Preview: Metal drummer Giuseppe Capulopo goes folk-rock with Gypsy and his Band of Ghosts


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It's just a few feet from the drum kit to the microphone, but it's a long leap from drummer to singer, and even longer from metalcore to Americana.

That's the jump that Giuseppe Capolupo made to take center stage with Gypsy and his Band of Ghosts. Here comes his confession:

"My mom's old vinyls of CCR, CSNY, Little Feat, Cat Stevens, Kenny Loggins definitely impacted my musical tastes over the years," he says. "Growing up I was always into jazz, rock 'n' roll and country, but in time I broadened my tastes for music."

Mr. Capolupo of Jefferson Hills started out as the drummer for Pittsburgh metal band Once Nothing. When it broke up, he was invited in early 2009 to join its Solid State labelmate Haste the Day, an established touring band from Indiana.

Gypsy and the Band of Ghosts

With: Caleb Pogyor, Homeless Gospel Choir.

Where: Thunderbird Cafe, Lawrenceville.

When: 9 pm. Saturday.

Tickets: $10 advance; $12 at the door; www.thunderbirdcafe.net.

"They picked me up as their drummer after a very nasty breakup with a girl I was seeing in Chicago for a long time, so they took a gamble on me," he says. "I got to visit South Africa, South America, the UK and a few stops in Europe, not to mention countless North American tours. The guys in HTD became my brothers and supported me through a rough spot in my life."

He was with Haste the Day for its fifth and final album before the Christian metalcore disbanded in 2011. During the band's tours, Mr. Capolupo was busy working on his next move.

"Playing heavy metal night after night," he says, "leaves a definite yearning for music that's a bit easier on the ears. I always loved indie bands who comfortably blended pop into their style, so I wanted to find a universal way to appeal to more demographics than only one. I wrote a bunch of acoustic songs about how life really was while living out of a suitcase and the back of a van for years, as well as my own personal joys and heartache on the long road of the tour circuit. I've never been a frontman before, so I just wanted to share my stories with those willing to listen."

He wrote the songs that would make up the new six-song EP "Shortcuts, Backup Plans & Detours." They won't be confused with Creedence, Little Feat or any of those artists he mentioned from his mom's vinyl collection. But they have a solid singer-songwriter foundation, and range from the galloping, almost pop-punky lead track "Honor" to the rolling West Coast folk-rock of "Vagabond" to the whirling dream pop of "Scratch That." Mr. Capolupo tops it with sensitive lyrics sung with sweet, boyish melody.

He put the band together in January 2011 to open a CD release show for his singer-songwriter friend Caleb Pogyor. "He asked me to put together a backing band to give my songs more energy live, so I recruited some longtime friends of mine to play with me and write some full-band material."

In came guitarist Diego Byrnes, bassist Tony Tortella and drummer Scott Maniglia, all of whom offer backup harmonies and varying influences.

"Diego comes from psychobilly and pop punk, Tony comes from indie/alternative, Scott comes from punk/ska/prog hardcore. I come from metal/jazz. So none of us had touched folk/pop before."

They recorded with veteran Pittsburgh musician Buddy Hall, who had produced his son's similar band Bear Cub at Beacon Hill recording studio.

"I don't quite know how to be a proper frontman, but working with him has helped me start to find my voice."

Backed by a band with that kind of range, anything goes stylistically. "Some of our songs are more atmospheric, while some are stripped-down boot-stompin' whiskey-drinkin' good times. We all wanted to try something new and exciting. We're all dreamers for sure."

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg


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