Cap'n Jazz was a punk/emo/what have you band from the Chicago suburbs circa 1991-1995 (exact dates unsure). They consisted of brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella, Victor Villareal, and Sam Zurick. Davey Von Bohlen joined in during the latter half.

The name "Cap'n Jazz" was an invented comic book superhero. Supposedly, they were going to incorporate it somehow with the band. It never happened, and they were left with a cereal-sounding name.

At the band's formation, all the members were in their early- to mid-teens, and an early blurb in Maximum Rock and Roll's "Book Your Own Fucking Life" annual punk rock resource guide stated that, "(we) like Dinosaur Jr., the Jackson 5, and Rites of Spring, but don't sound like any of them." They sounded quite a bit like all of them, though - Guy Picciotto's pissed off screaming mixed with the energy and cutesy-ness of "ABC" and J Mascis' bad singing. Lots of spastic but talented and catchy guitar, solid drumming, and way off-key screaming. Sometimes they were like the Nation of Ulysses with more melody and less gimmick.

They were rarely called "punk," and got tagged "emo," for whatever reason. (Of course, everyone knows that "punk" describes an ethic, not a genre. Just that record reviewers tend to forget important things like that. But I digress.) They played primarily in basements around the suburbs, packing the small (sometimes huge) rooms with people wanting to see the antics.

CJ's live shows were 20 minutes of pure hyperactivity. Tim K. (singer) would run, roll, jump, and scream like he was in a housefire (hence why they only played for 20 minutes per show). Imagine a basement full of kids, some of them flailing themselves about (without hitting others, usually), some of them doing the "Chicago Ski" (a swingey, now-embarrassing dance like skiing without snow), all circling some kid lying on the back with his legs over his head, playing a broken trumpet through a cheap microphone. That sums up Cap'n Jazz entirely - a really strange youthfulness.

Most of the songs were to be about youthful idealism or parents. For example, "Sergio Valente" (one of their earlier songs) was about sympathizing with Amy Fisher. Or "Sea Tea," about Tim and Mike's dad. The songs included a lot of nonsensical wordplay and puns, but seemed to make sense after several listens.

Cap'n Jazz toured the U.S. quite a bit, once people started to take notice. Very few people at the time actually payed much attention, but they eventually gained a small following throughout the country. When not touring, they were usually busy with breaking up - they broke up almost as much as they toured, due to Victor's (rumored) drug problems.

Around 1993-4, Davey Von Bohlen joined in, playing second guitar. (Heh - his first show, he couldn't keep the jack in his guitar and ended up running laps around the crowd during the first song.) DVB seemed to add a lot to the band and they actually started to get noticed by people all over, touring even more and finally releasing a full-length album. Then, like usual, they broke up and that was it.

Tim, Mike, and Sam went on to form Joan of Arc, and more recently, Civil War. Davey went on to lead the awfully popular Promise Ring. Victor disappeared for a while, then came back in with Ghosts and Vodka.

Of course, Cap'n Jazz got really popular in the punk/emo scene *after* they broke up, and all their songs were re-released to CD by Jade Tree Records.

Cap'n Jazz was:

  • Tim Kinsella - vocals, trumpet
  • Mike Kinsella - drums
  • Victor Villareal - guitar
  • Sam Zurick - bass
  • Davey Von Bohlen - guitar


(All of the above records except "Analphabetology" are long out of print)

The Civil War supposedly is all of the original members of Cap'n Jazz (though I haven't verified it).

Cap'n Jazz is considered a member of the "Suburban Triad," the silly term given to CJ, Friction, and Gauge - three of the most important punk bands to come out of the Chicago Suburbs in the early 1990's (well, we thought it was a cool idea back then).