I sat down and talked with Karl Obermeyer (Lead Singer/Rhythm Guitarist) of the Minneapolis band Capital Sons on the phone since the release of their EP Tempest’s debut on February 15th, 2021.
Karl Obermeyer along with bandmates Rick Paukert (Lead Guitarist), Keith Raney (Bass and backing vocals), and Mike Jueneman (Drums) gave a candid interview and let me in on their new release along with some personal insights on this Midwest favorite. Named the hardest-working band of 2020 by their peers and industry professionals in the Everything Minnesota Music Honorees, it was a pleasure to learn more about this local favorite.
All Music Magazine: What first got you into music?
Karl: I think I was born with music in my blood. That being said, I also lost my father when I was 11 years old and music really helped me escape all of the anger, confusion, and uncertainty I had in dealing with that. It was therapeutic to me in so many ways during that time in my life and ever since. In some ways, I can honestly say that music probably saved my life.
All Music Magazine: Who inspired you to make music?
Karl: I’ve been inspired by so many bands and artists through the years that it’s impossible to list them all, but I would have to say that Paul Westerberg, Ryan Adams, Sting/The Police, and Led Zeppelin have probably had the greatest impact on my songwriting and lyrical style.
All Music Magazine: How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Karl: I would call it heart on our sleeves rock and roll. We don’t rely on gimmicks or pull any punches. Our songs are heartfelt, honest, sometimes gritty, sometimes sweet, and everything in between. Our sound tends to be reminiscent of 90’s era rock and we’re just fine with that comparison. Lots of good music came out in the ’90s.
All Music Magazine: What is your creative process like?
Karl: My personal process tends to involve me working out a riff on my acoustic guitar at home or getting a lyric stuck in my head at midnight when I’m trying to go to bed. I’ve learned to get up, write down and generally work through the creative process whenever it hits me because if I don’t, I probably won’t remember it the next day. As a band, I generally bring in the skeleton of a song and share it with the guys. We then write our individual parts from there and continue to work out and the arrangement and progression for the song. Often, the other guys in the group will add elements I hadn’t imagined.
All Music Magazine: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Rick: This is a tough question because there are so many amazing musicians and fantastic songwriters. If I had to choose though, I would go in the direction of collaborating with a legendary songwriter or songwriting team; Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Tyler/Perry, Fogarty, Petty, etc. These artists have not only cracked the code to writing great songs, but they have also created timeless classics many times over and it would be enriching to experience that process.
All Music Magazine: If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
Rick: Again, there is no shortage of amazing artists out there and it’s hard to pin down just one, but for this scenario, I’d choose one of my favorite newer artists; Rival Sons, Vintage Trouble, Blackberry Smoke, or maybe even Greta Van Fleet. Then again, it would be incredible to stand in front of an Aerosmith, AC/DC, Stones, or Queen-sized crowd!
All Music Magazine: What is one message you would give to your fans?
Rick: Easy one! Appreciation! Sincere and genuine gratitude! The most fulfilling part of being an artist is sharing music with people that appreciate it. I can’t thank fans enough for supporting us by attending shows and/or listening to our music.
All Music Magazine: What is the most useless talent you have?
Rick: I’m full of useless talents! How do I pick? Here, pull my finger!
All Music Magazine: How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Rick: This one is a double-edged sword. On one hand, when I think back to promoting gigs with flyers placed on cars and stapled to telephone poles, I appreciate the internet and the efficient communication it provides. Plus, it enables us to receive feedback directly from fans as well. I love that the internet and social media affords us the opportunity to have a mutual connection. On the other hand, as everybody knows, digital distribution has completely upended the music business. The streaming model has made it challenging for artists to monetize their music. Though I have to say, as a music consumer, I do love having instant access to a huge catalog of music.
All Music Magazine: Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
Keith: Ha! Yes, I do. Usually whatever is in my head when I wake up. Very random. Anything from 80’s classics to musical numbers to one-hit wonders.
All Music Magazine: Do you have any upcoming shows?
Keith: YES!! We have finally booked our first live gig since the pandemic started. We will be performing at The Barrel House in Red Wing, Minnesota on Saturday, June 26th.
All Music Magazine: Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
Keith: Mostly venues and festivals throughout the Midwest. Hands down favorite venue I’ve performed at is First Avenue. That stage, room, sound system, and overall history are a bit overwhelming when you step on that stage. I had the pleasure of playing that stage twice with The Elementals back in the day. Least favorite is probably the What’s Up Lounge in Mankato. The “load-in” up that narrow-ass stairway was always a pain. Once the show started though it was all good.
All Music Magazine: What is your favorite song to perform?
Keith: I love performing them all so that’s a tough one. I’ve always thought that ‘Amsterdam’ off the Swim the High Tide record is a great, theatrical song. A very fun one to perform.
All Music Magazine: Which famous musicians do you admire?
Mike: As a drummer, I’d say Neil Peart. Amazing person, amazing life, and an amazing drummer. The fact that he decided to relearn an entirely new approach to his instrument at a time when he was widely considered the best drummer on the planet is such an inspirational and humble thing to do. As an overall musician, I’d say Frank Zappa. He was a genuinely bizarre American original. A true musical composer who blended styles of classical, doo-wop, rhythm and blues, rock, jazz, and comedy. There’s a fantastic new documentary currently streaming that was directed by Alex Winter (Bill of “Bill and Ted” fame). It’s just called Zappa and I can’t recommend it enough!
All Music Magazine: What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Mike: When I was 17 while working at a small market radio station, I accidentally left an F-bomb on a recording that went out over the air. The station owner got some complaints the next day and wanted to pull me out of school just to yell at me. The principal refused, but I was told about it and had the rest of the day to ruminate over the chewing-out I would receive at 3:15 sharp. He did not disappoint!
All Music Magazine: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Mike: “Get a cart”. A few years ago a drummer buddy told me to get a foldable cart to haul my drums in and out of gigs and it made a world of difference. It seems like a no-brainer now, but for years I would make multiple trips in and out, lugging all the crap around. Now I just push a handle and I love it.
All Music Magazine: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Mike: A greater appreciation of original music, in general, would be nice. Right now the hot trend is cover acts and especially tribute bands. There are so many great bands creating new music in the Twin Cities, and we usually play shows with multiple bands on a bill. There have been multiple times at the end of the night where a band is just killing it, and I’ll be amazed that there are only six people left watching.
All Music Magazine: What’s next for you?
Mike: I’m excited to keep making music with Capital Sons. I think we get better and better each time we go into the studio. We’ll keep putting out quality music and hopefully, some bigger venues and other opportunities will start opening up.
With the opening up of venues after a long wait, they are looking forward to playing at many of their familiar spots and some new ones. Exciting things are coming soon for this band and the Twin Cities will be front row for all to come.
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