During his workday at Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, Chris Capuano, an engineer in the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, develops sonar training tools for Navy schoolhouses across the country. His current position was developed from a new professional project in which he and another employee created a tool for new Sailors who are going to be sonar technicians.
When Capuano leaves work, he is still immersed in a world of acoustics, but this environment requires a keyboard of a completely different kind.
In his free time, Capuano, of Saunderstown, Rhode Island, is a keyboardist and vocalist for The Naticks. The band was voted the Best Local Indie Band in 2017 and 2018 in Rhode Island Monthly’s Best of Rhode Island awards.
In the last three years, the group has performed at venues throughout New England, including Harpoon Brewery’s annual Octoberfest, the Hard Rock Café in Boston, Dockside and One Pelham East in Newport, and Ocean Mist in South Kingstown. Earlier this year, the group released its first studio album, “Place of Searching,” on all major streaming platforms.
“Everybody needs some sort of outlet outside of what they do for work. For me, this has been something that I’ve been consistently able to rely on for that,” Capuano, who started working at NUWC Newport in August 2015, said. “It helps me to stay creative. I think that’s really important, especially as a developer and designer of training tools that young Sailors use. Having an edge of creativity is super helpful with the work that I do here.
“That balance and variety of creativity allows for me to bring a different perspective to my work — and vice versa. I’m able to take leadership and business practices I’ve learned here and apply it to the band.”
The genesis of The Naticks dates back to when Capuano was in elementary school in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and he joined the Boy Scouts. It was there he met Drew Croll (bass), Ross MacAndrew (guitar/vocals) and Kevin Drumm (drums), the band’s founding members.
“That’s where we started and made our connection,” Capuano said. “Then, after a Scout trip in high school, we got together. We all played instruments, so we said, ‘let’s start jamming together.’”
The group played under the name Juice during their high school days but separated during college. It reformed in 2015 under its current name, right around the same time Capuano began working at NUWC. Ultimately, that would be a break for both Capuano and The Naticks.
Capuano recalled playing music at a NUWC department event when he was approached by co-worker Kevin Quinn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, who informed him that his daughter, Telli, is a singer.
“It’s just kind of funny how that ended up working out,” Capuano said. “We’ve been playing with her for about two years now.”
The group has had some lineup changes over the years but currently consists of Capuano, Quinn, MacAndrew, Croll and Nick Powers on drums. Drumm left in 2016 to join the Peace Corps and was swapped out for Ethan Lyons, who was replaced by Powers this past summer. Capuano described the group’s sound as “eclectic,” noting that he, Quinn and MacAndrew all perform vocals on their album.
“A lot of us have classic rock influences, so we started jamming to classic rock tunes, covering Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin — all the good stuff,” Capuano said. “Our core sound kind of comes out of that era of music, but we definitely have an alternative spin.
“I play keyboard, so I play some synthesizer parts. We describe ourselves as indie rock, but unfortunately there’s not a specific brand we go by because our album has sounds of country, classic rock and Counting Crows.”
“It’s funny how people come to shows that work at NUWC and we make a connection outside of work doing something social,” Capuano said. “That’s an interesting facet that I didn’t even think about when I started doing this.
“Everybody knows each other for what they do at NUWC, so it’s good to give a new perspective on somebody’s life.”
NUWC Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea System Command, is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC’s other division is located in Keyport, Wash.