Recruiting a band member while serving detention is a true rock ’n’ roll move. And although the seeds for Captiva were cultivated in such a situation, the Missouri band’s backstory really is quite innocent, with coincidence just as important as the disciplinary factor.
One day in October 2013 at Rockhurst High School, a strict all-male Jesuit college-prep school in Kansas City, Hank Wiedel was given detention because his shirt was untucked. Patrick McQuaid, meanwhile, was flagged for being late to class.
It turned out that after-school punishment wasn’t the only thing Wiedel and McQuaid had in common that day.
“We were on the same page of the high school newspaper the day we both got detention,” Wiedel recalls. “I was in there because I had taken part in this Grammy project thing, and right above that, there was an article about Patrick and Jackson [Ries] forming a group.”
So while picking up garbage as part of their detention sentence, they got to talking, and Wiedel is pretty sure it was McQuaid who first mentioned their shared newspaper appearance. McQuaid said he and Ries were looking for a drummer, and less than a week later, they invited Wiedel over to show them what he could do behind a kit.
Their first jam, Wiedel remembers, took place really late at night. “And from the very start,” he adds, “it sounded like one of my favorite bands at the time, The Lonely Biscuits [an alternative-rock band from Nashville, Tennessee]. We just clicked.”
In February 2014, with a temporary bassist rounding out the lineup, Wiedel, singer-guitarist McQuaid and guitarist-keyboardist Ries played their first show as Captiva. It took place on a Tuesday night at a 21-and-older club in downtown Kansas City.
“All of our friends sneaked in and partied and stayed up way past their curfews,” Wiedel says. “The bass player we have now, Nick Riffle, was in one of the opening bands for that show, and that’s where we met him and connected.”
Riffle became an official member of Captiva about a year later, shortly before the band traveled to Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest.
“We went there on our own expense, in a broken-down Honda Pilot that barely made it,” Wiedel recalls. “We don’t have an agent or management; we’re not signed to a label. We’ve done everything DIY and independently. We feel like that’s the reason that we’ve gotten as far as we have as an independent band because we’ve learned the hustle and the struggle, and I think people take note of that.”
School remains an important part of the Captiva story. Wiedel says his band has gone over well during performances on or near college campuses in Missouri and Oklahoma. At the same time, all four Captiva members are in pursuit of higher education. Wiedel, 18, is attending Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, while McQuaid, 19, and Ries, 20, are students at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. As for the 19-year-old Riffle, he’s at Belmont University in Nashville.
Wiedel doesn’t view the miles that separate him and his bandmates as anything negative.
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder, so we’re always stoked to go see each other,” he says. “At the same time, the distance [makes you question], ‘Is this something that you actually want to do for the rest of your life?’ And if it is, then you need to make it happen. Driving 10 hours from Belmont to KU, or vice versa, is a challenge.”
In support of its recently released self-titled EP, Captiva will drive to a ski resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to entertain college students from Jan. 10-15 as part of the resort’s Lifestylez SnoDaze activities.
When they’re not performing gigs in Steamboat Springs, Wiedel says, “I think we’ll be spending most of our time on the mountains skiing. We’re college students who like to indulge in those activities.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Captiva, from left to right: Hank Wiedel, Jackson Ries, Patrick McQuaid and Nick Riffle