Locals Only: The Empire Shreds Back—Capt. Slookie and the Rogue Squadron Are Going In
Fullerton five-piece Capt. Slookie and the Rogue Squadron barely fit on the stage at the Constellation Room, and not just because of the expanse of guitars, amps and mustaches they pile onto the bar's back-corner stage. Their sound is just so much bigger—Capt. Slookie draws heavily from the best parts of '90s alternative rock, powered by a three-guitar attack reminiscent of the first Foo Fighters album or Rated R-era Queens of the Stone Age. Led by singer/guitarist Sean "Slookie" Slouka, the Rogue Squadron—guitarist Ryan "Red" Medeck, bassist John Oltmanns, drummer Jeff Ramirez and new addition Kevin Brady, who handles guitar, synthesizer and backing vocals—serve up outsized doses of rock, playing with local groups such as Dhaga Bloom, the Audacity and the 87's. They are currently finishing a full-length album that will follow last year's Controlled Chaos EP (available at captslookie.bandcamp.com).
OC WEEKLY: How did the band get started?
SEAN SLOUKA: It started with me having other bands, like Pterodacdudes, and in my down time, I wanted to do something different. My roommate at the time, Trevor, played drums, and we got some songs together, and eventually, it worked its way into this. [Trevor] moved to [San] Pedro, John and Red joined, and Jeff took over on drums, and Kevin is our newest addition. It was a side project at first, but now it's a main project.
Do you do most of the songwriting?
SLOUKA: At first I did, but now everybody writes his own part—it's very democratic in this band. Don't think of me as "The Captain" doing everything; everybody adds his own piece.
How is the new album coming? Where are you recording?
SLOUKA: In my garage. That's where we did the first EP, actually, which was my first recording. It's become a little more refined—now we're going through the mixing process, which we're having someone else do for us.
JEFF RAMIREZ: [The whole record] was recorded in Slookie's garage.
RYAN MEDECK: He records a lot of the other local bands, too.
Who else have you worked with?
SLOUKA: I demoed White Knights' album, and for compilations, I recorded Bad Antics; Forever Baby, another of Kevin's bands . . .
Is everybody in other bands?
JOHN OLTMANNS: Red and I play drums and bass in Bad Antics.
How is this band different from your other projects?
MEDECK: Well, [Bad Antics] are hardcore punk, and this is more like other types of music that we're into, more melodic stuff, more hooks, riffier, not as fast and abrasive, I guess. Just playing in other genres and getting another perspective on music.
OLTMANNS: Most of us grew up playing in punk bands, so playing in something "not punk" was definitely a change. [Choosing to] not play really fast and slow down and work on a song compared to "all right, as many notes as you can throw in right here—go!"
What are you guys listening to when you're writing?
SLOUKA: We're all '90s kids—we like the Pixies, Built to Spill. We all have different backgrounds and cover a big spectrum, but we share a lot of common ground.
OLTMANNS: For me, writing isn't about what I'm listening to. I could be listening to a metal band and get inspired to write something really slow, without even thinking about what I was listening to before—it's more about what you're feeling and playing at the time.
How did you come up with the band name?
SLOUKA: "Slookie" is a play off my last name, Slouka [pronounced SLOW-ka], which everyone mispronounces as SLOO-ka, which turned into Slookie, which turned into Captain Slookie.
RAMIREZ: I don't even know this story. [Laughs.]
SLOUKA: And I have a huge obsession with Star Wars, so we had to throw the "Captain" and "Rogue Squadron" in there.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.