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Owls began in 2001, splintering from a long lineage of high-concept rock bands all centralized around the efforts of a group of friends who'd been playing together since their early high-school days. This crew of musicians started out playing spirited and screamy melodic emo as Cap'n Jazz, living in relative obscurity during their short lifespan, but going on to inspire new legions of fans years after their breakup when their catalog of short run 7"s and a single LP was reissued in the late '90s. By that point, the members of Cap'n Jazz had cycled through several different projects, going on to form the avant electronic indie of Joan of Arc and the melodic emo-pop of the Promise Ring, American Football, Ghosts and Vodka, and others. Owls came about after Joan of Arc had what would be a short-lived breakup, reuniting Tim Kinsella, Mike Kinsella, Victor Villarreal, and Sam Zurick for the first time since they'd played together in Cap'n Jazz. Owls left behind the emphatic hardcore/emo leanings of the players' teenage days, instead opting for more obtuse song structures, jittery guitar lines, and increasingly inward-looking lyrical wordplay from vocalist Tim Kinsella. The band recorded a self-titled debut album with legendary indie producer Steve Albini, which saw release on Jade Tree Records in 2001. Some touring followed, but Owls quickly imploded. Drummer Mike Kinsella first left the band to focus on his solo project Owen, being replaced by Chicago fixture Ryan Rapsys, and the band called it quits shortly afterward in 2002. Joan of Arc regrouped, Owen thrived, and various other incarnations spun out of the ex-Cap'n Jazz camp. In 2010 the Kinsella crew surprised the world by announcing an unexpected Cap'n Jazz reunion, playing a run of shows with the original lineup, which was identical to the original lineup of Owls with the exception of additional guitarist Davey von Bohlen. This reunion gave way to an Owls reunion, and in 2012 the band began a long stint of writing and recording, ending up in the studio to work on Two, the band's second album and first new recording in 13 years, released on Polyvinyl Records in early 2014. ~ Fred Thomas


2001 in Chicago, IL

Years Active:

'00s, '10s

Influenced by this Artist