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Captain of Sorrow, The

Racetrack Babies
(Musikministeriet)
Release Date: January 26, 2018

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“Racetrack Babies is the name of the band I used to play with,” says Hans-Christian, the Danish singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer behind this sprawling, ambitious record. “That band broke up as we were working on this album, so I thought it would provide some continuity to our fans. During the recording, our drummer, Henrik Svendsen, started calling me the captain of sorrow, because the songs were full of melancholy, so that became the name of the new band.”


Hans-Christian and his Captain of Sorrow collaborators produced Racetrack Babies in a burst of spontaneous creativity. They wanted to capture the diverse sounds Hans-Christian was hearing in his head. “Every song has the title of a band name I once considered using, so I wanted them to sound different, as if it were 11 different groups.” Hans-Christian and his friends – Søren Hansen on guitar, Hans Madsen on bass and drummer Henrik Svendsen – started the album with some free form jamming. “We listened to each song once, played it three or four times, then recorded it live. I gave them a free hand to create their own arrangements, but didn’t let them get too familiar with the songs. I wanted a rough sound, so you would know it was human beings playing the music.”


“Hollow Empty Void” is a blast of pure pop/punk noise, driven by the grinding guitars of Hans-Christian and Hansen and kicked into overdrive by Svendsen’s aggressive drumming. “Melancoholic” portrays an obsessive love and the hopeless task of trying to encourage someone who is emotionally shut down to express their feelings. Its relentless rhythm guitar track is undercut by Hansen’s wraithlike electric improvisations and Hans-Christian’s sedate vocal. “Buzzword Surfers” rides a galloping surf beat, but takes a left turn with a distorted, almost metallic guitar solo and harmonies that suggest the song of delirious, celestial sirens.


Quietly strummed electric guitar and Hans-Christian’s whispered vocal give “Siamese Scars” an apprehensive edge. The song describes the problems an adult with alcoholic parents faces when meeting similar people at a rehab center. It builds to a tension-filled climax as the wordless chorus overwhelms the band. The R&B of the 50s, the country twang of the 60s and the distorted grunge of the 90s come together in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” to highlight Hans-Christian’s deadpan vocal.


“When we recorded, I didn’t give any thought to radio play,” Hans-Christian says. “We let the songs decide what they wanted to be. Every musician was free to express his individual character.”


Hans-Christian has loved music as long as he can remember. “I think the guys in ABBA say it best in ‘Thank You for the Music’ – ‘Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk; She says I began to sing, long before I could talk.’” Hans-Christian began singing and acting in musicals in grammar school, but after becoming a competitive swimmer in high school, he stopped performing. “I always had music in my head, but I didn’t start performing again until I was studying for a degree as a software engineer. Some of my swimming friends had started a band and invited me to a rehearsal. We had such a good time, they asked me to join. We called ourselves Teddy Bob Freddys.”


Hans-Christian became the lead singer, but the Freddys dissolved after a couple of gigs. “I was feeling like a misfit,” Hans-Christian says, “but I found another group of friends who wanted to make melodic rock and we started Racetrack Babies.” Like the Freddys, Racetrack Babies were a bit disorganized, but despite constant personnel changes, they made three well-received albums and two videos that made it onto MTV’s Up North Chart. “I started as a singer, quickly learning how to play guitar and write songs. In the end, I didn’t have the energy to keep everything together, so I started The Captain of Sorrow with guitarist Søren Hansen, who has been with me since the Freddys.”


Racetrack Babies came out in Denmark on Musikministeriet, which means Ministry of Music in Danish. This is The Captain of Sorrow’s first international release. “I like touring and making records,” Hans-Christian says. “My goal is to keep writing songs and making music in a relaxed, positive environment, for as long as I can.”



Photo Credit: Christoffer Rosenfeldt

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