“Because it’s the only thing in life worth doing” (Mark Szabo)

“Chocolate Covered Bad Things” by Mark was originally released over 22 years ago. In celebration of the recent AHT cassette reissue of this forgotten classic, here is a contemporary interview with several of the participants. Over the following weeks, more vintage interviews will be posted here, to provide some context for this rather unusual album.


Discorder 8 May 99

by Stefan Udell

Capozzi Park is a hodge-podge of  very talented and interesting characters who survive on the outskirts of musical sanity. For Mark (voice, acoustic guitar), Max (drums), Marcy (voice), Steve (bass – he made it himself), Robin (voice, organ, guitar), and Scott (keyboards), music as a way of life permeates all aspects of their existence. Ah, career musicians, you think. Well, they aren’t exactly your average musical opportunists and, even though they aren’t anticipating the big pay-off, they live in a mansion of music. They drive a luxurious limo of lyrics provided by up-and-comer Robin Fry and quite possibly the greatest singer-songwriter to ever come out of Canada, Mark Szabo. Their new CD, Chocolate Covered Bad Things, released under Mark’s name, allows the listener to revel in their regal ramblings of sound. Previous projects and musical appearances for the members of Capozzi Park include Good Horsey, Thee Crusaders, Infernal Devices, Superconductor, Hot Fire, Los Disastros, Insignificant Specks, Gunnar, The Hollowheads, the Mary-Janes (now the Tonics), July Fourth Toilet, The Molestics, and Paizuli.
Here’s a peek into their musical minds…

DiSCORDER: Who’s Capozzi?
Max: The Spanish explorer who found Vancouver originally.
Mark: And then lost it again.
Max: He wasn’t much of a braggart.
Steve: Capozzi Park is a basketball court in Strathcona that Max plays basketball in.
Mark: There goes the mystique [laughs].
Steve: Sorry. I’ve also heard that the Capozzis are a wealthy, somewhat eccentric, family in Kelowna.
Max: Let’s try to play up the eccentricity thing here.
Steve: Boy, they’re crazy. Oh my God!
Max: I think they had a foothill named after them.
Marcy: Capozzi Mound [laughs].

Why do you play music?
Mark: Because it’s the only thing in life worth doing.

Why’s that?
Mark: Umm…
Max: I do it ’cause my wrist hurts when I do it, to show that I can survive through pain. Every since watching the Bob Flannigan movie, it’s the only thing that keeps me going.
Steve: Max lee, super-masochist.
Marcy: Did we establish why we play music?
Max: Mark plays music ’cause he’s so fucking sad, I think is what we’ve got so far.
Steve: It’s pretty much the only thing that has  mattered in my life.
Mark: ‘Cause you can’t make money doing acid.

So you’re saying you’ve actually made money making music?
Steve: What most people call money and what Mark calls money are two totally different things.

What was your motivation to record your album?
Mark: really ’cause this guy Rob Carmichael asked me to. He has a record label in New York.
Marcy: The album was supposed to be a lot of things before it became what it really is.
Mark: It’s going to be a play.
Max: Well, originally it was going to be a quilt, but…
Steve: There was the four-track album.
Mark: CITR has it.
Max: They used it to rest their drinks on so they won’t mark up the table.
Marcy: No way!

So the second version of the album isn’t four-track?
Mark: It’s a lot of stuff from that [the first version] and some other eight-track stuff that the Vote Robot guys came down and helped us record.

Why did you choose to re-record some of the songs?
Mark: Because he asked me to again.
Max: So Mark never thought of any of these things on his own. Someone just told him to follow orders and he followed them [laughs]. [to Mark] Are there any instances of your own will coming to the plate?
Mark: No, I don’t think so.
Max: You’ve been dressing yourself lately.
Mark: Yeah, well, we’ll see how that works out.

Your album is coming out and you’ve got to promote it. How do you feel about that?
Max: The extent of the ad campaign consists of Mark calling his mom [laughs]. ‘It’s out! I don’t have enough money for postage, so come pick up your copy.’
Marcy: Yeah, the commercial won’t happen any time soon.
Max: What about the video? Good Horsey had a real problem with making videos, ’cause we just wanted to be somebody. Now we’re sophisticated, much older, mid-40’s now…

So is Capozzi Park  a more sophisticated effort?
Everyone: laugh, snicker, snort.
Mark: I don’t know. If you want to sell records, you have to make a video.

Do you feel pressure to sell the record now that you’ve pressed a bunch of them?
Mark: My mom can’t afford to buy them all.
Max: That’s one of your mother’s few short-comings. She’s a lovely lady.
Mark: At Christmas, I’d really like to go gold.
Max: Yeah, well, we’ll spray paint you.
Marcy: I noticed one of our CDs that  we actually paid to get copied was for sale at one of our shows. I looked at it and was like, ‘Who did that?’ [to Mark] Was it you?
Mark: Yeah.
Max: It should’ve just been in a brown paper bag and said ‘mystery prize’ ’cause it didn’t have any labeling on it.
Mark: See, I wish I had thought of that ’cause that’s the kind of promotion that appeals to me – the random prank.

Can you describe the life of a Capozzi Park song?
Mark: I say, ‘This is how it goes,’ and by the time I learn how to play it, everyone else is done.
Max: That’s good. That’s great. Just try using vowels – you’re complicating it unnecessarily.

Let’s direct this question more at Mark. How do you go about writing a song?
Max: ‘Because I’m so sad sometimes and I feel so  much better after I write them.’
Mark: I second that.
Max: OK, there you go.
Steve: There’s Robin too, who’s not here to speak for himself. Robin writes some pretty crazy stuff.
Max: His songs have a jumpy, Captain Beefheart feel to them.
Mark: He’s not here…
Steve: So let’s make fun of him.
Marcy: Well, a little kid named Jordan who was playing basketball with us called him Elvis.
Max: Robin doesn’t spend a lot of time grooming. His hair looks sort of like a quonset hut.
Mark: He has animal magnetism.
Max: He does, he’s like a wild animal.

Do you have any pre-recording or pre-show rituals to help you prepare?
Marcy: Usually Max disappears somewhere and doesn’t come back until the very last moment. We’re kind of like, ‘Uh oh.’ The people in the clubs are like, ‘Can you go on now, maybe?’
Max: Even if I was there seven hours early, I would still have to watch you guys fumbling around. It would be frustrating, like trying to dress the elderly. I don’t need to tweak my knobs!

How do you approach playing live? Do you have set lists?
Marcy: Here’s what  has happened.  Mark has decided that the set list would  consist of freebie postcards you get in club washrooms. Song titles are written on the back of a card with Kate Moss naked for Calvin Klein. Mark has them in his pocket and he just pulls them out and says, ‘We’re playing this now,’ which is a bit scary but is also really fun.
Max: When we usually involve a set list, we hardly ever dump a song in desperation. We just torture it to death.

Do you feel that you have to entertain the audience?
Steve: At a show at the Anza Club, we put a bit of an effort in the intro to put on a show. That’s the one where Mark dressed up as a woman.
Marcy: People said he looked like Sarah McLachlan.
Steve: It was the barrettes.
Max: He was wearing some kind of dress with a black velvet painting on the front of some woman in a waterfall.
Steve: And [wearing] one sock.
Marcy: I like the foot-stomping thing we did [For] one of Robin’s songs we just started to do this fucked up Riverdance and that was completely spontaneous.

Do you feel that spontaneous stuff cathartic?
Mark: It’s not cathartic. The great thing about a performance is to go and see something happen that wasn’t planned. To me, a really great show is something that is also really terrible in parts.
Robin enters.
Marcy: Hey, it’s Robin.
Scott: Ask all the questions again.

[to Robin] Can you describe your songwriting process?
Robin: I think it involves walking down a lot of back alleys and coming up with ideas and getting a melody and working it out in my room.
Marcy: After he takes off the bag lady costume.
Max: And a certain scratching ritual. [to Robin] Do you find that any particular odours help you think? Do you need any smells around you when you make your music?
Robin: Yeah.
Max: Maybe your mother’s blueberry waffles?
Robin: Yeah.

What are your inspirations? It doesn’t have to be a band. It could be a tree or something.
Max: It could be a particular inert gas that you’re rather fond of.
Mark: Neon.
Marcy: The relationship that we have with each other really inspires me. It’s interesting, it’s cool, it’s almost like a family.
Max: I’m mostly inspired by Mark.
Mark: And I by Max.

Listen to “Chocolate Covered Bad Things” by Mark here .