For what I’m about to tell you, I’m going to need your full attention. Put the kids to bed, sit down, and stop looking at your phone (unless you’re reading this on your phone!) Now, please listen carefully. I don’t want you to be confused and there will be a test: Salem’s all male rock band “The Pumps” have changed their name to “Acting Captain.” Let that sink in. I know. Change is hard, so let’s say it again: The Pumps are now Acting Captain. You got it!
You may be wondering why a successful, local band that has been together for going on five years suddenly change their name? Actually, I was wondering that too as I drove to meet the band at The Space Concert Club for this interview. Well, I met three of the four members: Sean McLeod – guitar and vocals, Robert Keith – bass, and Dan Reisner – drums. Guitarist Shawn Thornhill was not able to make it.
So, yeah. My first question was definitely about the name change. Basically, it’s like this. It’s OK if you have multiple people with the same name at school or work – just plop that last initial on there and everybody’s good. But, it doesn’t work that way for bands. It does matter when there are multiple bands with the same name. And that’s where The Pumps from Salem found themselves. “We were getting tired of receiving emails saying ‘You’re not the real Pumps. The real Pumps are from Winnipeg!” explained McLeod. Seriously. He said they got them weekly. And seriously, that would be irritating.
There is also another angle to this name change: they want to get out of town. McLeod, Keith, and Reisner have been together making music since high school (West Salem High) and have had several projects including Devil’s Punchbowl and The Hornswogglers. The Pumps have been at it since 2013 and have been very well-received in town. Their punchy, riff-heavy, straight-up rock obviously appeals to a wide swath of tastes. They’ve packed them in from Brown’s to Half Penny and have played larger events such as the Salem Art Fair and Make Music Salem, to name but a few. They are totally appreciative of all Salem’s support, but it’s time for growth, and they’re ready to tour. So, the name The Pumps might work in the vacuum of a small hometown, but once they hit the road, they’ll need to have an original name. And I know from experience, naming your band is probably one of the hardest parts of the endeavor.
So, will there be anything different about Acting Captain? For one thing, they’re working on a new album and the first single “Borderline” will be out around March. Reisner said that the “single will be
much more guitar driven,” than the first album. Becca Scott played keyboards on their first album, and without the keyboards, the guitars will have the room to be even more predominant. Keith explained that Acting Captain will be a “culmination of all the projects that the three of them have done over the years: punk, heavy rock, alternative, and always riff-heavy.” They all agreed that they will be putting more emphasis on lyrics. They said in the past, the music took center stage, and the lyrics were completely secondary. And yeah, as a woman, I felt obligated to give them a little shit for “Pretty Little Girls” on their first album. But they laughed with me. They got it. They’re good guys and they’re also excellent musicians.
Acting Captain’s debut show will be Saturday, February 3rd at The Space Concert Club. They will be joined by surf-rockers from Corvallis, Gnarsh Mellow, and Salem’s own Superkill Lovejoy – a 90s grunge type of joint. The show starts at 9pm and is $5. We’ll keep you updated on their new single and new album. Heads up!