Simple Monsters Turn to Stephen King for Inspiration on Fuzz-Rock Song "Captain Trips"

Simple Monsters will be performing Aug. 24 at El Corazon
A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know about it? Today Edward Cunningham, vocalist and guitarist of Seattle garage-rock rock band Simple Monsters, delves into pulling inspiration from The Stand, non-sense lyrics and performing at Chop Suey on Halloween 2011.

Song: "Captain Trips"

Album: Captain Trips (Single)

Release Date: June 29, 2012

When it was written: "Captain Trips" was finished in late 2011 but wasn't recorded until earlier this year.

Where it was written: Partially in my attic and partially in Matthew's basement here in Seattle.

Favorite line in the song: The track opens up, "This is where I was born, this isn't a home." This was the one solid line of lyrics that I had coming into the studio and it transferred over in the final product as the only line that really makes sense. The line is about the house, town, city or wherever you were born and how it can be unfriendly or cruel. There's an old song called "A House Is Not a Home" and I guess this line is kind of borrowed from it.

Which part was the hardest to come up with: We went in to studio with the song completely written but it was missing real lyrics. We did a couple of takes but I eventually sat down and tried to make the few lines of lyrics match with the music. This was tricky because we didn't have much to work with and I was being bugged by our former bass player. I ended up scratching out a few lyrics and no one complained. The result is a slightly shouted, slightly sang, slightly spoken vocal part.

If you could go back and change anything, what would it be: We recorded this song using some crazy fuzz pedals and it made the guitar tone "crackly." This sounds really cool for some parts of the track but it wasn't the sound that we were going for. Some different distortion would change this song a lot.

Odd fact about song: This was the only track we recorded with a bass player we picked up in late 2011 because Lowell wanted to play guitar. We weren't happy with our bass player's performance in this session and we dropped him and a friend of the band, Bergen de Koch, stepped in on bass. This song's sound is different from our early 2011 demo Big Monster and our only recording as a four-piece band available online.

What was your inspiration for writing the song: Lowell and I were listening to a lot of grunge and '90s hardcore punk while writing this song. The lyrics were partly inspired by "The Stand" by Stephen King and that's where we took the name from.

When was your favorite time performing it live: We first performed this song on Halloween 2011 at Chop Suey. That was a cool show and it was kind of haunting to play this song on that night. The most fun we had performing this song was probably the NW Folklife Festival this year. We played it as a four-piece band and I played the solo with my teeth.

What is the meaning behind the song: The theme of this song was really dark when I was writing it because of the "trippy" guitar riff. The original title I came up with was "Flagship," which made me think of some darker sci-fi things. And what I eventually turned to was "The Stand" by Stephen King, a '90s tv miniseries starring Gary Sinise and a book that I had picked up in Portland earlier in 2011. Some lyrics that I wrote related to "Captain Trips," the killer virus that destroys most of humankind and leaves survivors in the now barren wasteland of America. The finished lyrics were mostly nonsense but hopefully conveyed some darker emotions or something in the listener.

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