It's very possible you've already sung along to a Captain Cuts song…
Since their 2010 formation, the award-winning multiplatinum-certified songwriting, production, and remix team—Ben Berger, Ryan McMahon, and Ryan Rabin (Grouplove drummer & producer)—has left an indelible mark on pop music. The lifelong friends and Los Angeles natives co-wrote the inescapable triple-platinum "Shut Up and Dance" with Walk The Moon and co-wrote and produced Grouplove's platinum "Tongue Tied," Halsey's "Roman Holiday," Tove Lo's "Crave," and more as well as songs for Bebe Rexha, Jennifer Lopez, Tegan and Sara, and many others.
They've also done official remixes for the likes of Britney Spears, Imagine Dragons, and Ellie Goulding, to name a few. The trio broke genre barriers, mashing up turn-of-the-century emo and rock staples from Blink-182, Paramore, and Say Anything with current pop hits from Fetty Wap, Selena Gomez, and Drake on the 2015 mixtape If You're Listening It's Never Too Late and earning praise from Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, Billboard, and Alternative Press, along the way.
However, when they strolled into Epic Records for a meeting, C.E.O. L.A. Reid caught them off guard with an unexpected proposition.
"We went in to play some of our music," recalls Berger. "As our meeting ended, L.A. walked in and introduced himself. He asked to hear more. He kept bringing in other people. After four songs, he wanted to hear another. We had just finished writing this song called 'Love Like We Used To' [feat. Nateur]. We weren't even sure if we should play it or not. We did, and L.A. was running around in circles singing along. He was like, 'This song is perfect for you. You guys want to be artists?'"
"We kept trying to tell him, 'You don't get it. We're writer-producers. We wanted to see if you have any artists who want to cut it,'" Rabin goes on. "He looked at us and said, 'Nope, we don't. We want you. We're releasing it as you. You guys play music. You're musicians. You can DJ. You can play instruments. You're the artists. This is your song.'"
"He basically didn't let us leave unless we said we'd release the song on Epic under our name," laughs McMahon.
Following that fateful meeting, the boys retreated to their studio and spent two weeks tirelessly perfecting the track. During that time, the vision for Captain Cuts' evolution came into clear focus for the three musicians.
"Being artists had always been in the back of our minds as something we wanted to do," Berger adds. "Once this idea magically presented itself, we hunkered down like, 'We're going to do this for real.' We don't half ass anything, and we knew this was our moment to give it a shot. We're super excited to show the world our music."
Driven by handclaps, chants, and eighties-style synths, "Love Like We Used To" instantly mesmerizes. Flaunting a striking vocal cameo from Nateur, it nods to a throwback spirit via fresh, fiery, and fun 21st century production.
"We always write from scratch," admits McMahon. "Rabin made some crazy loop. We put some chords around it and a snap. Nateur started riffing vocally. That's how it was born."
"The melodies felt classic, but the production we were learning towards felt progressive," Berger remarks. "We love that. We thought it would be fun to talk about the fact that there was a time of more grand, romantic gestures that seems to be lost during this day and age."
"We're at a period in our lives where nostalgia is such a huge focus for our generation," agrees Rabin. "It's a positive message that chivalry and classic gestures are still alive and can thrive in this totally disconnected and fucked-up world. It's also something that will hopefully get you moving."
"Love Like We Used To" is just one facet of their dynamic and diverse sound. "As far as what we do, I like the phrase 'Future Retro,'" says Berger. "We want our songs to feel timeless, but 'now.' We're trying to combine those two things and make classic songs for today."
On stage, the guys have already become heroes in Los Angeles, hosting and performing at the monthly "Emo Nite" at the Echoplex in Silverlake. Packing the house, they consistently surprise the crowd with unpredictable and unforgettable sets, often inviting superstars such as Carly Rae Jepsen and Halsey to join them.
"It's pretty much the best night ever," smiles Rabin.
Ultimately, listeners will be singing along to Captain Cuts for a very long time to come.
"It's amazing when you write a song that everybody can enjoy," Berger leaves off. "There's no better feeling than creating something a two-year-old kid can dance to as well as a 90-year-old grandma."
"We just want people to feel good when they hear our music," concludes McMahon. "You don't have to overthink it. Everyone can potentially connect too."