by Capital Punishment


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Long before he began his acting career, Ben Stiller played drums in an obscure post-punk band along with a few friends from high school. Capital Punishment only existed for a few years, and their sole release, the 1982 LP Roadkill, is a baffling mixture of Nurse with Wound-like sound collage, angular industrial funk, and faux-darkwave creepiness. The album was recorded at four different studios in New York, and sounds like it could've been the work of at least as many groups. The album opens as ominously as possible with "Necronomicon," a hellish montage of bagpipes, gamelan-sounding bells, and news reports of a murder. Songs like "Roadkill" and "Confusion" are filled with fractured, noisy guitars and synths recalling early Devo, clattering percussion, and lyrics that seem to probe inside the minds of a few deeply disturbed individuals. "Muzak Anonymous" sounds like an extremely arty attempt at writing a downtown club hit, spiked with lots of silly voices and pseudo-philosophical lyrics. Following the unsettling goth pastiche "Creatures of the Dark (Night)," there are ventures into deep space with the eerie organ instrumental "Cosmos" and the three-part synth odyssey "John's Forgotten Land." As sinister as the album gets, it's plainly obvious that its creators were doing this all as a laugh -- the obviously fake British accents on songs like the upbeat "Delta Time" give that away. Depending on which track you're listening to, the album could easily be mistaken for a release on Industrial Records, Ralph, or a Rough Trade-distributed micro-label at the dawn of the '80s. The band's friends and family members didn't know what to make of Roadkill, barely anyone heard it, and the group broke up shortly afterward. Years later, Stiller occasionally mentioned the band and album as a punch line during interviews. Inevitably, collectors of private press oddities caught wind of the album, and it began changing hands for exorbitant sums. Mike Sniper came across a copy while working as a used record buyer at Brooklyn's invaluable Academy Annex, and the music influenced some of his own work as Blank Dogs. He finally reissued the album on his Captured Tracks label in 2018, adding two bonus tracks, both of which are surprisingly more straightforward than the disc's offbeat original content. Early tune "Waiting to See You" is a swirling piece of space-country, while "Helen" (recorded in 1983) is a rough but hooky power pop gem, pointing to a more accessible direction that Capital Punishment might've pursued if they didn't disband. Even without the knowledge that one of the band's creators would later become a ubiquitous celebrity, Roadkill stands out as an utterly unique artifact of the post-punk era.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/14/2018
Label: Captured Tracks Rec.
UPC: 0817949014452
catalogNumber: 901445
Rank: 56335

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Capital Punishment   Primary Artist
Ben Stiller   Percussion,Drums,Vocals,Hand Clapping,Turkish Drum,Breathing
Peter Swann   Bass Guitar,Vocals,Hand Clapping
Kristian Roebling   Organ,Guitar,Percussion,Chimes,Rhythm Guitar,Sitar,Vocals,Vibraslap,Hand Clapping,Loops,cowbell,Synthesizer Bass,Casio,Synthesizer Strings,Analogue Synthesizer,Guitar Effects,Prophet 5,Breathing
Peter Zusi   Percussion,Rhythm Guitar,Electric Piano,Sitar,Vocals,Hand Clapping,Casio,Synthesizer Strings,African Drums,Analogue Synthesizer,Guitar Effects,Oriental Percussion,Prepared Piano
Tony Converse   Vocals,Hand Percussion

Technical Credits

Ben Stiller   Drum Effects
Kristian Roebling   Melody Arrangement

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