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Capital 4
Photo by Ryan Holmes

Capital 4: The Band of Inventive Minds and Addicting Sounds

From left to right: Kasun Gunawardena, Ryan Holmes, Thomas Squires, Jonathan Gragnano


Music has always been in my life. Since the age of three, I was involved in crazy performances through national cheerleading competitions and theater. I also grew up with the “early 2000s dad music”, so alternative rock and R&B live in my mind rent-free. 


Through these wonderful opportunities that have come my way, I met Ryan Holmes in my varsity choir class. Ryan is a part of a band called Capital 4, a 4 member group based in Virginia Beach. Kickstarting the group in 2015, Capital 4 has significantly grown from their first release “Fire and Lights”, adopting a dynamic take on genre-bending sounds paired with powerful vocals. I decided to virtually sit-down with the group and get some insight into the origins of the band, new projects coming soon, and their thoughts regarding their work. 


Thank you so much for joining me! Can you all introduce yourselves and your positions in Capital 4? I would also love some insight on how the band got started.


Thomas: My name is Thomas Squires. I was born in Virginia Beach and have lived there my entire life. I am currently in my second year at the University of Virginia studying politics and public policy. We’ve all known each other since 6th grade (we all went to the same middle school in Virginia Beach) but we didn’t really all become close until 8th grade. In 8th grade, we had a year-long project focusing on bettering the environment in our local community. The four of us decided to all work together and we became extremely close over that year-long period. Eventually, the four of us went to three separate high schools (Jonathan and Kasun went to the same school). We published our first song (Where We Start) to Youtube on June 22, 2016. This was followed by our EP “Fire and Lights” on December 31, 2016. Between the end of 2016 and the release of our next project, the EP “40 Months,” we spent a lot of time working on songs. “40 Months” was released on March 21, 2019, so it’s been just about two years since our last major release.


I am definitely a minor member of the band, but I make contributions where I can. I was the main songwriter of “The Kings Have Fallen”, which appeared on our “40 months” EP, and “Almost Too Late” (which will be appearing in our upcoming album Alone in the Crowd). I also helped Ryan write the lyrics for “Where Else Could I Go.” 


Ryan: Okay, my name is Ryan Holmes and I am the lead singer of Capital 4. My other roles in the band include guitar and some producing. I was born in Longmont, CO but I have moved around quite a bit throughout my life. Those include Excelsior, MN, Chesapeake, VA, Virginia Beach, VA, and Johnstown/Milliken, CO. Right now, I am living in Greeley, CO studying music composition at the University of Northern Colorado. 


Jonathan: Yeah, my name is Jonathan Gragnano, I was born and raised in Virginia Beach and currently live here while going to college. I am a background vocalist and a producer for Capital 4.


Kasun: Hey, my name is Kasun Gunawardena. I was born in New York, but I’d say Virginia Beach is my hometown because I’ve lived there most of my life. Right now I live in Durham while attending college as a sophomore pre-med student. I’m probably the smallest contributor of the four of us due to my academic obligations. I’ve primarily contributed to the decision-making processes and the single cover for our upcoming song. 


Can you give me a quick rundown of the creative process? I’ve heard a bit from Ryan about producing between Colorado and Virginia Beach, but what is it like for the rest of you? 


Jonathan: It’s generally difficult to go back and forth between remote locations. 


Kasun: Yeah, organizing meetings has been somewhat difficult considering both the difference in time zones and the differences in our schedules. Especially during school years, it’s been a bit of a challenge finding times to meet that work for all of us.


Ryan: Usually either I make an instrumental, Jonathan makes an instrumental, or Thomas writes down lyrics for song ideas. Every song we have made has begun with one of those elements. For making instrumentals first, we make a rough draft and send it to the rest of the group for their opinions. Then, we write lyrics for them with a melody and begin recording. When starting with lyrics, we read the ones Thomas writes and make a melody for them. After that, we start to make the full instrumental. It’s a pretty simple process, but for me writing lyrics is my biggest problem. I’m just not the best at it honestly.


Getting deeper into it now, what is the goal of Capital 4? Do you guys want to turn this into a career or is it a fun project to do on the side?


Ryan: I think Capital 4 is one of the most important parts of my life, mainly because I love making music with some of my best friends. I would love to see it work out and to make a career out of it, but if that doesn’t pan out, it is nice knowing that our music is still listened to in the future. 


Thomas: To me, I see Capital 4 as a really awesome creative outlet, but not something I wanna do full-time. I really enjoy the songwriting, and I love working creatively with Jonathan, Ryan, and Kasun.


Jonathan: I see Capital 4 as something I will put a lot of effort into and if it pans out as a career that would be great. However, I’m not going to put all my eggs in this basket considering how difficult it is to “make it” in the music industry. 


Kasun: For me, I see Capital 4 as a great way that the four of us can continue to blossom our friendship whenever possible by working together on music. I think right now, Capital 4 is a key aspect keeping all of us together especially right now when it is so difficult to meet with anyone in person.


Your recent releases have had some 1980s synth kind of vibes with a little bit of rock seeping in, so what is the next direction for your music? Any specific influences or sounds for future releases?


Jonathan: Probably expanding upon these sounds a little more and fine tuning them. But also there will probably be some more acoustic-sounding tracks. Foster the People’s second album Supermodel and Fun’s Some Nights are serving as inspirations for me both lyrically and music composition-wise. 


What are all of the member’s personal favorite genres of music and do you feel like this translates into some of your lyrics or concepts? Also, what are your favorite songs you’ve created?


Ryan: My favorite genre of music ranges from indie pop/rock to 80s pop and sometimes some classic rock. My top influences have been Foster the People, Wallows, Joji, Lauv, LANY, and The Weeknd. I feel like I lift a lot of inspiration from those artists in making instrumentals. 


Jonathan: Indie pop is definitely my genre of music. Foster the People, Fun., MGMT, Lorde, Dayglow, Coldplay, and Tame Impala are a few favorites. I do feel as though we try to incorporate elements of music that we enjoy into our songs. I would say my favorite song we’ve made is probably “When I’m Drunk.”


Kasun: Personally, I really enjoy 70s and 80s music like Electric Light Orchestra. I’d have to say it’s one of my favorite types of music and I especially love the use of synth. I think one of my, if not my favorite, song that we’ve made is the one that we will be releasing soon, and I think you’ll know why after giving it a listen.


Thomas: I try to emphasize story-telling in my lyrics (this stems from my country influences) and I really enjoy the guitar-heavy aspects of rock music. I really, really enjoy our upcoming single “Small Talk.” I think it’s a really interesting example of our band’s two styles: synth-pop and acoustic-rock, plus Ryan’s vocals are awesome on it.


From an outside perspective, there has been a great progression of your music. It is clear that the band is constantly improving and stepping outside of your comfort zones, and I think it’s reaped great rewards. Can you tell me how the journey has been? You don’t have to go too deep into it but are you proud of where you are now?


Thomas: Thanks for noting this. All of us, and Ryan and Jonathan most of all, have worked extremely hard in the past five years since the release of our first song. Seeing and being a part of this growth has been awesome and, while I think all four of us have a lot of room yet to grow with Capital 4’s music, I continue to be extremely proud of every release we push. Seeing your work out there in the world is such an awesome feeling, and I am thankful for all that we have done so far.


So we’ve touched on it a little bit, but what do you guys have coming up for Capital 4 releases?


Ryan: On March 26th, we’re releasing our new single “Small Talk.” It is the second single off of our debut album Alone in The Crowd. This is a 14 track album that we have been working on for over 2 years now…


Me:  Wow!! That is incredible that 2 years of work is about to come to an end almost…


Ryan: Dude, I know! It is weird for sure. We’ve also got a music video currently in the works for “Small Talk”, so big things coming soon.


Okie dokie! Thank you guys so much for this interview. I definitely learned so much about you all and I’m excited for the new releases!! I’ve got some fun questions for you. What does your ideal/dream house look like? Favorite things to do in the summer? 


Ryan: Thank you for interviewing us! This is pretty basic, but I’d say my dream house would probably be somewhere in England or France, seeing as I have always wanted to visit. For plugging stuff, you can follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @capital4music. We will be promoting this next single, and our upcoming album, like crazy so it will be fun to watch. 


Kasun: Surprisingly, I’d say my dream house would just be anywhere in VB. I really just love Virginia Beach as a whole and love the environment there. I’d say my favorite things to do in the summer are hang out with friends, watch movies, and visit my family in New York!


Thomas: I would say that my ideal house is a nice place in Virginia Beach (my parents are moving to North Carolina, but I could honestly see myself moving back to Virginia Beach once I finish school) and possibly some kind of vacation home out in the mountains of Montana or Wyoming. During the summer, I really enjoy writing and (during non-COVID times) traveling across the US and internationally. 


Jonathan: I’d like you to know that we appreciate this interview. My dream house is probably something sizable in Virginia Beach, maybe even on the water. It would definitely have a home studio. 


Follow Capital 4 on Instagram and Twitter @capital4music and be on the lookout for their March 26th release of “Small Talk” and the upcoming release of their debut album Alone in the Crowd!

Kass Ricketson is a Civil Engineering Technology major and a Musical Theatre Performing Arts Scholar at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She plans to graduate in 2025 through the CET Honors program, obtaining minors in Film Studies and Sustainable Infrastructure Design. When Kass is not on the streets fighting for justice, she can be found at a local cafe with her close friends or singing her heart out to Broadway tunes. Her passion is sharing vibrant stories that hopefully encapsulate the uniqueness of an individual's life.
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