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Ben Stiller Was A Punk Rocker — Here's Proof

Capital Punishment, circa now.
Dave Stekert
/
Courtesy of the artist
Capital Punishment, circa now.

Like a lot of creatively restless high-schoolers in the late '70s and early '80s, Ben Stiller was in a band — in this case, a weird and funky post-punk band called Capital Punishment. Now that Stiller is a movie and TV star, Capital Punishment's one and only album, 1982's Roadkill, is getting its first-ever major reissue on Sept. 14.

Stiller was the band's drummer, as evidenced by the circa-now press photo, in which the foregrounded star clutches a pair of drumsticks. But he's not Capital Punishment's only notable member: One, Peter Swann, now sits on the Arizona Supreme Court, while Peter Zusi is a professor of Slavic studies and Kriss Roebling is a musician and documentarian.

The music itself — as heard in "Muzak Anonymous" — is both of its time and defiantly strange. Inspired by bands like Can and Throbbing Gristle, Capital Punishment conjured something dizzy and warped, and worth hearing even if its rhythm section didn't include the future star of Night at the Museum.


Roadkillcomes out Sept. 14 via Captured Tracks.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)