SOUNDTRACKING: Q&A With Malcolm Jack, Singer-Songwriter Of Sun Wizard & Capitol 6

by Daniel Colussi | There appears to be a weird unspoken oath among Vancouver musicians to play in as many bands as possible. Hardly any musician in this city has just one band. Malcolm Jack is a local singer-songwriter who plays in not one but two bands – Sun Wizard and Capitol 6 – which is actually quite a modest number of projects by Vancouver standards. Both bands have released great debut discs in the last year as well as hosted many a fine night of rock ‘n roll in various classy joints and hell hole dives across our fair city. What follows is an off-the-cuff but nevertheless penetrating interview with one the brightest lights in Vancouver’s music scene…

You’re in two full time bands right now – Sun Wizard and Capitol 6. From a songwriter’s perspective, what do you bring to the table for each group? Is there a specifically different flavour that you try bring to each band? What is it that makes a song more appropriate for Capitol 6 than Sun Wizard?

Well, in terms of writing a song, I don’t really think about which band I’m writing it for at the time. I just write on an acoustic guitar at home and record a quick demo of it, and then maybe based on the demo I can hear one band or the other playing it. It’s gotta have a bit of gloom to be a Capitol 6 tune – not really harshness, but some downer vibes maybe.

Sun Wizard just got back from a Western Canadian tour. How was the reception? How were the shows?

It was different everywhere really. It was our first time out, so obviously some places were better than others. Sled Island Festival in Calgary was great. We had fun shows in the most random places. Epic ones in Fort St. John and then mega dead ones in Winnipeg and stuff. You just never know…

What got played on the van stereo?

We had an epic drive from Kamloops to Whistler through Cache Creek over-night and had a crazy OK Computer moment that blew our minds.

Tell me about the two songs on the new Capitol 6 7″ – Fever and Henry’s Opus. It feels like a slight sea-change from the 10″ – it’s a little more stripped back and has a bit more of a restrained, sombre vibe. Tell me about your intentions/sonic reference points going in to record those two songs.

When we recorded the EP, we weren’t even sure if we were a band yet! And I was totally itching to just go in, learn the songs really quickly and hit “record”, which is what we did and we were stoked so we kinda started actually jamming and working out more of a style. So the 7 inch is really more where we’re at right now as a band and we did go into that session with a sound in mind. The main reference is probably Pale Blue Eyes-style Velvet Underground songs for Fever; that was basically what we were going for. Henry’s Opus was a riff that Henry brought to the band, and we all sort of hashed that out together. I think we wanted that one to sound a little like ‘I Got The Blues’ by The Stones, with that big organ solo in the middle on the tremolo guitars.

What are some records getting played at your house as of late?

Been diggin the new Fresh & Onlys EP, Secret Walls, a lot. They’re kinda my favourite current band. New Crystal Stilts’ record a bit, White Fence’s Growing Faith; the new Shilohs record, So Wild; been jamming to The Shins first record, Oh Inverted World, a bunch recently for some reason.

Beatles vs. Stones – who comes out on top?

Man, I’m on a total Stones kick these days. Sticky Fingers baby; Keith’s my hero. The Beatles are probably better though! I dunno. I listen to a lot of Ram!

What’s on the horizon for Sun Wizard and Capitol 6, recording-wise and show-wise?

New full lengths for both bands are on their way. With the Sun Wizard stuff we’ve been working with Steve Bays on some new recordings and we’re just gonna keep going with that. He’s killing it.  I’m thinking that album will come out next Spring, but maybe we’ll release a 7 inch in the meantime? Show-wise, we’ve got some festivals to play this summer: Rock Of The Woods on the Island, Wapiti in Fernie and so on. I think Capitol 6 is gonna start recording in our garage in the next week or so. We did one new song there last month and it came out good. Just trying to keep the quantity over quality dream alive!

What’s your favourite Vancouver band, past or present?

Destroyer, hands down. Such a great catalogue of diverse song writing. This Night really gave me a lot of faith in ‘local’ music when it came out. It feels so deliberate. I was also a huge fan of The Christa Min. I totally miss that band.

What’s the best Kinks album?

I gotta say Arthur! So under-rated. Lyrically, it’s just so different than other records coming out at the time. I love tracks like Nothing To Say and Yes Sir No Sir. I love all their records from that era though. Everyone’s In Showbiz is super under-rated. That album’s got some killer tunes on it!

Tell me the difference between playing live and making a recording?

Well, I’m not much of a showman. It’s something I need to work on, so right now I prefer recording, especially at home where I can do it on my own time. I’m a lyrics person, so it’s all about writing and recording for me. No one really pays attention to words in a live setting. I know I don’t…

Tell me a story about Dave Pullmer, the lead guitarist of Capitol 6.

Dude showed up to our last gig with just a patch chord! He’s so chill about just borrowing some random guitar, some other amp and not even looking at the settings on it and it somehow it sounds crazy. He’s got the most nonchalant vibes ever but yet he’s so dialed in some ways too.

Zulu Records veteran and tunage aficionado Daniel Colussi is the Music Editor of Scout Magazine.

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