at this fort by a lake. It's kind of like "Irish Pirates."
Was your album more of a live recording, or did you do more meticulous tracking?
Steve Stackhouse: We only had two days to do it, but we did do some detailed tracking. We drove to Sockout Studios in Fort Morgan really early in the morning and did fifteen- or sixteen-hour days of back-to-back recording. I was sick as a dog, but we laid out half the album the first day and did all the drum tracking. We did it as fast as we could and still make it sound good.
You played at Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland?
ZC: It was weird. They had a hearse race and a Grandpa Bredo look-alike contest. I had never heard of that or even Nederland before we played there.
SS: They had talked to our label, Filthy Beast Records, about having Synthetic Elements play and that they needed another band. Everybody loved us. They were open-minded and they invited us back, so hopefully we'll be playing it again this year.
ZC: We've seen people from up there coming down here for our shows, including this nine-year-old kid who had been dressed as a leprechaun.
What do you hope people get out of your album and your live shows?
ZC: We hope they keep coming back, and we try to build a sense of community, too. We try to mingle with people after we play. If anyone comes up to our merch table, we try to talk to them more than an "Oh, hey."
SS: A lot of bands, when they play, they hang out backstage after the show.
ZC: A lot of the kids that came to our earlier shows we hang out with all the time now.