Today (September 22), American Songwriter is premiering the newest single, “Over The Ocean,” from Captain Kirk Douglas.
The new song portends a new album from the standout six-string player, New Unknown, which is set to drop on November 4.
The musician, who is also the lead guitarist for the famed group The Roots, is releasing the single under the moniker, Hundred Watt Heart.
“Over The Ocean,” opens with powerful guitar riffs and a rush of distortion buzzes underneath emotive vocals, Reaching the crest of the wave, his voice rings out on the chorus: I’m trying to keep my head above the ocean.
“It’s a groove-heavy rock song where the guitar takes up more sonic real estate. It talks about the bombardment of social media and how confusion can happen from it,’ says Douglas. “Of course, we can all be connected through social media, but it can also distort reality. I’ve had so many conversations with people my age about the beauty of time before all of it. It’s important to maintain a part of your life that’s not social media-centric.”
Douglas kicked off 2022 with the release of “We Can Be One,” which features a wah-pedal drenched funk riff, simmering beat, and boisterous horn section alongside a trippy music video directed by Alexander Fischetti.
Check out Douglas’ new single and a Q&A with the artist below.
American Songwriter: What does it feel like for you to hold a guitar?
Kirk Douglas: Simply put, to hold a guitar in my hands feels like cradling beauty, power, and potential all at once. I was completely attracted to it long before I got to see one in person. I bought guitar magazines before I could even play. The fact that something so beautiful could make a sound so mesmerizing was enough to hook me. It’s like holding a skateboard, a spaceship, a motorcycle, a raygun, and a scepter all at once.
AS: What was the inspiration behind the new single, what do you appreciate most about it?
KD: The main guitar part came to me when The Roots were playing a gig in Universal Studios around February 2020. I checked into my hotel room, took my guitar out and it’s the first thing I played and it felt so good to play. August of 2020, I was just jamming with Ricc (Hundred Watt Heart drummer who was also in the band Earl Greyhound) in my mom’s basement and we played that song for the first time. I had microphones set up and recorded his drum part. I just edited the different beats he was playing together and it made the bones of the song. After that, just added bass, drums, and vocals so it’s really just the two of us.
AS: The song seems to touch on the state of the world, how we “lost our way.” How are you feeling about the state of the world today and how can music help?
KD: This song was written during the time when we were all spending more time online than in person. It was August of 2020, so we were still in the pandemic, feeling the effects of George Floyd, and then we had the election coming up. I remember some comment sections were disabled just because people were getting so out of pocket. Online was not a particularly healthy place for me, as it’s so easy to go down rabbit holes of negativity.
It was this ocean of information and mental debris that I wanted to stay away from, yet I needed it to stay connected. At least in normal times, we had places where people could gather and sort of palette cleanse the soul with music, theater, or comedy. These are the places that restore your faith in humanity. Wherever human connection is really. I feel optimistic now that we seem to be on the other side of all that. We can sort of process what we went through in a more communal way.
AS: What’s on the horizon for you, personally or professionally?
KD: I am a parent of two teenagers and I want to help them with this exciting time in their lives. Thankfully The Roots don’t do too much touring, so I can be around for that. I want to continue recording and get better at it. I want to play these songs live at some point. I want to get better at my instrument. Being in The Roots is like being in a sort of music academy where you get to design your own curriculum. The education is its own reward.
Photo courtesy Captain Kirk