The last time Tony Kapel appeared within the virtual pages of Miami New Times, writer Abel Folgar proclaimed him a sun bathed Renaissance man. Now, nearly one year later, Kapel holds the title firmly with the release of his fourth book, The Hall Ways.
The Hall Ways is a novel about middle school security guard Jason, who is very obviously irritated by the school system. Written in short bursts of thought that Kapel describes as "brain farts," the book describes Jason's dealings with troubled kids, a dysfunctional system, and particularly an administration that makes the word incompetent seem like the name of a Mensa club.
To announce the release of the book, Kapel will be showing notebooks and sketches associated with the creation of the novel at Swampspace Gallery's "Go America," which opens July 21. Kapel will be in attendance to sell signed copies of the novel.
Tony, who also plays in popular local indie band Pocket of Lollipops and works on several art projects around Miami, both with his wife Maite, took time out of his insanely busy schedule to answer some of Cultist's questions about his new book and his other projects.
Cultist: Do you hate the school system?
Tony Kapel: I do not hate the system. I am just weirded out knowing there is someone in charge of leaving education as a fifth and sixth priority. Knowing there are groups of people who sit in offices and create these go-nowhere scenarios that no one takes responsibility for. And the ones who get the shaft are the students and teachers. Our teachers can't strike, which is stupid and leaves them in a gridlock scenario, which is unfair and leaves them helpless. I want to see parents protest on their kids' education and maybe someone will listen. Kids' attendance makes the schools money, and I'd like to see parents keep kids home for a week and see how the system deals with it.
So let us get this straight -- you work full-time, you're in a band that probably takes up a lot of time, and you've managed to write four books? Who is your speed dealer, and do you take a particular kind that helps with creativity?
I do work full-time. I play in a band with my wife, Pocket of Lollipops; that alone seems to be a full-time job sometimes, with booking and networking and performing, but that's the stuff that keeps my head going. The full-time job actually gets in the way of the band and books and artwork.
And yes I have released four books since 2006. Also been on two East Coast tours and one Florida tour, all self-funded and -managed. We have been involved with Art Basel satellite fairs since 2008, either playing or co-curating shows. We are in the talks now for one of this year's Basel fairs, and are working on setting up either a West Coast winter or spring tour to promote our latest album, Broken Balloons, which we actually just set up a Kickstarter campaign for.
So yes, I'm busy, we're busy. It's awesome, though, I wouldn't know what else to do with myself.
And as far as a speed, there is none to call out, but I am an active martial artist. I do get into my realm, and while in this realm I do analyze a topic in my brain and take it to odd levels such as agreeing with it or hating it and see what kind of emotion comes from it. You have to tap into a real emotion when writing, and I say that because if I can't get moved by the situation then how can I expect the reader to?
Sketches by Kapel.
Are you going to be doing a reading at the SwampSpace Gallery showing? What's your biggest fear of what would happen while in front of an audience -- either reading or playing?
I don't think I'll do a reading. I don't think I can get the proper voice for the character I did a bit of reading at my last book release, [for] What Now What Next, and thought it was more fun to take questions and talk about the process and the character building and how the artwork coincides with the story and so on.
And I've been in bands for 24 years, so performing is the bonus to practicing. I fear bad sound guys.
If you could only choose one would you prefer if your band made it big or your writing career made it big?
That's tough, but the music would be awesome, so there is no pressure for my wife and I to leave our jobs, it'll be a mutual advancement for us.
And Maite has always been involved with my bands, from stage setup to making band shirts to booking. So I think it's been a venture we have been on together for a while now. She just got the itch to play an instrument and it only made sense.
And the music also has a larger audience and more avenues to take. The book needs an audience that is game to a commitment, or a collector of chaotic authors. It takes time to read a book; music is instant. Even labels will only listen to the first 30 seconds or less of a song and make a decision. You can't do that with a book.
Promise we won't say anything, but come on -- it's gotta be pretty annoying being in a band with your wife.
No, it's actually great. All decisions are just one phone call away; no one is ever late to practice or a show; and I get to cuddle with the chick in the band when the show's over.
Do you think you're going to stick with a vignette style of writing, or do you think you'll play with your style?
Changing the style would have to come with the change of attitude I guess. I went to school for journalism and was told to major in creative writing or English. My English teacher asked me why I was in his class and [said] that I knew what I was doing and just go write a book. So I did. Four of them.
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I have the mind to report what I observe. I always felt that real life is more amazing than making things up, especially when you witness absurdness on a regular. I have a new book in the works, but don't expect it to be done for at least another year. If you check out my first and second novels you will see the style has changed a bit.
Tony Kapel's The Hall Ways can be found on sale at his website, tonykapel.com. Swampspace Gallery's "Go America" runs from July 21 through August 21. The show opening will take play July 21, 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. 150 NE 41st Street, Miami.