INTERVIEW: Kid Kapichi’s Jack Wilson On New Album ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’

As the echoes of societal unrest and political turmoil reverberate through the UK, we need bands like Kid Kapichi more than ever. First emerging as a formidable voice of the people on their fiery 2021 debut ‘This Time Next Year’, the Hastings punks have since made their name as one of Britain’s hardest working bands, unapologetically confronting the nation’s realities head on.

Kid Kapichi

Navigating the turbulence of a country grappling with its own identity, the four-piece’s 2022 album ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ served as a warning. An opportunity to embrace change and take a step forward as a society, two years on – that chance has seemingly disappeared.

On album three, ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’, Kid Kapichi are confronting the harsh realities of a post-Brexit landscape with anthems of DIY defiance. Urging people to fight for a better future and finding community amidst the chaos, they’re issuing a rousing call to arms for everyone tired of feeling as though they’re living aboard a sinking ship.

As they prepare to unleash their most assaulting collection of songs to date, Rock Sound caught up with Kid Kapichi frontman Jack Wilson to talk about rallying for change, culminating community, and working with their heroes.

RS: Your 2022 album ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ was born from a lot of anger and frustration surrounding the state of the world. How did it feel to see so many people relating to those songs?

JACK: “It was affirming, but incredibly depressing. When people relate to your music, it feels like you’ve achieved what you set out to, and there’s a magic in seeing people at your shows singing the lyrics back to you. They have a look in their eyes that shows it really means something, but when you’re talking about the things we’re talking about – that’s scary and depressing too. It feels like a great achievement, yet at the same time, an awful one. It’s like creating the nuclear bomb.”

RS: It hasn’t even been 18 months since that album was released… and you’re already back with album three. What inspires that swift working pace for Kid Kapichi?

JACK: “The news moves quickly, and there’s so much to talk about. I compare it to South Park and their way of working. They try to write an episode every week to keep things current, and that’s not quite possible in the world of music, but we get as close to that as possible. We’re a band focused on social commentary and politics, so we’re driven by what’s going on in the news and what’s going on in the towns and cities that we live in. It’s important to capture that and get it out into the world as quickly as you can. Any success that we have has been due to that, and that’s another sad thing about this band. We probably sound like a broken record by this point, but that’s because the record is broken. We can write a song about something a politician has done or something the police are doing, and 18 months later it’s still relevant. That’s the scary thing because it just keeps getting worse.”

RS: When it came to starting work on album three, what did you find yourself being drawn to from a lyrical perspective? Were there any changes you noticed in the world, or was it more about the changes that still weren’t happening?

JACK: “It was a bit of both. There’s a lot of stagnation and people thinking that if we just ignore things for long enough, they’ll go away. That’s what Brexit felt like, and it felt as though the government just wanted to pretend everything was fine until people forgot about it. At the same time though, so many things are getting worse. We’ve seen the laws around protesting being tightened, and that’s terrifying. Four or five people were having a peaceful protest for Palestine in my hometown of Hastings recently, and they got manhandled and arrested. It’s sickening, but then you look at the comments on social media and people are saying things like, ‘Stop wasting police time’. The police are wasting their own time! How can you be against people wanting to stop the death of others? I just can’t believe that it’s happening. This album pushes more into that realm because that’s what was happening when we wrote it. Now, we’re seeing the backlash every single day.”

RS: It feels like this album directly follows on from ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’, both thematically and sonically. How do you view the journey between these two records?

JACK: “We made a conscious decision when we were writing this album that sonically we wanted it to be a more concise version of album two. Even though ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ was our second album, it felt like our first. We created our actual debut album in a basement during COVID and self-released it, so it didn’t feel like we really kickstarted this band until album two. When we thought about where to go with album three though, we realised that there was still more to be said on all those things. It didn’t feel like we’d turned the page into a new chapter, it felt like we’d turned the page and there was still more to read. Sonically, we’d got into a rhythm too, so it wasn’t for a lack of creativity, we were just vibing. We wanted to keep the train moving in the same direction.”

RS: There are a lot of similarities between the two albums, but it feels as though everything is more direct this time around. Does that bluntness become more important the longer we go without real change?

JACK: “It has to. Nothing’s working, so what else do you do? It’s almost like a toddler stamping their feet because they’re not getting what they want. In a nice way, we’re the toddlers. We’re amping up the tantrum, and it feels like that’s what we have to do to get what we want. You have to be more concise, blunter, and more on the nose about things. I remember when we were writing the lyrics for ‘999’, I was worried that it might be too much. With the second verse in particular, you hope that you would never have to write lyrics like that, but it felt necessary. It’s getting more violent and aggressive because it feels like it has to.”

RS: Songs like ‘999’ feel especially pertinent considering the ongoing details coming out about the Sarah Everard case too…

JACK: “We wrote that song when the details of that case were first coming out. Ben [Beetham, guitarist] and I were questioning whether people would know what it was about, but I think it’s obvious. It’s terrible to know that there’s still more coming out about that case, and it’s a weird juxtaposition of feelings. We’ve done what we set out to achieve with these songs, but it’s such a horrible feeling to have at times.”

RS: Album titles are important for this band too and tend to be an encapsulation of not only the record’s themes but where our society is heading. ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ was a comment on the self-sabotaging state of our culture, so where was the phrase ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ born from?

JACK: “Our debut ‘This Time Next Year’ felt like a hopeful outlook on a bleak situation. ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’ felt like an opportunity missed, and a chance to do better after we screwed up. ‘There Goes The Neighborhood’ is an acknowledgement that our chance is gone. It feels like it’s over, and what can we even do anymore? It’s also tapping into the idea of ‘undesirables’ moving into your neighbourhood. There’s this outcry that our country, our cities, and our towns don’t feel as loving and kind as they used to, and that people have moved in and destroyed that feeling. The government passes it off as an immigration issue, but really, they’re just overstepping their mark. The undesirables are all of those people in government.”

RS: It’s interesting because when you look back to this band’s debut, there was a lot of positivity. That was an album asking the question ‘What if things could be better?’… Do you think that spirit is still there on album three, albeit in a different form?

JACK: “That’s a great question because when I was writing this album, I was at my lowest point. In terms of hopefulness and expecting change, this album has been my most apathetic, and that’s the worst thing you can become. I’m getting to the point where I’m thinking that there’s no point in voting, and I don’t even know what to do anymore. However, I hope that when people listen to it, they can find some hope in it. There’s hope in the idea of community and coming together, but the only way things are going to change is by doing it ourselves. I feel as though no one’s listening, so maybe it’s time to take it into our own hands. It’s difficult though because this is the most separated I’ve felt from the government and from the UK, and as time goes on I only feel more like that. It feels like we’re doomed, and whilst it’s always darkest before the dawn, at least before it felt like there was hope. The saddest thing is that there’s seemingly nothing to fight for.”

RS: It feels as though that spirit of change has morphed into a call to arms. When you look at songs like ‘Let’s Get To Work’ and ‘Artillery’, there’s a sentiment of ‘They’re not going to sort it, so let’s just crack on ourselves’… 

JACK: “That’s exactly how I feel because there’s no point in us expecting change. There will be a time for change when there’s a general election, but until then it’s up to us. Hastings is a town with a great community, and everyone looks after each other. We need to see more of that, and when people realise that we’ll be able to take a step forward. We need to be looking more towards the grassroots rather than looking to the top for change, because I don’t think that’s coming anytime soon.”

RS: Despite how depressing a lot of these realities are, there’s a real positivity to this album. ‘Subaru’ is verging on sheer silliness, and ‘Can EU Hear Me’ might be talking about Brexit and how screwed we are… but there’s still joy to be found.

JACK: “There are depressing things going on around us and we’re all annoyed at how it’s being dealt with, but in general – life is a pretty magical thing. When we write these albums, we don’t set out with a plan to write six depressing songs, six angry songs, and two ballads. We just write about whatever we’re feeling on those days. Some days you feel angry, some days you feel silly, some days you’re in love, and some days you’re depressed. That’s what being a human is, and our albums reflect that. ‘Subaru’ is the perfect example, especially because when you’re listening to an album like this you need a respite. I don’t think you can listen to twelve songs in a row that hit you that hard without a chance to breathe, and it’s hard to write that way too. You need to write something fun and stupid, and that’s what I love about those moments.”

RS: As a band who take so much influence from ska and 2-tone, ‘Zombie Nation’ feels like an important one for Kid Kapichi too. How did Suggs come to be a part of that song?

JACK: “We wrote the instrumental the day after Terry Hall [vocalist, The Specials] died. That 2-tone streak has always run through Kapichi in one way or another because me and Eddie [Lewis, bassist] are huge fans of that music, so we wanted to pay homage to Terry. Those bands are as relevant if not more relevant today, so it felt like the right thing to do. I wrote the lyrics, and our label asked who we’d like to work with if we could work with anyone. I told them that it would be great if Suggs wanted to be on ‘Zombie Nation’, but I was half-joking because I never thought it could happen. A couple of months later, I got a phone call from Suggs. He told me that he loved the track, and he wanted to come down to Hastings to record with us. That’s exactly what happened, and we also filmed a music video which he was an amazing sport for. I got to hit his head off with a cricket bat, which was fun. He’s been so supportive, and we speak on the phone every week. He’s an absolute gem.”

RS: Whilst a lot of this album is looking at the wider state of the world, there’s a lot of personal moments here too. The final track on the album, ‘Jimi’, is a lovely tribute. Even though it’s sonically and thematically different from much of the record, why was it so important for you to close with that one?

JACK: “That was the hardest song we’ve ever done, and I still don’t know if we’ll be able to do it live. Ben and I got together with two acoustic guitars around midday, by 3pm the song was done, and by 4pm we’d recorded it. What you hear on the album was recorded in one take, and it was supposed to be a demo. The aim was to rerecord it and do something bigger with it, but after listening to it a few times we realised that we couldn’t change it. It was a moment, and everyone we played it to told us to keep it like that. It’s an extremely emotional song about a good friend of ours known as Jimi Riddle. He was my biggest inspiration, idol, and mentor growing up, and he was the coolest kid in town. That song is my proudest moment on the album, but it was a tough one to write. Honestly, I think Jimi would hate it, which is exactly what I would have wanted.”

RS: Having grown this band so much over the last few years, what’s the goal for Kid Kapichi now? Are you hoping that ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ is the soundtrack to a revolution, or just a place where people can find some validation on their perspectives of the world around them?

JACK: “For me, it’s the latter. I hope that these songs are a hub for like-minded people to come together. I see that all the time in our fan group, and there’s a real sense of community there. People meet at our shows and become friends for life, and for me, that is more than enough. That is above and beyond anything I could ever hope for, so we don’t need to spark a revolution. We want to see those people on the front row of every show, and we want to see people coming together through Kid Kapichi.”

There Goes The Neighbourhood’ is out March 15 via Spinefarm Records.

More like this