Ray Cappo, formerly of Shelter
[SF] How long have you been playing music professionally?
[RC] Luckily and unluckily, I've been doing it for 12 years...I started for
fun at sixteen. I was in a punk rock band in high school in Connecticut. I
couldn't get into the regular high school scene and hated the "rock concert"
scene which was the Cheap Trick, Foreigner, crap at the time. So, I started
going to clubs in the village, in downtown NYC,
on weekends and i really appreciated live music. I remember the first band I
ever saw was the Beastie Boys' first band called The Young and the Useless.
They were about my age and my girlfriend said "Ray, you could do that". so I
went home and started a band. I never stopped but when I was 19, I dropped
out of university and decided that I really didn't want to be a math major but
rather tour the world playing original music and sort of try my luck and do it
rather independently. I went to college out of peer pressure. It was the next
logical stage but my heart wasn't in it. I wasn't into the frat scene, I
found the entire thing an extension of high school. I had dreams I
wanted to follow so I did and i'm glad I did.
[SF] Who are your influences?
[RC] Always changing and growing. Since I grew up
playing violin (not many know this) I was sort of isolated from rock
in the beginning. I loved and love Bach, Mozart Vivaldi,... later I got into
Bob Dylan and Neil young then I jumped into the Sex Pistols, Cockney Rejects,
Xray Spex and the British punk and Oi and mod thing. I sort of crossed over
into American hardcore and punk while I was in college like Circle jerks and
Black Flag and then some for the more straight forward and positive type of
music like Minor Threat and 7 Seconds. A lot of times the most
influential bands never become the biggest bands. I always find that strange.
[SF] . What instruments do you play?
[RC]I play guitar, bass, violin, drums, a few
Indian classical instruments like Mrdunga (a clay drum) as well as harmonium
(like a pump keyboard). But in everyone of my bands, I 've only sang and
[SF] You started out in a hardcore band. What was that like?
[RC] Youth of Today was the first band that developed a big following
when I was
19. That was exciting, It was very independent. We had an international
following and hardly any advertising or press. It was a strange culty word of
mouth thing. It was fun but we roughed it. In 1989 we did a tour of Europe
selling out almost every show. The shows were in crazy places, a few were
in these giant squats like dilapidated buildings; getting cheated out of
money by promoters ...etc. We learned the hard way (and am still learning) but
they were all positive experiences. I mean I got to tour the world from
Hungary to Puerto Rico to South America to Sweden to Tokyo so in that sense
work always seemed like a vacation, minus the nice hotel rooms.
[SF] What lessons did you walk away with?
[RC] 1. Keep your merchandising rights. 2. Stay out of Poland 3. Do not
in Hungary. 4. Eat in Italy 5. Do not tour Scandinavia during the winter 6.
your driver doesn't fall asleep at the wheel 6. Read a lot of books. 7. The
Japanese are kind. 8. Never get your pay mailed to you. 9. Sound checks don't
work. 10. Unless you're huge...don't bring a sound man. 11. Only tour with
people you like. 12. Somehow, somewhere, take a bath. 13. Bring a lot of
it's tough to do your laundry.
[SF] You went on to start a label, Revelation Records. How did that do?
[RC] Revelation still does a lot of my back catalog (Youth of Today and
I don't own it any more. it's still going strong and has great bands.
it's based out of Huntington Beach, California.
[SF] How many bands did you have on the label's roster?
[RC] I signed 11 bands before I left. Now they've put out over 70.
[SF] In 1991, you left the music scene and moved to India. What brought
you back toNew York, to music?
[RC] I think music is like my "dharma" or calling. Everybody has
feel natural at doing...so music did and will always magnetically drag me
back even though some times I move away from it.
[SF] How is your music different from the time before you lived in India and
[RC] Musically, maybe not much, but emotionally, it's charged and
lyrically maybe more
inspirational with more direction. Just being in a holy village thousands of
miles away from the Western world in a place where no one cares about Spin
magazine, Boys to Men. It's like a different world with a different paradigm
and it's refreshing and eye opening to see that our world is also just
another tiny universe. You know?
[SF] Tell me about Shelter?
[RC] Shelter had it's hard edge cuz we grew out of the NYC punk/hardcore
it was blended with catchy hooks melodies and harmonies. Although the common
listener and the record company were trying to fit us into that Offspring/Foo
Fighters type of genre and it wasn't far off....our lyrics were a little
different. Had a serious spiritual twist to our songs which our fans really
[SF] What was the response that the band received?
[RC] The band always had a good fan base internationally but it got
bigger as the
band got bigger with the signing on Roadrunner for the last two CD's. Even
though in America we had a real "hardcore" following, in countries like Brazil
we came halfway to a gold record. Europe and Japan were always big too
because of press and videos but it still maintained an underground status.
[SF] What was the band's stage presence like?
[RC] I do a lot of martial arts so I'm really an acrobat on stage with
jumps and the like plus the crowd at the shows are usually completely nuts.
They are either singing along with massive pile-ups on stage or manic
diving. I don't
mind much. I like the idea of communing with the audience. It 's much better
than the old glued to your seat J. Giles concert.
[SF] Who were you signed to?
[RC] Our first two were on Revelation (Huntington Beach, ca.) and then
3rd to Equal
Vision Records (NYC) and then the last two from Runner Records.
[SF] Why did the band split up?
[RC] I needed a quality of life change so I am moving to the West Coast.
been living in New York City for along time can sympathize. So we're
final CD in May on my label, Super Soul Recordings, and licensed world
wide. I also think this is a different chapter in my life and I want to work
with new people in a new place with a new sound. I 'm also doing a lot of
spoken word both live and on CD and that's creative and fun. I also act and
want to start doing that as a parallel life with music.