ill Starred Captain
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ill Starred Captain

Scarborough, Western Australia, Australia | INDIE

Scarborough, Western Australia, Australia | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock




"Ill Starred Captain Port Lincoln South Australia."

Q: How did the project come into existence? –

A: Our new album, 'Black Swan Eye', was recorded over a four year period while we maintained an intense touring schedule around Australia. Because our last album,'Yeh-Nah' had material written during several tours of Ireland and the U.K., we really wanted to re-connect with our home country, especially musically. We spent a lot of time in really isolated and extreme Australian environments, playing four nights a week to people from all kinds of backgrounds and whenever we could, we locked ourselves into various studios in South Australia and tried to capture all of those feelings, sounds and adventures.

Q; Who are the members of your band and please tell us about it?

A: - Ill Starred Captain is a two piece band that comprises of myself, Scott Bassham on guitar and vocals and Justin Francis on drums. The two of us have been playing together for ten years and previously were both in many bands, both in Australia and overseas. We have both always been committed to creating original music and our musical journeys have taken us to some amazing places and will for many years to come

Q: How would you describe your sound/genre?

A: In our sound you can hear our love of everything from Folk music, Garage Punk Rock and Rockabilly, to Psychedelic Surf Music. We are influenced by everything we hear, be it musical or not. Having said that, as a songwriter, I'll always be a sucker for a great melody and snappy groove!

Q:What sort of formal training or previous experience do any of the members have?

A: Formal training? Absolutely none! Previous experience? Where do we start? Speaking for myself, I remember as a young musician starting out thinking that I really admired people who had just thrown themselves into a creative life with no safety nets and that unless you had the balls to do that you couldn't really expect much in the way of inspiration. I immediately began singing on the street, thinking that was a good place to start losing my artistic baby-fat and find things to write about, which turned out to be absolutely true. The best advice i ever got was while i was at University and it was "if you really want to be a musician you have to lose the safety net and throw yourself into the REAL world out there!" so that’s what I did.

Q: Are you working with a producer on your upcoming album?

A: Justin and myself produce all of our albums and 'Black Swan Eye' is no exception. We have always had a pretty good idea of what we want to capture so far. It would be interesting to work with an outside producer but they would have to be the right person, neither of us is used to being told what to do! I think the fact that we run our own totally independent operation, Seawitch Music, which handles all of our business and creative affairs has meant that we've really had to go it alone for a long time. That can make it strange to work with a me, a good producer is there to up the creative ante for the act they are working with and it's a total balancing act. They shouldn't get in the way of the creative flow, but should be totally powering it along at the same time. I'd enjoy working with the right person.

Q: Who would you say is the biggest influence on the band's sound or that you have used as an inspiration to your music?

A: Obviously there have been many inspirational artists who have been influential on us. I think that we are more influenced by the spirit of people or bands more so than the way they play guitar or drums or whatever. One of the bands that excited me the most as a young musician was 'the Saints'. They were an Australian band who ended up with the limiting label of 'punk rock' in the 1970's and they had such a wild-hearted and exciting energy. They were doing it on a total shoe-string but they changed the Australian musical and cultural landscape forever. Overall the bands that i get inspired and influenced by make music that speaks directly to the human soul...and for me that can be Nick Drake, the Stooges or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As a two piece band we appreciate the challenge of channelling all of our influences though our own experience and coming up with a sound that does honour to all those who went before us on the journey, we're all just drops of rain falling into the same!

Q: what advice would you give to others starting out?

A: I would say that when you start out in music, your biggest enemy is fear. Fear that no-one will like your song, fear that you'll be laughed at or booed off the stage. Fear is useful in that it can keep you sharp and help get you organised, (eg: stage fright), but it can also totally cripple you as an artist; stop you shining your light. I would tell a young artist that taking a soul-kicking every now and then is an inevitable part of being a creative artist, you WILL get a bad review, you WILL have to live hand to mouth at some point, but what makes music such a fantastic and magical experience for those of us lucky enough to get to do it, is that one day some-one WILL come up to you and tell you how much they loved your song or gig. In a lot of cultures music-making is as simple and ordinary as breathing, in our western culture, it comes with a lot of baggage. You are sometimes made to feel worthless if you aren't selling a squillion downloads etc. The truth is that music is a form of expression that unites and brings joy to people the world over and your music is a thread in a fantastic tapestry, ENJOY it and don't let fear shut you up!

Q: Where can people go to learn more about you and hear your music?

A: We have a MySpace and Facebook page; there are also videos on YouTube. The best thing to do really is Google ‘Ill Starred Captain’, and have a look around.
Q: If you could play anywhere in the world or with anyone you wanted, where and who would it be with?

A: Hmmm....I think I would love to play in a giant cave in Ireland, with a bunch of tiny leprechauns with a big cauldron of magic whisky! Hey...haven't I already done that though...?

Q: What has been your greatest experience so far, either individually or as a whole?

A: I think all the touring we've done through so many amazing places. Those people and places stay with you forever. As a musician though? Probably playing with The Waifs in a draughty old theatre in Ireland and turning it into an Aussie front bar for the night! We've been very lucky to play gigs with many of our musical heroes, Ed Kuepper (the Saints), Steve Kilbey (the Church), Tim Rogers from You Am I and we've had a fantastic time meeting and playing with these artists.

Q: Do you have any upcoming events or news you'd like to tell our readers about?

A: We are hitting the road in a big way over the next 12 months and hope to get over to the U.S., Canada and Asia for the first time. We are very excited to finally have 'Black Swan Eye' out and look forward to covering as much ground as we can to get it out there to the people. Also keep an eye out for our videos, we're pretty proud of them!

Q: Where do you see yourselves in five years from now?

A: Well, we are nothing if not enthusiastic survivors, so i think we will be constantly bringing out our music and developing our live shows. We also see ourselves as a truly international band, so I think people will be very surprised at where we turn up! These are exciting times!

interview performed by Scott Bassham

- AJ & DBS Corporation Posted on April 28, 2011 at 1:01 AM

"See through the Black Swan Eye"


You certainly can’t call these guys sloppy; they’ve already recorded their follow-up to the stellar Yeh Nah, but that clearly wasn’t up to their standards, so they’re set to have another crack at it in June. You can’t call them lazy, either, because they’re going to fill their spare time with a tour … one that’s going to bring them our way. So what can you call them? Ill-Starred Captain. Justin spoke to SAUCE …

Last I heard, you guys were working on your second
full-length, Black Swan Eye – what stage is that at
now? Is that released? Is that what you’re touring?

This album’s been a bit of a long process. We started demoing
in July last year. Then, from September to November, we
were laying down tracks – mainly the guitar and vocal tracks
– and we got about thirteen songs down, but we weren’t really
happy with the performance of that work. So we’re actually
going into the studio in June, and we’re going to cut
the album live.

At this point, with the songs down, and with an idea of
what the album is going to sound like, in what ways do
you reckon the tracks on Black Swan Eye are going to
represent a more evolved version of Ill-Starred Captain
than we heard on Yeh Nah?

Well … Yeh Nah was done live as well, and I think, at that
stage, the band was still trying to find its own sound. Like,
Yeh Nah was done four years ago at least, so I think, from
doing a shitload of live work since then, we’ve actually developed
our own sound, and I feel that we’re really going to
capture this one.

So why do it live? Why record it live?

For me, I saw the Ray Charles movie, and I was inspired by
the fact that he was able to go to the studio, do a night’s
work and walk out of the session with a song … If you can
record live, when it comes time to do it live on stage, there
isn’t much difference.

As a two-piece, you guys have been playing together
for many years now; since 2001 … Has there ever been
a desire to expand the group? What kind of dynamic do
you think there is in a duo, compared to an ensemble?

For us at this point, having a two-piece … it allows us more
freedom, and the challenges are to fill out the sound – to
make it as full as a five-piece ensemble – is quite challenging,
so it allows us to go deep into the music and try and
drag out what’s required to make it a big-sounding piece of

I had a look at the schedule of gigs you guys have got
coming up on your Myspace, and bloody hell, man – you
guys are going to be touring your arses off!

Yeah, yeah – it’s pretty busy!

When you’re on the road for such a long period of time,
what are some of the things that start to get to you after
a while? What do you find yourself missing? Do you
find you miss home much?

Yeah, the family … you miss the quite time. You also miss
your own personal time, because the whole time you’re out
on the road is one big social time; you’re always dealing with
people. So, you know, you’re dealing with the business side
of it, and then you’re having to deal with the artistic side,
and the whole people business with the crowd, and you
come off stage and you’ve still got to deal with people buying
product, or people who are curious about the band. It’s
one big social vehicle always going on, so you do miss your
private time … The continuous moving, at 110km an hour every
day, for eighteen hours a day – that can take its toll on
you as well.

And you’ve also got dickheads ringing you up and demanding
interviews and stuff – God, that would be the
worst part!

Hey, I don’t mind mate, because this band’s been going for
eight years, and we’ve pretty much been on the road since,
and the whole media side of things is something that we
haven’t really touched on … It’s only in the last couple of
months that we’ve actually been talking to the media in
various forms to get our story out … we’re pretty rapt that
people want the story!

Have you been playing music all your life – ever since
you were in school?

Yeah, I have; I was fourteen and I started my first band
which, funnily enough, was a two-piece band; a drummer
and a guitarist. That’s all I’ve done, is just play in bands. I
was doing gigs and touring around South Australia playing
in original bands when I was sixteen, still in high school, and
I left high school, moved down to Adelaide, and I’ve been in
bands ever since.

Well, this might be a bit of a hard question to answer,
but if you weren’t playing music, what do you think
you’d be doing?

I’d probably be sitting in some sort of lunatic asylum, tearing
my hair out I think! [Laughs]

By Tom Wilson

Ill-Starred Captain play Irish Murphy’s in Launceston
On the 14th of May, and Hobart’s Republic Bar on the

To listen to the full interview, go to
- Sauce Magazine 14 May 2008

"All Aboard Ship With Ill Starred Captain"

Perth via South Australian indie roots duo
Ill -Starred Captain are a band who have toured
extensively and achieved success through the UK
and Australia, yet they’ve done it their own way by
taking the roads less travelled by - the regional
areas. Sose Fuamoli caught up with one half of the
band, Justin Francis, to chat about life on the road
and the importance of community and local radio.

There’s a good chance you may not have
heard of Ill-Starred Captain. Brief research
unearths reports that their live shows both
here in Australia and in Ireland - their
alternate HQ for parts of the year - are
“legendary”, while reviews of their three
records are filled with nothing but praise.

Justin Francis, the band’s drummer,
provides an insight into how hard-working
both he and bandmate Scott Bassham are in
terms of getting the Ill-Starred Captain name
out and into the wider Australian scene.
He also reveals how such experiences
influenced their latest album Black Swan Eye.

“When it came to Black Swan Eye, we kind of
wanted to take our time and really produce
an album that will be around in 30 years
time. But also, I think we had to live various
stories within the context of the album. You
had to actually live it and feel it emotionally
and then put it down on record so it has that
substance going on.”

So if Australians and the Irish love them,
why haven’t these troubadours struck
commercial gold? It all comes down to
promotion and the way you go about it. In the
case of Ill-Starred Captain, going via Sydney
or Melbourne with their music wasn’t the
right direction.

“When it comes to the city, there are a whole
lot of gatekeepers. You have to knock on
someone’s door, and if they like your stuff
they’ll invite you in but if they don’t then
you’re kind of stuck out on your own,” Justin
admits. “So having been in bands in the city,
we just chose to totally walk away from it
and go and create our own thing.”

With Ill-Starred Captain’s third record Black
Swan Eye released last year, the band are
currently on a tour around Australia, paying
as much attention to getting their music
out to the regional areas as anywhere else
providing these regional towns with their
fair share of live music is something for
which Justin campaigns strongly.

“We played Leigh Creek last night which is a
mining town, in ten years there’s been nothing
that’s come through. The bands are coming
through again and the people are slowly getting
their heads around that fact. Regional areas
deserve live music coming through their towns
just as much as anyone else.”

By taking copies of their album to the
community radio stations in each stop on
their tour around the country, this grassroots
approach had the potential to get Ill-
Starred Captain more airplay and more fans.
A lot of work, but, according to Justin, that’s
the life of a musician.

“If you play in a band that’s the work you do:
you tour and record, go meet people, do your
media, do your press - and then sometime,
try and find a part of the life for yourself in it.”

Sose Fuamoli - Warp Magazine, Hobart Tasmania, April 2011

"Black Swan Eye Truly Australian"

Ill Starred Captain has built up their reputation here in the Mid West through repeated tours over the last few years. With more than a decade of touring together, this two piece really has it together live and on their second full length album, they really try to bring that presence to the recording.

Black Swan Eye is a solid Australian album, but it still leaves the listener flatter than the rolling live show. It's a laid back bluesy sort of rock, tinged with country sounds including harmonica solo's and a cow bells. It's on these solo's that the album really begins to find it's feet.

After a frankly dissapointing title track, the album has to work to find it's tone but by the third track "All Good Too Easy", it's in full swing. This is a good Aussie bar song if there ever was one, with howling guitars, snappy slang and jumping set of versus that still allows the lead singers laconic drawl to melt over the lyrics.

It's followed by Four Feet Away, which is probably the strongest track on the album. It's got an instantly familiar guitar sound pushing underneath - it's hard to put your finger on but eachoes of early Jebadiah or recent Eddy Current Suppresion Ring. Something particularly charming about this album - and something that does show the age of the duo - is that it's split on the track list on the back into two "sides" like a record.

Five tracks a side, it feels structured to have a break in the middle, with notional 'side two' begining with five minute ballad, 'Her Lover Swan Out To Sea' which is rhythmic but not that impresive, and Sisters, a beautiful steel-string acoustic guitar instrumental.

Currently playing a string of shows in regional W.A. and South Australia, Ill Starred Captain will no doubt be back in Geraldton at some point in 2011 and now is the time to get into their latest tracks, preparing to hear them blossom when played live.

Caleb Samson, - Geraldton Gaurdian, Western Australia

"Ill Starred Captain, Black Swan Eye"

Fusing together all the elements that arrive together after a long journey across urban landscapes, Ill Starred Captain have a sound that is truly reminiscent of Australia in its mixed dustbowl of music and culture. This doesn't mean they sound like a two man team on an 'Advance Australia Fair' patriotic pub crawl, as there is no ego here, but a number of pub crawls have certainly been achieved none the less. With a solid ten years of consistent touring behind them, you could say that Justin Francis (drums) and Scott Bassham (songwriter/ guitarist /singer) are dedicated to keeping it real and on the road. Such an amalgamation as a base for songwriting has resulted in a sound that speaks of country roads, travelling adventures and a myriad of woven stories. The word folk has always drawn needles to my brain, but these guys tell a story that is often defined within folk genres, while strengthening it with a strong rock and blues backbone that is always welcomed with raised beers to any stage. Hunters and Collectors, The Australian Crawl and even the Black Keys come to mind, as does whiskey, pub smoke and cheap hotel rooms. Scott's vocals are not immediately smooth on the ears, nor is the overall production of the recording, yet there is an honesty there that quickly grows on you and in the end simply adds weight to the background of the duo. This is the underbelly of the Australian music scene that does not rely on an industry of cash ins. This is the sound of two musicians moving from town to town with a stack of songs that could catch the attention of both the local barfly and the prettiest barmaid. From thick rock grooves to acoustic reflections, it's a sound worth driving to. Check out single 'Four Feet Away' from this second full-length album at

Athron McCann
18th November 2010
Featured on pg 64 - The Beat Magazine, Bali, Indonesia

"Yeh - Nah album review 2005"

‘Yeh – nah is rhythm rich but also has a pastoral sound with spacious moments, as well as funky morsels and cool lyrics’.

- Natasha Ewendt, Port Lincoln Times, South Australia

"Yeh - nah album review 2005"

With a gruff sound, Ill Starred Captain rock and roll their ways through ‘Trouble’. This is a no – nonsense ‘lets get it on’ song with hints of free and Steelers Wheel. The vocal does the style justice with a cocky and un – strenuous approach.

- The Mag, U.K.

"Yeh Nah Album review 2006"

If you’re unfamiliar with the name, let me bring you up to speed: Ill Starred Captain are a guitar and drums two-piece hailing from Port Lincoln who play their own brand of back porch folk and ‘Yeh Nah’ is their first full – length offering after a couple of independently released Eps. Before you get any ideas, they don’t hold too many similarities to the Black Keys or The White Stripes; instead they go about things in a decidedly more laid back fashion. The album gets underway with the softly fuzzed guitar of Live Feed which boasts a great vocal melody supplied by singer / guitarist Scott Bassham whilst Justin Francis brings up the rear with his subtly capable drum work. It gives way to the wistful acoustic strums of Day In The Summer Time before the stomping instrumental The Devil Jumped Up ramps up the tempo again. On tracks like Turn It On and Whistling Down The Wind they remind me a little of Led Zeppelin in acoustic mode, but this duo have a sound all their own. The band has produced the album themselves and have done a fine job, with everything sounding in place without losing any of the live, loose feel. Ill Starred Captain were in town recently and I missed them this time around, but let’s both agree to check them out next time they come our way.

- Simon Foster, dB Magazine, Adelaide, South Australia

"Ill Starred Captain live review, Casbah, Sheffield, U.K. 2004"

First band tonight is an Australian two – piece called Ill Starred Captain currently doing an Ireland / England independent tour. An electro acoustic guitar and drums, the sound nods towards The Pogues and Bob Dylan. The music from this band is fantastic. I’m always dubious of these two pieces as I expect to hear some slow folky inspired metaphors. Not here. A rather large sound considering there’s only two members. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the guitarist is brilliant but rather exceptionally clever. He has the knack of beginning songs with a good foot – stomping rhythm around the first five frets and needs to know every chord possible past the twelfth fret to give that type of solo sound. He has a good voice too. Good stage presence and is one of those people who when he smiles you smile. The drummer here really adds to the sound what with it being a two piece and the two men really complement each other well and are very tight and have crafted some wonderful songs. The set was very good and never bored me once. The songs varied in style and rhythm. From a hillbilly / rockabilly sound to a rather exceptional surfing song, Ill Starred Captain are a fantastic band to open the night up with. They were good that they sold a lot of their cd’s and when they hopefully come back in the summer, I recommend any Sheffield band (no matter what genre with the exception of death metal) to put them on in the opening slot with them.

- Sound Aloud, Sheffield, U.K.

"Ill Starred Captain's Yeh-Nah album review 2005"

Ill Starred Captain is what happens when the White Stripes, start sounding like White Album – era Beatles

- God Is In The TV zine U.K.

"Yeh Nah album review 2004"

‘Ill Starred Captain crank things up with Yeh nah track Trouble. For fans off all things Sub – Pop, nicotine stained vocals (think Mark Lanegan) and bar room style, off kilter country grunge rock or something like that’.
- Southscene, Southampton U.K., now defucnt publication


Bottlegreen Sky E.P. 2001 Seawitch Music
Yeh - Nah L.P. 2005 Seawitch Music
Black Swan Eye L.P. 2010 Seawitch Music



Ill Starred Captain are a dynamic two piece band hailing from a remote corner of the South Australian coast known as Port Lincoln, "who have, in their ten years of existence, utterly transcended both their humble indie origins and the accepted limitaions of what a drummer & singer / guitarist can sound like". Scott Bassham (guitar & vocals) and Justin Francis (drum kit) have spent the last ten years on the road honing their sound and gathering a passionate fanbase around Australia and the world and with the release of their "Black Swan Eye' album are set to break into the international music conciousness in a big way

The Ill Starred Captain sound is often described by the band themselves as a "folk/punk/surfedelic hybrid" but in actuality it goes well beyond easy categorization, with strong threads of blues, roots, funk and sheer rock n roll power - grooves running through the mix. Ill Starred Captain live shows are legendary, with the band performing 150 wild hearted action packed gigs a year. They are fast becoming a major draw card as a live act, filling the dance floor with pounding rhythms and soaring melodies.

Ill Starred Captain's first album "Yeh-Nah" was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2005 and saw the band tour Australia, Ireland & the U.K., sharing stages with greats such as, The Waifs, Ed Kuepper ( The Saint & Laughing Clowns) Steve Kilbey (The Church), Grinspoon, Ash Grunwald and Mammal to name a few. "Yeh-Nah" was one of a select few Australian albums to be archived by A.R.I.A. (Australian Recording Industry Association) in 2005 and was voted one of the top five releases off that year in the Adelaide's Advertiser critics awards. One of the album tracks, "Trouble" was also included on U.K.label, Ejector Seat Music, 2005 compilation c.d and was a highlight of that otherwise all - British collection.

Ill Starred Captain have recieved solid airplay and screenings of their film clips from around the world, with live to air sets on stations as diverse as Three D radio in Adelaide, B.B.C. radio Northern Ireland as well as airplay on NOVA FM and Triple J in Australia, a trend set to develope and increase with the release of their second album, "Black Swan Eye" this year. Ill Starred Captain's music has been influenced by and compared to such greats as "The Saints", Johnny Cash, The Go-Betweens and Led Zeppelin, among many others, with U.K. online magazine, "God is in the T.V.", declaring that "Ill Starred Captain is what happens when the White Stripes start sounding like the White album - era Beatles".

Their passion for dynamic and exciting, original music, their sense of humour and natural Aussie exhuberance will undoubtedly carry Ill Starred Captain from strength to strength in 2011 and beyond. It's good to know that in this age of instant, prefabricated stardom, that they are out there somewhere, travelling down a dark desert road, creating music that is thrilling, beautiful and as real as it gets.

Future activities for ill Starred Captain include, a nine month Australian tour to hand deliver Black Swan Eye to all media and fans, an appearance at Adelaide's West End, Fuse Festival showcase in February 2011, the release of four video clips and pre production for their next album, Kings of the Last Minute.

Cheers and we hope you enjoy the music

Justin Francis & Scott Bassham