Capital Punishment – “Roadkill” (1982 / 2018)

An experimental band comprised of high school students in New York City in the early 1980s. Four young guys experiencing a widening range of music and the shooting-star-like no wave scene. What they lack in talent the make up for in their willingness to experiment, and eventually in 1982 the put out an album that pretty much no one buys, and after high school they go their separate ways and have some pretty successful careers.

  • One gets his undergrad from Yale and PhD from the University of Chicago and is today a professor specializing in German and Czech literature, teaching a the University College London
  • One gets his undergrad from Berkley, then his JD from the University of Maryland, and is today a justice on the Arizona Supreme Court
  • One is a descendent of the family responsible for designing the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and is a documentarian and musician
  • One became Derek Zoolander

It’s probably the last guy who people know best. I speak, of course, of Ben Stiller.

Captured Tracks has been working on re-releasing this forgotten nugget of oddness since 2015, and it finally hit the shelves last month. And it’s pretty damn weird. There’s a definite avant-gardeness to it, with elements of electronica, jazz, rock, and even sampling thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure what I’d compare it to. Zappa? Beefheart? Butthole Surfers? Zeppelin? (OK, definitely not Zeppelin) It’s more of a musical collage than a coherent album, a hodge-podge of sounds and ideas. Sure, it’s a bit amateur, but that’s a big part of the charm – at least every single track is interesting if nothing else.

Rolling Stone did a good interview with Stiller and former bandmate Kriss Roebling (the documentarian) HERE that gives some good background on the project. The red vinyl version is limited to 500 copies, and I believe both versions come with an eight-page booklet and a download card that includes two bonus tracks. The booklet is particularly cool because it includes reminisces from each of the band’s four members.

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