Kid Kapichi frontman Jack Wilson chatted to BN1 whilst playing in Brighton for The Great Escape

20 minutes, a Brighton bus stop and a “world exclusive” with Britain’s best new punk band. Yes, it’s the long-awaited interview with Hastings heavyweights Kid Kapichi. 

“Tell me what you’re wearing, so I can spot you when we come out,” says Kid Kapichi’s Jack Wilson over the phone. “A Sex Pistols t-shirt,” I reply. “Nice,” he responds knowingly. And so goes my first (not quite) in-person interaction with Kapichi’s snarling singer, who turns out to be anything but when he’s not behind a microphone. I’m waiting outside CHALK, which tonight will provide the stage for the band to make their debut appearance as headliners at renowned new music festival The Great Escape. 

Tonight’s performance has been on the cards for a while, the band tell me. “We’ve waited a long time to do our Great Escape debut. We always said we’d wait for the right time to do it and this really feels like it,” explains guitarist Ben Beetham. “To be honest with you, we were booked to do it just before covid in a much, much smaller venue,” Wilson adds. “We lined up our dominoes in that time, you know what I mean?” I do indeed. In the past two years of corona-induced lockdowns, Kid Kapichi have written, recorded and released their debut album This Time Next Year, reached number six in the official UK independent charts, attracted critical acclaim from publications including NME and Kerrang!, and enjoyed a very successful, all-but sold out UK tour. 

They started 2022 by releasing their latest breathtaking banger New England – a furious rebuttal of the Nationality & Borders Bill, and everything it represents – and supporting Nothing But Thieves across Europe, as well as a certain Liam Gallagher at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Only last week (at the time of interview) they performed to crowds of nearly 1000 people at Camden’s historic Electric Ballroom, something they still haven’t quite got over. Everywhere they look, exciting opportunities are starting to arise. But, as the band reveal, it’s the result of seven years’ worth of hard work, perfecting their craft both in and out of the studio. 

“It started when I was at college,” recalls Wilson as we settle into the conversation, sitting at an empty bus stop opposite CHALK. It’s the only quiet place we can find on a boiling Saturday afternoon, with all the pubs rammed due to some significant football match. “I had to do a gig, and I was like, shit, how do I do that?” he remembers. “I knew George (MacDonald, drummer) because I went to school with George.” “And me and Eddie (Lewis, bassist) played together when we were like 12 years old,” adds the aforementioned percussionist. “And then I knew Ben as well, from partying, and was like, let’s do it, sort of thing,” Wilson explains. And so, as the result of a college project, the most exciting punk four-piece since The Clash came to be. 

“The band hasn’t really been Kid Kapichi as people know it for that length of time, but us as a collective have been playing together since that college project… There’s been that connection for a long time.” It shows. The four of them are clearly firm friends, joking around between questions, looking relaxed and happy to be there. They laugh when I point out the benefits of having a band name like no other. “That’s it, no one can pronounce it, and no one can spell it! Liam Gallagher literally called us Kid Apachi, I was like, fair enough, you don’t correct Liam Gallagher,” smiles Wilson. But where does the name come from, and does it mean anything? “At one of our first gigs there was this young boy who came up, he just kept talking to us, kept saying ‘Kapichi, Kapichi, Kapichi’. We were looking for a name at the time, and then the next day we just decided, ‘Kid Kapichi, that’s a sick name for a band,’” recalls Beetham. “Cool, innit? Has no meaning but it’s a cool vibe. It came from the universe, man.”  

If that last sentence sounds a bit hippie-ish, don’t fear – Kid Kapichi are ferocious, no-frills rockers whose songs are loud, fast and angry. But when I ask them whether they would describe themselves as punk, they’re not quite sure how to answer. “Do you know what, it’s a fucking good question, because I never know. When I get asked ‘what’s your thing?’, I feel like you just have to let everyone else decide what you are,” contemplates Wilson. “I would say at heart we’re punk, maybe that’s not the best way to describe how we sound, but our attitude,” adds Lewis. “It’s a modern version of punk – you can get fucking rappers and grime artists that are punk. It’s more an ethos and more an attitude.” 

The band are more certain about the importance of the social-political problems that they rally against when it comes to the success of bands like theirs. “We said when it was the election, if the Conservatives got booted out we’d have nothing to write about, but there’s so much bollocks going on right now that it’s a neverending gold mine of shit to write about,” Wilson reveals. “I often think about that – what would we do if things were glorious? But they never are.” 

While all may not be glorious in the world generally, for bands like Kid Kapichi there is an ever-growing crowd and increasingly recognised scene to slot into. Since Brexit, punky bands such as Lady Bird, Sprints and Bilk have formed and found success singing angsty, volatile numbers, while the admittedly more poppy, yet distinctively post-punk Wet Leg have broken into the mainstream in a way that might not have been possible ten years ago. It’s no coincidence. Wilson agrees: “Punk music thrives in these times, and you look at the 70s and 80s and The Sex Pistols and The Clash, that’s all through times of war, through times of austerity and division, and that’s exactly what we’re going through right now.” “Once this is all over we’ll probably just be writing really happy songs, retire in the Caribbean,” jokes Lewis, before bursting into a brief but amusing rendition of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky.

While that version of events seems unlikely, it’s true that Kid Kapichi have a lot to be happy about at the moment. Their headline appearance at the Electric Ballroom in Camden was “amazing, the happiest I’ve been with a gig we’ve done,” declares Wilson, while (whisper it) the band have finally signed to an – as of yet – unnamed major record label, after years of releasing their music completely independently. My mention of this raises a few eyebrows, not least from their manager, who has been watching on from the sidelines. “Oh, the old grapevine!” the band laughs. “What you’ve heard is true, but we can’t say any more than that… We’ve now got to a point where we’re like, right, we can’t do it ourselves anymore, we’ve hit a ceiling and we’re like, we now need that. It’s on our terms, and the rest goes from there. World exclusive!” 

It’s not the only time rumour is confirmed during our 20-minute chat: we also get onto the small matter of album number two, which they reveal will be released at some point this year. “We’ve got some crazy sounds – we’ve said it’s a hybrid album, definitely,” divulges drummer Macdonald. “We’re used to thinking, how are we gonna play this? And sometimes you’d have to take stuff away from what you wanted to do to try and play it, but now we’re like, let’s write it and record it how we want, and then figure it out later,” the band explain. “The first album was two guitars and a bass… this one we went with whatever the fuck we wanted, so it’s just been a lot of fun. Anything goes, mate”. 

The first single from their second album, New England, was released back in January to palpable support from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and Radio X, although a few people have taken issue with it. “That’s something we’ve discussed a lot, seeing people online getting agitated, and it’s because we’re pointing the finger at them, rather than at the government, or something we can all get angry about,” reflects Wilson. “I think the people that get pissed off about it are the people we’re talking about. If you get fucked off about it, it’s probably about you.” 

Something almost everyone can agree on, though, is the subject of Kapichi’s new single Party at No. 10, which does exactly what it says on the tin and sarcastically skewers the government’s attempts at downplaying Downing Street parties they held during lockdown. It’s also the song which caught the attention of former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who tweeted “That’s a tune RKID” underneath an acoustic rendition the band posted back in January. “We lost our shit,” laughs Lewis. “I remember being at work and I just called Jack, losing it.” If they thought that was amazing, then they were in for an even more surreal surprise when Gallagher invited them to open for him at his Teenage Cancer Trust charity gig at the Royal Albert Hall in March. What’s more, Wilson actually managed to meet the man behind the parka: “They said ‘Liam’s coming, you gotta go in your room now’, so we all went in the room, and I obviously fucking snuck out, and then I saw Liam walking down the hallway with, like, 20 security,” recounts Wilson. “I just shouted his name, and was like ‘It’s Kid Kapichi!’, and he came over and we had a chat, had a hug, it was mad. The thing was I’d only had a couple of drinks, but I do not remember it… I couldn’t understand what was happening.”

It’s understandable. Meeting Liam is one of many pinch-me moments for a DIY punk band from a small seaside town like Hastings. And yet, as they’ve proved time and time again, the people – particularly in the South East of England but also beyond, stretching to Europe and even further afield – love them. “When we do London we get treated like it’s our hometown, and when we do Brighton, so we’re fucking lucky in that respect,” Wilson notes. Really though, it’s us who are lucky – to have a musically boisterous, brutally honest band who fight all kinds of injustice through their explosive, hard-hitting anthems. “[Camden] was the best crowd we’ve ever had,” marvels Wilson. If the recent musical and political climate is anything to go by, those crowds are only going to get better.

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