Before Ben Stiller was Derek Zoolander or Greg Focker, he was just another high school student messing around in a garage band. In the late Seventies, Stiller and a few of his New York City friends, including frontman Kriss Roebling, formed the band Capital Punishment, with the future Tropic Thunder actor serving as the group’s drummer. They self-released one LP, 1982’s Roadkill, that was all but forgotten until Brooklyn record label Captured Tracks announced the album’s reissue this fall.
In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Stiller talked about Capital Punishment and seemed somewhat amazed that “a real company” would reissue Roadkill. “I was in a ridiculously weird band. I was like 15, 16, and my friend in high school, Kriss, started this band. He was the one who had the talent, he wrote the songs, I was the drummer,” Stiller told Stern (via Pitchfork). “What happened was some outsider music label, which I didn’t know those existed where people are just into weird music… I guess it’s been found and they asked us if they could re-release it.” Listen to the band’s “Confusion” below:
Stiller himself describes Roadkill as “really weird music,” adding that “we were listening to a lot of Bowie, Eno” at the time it was recorded. In a Roadkill remembrance posted on the Captured Tracks site, Roebling writes, “Despite the difficulties of recording at that time, the fact that we still barely knew how to play our instruments, and that our musical interests seemed to be on a collision course with what the majority of our school mates were into at the time, we became hellbent on waving our very enthusiastic freak flag by recording an album.”
Roebling also says that copies of Roadkill were distributed on consignment to “mom and pop record stores,” and somewhere along the way that dissemination resulted in a new generation of fans and its upcoming reissue. Despite the album’s sudden popularity and the Roadkill reissue, Stiller told Stern it’s unlikely Capital Punishment will reunite for a tour.