Captain Cleanoff: Keeping it Unclean

Captain Cleanoff is making a triumphant return to grind Sydney at the end of June. Guitarist Rohan corresponds with Metal As Fuck to bring the scene up to speed on what the band is up to these days, with a brief yet poignant appearance from bassist Jason P.C.


For the past 14 years, Aussie tri-state grinders Captain Cleanoff have have been serving up trend shredding shards of punk and metal friendly grindcore that have seen the band become a well-known commodity in the global scene. Like many underground bands before them, they've had to tough it out, and battle against the push and pull of life's ever increasing responsibilities while trying to keep their vice-like grip on a career in a chosen genre that offers little, if anything, in terms of material gains. Though life can get serious in a big damn hurry, you can never take away Captain Cleanoff's sneering, punk sense of humour and self deprecation. When asked what fans can expect from the band's upcoming shows on June 25th and 26th in Sydney, guitarist Rohan proves this point by offering the following.

"Just a bunch of dickheads trying to act tough and look cool at the same time.We will be one member short as Adrian is busy with work commitments so we'll probably be playing a lot more older stuff and maybe some new songs too. Who knows; see if we get to practice or not.”

Though the band has been in operation for nearly a decade and a half, balancing family obligations and day jobs and coordinating the schedules of band members who don't even live in the same state have all conspired to keep Captain Cleanoff's output down to a couple of splits, an EP, one compilation featuring tracks from said splits and EP, and a lone full length album thus far. Though many fans wish for a higher quantity, you can't argue with the quality, and the cleaning crew tantalized grind bastards around the world when it was mentioned by the band not long ago that 15 new songs were in the demo phase for a second full length album. Rohan brings us up to speed on how that album is progressing, and what's getting in the way of getting the job done.

"We still need a few more songs but it is coming together nicely. Finding the time to demo these songs and practice them is the hard part. Coming up with riffs is the easy part.”

Given that the band members do live so far apart, Rohan contends that practicing does pose somewhat of a logistical nightmare, which makes not only writing together, but also working out the recording schedule, problematic. That, and the aforementioned work and family time can leave little freedom for grinding, but, as Rohan says, there's always time for grind, even when, in the case of drummer Murray, there are pre-teen children to tend to, and band members have to miss shows when the boss won't give them time off. As Rohan said, second guitarist Adrian won't be making an appearance at the Sydney shows, but that won't stop a full set of one-minute face melting tracks from obliterating the audience against all odds.

"There’s always a way. It can be tough though. Murray’s kids are almost teenagers now; they were just babies when he started off with the band so it was probably harder back then.”

In the not too distant past, Captain Cleanoff made a foray to Europe, the birthplace of their genre of choice. It was put to Rohan to compare and contrast the grind scenes in other locales and that in Australia.

"Grindcore is huge in Europe, especially eastern Europe. Australia has a much smaller scene obviously and a distinctly different sound, and I’d say the bands we have here are just as good if not better than the majority of the local bands we played with there.”

The band also toured in the U.S. in 2010, and it was the people they met, not to mention some hookups for gigs for a potential future return to the states, that the band appreciates most. It was on these European and American sojourns that Captain Cleanoff managed to play arguably two of the biggest Meccas for low down dirty grind, Maryland Death Fest and Obscene Extreme. Rohan says it was a bit on the surreal side to share the stage with bands he and his band mates grew up idolizing, and to go one further and down a few drinks with them as well. And how do the two festivals compare in Rohan's eyes? It mainly comes down to a sense of personal hygiene.

"Both are really well organized fests with awesome lineups. The main difference I guess is the fact that Obscene is in a small town in butt fuck nowhere full of every single fucked up freak in Europe. MDF is basically in the middle of Baltimore and everyone there seemed a little bit more serious. Let’s just say people at MDF were more inclined to shower over the course of the weekend, whereas I don’t think anyone did at Obscene.”

The U.S. tour saw a change in the lineup of Captain Cleanoff, with Jason P.C. of Blood Duster fame taking over bass duties from previous fat string sensation Anand. Jason offers this lengthy, profound, and completely unbiased take on how his own transition into the band's ranks has gone.

"I guess I have added a depth to the band that was not there. Not on bass particularly, but personally at the very least, I have given the guys something to aspire to, you know what I mean? A band has to have a role model; someone to look up to, and I guess I'm it for the guys I suppose. Kinda like how Oprah Winfrey is to fat and bored housewives. ...I'm like their Oprah and the band is the... well you get the idea. I don't want to toot my own horn too much but I am a great guy to be around and the band very, very nearly deserves someone as fantastic and inspirational as me to come on board to make their lives a little more enriched.

Three cheers for me… 'hip hip'…”

At this Rohan half-jokingly wonders if he still has Anand's number, but before he can check his grind rolodex talk shifts to the band's unimpeachable punk attitude that it has maintained  these many years with nary a crack in the facade. The trademark punk humourousness is always there, says Rohan, but don't let that fool you into thinking Captain Cleanoff doesn't take their music seriously. Each CC release is still an earnest snapshot of where the band was as a whole at the given time.

"Cleanoff has never been a serious band but we have always made an attempt to write seriously good grind songs. I guess there is always some sort of message to what we are doing but we are mainly interested in having a good time as opposed to telling people what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

"I see our releases as a reflection of where we are/were at that point of time. If you look at some of the songs on our first couple of 7”s and the mini CD we were all partying it up and getting fucked up whereas most of the songs on SOS [Symphonies of Slackness] are more about having to go to work and do all the shit that you don’t want to do but are forced to like work, paying bills, etc.”

It's been a long time coming, but momentum finally seems to be shifting in Captain Cleanoff's favor. In the past three years they've put out their first full length, toured outside of Australia for the first time, and enjoyed enviable support slots at home for some of extreme metal's finest world touring acts. The band also has a long-awaited split with The Kill in the works. But even the best of bands can have the habit of letting that forward motion, if you'll pardon the obvious pun, grind to a halt. Rohan explains how Captain Cleanoff will keep things moving in the right direction while at the same time reflecting on the innate frustrations involved in trying to keep something that is largely against all laws of sustainability alive.

"I guess I’ve always felt we have had to start again because of all the long breaks between shows and lack of promotion. Symphonies Of Slackness is more of a disclaimer than an album title. I think the plan is to do at least one international tour a year and release the next album in half the time it took for the last one so people know we still exist.”

And so, Captain Cleanoff will do its level best to keep Aussie grind alive and pummeling. Though Rohan is non-committal about when the upcoming full length record will be completed, he is indeed planning for the future of his band. To wind down the interview, he outlines Captain Cleanoff's plans for the rest of 2011.

“Just finish off the album and get that recorded, maybe before the end of the year, maybe not, too early to tell yet. We also have plans to bring a few bands out from overseas and do some sort of Aussie tour with them before the end of the year. Nothing set in stone yet.”