In Lincoln, and all throughout Nebraska, there are markers denoting historic pioneer moments in the shaping of our state. Unfortunately, one is conspicously absent. One that marks the accomplishments of Bill and Jim Jones, the pioneers of punk rock in Lincoln. Bill played (under the name Bill Bored) in such bands notable bands as D.K'ed Willies and Baby Hotline. Jim was in Ex-machina, and they played together in Pogrom. Between them, they helped to launch the punk scene in Lincoln.
That alone should be more than enough reason for me to want to talk to Jim and Bill, but that's not the reason I contacted them. I'm talking to them because they were also the the publishers of Capitol Punishment, a zine that covered the Lincoln music scene from 1980 to 1984. Each issue of Capitol Punishment included info and photos of bands, interviews, and many issues included a casette comp of Lincoln bands. They gave exposure to, and promoted bands such as; The Click, Progrom, The Sacred Cows, Wargasm, Rapid Vapid, Holiday, Ex-Machina, Cartoon Pupils, Power of The Spoken Word, Hymn To Joy, and many other great bands from the early 1980's music scene in Lincoln.
Since Starcityscene.com is basically treading in the footsteps that Bill and Jim laid down two decades ago with Capitol Punishment, I wanted to talk to them about C.P. and the Lincoln music scene of the early '80's. As an extra bonus, D.K.'ED Willies drummer, Daniel Kelley, joined in.
SCS: What inspired you to start Capitol Punishment?
Jim: Bill subscribed to a zine called NY Rocker and I subscribed to Legs McNeil's "Punk" (NY) and
"Search and Destroy" (SF). We loved reading about all the groups and music coming out of those places. Also I went to the Rough Trade store when I was in London in 1979 and saw tons of little fanzines. I thought, "Wow, I could do that." We basically did it out of our bedrooms cutting and pasting pictures from other magazines and typing and hand writing everything.
SCS: What places was it distributed at, and did you have any problems getting it out at first?
Jim: The only places that carried CP at first were Dirt Cheap and Trade-A-Tape, which at that time were right across the alley from each other. Both stores didn't hesitate to take it, but then as it got more controversial they had some problems with people complaining about it and Dirt Cheap even got threatened with a law suit by some irate parents if they didn't stop selling it (they didn't). By the time we stopped publishing, it was being distributed all over the world and even got voted one of the top ten fanzines in the world by the New Musical Express in London!
SCS: What was the threatened lawsuit about, what were the parents upset about
Bill: Capitol Punishment got into some trouble a couple of times for things we printed. The incident
with the parents had to do with this high school jock at Southeast called Dick Bacon. He was going around
beating up all the punks, so someone stole his yearbook picture and we defaced it in CP. They decorated his
locker with the magazine and his parents called Dirt Cheap and threatened to sue. The other incident I
remember was when we ran a graphic that said, "Helen must die"--a reference to then mayor Helen Boosalis. We were upset about all the shows we were putting on getting shut down by the police. She pretended to be all concerned about the "kids" but it was a bunch of bullshit and after some people met with her we realized quickly that she wasn't going to do
anything to help us get safe, affordable places to put on under-age shows. The death threat was just out of
frustration, but the people at Dirt Cheap took me aside and said, "Hey you guys better cool it. This could get you into a lot of trouble."
SCS: At it's peak, how many copies were being distributed?
Jim: I think at its peak we were still only printing 300 copies.
SCS: If I'm not mistaken, the very first issues didn't come with the comps, what made you decide to do those?
Jim: Yeah, we didn't start doing the compilation tapes until later (I can't remember which issue...#3?). When the zine started there were virtually no punk bands in Lincoln, so there was no real "scene" to record. By 1982 or so there were starting to be enough good bands that we thought it important to get a record of it (since it didn't look like anyone except The Click were ever going to put out a record). The first tape was a recording of the first CP Benefit held at the Hall on 27th and Randolph. I think we made 100 of those. I had them copied at some place out on Cornhusker Highway for about $1 each.
SCS: So did you start out by just documenting what little was there, or do you think that Capitol Punishment had a hand in unifying or kickstarting the Lincoln punk scene?
Jim: I think at first it did help unify the punk scene. People kind of discovered each other through the zine. I remember going to people's houses that I didn't know and seeing CP laying on their bedstand. I thought that
was really cool. However, the whole hardcore vs. art punk thing really caused a deep division. People thought of CP as the "art punk" zine so other people started their own zines that were more into hardcore. There seemed to be a lot of bitching toward the end (1983) and I got sick of it.
SCS: Daniel started Appithetic Injection in '83, and I think that's also when Gel started, were those spawned out of that Art-Punk vs. Hardcore Punk split?
Bill: Gel was a fanzine that Mary from Jello Stechmark and Shawn Harding from The Youngsters with John Hevertz and Jana put out. They started with all the pictures they had that were taken from The Ordeal. The zine bridged the art punk - hardcore punk gap. Injection of Apathy was originally started one night by the D.K.’d Willies crew as a zine to contrast the C.P,’s punk art format. Only one issue was ever made and was strictly made up of pics and articles from
the hardcore punks. Apathetic Injection came out a little later after C.P. had quit publication, with Liz Lang at the helm and D.K.’d, Steve Schilke, Patty and Bill Bored contributing. It really was out of boredom that this zine got under way.
SCS: Tell me about "The Ordeal" show from December of '81. That seems to be another thing that seems to come up a lot when talking to people. Did D.K.'ed Willies play under the name Jello Strechmarks, or something like that??
Bill: My recollection of the Ordeal was the messy ending when the cops came and busted it up.
It was one of the uglier police interventions and a bunch of people got hauled off to jail.
SCS: In that first issue of Gel there's a great photo of Terry Pieper being handcuffed & put into a police car.
Bill: I remember a guy named Doug (who now sells Real Estate in Lincoln) goose stepping behind the police as they tried to pull kids out of the building. Of course he got arrested. I also remember the sign that hung over the room--"An Evening of Fun in the Metropolis of Your Dreams" which was from a Colin Newman LP (Wire). I thought it summed
up our situation brilliantly--we had to create the metropolis of our dreams living in Lincoln. The Ordeal
was not a CP sponsored event, a common misperception. The D.K.’d Willies and Jello Strechmark were two different bands. Jello Strechmark was a band formed of girls and a guy drummer that hung out with us at practice and were good friends. Brita Wheller, Mary Anderson, Collen Gowin, and Rick Allan. They used all of our equipment since they had none. The band only lasted for a couple months and some went on to form other bands Brita in Holiday and Mary in Dismember.
SCS: What was involved in putting the issues and comps together? Were you doing the issues yourself, or were other folks helping?
Jim: Bill and I did the first issue totally on our own but after that we always had people helping out writing reviews, articles, interviews, play lists, dreams, etc.
SCS: How frequently did issues come out?
Jim: CP didn't have any set publishing deadlines. Since we didn't sell any ads in the zine it was just kind of whenever I had time and money to get it out.
SCS: Were you guys just paying for it out of your own pockets?
Jim: I paid for it out of my own pocket (thank you Social Security). Once we got the CP benefits going on a fairly regular basis, that started paying for the copies.
SCS: I once saw what appeared to be all the issues of Capitol Punishment collected together into book form. Did you guys put that together, and when was it done?
Bill: We never put out a collection of CP's in book form. I don't know who was behind that. I still have all the original mock ups and 1 copy of each issue though.
SCS: What stands out in your memory in connection with putting CP out?
Jim: My favorite memory of CP has got to be the first CP benefit. It seemed like the first time a lot of people in Lincoln into punk met each other and realized there was something exciting going on. It turned into a near
riot with people trying to break into the Hall when we weren't letting more people in (it was at capacity). A knife fight started out front and the cops broke up the gig, but not before a lot of great bands played (DKed Willies, The Youngsters featuring John Moran, and an early version of The Click--I'll never forget Sara Kovanda stuffing herself
into a trash can while performing). Timmy Turmoil who'd recently moved to Nebraska from LA gave us the highest compliment by saying, "Wow this is just like the Masque." A great night!
For finishers, we’re all still best of friends & still play together on a regular basis. We have a CD in the making featuring recent recordings of our 1981 tunes & some new songs along w/a few tunes recorded in between.
A TYPICAL SHOW? - HELL THERE WAS NO TYPICAL SHOW- everything that was done was done for the sake of spontaneity-
-we had no musical talent so we had to compensate in some manner. Eric would never practice, so we never knew what he’d sound like. Brian would stress and Bill wouldn’t care. You never knew what a show would sound like. For instance when we played Pershing, down stairs they give us a pass which we proceeded to give to every one of our friends so they could go out and get alcohol when every they needed. Once we started playing Eric's amp fell over a few times and the magnets would fall off the back of his speakers. The roadie guys would run around and put them back in place. Brian would use the mic as a missile and swing it above his head and hit people who weren't dancing. When other bands tried to play after us the kids would get glasses of water and throw them on the other band so they'd get shocked and would quit playing. Each show was more like an event than just going to see a band.