James Capps of This Girl Is A Ghost on his new project, Is It Is; show tonight at RecordBar

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James Capps' new project, Is It Is, only played its first show at the beginning of last month, but it already has a full-length available. Entitled Hollyhocks, it mines material similar to Capps' work in other local bands like High Diving Ponies and The Girl Is A Ghost. Is It Is has its first Kansas City show tonight (Monday) at RecordBar. We spoke with Capps about his past bands, and what Is It Is has to offer.

The Pitch: You've got quite a local pedigree - High Diving Ponies, The Girl Is A Ghost, Spidermums, and now Is It Is. There seems to be a strong similarity running through those acts. Not that they all sound alike, but they seem to draw from similar influences. What attracted you to that style of music - noise rock, shoegaze, post-hardcore?

I really liked how the vocals were treated. They're treated like an equal instrument as opposed to something that stands out over a background. I really hate hearing vocals that stand out. I like things to all sort of melt together. I remember the first time I heard My Bloody Valentine and thinking "This is what my dreams feel like".

You're fronting a band again with Is It Is. What are the differences between playing in a band and being the frontman?

Being a frontman is much more emotionally draining. You're opening up every part of yourself and then putting it on display. You feel extremely vulnerable. It's a lot easier to hide in the corner of the stage and play your guitar. Especially the songs on this record. Half of which are more or less about the disintegration of my marriage and the other half having been written while it was doing so. At the same time though the reward is often higher. You get a different kind of release.

Speaking of past bands, The Girl Is A Ghost seemed poised to break through, then it sort of disintegrated before the release of your album. How did that act end?

Baria was unhappy with the record. They wanted us to do some things we weren't totally convinced of. That kind of fell through and then we were working to release it ourselves and Susan (keyboards) decided she wanted to move and that was sort of that. The biggest thing with that band was the collection of people that were in it. Me being me I would have just continued on without her but looking back I'm really glad we didn't. I love all three of those people so much.

Will there ever be anything done with that unreleased album?

I actually dusted off the album for driving on tour. I hadn't listened to it in years and it just floored me. It was the first time I could listen to it without thinking of what needed to be different or critiquing it. I just enjoyed it. It's such a great piece of work and I think it's a shame that nobody has really heard it. I thought about the idea of just putting it out on Bandcamp or something like that but I guess I should talk to the others...

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Even though Is It Is just played their first show in St. Louis last month, you already have an album, Hollyhocks. Why record an album before you've played many shows?

I'd never done it that way before. It just felt like the right thing to do. This is the first band that has really sort of been my thing and that just seemed to me to be the most logical thing to do. I've played so many local shows over the years that I had no desire to just go out and play a show for the sake of playing a show.

Did it help with booking your tour?

I don't think it would have been possible to book the tour without it. Not too many places in other cities will just take a chance on letting a band play that they have never heard. In addition it allows them to find other bands that you fit well with.

How did that tour go? Is it refreshing to walk into a club or bar with no prior assumptions, just an audience there to see music?

Yes. The tour has been really fun. I like playing for people who don't know me. I feel like I can get more in tune with what it is that I'm trying to do as opposed to worrying about my perceived perception that people who knew me when I was 17 might have. Meeting new people is great too because usually your initial introduction is to the fact that you dig the same kind of music. It has also been amazing to catch up with people who I haven't seen in years.

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