(EDITOR'S NOTE — Captain Tom & The Hooligans have released a new EP titled 'A Modern Rendition of Old World Tradition' — a name that mirrors the band's M.O. The work is an interesting mix of originals and covers, touching on everything from ska to folk to Celtic music to polka. Though they bill themselves as WNY's Ultimate Party Band, the group is made up of seriously talented musicians. Captain Tom Sieracki, whose mother and father were musicians themselves, draws from his upbringing and the cultures and musical influences that surrounded him as a kid. We spoke with Tom recently, who was nice enough to fill us in on all that's happening with the band. Be sure, too, to listen to their version of The Special's 'A Message to You, Rudy' at the bottom of this page. Band Members on the EP: “Captain Tom” Thomas Sieracki - Accordion, Vocals; Mike Bryzski - Guitar Vocals; Shavone Pucula - Upright Bass; Trevor Jennings - Drums, Vocals; Karl Zielizinski - Trumpet, vocals; Ray Skalski - Trombone, Vocals; Nicholas C. Sugg - Piano. Members (not on the EP): “Commodore Dave” David Sieracki – Saxophone; Clarinet; Dom Testino – Trumpet. — Photo by Aliana Reed.)
1120PRESS: Congratulations on the new EP! How does it feel having it out there?
CAPT. TOM SIERACKI: It’s awesome to finally have official recordings out there. We've been a band for almost four years now and have a trove of material we've been sitting on, so getting a recording session done was long overdue. Having the EP out now has also brought us a lot of new fans and attention which has been wonderful.
1120: The EP mixes originals with a few covers, and what struck us immediately was the range of material — from a cover of The Specials ‘A Message to You Rudy’ to the traditional ‘In Heaven there is No Beer’ which is some 70 years old now. Can you talk about the mix of material on this EP and how it fits the band’s overall philosophy?
CT: Of course. Genre helps us categorize sounds that help us find similar music we enjoy, but to me music is music, so genre doesn't really matter to me. If I hear a song I enjoy, I want to keep listening and play that song. My love for music is really based around folk music, of all kinds. However, I am partial to most notably Polka, Celtic music, Bluegrass/American Folk, as well as music from Eastern Europe whether that be Polka, Klezmer, or Romani folk. On top of this, I am a big fan of Ska music and we in the band joke about the similarities between Ska and Polka. With our lineup, we found it was very easy for us to play tunes we love like this and want to continue both playing and creating our own music with these sounds. It has been our goal to help keep a lot of these traditional songs and styles of music alive by putting a modern spin on them, such as the addition of the electric guitar. The EP itself is named after our motto, or slogan: “A Modern Rendition of Old World Tradition.”
1120: The band recorded at Mammoth Studios. How was that experience?
CT: Mammoth were a pleasure to work with. They were up to work with me on whatever I wanted to do and made the process as quick and efficient as possible. (Owners) Justin (Smith, head engineer) and Mike (Santillo, studio manager) were awesome: very polite and knowledgeable. And I will add that watching the mixing process was like watching a wizard, especially when hearing what they were able to do with their skills. In this session, we recorded everything live in the studio and were very happy with the outcome. We highly recommend Mammoth and hope to be back in the future.
1120: In listening to the EP, you immediately pick up on the wide blend of genres — from polka to ska to folk and everything in between. And in the band’s bio information on the streams, it makes mention of the “cultures” that create your sound. Can you tell us a bit more about those ‘cultures’ that influence the band?
CT: Growing up with my parents, and the area I grew up in (WNY), very much shaped who I am today. My parents were both musicians; they played bluegrass together as well participating in various other musical activities. They would take me all around to hear music, and whether they meant to or not, exposed me to lots of music: Irish folk, Bluegrass, Polka, Jazz, and Classical were some of the most prominent that I can recall. Buffalo having such strong cultural connections as it does really gave me a good opportunity to experience a wide variety of sounds.
1120: You had mentioned to us that there’s more originals the band has that didn’t make the EP. What’s the plan for that music, and what’s on the horizon for the band as we head into a new year?
CT: We're hoping to have a full album out by the end of 2024! We've got lots of ideas for albums right now which has been the hardest to actually choose what we should release, and what music we should lean into, so we have plans to release several albums in the future that each lean into one influence or theme specifically while still mixing it up.
1120: Thank you for speaking with us. Is there anything else you want to add that we haven’t touched on?
CT: We look forward to experimenting further in the future with more music and having a good time while doing it!