Rocking out with Capo on the Road

Progressive metal musicians tour with Capo in their back pocket

Josh Ligaya & Nathan Bulla

Members of the Canadian progressive metal band, AURAS

  • Vocalist / Guitarist (Josh)
  • Drummer (Nathan)
  • Songwriters

Finds Capo useful for…

  • Preparing backing tracks
  • Creating rehearsal tracks
  • Building muscle memory
  • Vocal warmups
  • Quick reference checks
  • Inspiration while songwriting
  • Looping sections while learning new songs

Josh Ligaya and Nathan Bulla are members of AURAS, a four-piece Canadian progressive metal band from Waterloo, Ontario. All highly-skilled musicians, their music is described as having “adrenaline-clenching polymetric melodies” with breakdowns “heavier than your average cement truck”. Noted for their tasteful combination of riveting grooves and harmonious melody, AURAS continues to challenge themselves musically to bring fans consistently fresh material.

After finding Capo, Josh and Nathan started incorporating it into every phase of the band’s musical life. From helping with songwriting, rehearsals, creating backing tracks, and impromptu performances, Capo has earned its place as a valuable tool for the entire band.

Sounds like Auras had an exciting year. What's been going on?

Nathan: We just released our debut LP “Heliospectrum” — so this year had us busy with preparations around that. We also spent more time in our home country of Canada, heading out to Vancouver through the western provinces back with our friends in Mandroid Echostar, and again the opposite way from BC back to Ontario with Protest the Hero in December.

We hear you're avid Capo users. Can you share how you find it most useful?

Josh: I do vocal warmups each show, and there are a couple parts in our live set where I sing near the top of my register. Capo lets me isolate those sections with a loop, drop the pitch if my voice needs more time adjusting to venue temperature or humidity, and get used to note movements in different keys. It lets me start wherever I’m comfortable, and that’s an invaluable tool alone.

Nathan: Depending on how we structure our set there are usually a couple fast tricky kick drum patterns early on that I’ll want to be comfortable and confidant with on stage. During my warmup I have specific loops already set up in Capo that I can easily scroll to, loop, and move up in tempo until I’m back to 100%. Before tour starts, there’s usually a couple days of intense practice if we’ve been off the road for a bit, or if I’ve been out with the other band I'm in called Intervals and need to recap parts. My secret weapon is practicing the songs at 97-98% as if that’s full speed. My adrenaline hits me abruptly once I'm on stage and makes everything feel almost like it’s dragging (even though I’m on a click) but if I’m prepared at slightly slower speeds I avoid rushing or feeling strange up there, and can really own the show.

You mentioned Capo helps you make backing tracks for shows. Can you elaborate?

Nathan: Our first EP was recorded on 6-string guitars, but on tour we don’t really have room to bring two extra guitars (we primarily use 7-string) so in order for us to play any songs off of that record, we need to pitch our backing tracks down to fit a lower tuning.

Capo is by far the best sounding (and most affordable by far) engine we’ve come across to do this and have it translate on PA speakers at super loud volumes.

Do you have any tips for learning new material for a gig?

Nathan: I’d say listening is always the first step to learning material, and Capo lets you listen in a more detailed way. To be able to hear any pattern at two drastically different tempos raises the likelihood that you’ll commit it to memory. Once you apply this to physical muscle memory your ability to improvise without losing comfort in the initial pattern is immediately improved.

This is my “Get Out Of Jail Free” card on stage because even if I miss some notes or play a fill differently than I meant to, my overall comfort and familiarity with the material in different settings makes it almost impossible to lose where I am. Between the material I need to know for AURAS and Intervals I’m constantly challenged with new types of coordination I’ve never attempted, so Capo is absolutely crucial. The ability to loop a small section, start slow, figure out sticking/footing and raise the speed variably as I gain confidence and control has been an absolutely game-changing time-saver.

Can you share with us your songwriting process?

Josh: When I sit down to write, I start with a layer to help spark emotion, which in turn starts inspiring ideas – sometimes snowballing into a full demo within a single afternoon. If that process doesn’t start moving after trying a couple different sounds, I’ll drag it into Capo and see if a pitch change or tempo change is the catalyst. It’s amazing how BPM and key can affect the overall approach of a song’s vibe. It’s all about feeling natural and intuitive for me, and Capo never seems to hinder that.

What's more useful to you, Capo touch or Capo?

Josh: On the road it’s more convenient to use our phones as our practice tools so that's when we tend to use Capo touch. But, in the case of shifting the tracks or something that needs an easy export, Capo is always on our laptop.

Do you share your Capo files with other band members?

Josh: We haven’t actually come across a situation where one person can’t just dial in specific settings in a flash. When we start writing a new record I’m sure there will be countless reasons to send back and forth Capo files - any pitch or tempo changes to the overall demo can be easily communicated that way.

Nathan: Yea there are many times when Josh will send me demo and I’ll alter it and send it back. We’ve talked about experimenting more with tempos this time around, so it’s likely to see some use there.

Any interesting stories of Capo saving the day on tour?

Josh: Actually...we recently headlined a show this past Valentine’s Day in Toronto and we hadn’t prepared an encore. There was a unanimous chant from kids wanting a specific song from our first EP, so I looked over at Nathan (who looked disappointed that we hadn’t prepared the song) and simply asked, “Capo?” He just smiled at me with a “Why didn’t I think of that?” expression, turns to the laptop, drops the pitch to fit our tuning on stage, and within 30 seconds we went from not being prepared, to looking like it was all part of our master plan.

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