Captain Squeegee: "Music Is Just Gonna Be Free! I'm Okay with That!" | Up on the Sun | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona

Captain Squeegee: "Music Is Just Gonna Be Free! I'm Okay with That!"

Captain Squeegee sounds like a character at Phoenix Comicon, which is convenient but not quite accurate. It's actually a band at Comicon, with a performance coming up Saturday night at Comikaze. We talked Friday afternoon with lead squeegee Danny Torgersen -- just before his appearance on a panel at Comicon...
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Captain Squeegee sounds like a character at Phoenix Comicon, which is convenient but not quite accurate. It's actually a band at Comicon, with a performance coming up Saturday night at Comikaze.

We talked Friday afternoon with lead squeegee Danny Torgersen -- just before his appearance on a panel at Comicon re: "Acting & Directing Sci-Fi/Fantasy" -- about the difference between geekdom and nerd-dom, the importance of passion, and how to make money as a musician when nobody wants to buy music. (One of their solutions: A crowd-funded album with a Masonic-apron tier.)

What makes Captain Squeegee and Comicon a good fit? Where's the connection?

You know, I think I was genetically born with the nerd gene, like most of my friends. I've always had kind of a, you know, a mythological love of Comicon and everything that it stands for. But it's funny, it was kind of just this last year that I really pursued a connection with Squeegee and Comicon.

And a lot of that has to do with the fact that our music has literally been described as "Sci-Fi," like "Fantasy Rock." Over and over again we get that there's kind of this futuristic, interesting complexity that comes from that whole world of media . . . you know, it's sort of just in the vein of being a little bit technologically a geek, and also just a geek for content.

You used both "geek" and "nerd" there, and I know there's a lot of controversy about what a geek is and what a nerd is. Do you differentiate or are you an equal opportunity geek and nerd?

Yes, all are welcome. I absolutely don't mind getting called any name that has something to do with being smart. I mean, I think everyone can agree that that's what the two words originated from -- but I absolutely consider myself both. Or even a mutant.

Like a hybrid geek-and-nerd.

A hybrid. I love that.

All right. So what do you think makes a geek a geek?

Hmm. Man, I didn't know you were gonna ask me about the secrets of the universe.

It's all about deep geek philosophy, here.

Well, I would say that I think being a geek really just means that you really care about some specific stuff. Like if someone is geeky about something, they're just really into it. And I think that that's a really meaningful trait of humanity.

Even geek and nerd are associated with the idea of just being passionate. And just because those things aren't guns and sex doesn't mean that they're not passions. I think that's kind of why it's been separated from the idea of being passionate, but if you go to Comicon and you talk to those people, everyone cares. They are so into it. And usually there's something very artistic about what they're into, whether it has to do with technology or with entertainment.

I think eventually if you care enough about something you kind of have to express yourself about it. Lord knows I wrote a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction growing up based on exactly that rationale.

I have only more respect for you now.

It gets even geekier from there.

Well, I've been called a music geek also. Like you don't have to just be geeky about things that are comic books and epic stories.

After the jump: "What I love about Comicon is just that it seems like everything is pretty freakin' epic."

Because that's especially what I love about Comicon -- just that it seems like everything is just pretty freakin' epic. That the narrative in comics and anime and sci-fi -- that all of that is usually some of the most futuristic, mythological interpretations of humanity that you're gonna get.

And the stakes are usually high.

Yes, and usually you're dealing with space or other dimensions or genetic hybrids.

So being a music geek and being a geek-geek, does that come from the same place for you?

I guess so. That's probably why I try and write music about humanity and the apocalypse and extraterrestrials and spirituality and every content that grabs me, I try and make into a song. So music has always been connected to that side. That's kind of what inspires me to write. I'm not just gonna write a bunch of love and dump songs. It's gonna be about the consciousness shift and the inevitability of asteroids. Stuff like that.

So is that the stuff you'd say you geek out about when you're not geeking out about music? The spirituality and all that?

Yeah, and toss some conspiracy theories in there!

Done. So why do you think music isn't as well-represented as TV and movies and gaming at a lot of these comic conventions?

I think that it's only a matter of time. We are heading into this world of trans-media. Where now, because the internet has virtually blurred the lines between all your varieties of media, you can watch TV shows on the internet or you can go to the blog written by the director about that show, and then you could maybe read a fan-comic that someone drew about that show. So we're in this new dimension of the internet.

And I think that media itself is just going to become the same awesome entity where it's really just people and ideas and narratives that will become popular now.

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So music will kind of get pulled in by default once everything is connected in that way?

Exactly. But see, the reason that I'm even speaking at Comicon isn't Squeegee specifically, but because Squeegee also makes a web saga [Lucidity Web Saga, to be specific] on the internet.

And we make the music but also act in it, and my roommate and I are principal writers for the show. I think that they were especially interested in that--that bands also can make movies. That bands can also make web sagas and plotlines that even intermingle between the album and the videos, and that it can all be trans-mutated into trans-media.

And in fact my panel is about the fact that I act and direct and make the music all at once for our show, Lucidity. It's about people that do multiple tasks in production. Our show, the Lucidity web saga, has picked up a ton of steam this last year because we won a bunch of awards in L.A. the last couple years at the L.A. Web Fest, and so we submitted to Comicon and they were all over it. And especially [once] the band was connected -- it was just a beautiful cosmic marriage.

So you've got the web saga, and your crowd-funding campaign has a lot of non-music stuff on it. It comes on this USB key, and there's all this DVD bonus material, basically--

An actual key. There's a ton of stuff on it, and I'm gonna load it with interesting stuff that inspired me for each song, each song's meaning, and even some info and videos that explain some of that stuff. The entire Lucidity web saga is on that key -- in HD all at once, all the episodes and all the music -- and we're even trying to develop this game that you can play that goes with the album. I'm all about this word trans-media.

I guess the idea of being in a band is different than it was five years ago. How has that changed for you.

I tell that to bands all the time when they start complaining to me. "We have to self-manage? We have to make our own photos? We have to think of cool packaging?" All of those things are good things! Music is just gonna be free!

I'm okay with that, I've accepted that. Once I got past being frustrated with music being free, everything else that we attached to the music [could] still be something that people wanted. And that's why bands should get creative. Make a movie that goes with your album! Make interesting stuff that you can give to people!

After the jump: "You're a band, of course you should just have music . . . but what else are you going to do? What can you build from the ideas in your music? I'm all about that."

Even in our show Lucidity, the same stuff that the characters order on the website to become more lucid in their dreams -- we sell that stuff on our website! I'm excited that bands have to be more creative. Because you should just have music, you're a band. Of course you should just have music.

But what else are you going to do? What can you connect to that? What can you build from the ideas in your music? I'm all about it.

Is there anything else you think musicians should learn from the comic convention phenomenon? There's a whole crowd of artists and writers and even cosplayers who kind of make a living there, now. How can musicians take advantage of that?

Well, if I think about it, the main reason we even became that affiliated was because we also make media that's more than music, and that we make the music in that media. I would tell bands that if they want to be recognized in the art-entertainment evolutionary process, that they need to make more than music.

And if the art goes with the videos, goes with the music, goes with the ideas, goes with the pictures, goes with the website, then it's only a matter of time before other artists in all avenues are going to start to see that, and respect it, and ask you to join the club.

Can you tell me a little about Comikaze?

That's on Saturday. I did another interview a while back and I was saying that our label, 80/20 Records . . . Mike [Zimmerlich] and I are becoming good friends, and he and I both expressed pretty early on that we were of the nerd/geek hybrid philosophy.

I brought up a while ago that wouldn't it be great if we figure out how to work with Comicon? And his eyes lit up, and the nerd part of our brains started firing, and Mike set up a show at the Crescent, which is one of my favorite venues, and all the bands are just going to go totally Comicon style.

We're dressed up, we got animated for it already -- I don't know why there aren't more awesome shows that correspond with these conventions. So I'm excited to do it. We play at 10:30 and we definitely have some hilarious secrets and plans in store for our stage show that are insane.

I've got one more question for you, and it's a simple one. What's the most Comicon thing you have ever done? Read that any way that you'd like.

That's a big question. You know, I will say, for our crowd-funding campaign, we have this Masonic thing going on, where the whole band looks like old Freemasons that are ruling the world a little bit, and I made Masonic aprons, like arts-and-crafts style, for days for that photo shoot.

I looked up all this awesome secret society symbolism on the internet and printed it out and a friend of mine helped me, my bassist was there, and we were just cutting out all this little stuff and wrapping fabric around it. I'd never used a hot-glue gun before, so that was scary, but that was super geek.

Yeah, cosplaying as yourself is about as good as it gets.

We made seven aprons and they all look really awesome and exactly like they should look if you're in a secret society. For anybody out there, check it out.

Captain Squeegee is scheduled to perform at Comikaze at Crescent Ballroom on May 25.

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