O Cap'n, My Cap'n

New Jade Tree compilation explores the underground phenomenon of the late, great Cap'n Jazz

R: When I interviewed you last, we talked about Joan of Arc's theoretical intents, the whole compartmentalization and documentation concepts. Did you have a focus like that with Cap'n Jazz--were there certain concepts you were trying to materialize?

TK: Yeah, like when you asked if I could go back and do it again, I really wish things were still like that, 'cause it was so innocent, y'know. It made it so much more honest. I was 20 years old when the band broke up, and I was the oldest one. We were just really young and not thinking about what we were doing. You know when you're young and you're into your own thing and just obsessed with it but not really understanding it. It was like that; we had a lot of the same stupid little quirks.

R: Was Cap'n Jazz a more honest band than Joan of Arc is?
TK: Not more honest, as much as we didn't have to try to be honest like we do now. Now that we're all a whopping 23 or something. It was easier not to be cynical then, easier to care about things. So now, we have to keep ourselves in check. Does that make sense?

R: Totally. Was the reissue your idea, or did Jade Tree approach you about it?

TK: We'd gotten a few offers over the last couple of years. But I guess we finally decided to do it because we were sick of people writing to the address on the records asking how they can get old seven-inches and stuff. It just got annoying. Whenever we play out of town, there's inevitably one kid that'll come up and ask where they can get some Cap'n Jazz records. Most of it's been out of print for a long time, so we just decided to end all that.

R: Do you listen to the album?
TK: I haven't listened to it, no. I listened to two or three songs I was curious to hear. But I haven't listened to the whole thing; probably no one [in the band] has.

R: Did you name it?
TK: Yeah, I named it wrong, though. It was supposed to be Anthroalphabetapoloanthology, but I thought of the name and then drove to Madison [Wisconsin] where Jason [Gnewikow, of the Promise Ring and graphic design firm The Collection Agency] lived, and I just typed it in. We were doing the layout and I was like, yeah, I guess that's the name, but I got home after the whole thing was laid out, and weeks later I realized I named it wrong. It was already printed.

R: How does "apology" figure into the album title?
TK: I guess it's apologizing for the reissue 'cause a lot of people kind of resent us for putting it out.

R: Why?
TK: A lot of people were involved with it at the time, so a lot of people kind of see it like it's not as pure of a thing now if it's available. So I guess I have to apologize to all of our old friends who didn't wanna see it come out.

R: But you don't regret it.
TK: I don't care, I just don't want to have to worry about it anymore, y'know. Now people can get it if they want to, and I don't have to tell people that I don't know how they can get it 'cause now I know how they can.

Heaven Sent: Halo Benders . . . such a comically appropriate name for a project that pairs Dub Narcotic Sound System's Calvin Johnson's devilish baritone voice with Built to Spill's Doug Martsch's angelic tenor. Along with the Halo Benders' other components--Ralf Youtz (The Feelings), Wayne Flower (Violent Green) and Steve Fisk (Pigeonhed, producer extraordinaire)--this NW supergroup has busted out its third and most arresting record, The Rebel's Not In.

While 1996's Don't Tell Me Now was full of great pop songs (as must be expected from such a collaboration), they weren't easily distinguishable from one another--the common elements were too common for any one track to be truly extraordinary. The Rebel's Not In's tracks are schizophrenically diverse while not stepping out of the bounds of Halo Bender-ness. Johnson agreed in a recent telephone conversation, saying, "I think of Don't Tell Me Now as a less successful album in terms of it being an album that you put on and listen to all the way through. It didn't strike me as quite as compelling as I hoped it would be. Individually, the songs seem really good, but it doesn't seem to fit together cohesively. I probably agree that the songs are more interrelated on the other record."

The Rebel's Not In makes good on the promise the band always had. The components never before fused quite as brilliantly as here.

"It was more focused," Johnson says. "The first record was completely thrown together, pretty much improv in a way. The second record we did work on a lot, but I think we were learning how to work together. So on this record, I think we benefited from both experiences, and were able to put the two together in a way that worked."

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