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Interview Fri Jul 17 2015

Maplewood Records: A Story of Past and Present

the-glass-family-maplewood-records.jpeg

Maplewood Records is among Chicago's newest record labels, one that prizes an artist's unique storytelling above all else. Honing in on eclectic artists and the gifts they deliver to their listeners through their one-of-a-kind voices is what their mission is all about. I had the opportunity to speak to Ian Capilouto, the label's founder, and his father, David Capilouto, regarding the label's very special first album, a re-issue of The Glass Family Band's 1960s album, with a very sentimental history.

GB: This is obviously a sentimental project, re-releasing the work of your father from decades ago. How did this re-issue plan begin, and what are your hopes that listeners will gain from listening?

Ian Capilouto: It started out that my dad was in a band, and they released a record on Warner Brothers Records in 1968. It was never reissued after that, but since that time over the decade, it's become a collector's item among the vinyl record collecting community and music lovers. I've always had interest in it, and one thing my dad's always talked about is when they went in to record the record with initial recording sessions, the first sessions were rejected by the record label, so they had to go in and record more. He always lamented that he thought the initial recording sessions were just as good or better, and he truly liked how those sounded, so I always knew that there were these other recordings that were out there besides the record that came out. Over the years I was saving my money and wanting to create a record company and get into the business of it, so I figured a good place to start would be to re-issue their record. So I got the guys' blessing, my dad and Jim, they still get together every other week to play together with some other guys too. They gave me original analog tapes from those original recording sessions, so I re-issued the record as it came out in 1968 and I'm re-issuing it with a second LP full of tracks that are unreleased.

For me it's very satisfying and the same to my dad and Jim that after all these years, decades, that their music can be heard again in a new way with a re-issued record coming out and then the second of unreleased tracks. It's really satisfying just for that fact, that the record is out there again and with more of that music from that time period, and it represents that time period well, I believe. They were very much a part of the '60s counterculture especially coming from where they came from in LA and the experiences that they had.

What have been the steps in order to re-release this record, has it been arduous? I know there are newly released tracks as well which is exciting.

The process for pressing a record is arduous and time consuming for many reasons. First, I had to get the analog tapes from the original sessions restored and then transferred to a digital format. The restoration process takes several weeks and the guy who did it had to bake the tapes for several weeks, clean the mold off the tapes and fix some of the original cuts and edits made to the tapes. After that, I booked time in Pot O' Gold Studios with David Irish in Orange, CA to remix and re-master the original record and to also mix and master the unreleased tracks. Then I had to hire someone to implement the art into a vinyl gatefold format. After submitting the artwork and audio files to the pressing plant, it was a few more months of adjusting artwork and listening to test pressings. After finally accepting a test pressing, it was another two months to receive the shipments of records.

How has The Glass Family's artistry affected yours with your group The Nighttimers? Have you always been inspired to create music of your own as you learned of your dad's musical legacy?

Music has always been around me and our family. On Saturday mornings we would drive around and get groceries and we would listen to jazz music on the radio together. As I got a little older I would go with him to some of his band's rehearsals in junior high and high school, so I've learned a lot just hanging out when they practice and learning how professional musicians are when they practice. Started my own band in high school and then in those many years afterward in college and years later, that's when I've always had that level of professionalism and experience to draw upon and so that's where that influence has helped me out over the years.

In crafting this re-issue, did you learn new things about your father as an artist that you can carry with you into your own musicianship?

What I took from it when I really digged into it is that there were more than cool stories, they were part of an actual change culture. They've played these Sunday tea dances at the Mermaid Tavern and what was interesting about it, the guy who owned the bar, he would have a light above the bar. When a lightbulb went on the police were coming for a raid, the men would switch to dancing with women and so on, I thought it was really cool that they were a part of that type of thing back then. So today it's becoming more and more part of what the world is, which is great, but back then it wasn't so much, so I thought it was really cool that they were actually a moving part of social change like that, and that's just one example. There are other examples too so I thought that was great.

I understand this is the first record via your label, Maplewood Records. What records to you intend to sell and curate throughout its journey? Are you looking to focus on rare re-issues or highlight more independent artists?

There's really no direction as we just want to put out anything that we think is good, so if that's some folk, collector's vinyl type, or a buried treasure, that's cool, but also we want to put out new stuff, too. We want to put out anything that we feel is great music by an artist so there's no category, really, just anything that we feel is good. So if theres a band locally in Chicago that sounds great and we still have the type of ambition, just bands or artists or musicians that do something that's honest and genuine that we'd be interested in, that's really what it's about, putting records out for musicians and artists that are genuine, honest, sound great, and bring something to the world.

I know that I along with many others would love to purchase this re-issue. How should readers go about this?

The record is out right now [just sold out but a second pressing is planned]. We have a website up and we're selling records off of our website, it's in a lot of record shops all over Chicago, probably about 10 different record shops in Chicago have it, and the Midwest and West Coast as well. We'll do another pressing of 500, give or take, maybe 250 depending on what seems like the market. We've already sold to several distirbutors.

~*~

I also spoke to David, member of The Glass Family band, regarding the group's artistry and producing music during such a pivotal time period.

GB: I just wanted to talk to you about the story, it's so sentimental how your son is putting your re-issue back out as the first record with his company. How did this process come about with the record reissue?

David Capilouto: Well, my son learned that we still have the original inch and a half tapes from Warner Brothers Studio, and so he decided that he's going to reissue that, and also with the tapes there were a lot of outtakes and things that didn't make the original album, and that gave him the opportunity to make a double album with liner notes and everything in it. Everyone loves it, it's really far out.

I know the unreleased tracks on the second disc, what were the sentiments behind these songs for you?

I was very unhappy with the first album on Warner Brothers. I thought this with the engineer, and the producer, and my bandmates, because there was a lot of over-dubbing. The stuff you hear on the second disc is how we actually sounded, the three of us, and so I love the second LP.

So the second album was more of what you thought your core, signature sound was, then?

Yeah, exactly. When we played gigs, that's how we played, the three of us.

How did The Glass Family band form and what was the story behind the name?

Well, the name deals with The Glass Family from J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey. Now, I wasn't the original keyboard player in The Glass Family. The original bass player and I had a graduate course together at Cal State L.A., and he invited me up to his rehearsal because he knew I was interested in music and a keyboard player. So I would listen to them and jump on the instrument when they took a break, and the original guy suddenly left, and I got a call that said, "Hey man, do you want to play keyboard for us?" so I said "Sure! Why not, I can play!"

So, that was truly a right place, right time situation!

Yeah, what happened is that I quit graduate school, I quit my job, and I joined a rock 'n' roll band, all in one day. It was a Thursday.

Was it a tough decision to do that or were you just thinking this is what I'm meant to do right now, and this is what I want?

Well what happened is in this course I would sit and listen to this very liberal professor, and that's cool because I'm over there in that end of the spectrum, and suddenly, someone attacked his subject, and he came unglued, I couldn't believe it! I just stood up, flipped him off, and sad "I'm out of here!" So I went to work, I worked at this very hip clothing store that had stores on the strip and all that. I said, "Okay look, I'm interested in playing in a band, and I might need some different, flexible hours" and they said "No, can't do that, David." So I said, "Okay, screw you, I'm out of here!" So I went home and I called up Ralph, whose name is Jim Ralph now, and I said "Okay, count me in!" So that's how I got involved.

Ian was telling me some stories from your band days, some really awesome stories. I know you've played shows with The Doors and The Grateful Dead, what were those shows like performing with those revered musicians?

Well, we played with The Grateful Dead a couple times, I think in Vegas, and then we were opening for them at The Fillmore in San Francisco, and that's a top gig. So we go into the Fillmore into the dressing room, and here comes The Dead, and everyone is carrying on before the show. And standing in there are two San Francisco police, and they are guarding us, and don't care what's going on. So as soon as The Dead go out, I got chills, because I knew this was going to be a different night, it was exciting. Even my aunt showed up for that, so that was funny.

What's another favorite memory of your band during this pivotal time period?

Here it goes - I don't like to be bothered during dinner time. I don't care during breakfast and lunch, but at dinner, don't bother me. Okay, I have to preface this story by saying that. My friend Phil calls me up, he was working with The Rolling Stones during the 1960s tour here, and so he calls me up and he says "Hey David, The Rolling Stones need to use your sound equipment. Can you come up here and bring it?" And I said, "You know what, can you send someone down here? We're just about to eat dinner." And as I'm saying that, I'm thinking to myself, schmuck, what am I saying!? I said "Of course! I'll be right up there." So I turned to my friend, it was 1968, and I said "Out of any band right now, who would you like to see?" and he said "The Rolling Stones!" and I said "Come on, baby, let's go."

So we jump in the van with all of the sound equipment, and we go up there, and there in Stephen Stills' house, in Laurel Canyon, so we go through the gate and get up there. And right away, Mick Jagger is out there and he's helping me unload the instruments. So I'm sitting among The Rolling Stones, they rehearse in a circle, and it's just five hours of me and them.

At this time, everything was changing with the counterculture and everything. What did you learn specifically while making music in the '60s?

There was a lot of anti-war and civil rights, and in L.A. it was a hot scene, especially with music and everything else going on, it was wonderful.

Are you still performing music now?

Well, I play with the same band still, we have a new drummer. We play every other Tuesday night, and when Ian comes into town, he plays bass for us. Then I play with a couple of bands here in Orange County, we play all around town, and it's fun!

Do you play a lot of your old stuff or different material now?

Well, the band that we get together with every Tuesday night, we play some of our old stuff. In fact, we're kind of revisiting a lot of our old stuff now because of the album.

This came out in the '60s and now it's being re-released and it's going to be exposed to a whole new generation of listeners. I was listening to it last night, and I love it, just really cool and interesting sound, and I did notice the difference between the first disc and the unreleased tracks. What do you hope listeners of this generation gain from the re-issue and learn?

Well, the intricacies of listening to each other as a band and as a listener, you have to listen to every instrument and how they're phrasing with each other and working with each other. Everyone always listens to the singer and the words, but there's a lot of stuff going on behind that singer, where the band is interacting with each other and at all times with the singer, it's like a big vibe that carries on, and when you're in the pocket, meaning that you're right there, you're not working to keep it together, it's so together that you can just relax and anything you play is there. That's what I would like a listener to understand, or hear. The inner workings of all of the members of the band.

That's a good point, I feel like a lot of emphasis today is on the singer but it's great to know the inner workings of the group, too.

A good example that you can really hear that in, is The Grateful Dead, and they did not ban anyone from recording their stuff. You could come into The Fillmore or wherever they were playing and record their stuff, they didn't care. They loved it. So if you hear a lot of Grateful Dead, you will hear them do exactly that. They were working with each other. When you're playing in a band, each song is different. You can play the same songs on different nights, and they just sound so different.

What groups inspired your sound and what groups did your band look up to when you were creating your music?

A band that I listened to that played similar to me was a group called Country Joe and The Fish, their first album, The Psychedelic San Francisco. He played the same kind of organ that I played. My biggest influence was probably my cousin. He taught me at about six or seven to play blues, and my mother couldn't stand it, because she's from Europe and wanted Mozart or Beethoven, and he would come in and show me some blues and stuff, and she would jump up and down like James Brown. So that was one of my big influences, and that's where it all began for me.

~*~

Maplewood Records has sold out of The Glass Family's record for the time being, but are planning an additional pressing for all of you interested readers. Stellar records including Funkadelic, Huey Lewis and the News, and more are waiting to be perused on the label's website.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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