Tag Archives: Cap’n Jazz

Cap’n Jazz reunion show

Cap’n Jazz. Tomorrow/tonight. Empty Bottle, Chicago [via the A.V. Club]:

The A.V. Club has learned that seminal emo outfit Cap’n Jazz is playing a mini reunion set Friday night at the Empty Bottle as part of the Joan Of Arc Don’t Mind Control Variety Show.

So the question that started my awkward conversation with Mike Kinsella has been answered!

An Awkward Conversation With Mike Kinsella About Cap’n Jazz Rumors

Setting: Lincoln Hall, Chicago. About 10:30ish, 15 minutes or so into Headlights‘ set, about a half hour after Maritime‘s performance.

Mike Kinsella and his friend (who I unfortunately did not get the name of) sitting at the southern end of the bar. I pop up before I leave the show…

Me: Hey, it was really nice meeting you.

Mike Kinsella: Yeah man, you too. [shakes hand]

Me: Hey, I know this is a little odd, but I have to ask. I heard rumors Cap’n Jazz are getting back together… Is that true?

MK: I don’t know, are they getting back together?

MK’s friend: Well, what do you think? Do you think Cap’n Jazz should get back together, or should they leave it behind, keep it in the ground? What do you want Cap’n Jazz to do?

Me: [clearly flustered] I… umm… I think they should do whatever makes them happy.

MK: So, what makes me happy?

Me: Umm….

MK: You wrote the paper, so what makes me happy?

Me: I… um…

MK: So what was your conclusion?

Me: Well, I said the conclusion was… unknown.

And so it went… The rest was a bit of a jumble, and that beginning of me embarrassing myself in front of Kinsella and his friend isn’t word-for-word because its been a few hours and I clearly could have forgotten a word/sentence.

But, Kinsella’s a good sport for even dealing with my “hey, I’m some random fan, answer my every question!” trope I busted out. Kinsella and his friend were certainly very nice to me, and I wish I could have stayed and chatted longer.

But, whatever happens with the reunion rumors, I just hope the Cap’n Jazz guys actually make whatever decisions because they want to. But, considering the amassed discography that makes up the Cap’n Jazz family tree, it’s clear they’ve all been doing things the way they want to for some time. And that’s what makes them all continue to create strong, vital music today, with or without a Cap’n Jazz reunion.

Rumored Cap’n Jazz and Owls Reunions

Indie Rock Reviews have posted information regarding a rumor that beloved Chicago emo acts Cap’n Jazz and Owls may reunite. Take a look [Thanks Ori Nevo for the tip]:

With Pavement’s reunion plans all but finalized, it was only a matter of time before other defunct acts added their name to the list. The latest: Chicago’s Cap’n Jazz.

It might sound too good to be true, but according to a close source, the band — Tim Kinsella, Mike Kinsella, Sam Zurick, Victor Villarreal and Davey von Bohlen — has been rehearsing old material in hopes of putting together a 10-date tour for summer 2010. While nothing is confirmed, the source says the five performers were asked to learn their individual parts for five songs.

Sure, IRR won’t be spilling the beans on their source, so who knows the veracity of that statement. However, it’s not like a reunion would be impossible: The Kinsella brothers are quite close, and Sam and Victor have been in so many Kinsella-related projects it’s hard to keep count. And as for Davey, he’s still a close friend of the band, having recently opened for Mike Kinsella’s full-band Owen gig in Chicago back in September. So who am I to say what may happen?

I’ll try and dig up some information myself. In the meantime, stay tuned for what could be an interesting couple of reunions.

Interview with Darren Walters

I’m happy to post a selection from the ongoing email interview I’m having with one Darren Walters, co-founder of Jade Tree Records.

As a majority of my America Is Just A Word interviewees happen to be musicians, it’s great having Darren on board to give some perspective of the other goings on that helped transform emo through the decades. (Of course, an exception to all this is Ian MacKaye, who’s role as a musician and Dischord Records co-founder gives him a completely different perspective than most folks involved in the book.) When it comes to emo in the 90s, Jade Tree was one of the few places where things were really popping. The record label quickly rose to fame with The Promise Ring and continued to soldier on from there, releasing music from numerous indie emo “big names” (whatever that oxymoronic phrase means) such as Hot Water Music, Texas Is The Reason (a split with TPR), Lifetime, Jets To Brazil, Joan of Arc, Pedro The Lion, Cap’n Jazz (the label introduced many people to the band with their double-disc discography) and many a popular non-emo act such as Fucked Up and My Morning Jacket.

But, I’ll let Darren explain it all himself. Enjoy:

How’d you get into music and, more specifically, punk music?

Darren Walters: “A few things happened around the same time that finally got my fully into punk once and for all.
I had been into new wave, alternative and the like and eventually met a few people who were also into the same type of music, including punk.  In and around the same time, my best friend ended up being sent to military school where he became immersed in punk.  His friends at military school helped him stock up on great records which he brought home during his breaks and left with me.  Him and I quickly became 100% into punk rock in about 1985 or so and began going to shows and seeking out as much info as we could on punk rock and watching movies like Suburbia and Decline of the Western Civilization over and over again.

What was it like growing up in Wilmington?

DW: “Wilmington is at the northern tip of Delaware and the biggest city in the state.  Essentially, it is a suburb of Philadelphia as it is only about 25 minutes outside of the city.

It was-and is, for the most part, devoid of any culture during my childhood and continues to be so to this day.  It’s basically your typical American suburb and it’s the place that I still call home and have form most of my life.

Having spent most of my life here I’ve come to like it, which is interesting considering I spent those formative punk years trying to think of a way to get out.  Growing older and being able to leave, I got used to the idea of being in Delaware.  It also became advantageous for Jade Tree to remain in Delaware as it was inexpensive compared to cities like NY or SF where Tim and I had often discussed moving the label to (in fact, Tim lived in NYC for many years).”

On the Jade Tree site, it says that you and Tim were pretty involved in the DC punk community. Considering Delaware isn’t exactly a walk away from DC, how did you balance a life at home with going to shows and building on a community in DC?

DW: “I was involved in the DC scene in the sense that I was going to shows an awful lot in the MD/DC/VA area and Jade Tree worked with plenty of bands from there over the years.  DC was one of our support systems and one of our scenes and we of course looked up to many of the people involved in it both past and present.

It was easy enough to go back and forth from DE to DC.  Tim had grown up in DC and still had family there, I had a girlfriend there at one time, Jade Tree had bands there, tons of friends and so on.  It was just something that we did without thinking.  And it’s less than 2 hours away.  I used to be able to get to the Damnation house in an hour and 10 minutes on a good day. Granted, I was doing 90+ mph, but the point is that this was a drive that Tim and I made almost weekly, or at least monthly, for years.”

How did you and Tim meet?

DW: “My best friend growing up attended college in MD and met Tim at a show in DC.  They started a label called Axtion Packed together and that’s how I met Tim, through him.

Once my label, Hi-Impact, was beginning to fall apart, coincidentally so was AP, so Tim and I decided that perhaps it would be best if we combined forces to work on new label.”

What was it like being in high school and then college, trying to balance the life of a student and the work needed to run a label (be it Hi-Impact or Jade Tree) and a band as well?

DW: “It was crazy of course!  At times it would be fairly simple because there wouldn’t be much to do in the very beginning.  However, when there would be a new release in production or a record would need to be mailed out to radio or to all of the awaiting orders, it would take hours, if not days, to do so.  That could be intense.  Especially because for the first few Jade Tree releases, many of the records were put together by hand.  You can imagine how long it takes to hand assemble 4000+ 7″s & CDS for instance.  We would enlist every one we knew to come on over and enjoy free pizza, get the latest release and help us out.  It was a community thing and it helped Jade Tree get off its feet tremendously.”

Band Profile: Snowing

Snowing EP Vinyl cover

Snowing EP Vinyl cover

I stumbled upon these guys from an article on punknews.org, and I’m glad I did. Snowing is a quartet out of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and they seem deeply into the Pennsylvania emo thing. Which, these days seems to be a resurgence of the kind of cataclysmic catharsis that Cap’n Jazz and early Promise Ring. It’s been swirling through the sounds of fellow PAers Algernon Cadwallader and the pre-Snowing band Street Smart Cyclist. It’s pretty immediate and just as forward thinking as anything else coming out these days.

You can grab their EP, Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit, for free on If You Make It. Below is the song “Sam Rudich,” the EP opener, and, by from what I’ve deduced from the band’s Facebook page, the name of a friend of the band members. Take a listen.

Snowing – “Sam Rudich”:

It Had To Happen…

I’m referring to a Get Up Kids interview featured on The Drowned In Sound website. Though it’s only been online for a matter of hours, it’s attracted a wave of attention for a rather misinterpreted quote that goes to the tune of GET UP KIDS APOLOGIZE FOR EMO on several other news sites reporting on the interview. It’s a rather brief moment in the conversation, but Get Up Kids guitarist Jim Suptic had this to say when pressed on the term “emo”:

Honestly, I don’t often think about the state of ’emo’. The punk scene we came out of and the punk scene now are completely different. It’s like glam rock now. We played the Bamboozle fests this year and we felt really out of place. I could name maybe three bands we played with. It was just a sea of neon shirts to us. If this is the world we helped create, then I apologise.

Valid points, sure enough. Surely, I tend to appreciate it when bands generally refuse to bash groups that they’ve influenced, instead taking the high road and not delving into that subject simply to not unnecessarily stir any bad blood. What’s funny about all this is that Suptic really is speaking the truth about not keeping up with the state of emo. After all, what he’s describing sounds like scrunk, a sound that’s definitely indebted to and a part of the geneology of emo, but a creation that exists unto itself.

How do I know it’s scrunk Suptic is referring to? Well, the neon shirts are a dead give away. But so is the part of his following answer:

We at least can play our instruments.

Same ole’, same ole’. But, to each his own. I never particularly liked much of the Get Up Kids stuff to begin with… I can understand the role they had in both accelerating emo’s ascent to the top of the charts and providing support for the Vagrant business model, but most of their tunes I just can’t dig. But, as Suptic reveals in the interview, they certainly do fit into the 2nd wave emo lineage:

Fugazi is the reason I am in a band today. When I was 14 I heard Fugazi and started a band the next day. We grew up on indie rock. Superchunk, Rocket from the Crypt, Sunny Day Real Estate, Cap’n Jazz. That’s the kind of stuff we were listening to when we started.

Sounds familiar. And though Superchunk and Rocket aren’t emo bands, Superchunk is noted to have a pretty solid influence on 90s indie music, including emo (The Promise Ring anyone? That’s all Pitchfork could do when talking about TPR was to compare the two), and Rocket are a Drive Like Jehu offshoot of post-hardcore. Basically your out-of-the-ordinary ordinary roundup of influences for a second wave emo act.

This whole thing could potentially snowball into the Tim Kinsella vs Max Bemis free-for-all, though Tim had a more malicious rant against the emo acts he inspired, and Max had just as much venom when tossing insults right back. Good for Suptic for generally foregoing all the drama of attacking every band in Alternative Press and generally letting them be, even if he can’t give them credit for their music. Oh well.

The Get Up Kids – “Action & Action” (video):

VS

The Bamboozle fare… BrokeNCYDE – “40 oz” (video):

Delaware Are You: An America Is Just A Word Update

I’m excited to announce yet another contributor to America Is Just A Word. Darren Walters, co-owner of Jade Tree records, has given me the thumbs up for the interview process, and his voice will be more a welcome addition to the roster of interviewees. Although most of the first-person interviews I’m collecting will be musicians, Walters’ input is very much appreciated, especially as Jade Tree’s impact on the international emo scene is nothing but important. Since forming in 1990, the label has signed/released music from many an important emo act: The Promise Ring, Cap’n Jazz, Pedro The Lion, Hot Water Music, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil, Girls Against Boys, Joan Of Arc, Owls, Lifetime, Juno, and countless others have released music bearing the Jade Tree logo over the years.

Walters’ own experience will be able to shed some light on the impact of emo from its point of underground popularity through its watershed moment and to the present, how it affected Jade Tree, and how it affected those who were assigned to the term, including Jade Tree. It’ll be another great addition to the book, which is really beginning to accumulate a number of great contributors!

The Promise Ring – “Is This Thing On?” (video):