Does Capps regret that he left?
"I did a month or so after I left, because I thought, 'Well, now I'm an out-of-work bass player.' And I didn't know where I stood with Slewfoot. But Dale still showed interest in me and the songs, so I'm grateful for that."
Although Newman is gracious toward Capps and his contributions while a member of the band, one also gets the impression that Newman believes that the band runs a lot more smoothly now, mentioning later in the conversation that Capps had left the band on two other occasions over the years (Capps says he'd only left once before).
Still, it's unusual when a bandleader doesn't try to paint a more amicable picture of a split between himself and his group's other main songwriter.
"Well, for us, that was pretty amicable," laughs Newman. "I don't think anyone is mad at the other. I think he wanted to go out and be the frontman, and that's fine. We've got more of a cohesive nature to the band. Everybody's pulling for the same thing now. Bert (Parnell) is a wonderful bass player and singer, and his attitude's just the best. He comes in and does whatever we need, and he's just as much a part of the band as I am."
Asked if he's spoken to Capps since the fight, Newman says, "Well, we haven't. We just haven't run into each other. It's been kind of a busy time since then. We had to hire a new bass player, teach him all the songs, get him up to snuff on the harmonies and go into the studio."
Although new rhythm guitarist, Jimmy Ginnings (also Newman's cousin), briefly moved over to bass in Capps' place, the band soon drafted ex-Billy Joe Shaver bassist Parnell as Capps' permanent replacement.
"He's one of the best bass players I've ever come into contact with," says Newman.
Eight months after Capps' departure, the band has bounced back with "The Back of Your Mind," released in late June.
Produced once again by Whitney, the album cuts back on the more overt rockabilly influences found on the group's first two records. Still firmly in place, however, is the band's Bakersfield and honky-tonk sound, with a few more contemporary touches thrown in, particularly on Wiley's "Either Way" and Newman's "I Fell," probably the closest thing to a radio-oriented number the band has ever recorded.
"I wanted this record to be bigger," says Newman. "In every respect. From the drum sounds to how many it sells. Because we didn't want to make 'Lonesome Highway' over again, Lord knows. And we didn't want to make 'Life and 20' over again. I hate stagnant bands that just make the same record over and over. You can stay in the same style and even write songs that are pretty close to the songs on a different record. But you can't just keep making near-carbon copies."
Newman says that the departure of Capps and his songs that had been earmarked for the new album didn't result in a sudden shortage of material.
"No, we had plenty of songs. A lot of the songs that are on there were going to be there anyway. And then there were some songs that I knew I wanted to do; I just didn't know when. 'Either Way' comes to mind. That was a song that Dale Wiley had written back about two years ago. It was a guy-on-a-stool-playing-a-flattop kinda song. I asked him if I could record it, and he told me I could. I just didn't know where I was going to do it down the line."
Newman's and Ginnings' aunt, Susie McCoy, also contributed "What Do You Do About the Ring." McCoy had been a staff songwriter for Acuff-Rose before leaving Nashville in the late '70s to raise a family, though not before her songs had been recorded by Lorrie Morgan and Loretta Lynn, among others.
In addition, longtime drummer Les Gallier contributed "Show Me" and Ginnings penned three numbers, including the album's opening track. Rounding things out is a cover of Faron Young's "Wine Me Up."
For his part, Capps has recorded most of an as-yet-untitled solo album (also produced by Whitney) for Slewfoot tentatively due out in September. Capps has only just recently returned to the stage, so far with Whitney on bass and guitar and original Domino Kings drummer Rod Howe in tow.
"Over half of the songs (on Capps' new album) were songs that I had written for the next Domino Kings record," says Capps. "Then, after that I've been writing. There'll also be a couple of covers; kind of an obscure Johnny Cash thing, 'Riding On the Cotton Belt.' And an old Charlie Rich song, 'Sitting and Thinking.'"
Asked if he's heard the new Domino Kings album, Capps says, "Yeah, I've heard part of it. To tell you the truth, I really like it. I think Steve and Jim both are real good songwriters. And of course, when you've got four guys who are all talented, it's hard to go wrong. They made a real good record, and I think it was the next step for them."
"And for me, too."