Sometimes what goes away comes around.
In the spring of 1998, John Fackler and a couple of friends started Jettison. The Kansas City band went through some personnel changes before settling on its main lineup: Fackler on guitar, Dave Klein on bass and Jeff Beaty on drums.
The band dreamed of some kind of glory and rehearsed tirelessly and toured relentlessly in its pursuit. It also spent about $600 to record an album — eight songs in less than 17 minutes — that never saw the light of day.
“We wanted to get it out,” Fackler told The Star on Monday. “But we never got around to it. And we weren’t that happy with it. We thought we could make something better.”
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A year and a half after it started, Jettison “broke up, like 10,000 other Midwestern bands,” Fackler said.
By then Fackler had been living with spinal muscular atrophy for about eight years; it was diagnosed when he was 15. He would pursue other music projects, including another trio that lasted just a few shows. And he continued to work full time, despite dealing with the effects of SMA.
About five years ago, Fackler’s condition started to worsen, and the need for assistance grew. About four years ago, he moved back in with his parents in Lawrence because living on his own was no longer an option. In July 2015, he started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van and a power wheelchair
“After a lifetime of fairly predictable decline with a still somewhat manageable disability, I now find myself unable to do many things on my own if at all,” he wrote at his GoFundMe page. “Walking is becoming more and more difficult. I use a cane, and I walk slowly and carefully — because a fall could be catastrophic.”
The GoFundMe campaign has raised about $20,000. Fackler said that after insurance and other funds and contributions, he needs about another $5,500 to cover all of his costs.
And this weekend, some of that money will come from Jettison and the album it never released.
Early this year, unbeknownst to Fackler, several of his friends began recording a tribute album: “I’ll Repay You: The Music of John Fackler and Jettison.” The album will be available for purchase starting Friday at Fundfackler.Bandcamp.com.
“I had no knowledge of any of this until about two weeks ago,” he said.
Also available will be a version of the original album, which was recently polished and remastered, much to its creator’s pleasure.
“If it had sounded this good the first time, we would have put it out right away,” Fackler said.
In addition, several of the artists who recorded tracks for the “Repay You” tribute will perform Saturday night at a benefit show at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club, 3402 Main St., where Jettison played many shows. Showtime is 9 p.m. All proceeds go to Fackler’s GoFundMe.
Both albums will showcase Fackler’s unique songwriting style, which pays homage to some of his favorite bands, like Husker Du and R.E.M.
“Jettison was a rock band with this great combination of the intensity of Husker Du but with the song structure and pop sensibility of a band like R.E.M. or the Smiths,” said Mike Alexander, who was part of Jettison for a minute and who recorded two songs for the “Repay You” compilation with his bands Hipshot Killer and the Revolvers.
“There really wasn’t anything like them in the city at that time. I’d compare John’s songs to those bands, for sure, but also to Freedy Johnston and Peter Case. He’s a real pop guy that harbors a distinct punk-rock attitude and influence underneath it all.”
Other bands and artists who will perform Saturday: John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons, Chad Rex, Suicide Robins, Dead Ven, Deco Auto and Ben Summers.
Fackler continues to work as an administrative assistant for communication studies at the University of Kansas and wants to keep it that way.
“I want work,” he said. “I love the independence of having a job. I haven’t spent a day on disability, and I want to keep it that way.”
The wheelchair and van will ensure that. “I will have what I need to live the life I need to live.”
This weekend’s show will help him get closer to that goal, and he acknowledges the appropriateness of what inspired the event.
“It means everything,” he said. “Twenty-year-old John Fackler sitting in his little kitchen in his little apartment in Kansas City 20 years ago writing his little songs about his little life would never have believed or been able to fathom how all of it would come back to him 20 years later as all of his friends gave those songs back to him.
“It’s overwhelming at times and very humbling, and I feel very loved. I am a very, very lucky person.”
“I’ll Repay You: A Benefit for John Fackler” begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club, 3402 Main St. All proceeds go to Fackler’s GoFundMe campaign.