No one would suspect that the three small-town rockers in the The Captain's Son weren’t from sunny SoCal with their long locks, frequent trips to the beach, and love for The Growlers and The Beach Boys. These good ol’ Springfield, Missouri boys have made themselves right at home in OC while on a mission to make a name for themselves.
The triad consists of front-man and guitarist Paige Byrd, bassist Will Hopkins, and drummer Jarred Ratley. Byrd and Ratley met when they were 16 and 17 years old and formed the band about three years later. The band adopted their name from Woody Guthrie's “Muleskinner Blues” (‘Good mornin’, captain; good mornin’, son’) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Growing up in a town with a population of about 160,000, anyone who shared similar interests were bound to bump into one another, which is how they encountered Hopkins, who was playing in another local band at the time. Byrd considered the decision to invite Hopkins to join the band as a “no-brainer” due to the fact that he was just as ardent about music.
The Captain’s Son are mainly influenced by rock ‘n’ roll – specifically classic rock indie rock, and bands that reek attitude and have a groundbreaking presence. Remember how fucking cool and modern The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys were when they made their debuts? These influences are apparent when you hear The Captain's Son's sound that has an electrifying energy and is evocative of some of the greats that emerged from the ‘60s.
“We left an easy life behind in order to try to pursue what we were actually interesting in doing,” Hopkins says.
The trio left their home in Missouri with a strong fan base. Their eminent presence and passion influenced other locals to start making music based on the amount of exposure they were getting. The Captain’s Son reached their threshold of success in the small town of Springfield, and the realization that the scene wasn’t going to flourish anytime soon left the group at a standstill of what to do next. After all, there is really no room for growth out in the sticks once you’ve reached your full potential.
The band longed to relocate somewhere they could start from the bottom of the totem pole and work their way up. Out of all their potential choices to move, Southern California made the most sense since Ratley and Byrd had come out to OC to tour and Hopkins went to school in Hollywood. It's where they had the most connections.
“Once we realized what was out here that wasn't back at Missouri, we were eager to get back to something that was more open, more diverse, had more places to play, more miles to cover, and where the weather was nice,” says Byrd.
The guys gave themselves a six-month deadline to save up enough to make the move from the Midwest to the west coast. The trio made it out to Long Beach the second week of July and since then, have been practicing and playing a great deal of shows to get their name out there. They’ve learned and are still learning the business aspect of managing their band and how to market themselves. As a result, it’s landed them consistent places to play at Pike Restaurant & Bar in Long Beach and Red Barn in Palm Springs. Their sound perfectly blends in with the OC scene, so it's no surprise that they've caught the attention of Long Beach locals.
In a band where each of the members puts an immense amount of effort into what they do, any group's biggest fear would be having to go home because they couldn't make it elsewhere, and it would be warranted after moving thousands of miles away from their comfort zone. But with the ambition Byrd, Hopkins and Ratley possess individually and as a group, the best is yet to come. Nearly every element of their band is self-motivated and DIY – from their flyers and website, to their songwriting, recording, and booking. If they have the means, they’re going to seize any opportunity they can get to succeed.
“I think we just have enough drive to where we make it work,” says Ratley.
What keeps Byrd, Hopkins and Ratley driven is their desire to travel, to express themselves, and to not fall into a routine of living an average life of working a 9-5 job and being unsatisfied with the lifestyle that comes with it. Their top priorities are to keep putting out music and playing as many shows as much as possible in order to maintain some sort of relevance.
“Now, we've got other things we're working towards… It's all just part of the process of getting to the next big thing. It's all steps,” says Byrd. “Making the move, we would've never gotten any of this shit we've gotten in the last five to six months; write-up wise, experience wise, gig wise if we would've stayed. We knew that.”
The Captain’s Son performs at Red Barn on Thurs. Jan. 5, 9 p.m. Free admission, all ages. For more show dates, click here.
Yvonne Villasenor is often in a sleep deprived daze daydreaming about ’90s heartthrobs, dogs, upcoming album releases, and what she’s going to eat for dinner. When she snaps back to reality, she writes about OC’s latest music and artists.