CVIndependent

Wed08122020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Captain Ghost, a four-piece alternative-rock band, is a growing presence in the Coachella Valley music scene thanks to the group’s powerful anthems and ballads—plus its political and perhaps even conspiratorial lyrics.

And then there’s that intriguing name. I sat down to talk with Bradley Burton (songwriter/vocals/rhythm guitar), Nick Hales (lead guitar), Mikey Hendricks (bass guitar) and Corwin Hendricks (drums).

“I took a sheet of paper and wrote down names that came to mind. I had some really good ones, but they were all taken—pretty much every one,” Burton said. “Captain Ghost was one of the first things I wrote down. I didn’t really like it at first, but when I found out there were no other bands named Captain Ghost, I thought it was kinda cool.

“Coincidentally, there is a book from the ’50s called Captain Ghost, which I’d love to read now. One of my first choices for a name was ‘The Promised Software.’”

Mikey Hendricks said the band’s power and exuberant stage presence have been helpful in growing a fan base.

“The big thing about playing live shows, especially out here in this tight-knit community, is to just make it fun,” Hendricks said. “Back in high school, I was in a band playing house shows and generator parties in the middle of the desert, and the big thing was jumping off of amps, swinging guitars around, and making it fun for all of your friends who were there every single weekend. The music doesn’t always hold itself or keep people’s attention, so you just want to make it fun for everyone and keep it interesting.”

Corwin Hendricks added: “The music just has so much energy. It’s hard to not get into it.”

The expression and passion of the music slaps you in the face from the first few verses of the band’s lead single, “Poison Skies.”

“That song pretty much wrote itself when I learned about what was going on in the environment, and the plans that all these scientists have to combat global warming,” Burton said. “Their techniques kinda frustrated me—raining all these metals down. To know that some of these metals are neurotoxins, and watching my kids go outside and play knowing this stuff is coming down just pissed me off.”

Why was “Poison Skies” chosen as the band’s first single?

“The deciding factor is I envisioned the video for it,” Mikey Hendricks said. “It’s a dual-concept video with nuclear-era World War II footage, spraying chemicals on plants—basically proof that the government has poisoned us in the past, and suggesting, ‘What makes you think they’re not doing it right now?’ We went out and shot in Sky Valley and slapped free-domain footage of civil-defense videos and duck-and-cover films on top of it.”

The political lyrics continue on second single “Raise the Flag,” while the third single, “True Blue,” is a love ballad.

“I think it’s really important for an artist to have some personal songs. A lot of the topics on songs we’ve talked about are fairly new to me,” Burton said. “I’ve been writing songs for a long time, and they started out as personal and selfish, either about me or about a girl. But as I've grown up and educated myself, they took a turn in the current direction. I don’t always want to be writing about social or political things. It’s actually been an accomplishment for me to get back into personal songwriting. ‘True Blue’ is a song about a relationship where you try to be true—but mixed with some end-times type of flair.”

Burton explained how the band came to be.

“I’m originally from Orange County. My dad and I used to come out here on the weekends to Mission Lakes to play golf and crash golf carts,” Burton said. “In 2002, my dad moved out here, and I ended up moving with him, but I still had a band in OC that I would go back and jam with on the weekends. I was never in a serious band, always just jam or garage bands. … I lived in Vegas for a few years and then moved back to Indio, still writing songs—but I had a family, so that came first. Ever since my first child was on the way, I made it a priority to be a good provider for them.

“After I got a good career, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do—my passion is music. I went into a studio and did a few songs, then got invited by a friend to play an acoustic show at Plan B. So I went and played a few songs, then stuck around for the band after, which was Upper Class Poverty (which featured Mikey Hendricks on bass, and Corwin Hendricks on drums). I was really impressed by their rhythm section, and after seeing them play, I thought that I needed some guys like that. We hung out that night, and I hit them up on Facebook.”

Hales came on board after the original guitarist left. “I was/am very busy, but once I heard the tracks, I was in,” he said.

Busy is an understatement: Hales is currently part of eight (!) bands, while Burton has a wife and kids.

“Yeah, we only get to practice on Sunday, and I work trade jobs, Brad’s got a Monday through Friday gig, and Corwin works weekends,” Hales said.

Mikey Hendricks added: “You have to keep the money flowing in so you can keep buying strings. We’d really love for this to be full time and have it be able to support all of us. It’s not really hard for us to be doing what we’re doing right now, because we love what we’re doing. Our upcoming album and release show will hopefully spark things to go further.”

Mikey Hendricks elaborated on the band’s plan of attack.

“Our immediate future is releasing our full-length album on Aug. 17, which will feature Nick Hales’ mandolin debut, with a release show at The Hood that night. We’re then following that with a tour. This upcoming season, we hope to play a lot more shows and create more music for the next album.”

Hales summed up the plan: “Today, the valley. Tomorrow, the world.”

Captain Ghost will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the band, visit captainghost.com.

Published in Previews

In 2013, a new band with a funny name played its first show.

In 2017, Upper Class Poverty is still playing live shows—including a late October gig at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, opening for Michale Graves, the former lead singer of the Misfits. Some recorded material may be coming soon, too.

I spoke to the band at The Hood Bar and Pizza, where the band will perform on Saturday, Nov. 18, during a benefit show for Hollace’s Alex Perez, who is battling brain cancer

“The first show we ever played was here at The Hood Bar and Pizza,” drummer Corwin Hendricks said. “It was back when they first opened this location, because I was working here at the time and booking the bands, so I figured we’d just throw ourselves in there. We had a different bass-player at the time; we had our buddy Chaz Shapiro playing bass with us.”

Videos from that first show can be found on the Internet.

“Some of our only live footage that we have on YouTube is from that show,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Rob Lawrence. “When we watch it, we think, ‘We weren’t too bad for our first show.’

“We’ve always loved The Hood. We were in a band before this one called Sol Jah Rock, and (in that band) was the first time I had ever sang and played guitar at a venue, when The Hood was at the original location down the street from here.”

Corwin Hendricks’ brother, Michael, replaced Chaz Shapiro in Upper Class Poverty.

“It took a while to persuade me to be in the band,” Michael Hendricks said. “They moved in with me and played their last show with Chaz—and then Chaz moved. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to do the band thing anymore.’ And then slowly, they were like, ‘We have a show coming up. Do you want to play the bass?’ I said OK, given I really liked the music. That’s the cool thing about it—plus I get to play with my brother and my best friend.”

The band members are recording some of the songs they have been playing over the past four years at their home studio.

“It’s in the midst right now. Mikey is actually doing a lot of the production and engineering,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know if we have an ETA for when it’s all done, but I’m hoping sometime soon. Don’t get too excited. I’ve put down a bunch of guitar tracks, and they aren’t sounding exactly like I want them to sound, so we don’t want to rush it. We said three months ago about three months ago, and it’s not where we want it to be yet. After this album is done, we’ll probably have another new album’s worth of material to play live.”

When I asked what’s been hardest for the band since it formed, Michael Hendricks said it’s always been a struggle.

“It’s a continuous struggle, and that’s what the name represents, Upper Class Poverty,” he said. “We try to do the best we can with the funds that we have, and we’ve put ourselves in poverty to do so. The toughest period is now—because it always is now. What you expect of your life and the money you make never adds up.”

The members explained how the band’s name came to be.

“It was supposed to be a song, and it was our original bass-player, Chaz, who came to Corwin and me after we stopped playing in Sol Jah Rock,” Lawrence explained. “He was like, ‘I had a great idea for a song name, and lately, I’ve been thinking it’d be a really cool band name.’ He told us the name, and we were like, ‘Bro, we have to use that as the band name, not a song, because that’s the perfect band name.’ It represents everything that we’ve gone through and that we stand for. I’ve always been pretty broke, trying to make ends meet. But we love it because we get to go to really cool places and play our songs for awesome people, and we party. It’s a win-win situation. We’re pretty blessed, and we’re lucky people.”

There is one show in the band’s existence that the members said they’ll never forget.

“The backyard show that we did—Schmidy’s Tavern closed, and we bought their stage and put it in the backyard at our house in Thousand Palms, and we had Corwin’s birthday party there,” Michael Hendricks said. “We had a bunch of really cool bands, cool people, and it was just a good time. It was a really memorable show. As for our neighbors … it’s in Thousand Palms.”

Corwin Hendricks fondly remembered that birthday show. “We had six bands, and it was like a small music festival. We had acoustic acts between the bands. It was just a good time. We were competing with a mariachi band that was playing next door.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/upperclasspoverty.

Published in Previews