PREVIEW – Cover Interview of Decembers Vandala Magazine with LAGWAGON

LagwagonInterview by Dustin Griffin

 *Note: This is a portion of a larger interview. The full interview will be posted in the December issue of Vandala.

With a new album out to critical acclaim and commercial success (in punk rock terms), Lagwagon can with firm resolution claim that they are back and better than ever. The band kicked off the Hang tour in California this past week with label mates and fellow elder statesmen of the punk scene Swingin’ Utters. With both of these legendary bands, as well as a handful of great opening acts, you’d be a fool to be a punk fan and miss these shows. And you’ll have plenty of opportunity as the tour will wind through not only the United States, but across Canada as well.

We caught up with Wagon vocalist Joey Cape to discuss the new album, the tour, and things that rhyme with disco. (Tour Dates at the Bottom)

 So the new record is really heavy. It’s kind of a dream for early era Lagwagon fans in that it sounds like ‘Duh’ or ‘Trashed’ but with the production of your later stuff. Was that an organic result or did you guys plan it that way?

J: Yeah, it developed naturally, for sure. We never really plan anything when we make music, and I think that’s part of the reason it takes us such a long time to make records. We generally find ourselves waiting to see what it is we should do next, or how. And we always end up just doing what feels right. It’s just a matter of finding a collective identity of the band. But I can say that this was maybe the best collaborative experience that I’ve ever had in a band.

 The songwriting process?

Joey: Yeah, it was way more collaborative than anything we’ve done. And it went smooth.

After a few listens to the record, some of the softer elements really start to show themselves. The first couple spins they kind of get buried in the riffs, but as they reveal themselves, the record really shows itself for the great deal of versatility within it. Would you say that’s a byproduct of the collaborative process you’re talking about?

Joey: Thanks. Yeah, I mean the biggest effect it’s had is that it’s an album that everyone in the band is very proud of. And I think for the first time everyone in the band wants to play every song live and is really fired up about it.

Actually, kind of a funny story, after we made the record we went to tour a bit in Europe. And it was the first night of the tour and everyone likes to get drunk and hang out, most nights it’s like that actually. But on this particular night, I happened to have the master of the new record with me and no one else in the band had heard it yet. And we ended up listening to our own record about nine times in a row, over many, many bottles of whiskey. And the driver, he was a new driver we had never met before and I met him the next morning and he said ‘so how many times do you think you’re going to listen to your own music on this tour?’ (Laughs) Which is totally embarrassing and not something any of us do, but we just are really proud of it and I think that’s the difference.

One song that blew me away was ‘Obsolete Absolute.’ Which is really kind of an epic song. It’s six minutes long, which in punk minutes is like twenty minutes.

Joey:  It actually used to be seven minutes and we edited it a little bit at some point after the demo and it got down to about six and I was really disappointed. I was telling friends of mine ‘yeah, there’s going to be a seven minute song on the record.’ But six is still really long and actually the arrangement works better. But it was kind of the kitchen sink song. It developed over a period of time and I had all of these riffs I really wanted to use and thought maybe I could make a really epic song. We’ve never done that before.

Lyrically, this record’s kind of bummer. I mean the lyrics are great, really well written, but thematically it’s pretty dark.

Joey:  There’s always some catharsis to writing lyrics and I think that if you do it long enough, like myself, I mean I sort of have an addiction to it. But you always write one thing at a time. And something happens in your life and you deal with it, in my case by writing a song. So I’ll write lyrics at that moment about that one thing. And that’s normal, people do that in different ways. But this one was different because I’ve over time developed a series of rants. And every once in a while my friends will say, ‘you should write about that.’ And I’ve resisted it because I didn’t want to make a grumpy old man record. But then I began writing this record with similar themes and I basically just made a record about how I feel about the world that my daughter has to grow up in. So, yeah it’s dark, but it’s a dark subject matter to begin with when you look at things that way.

I want to touch on the tour quick. You’re going out with Swingin’ Utters. Which is really exciting. I think they’re one of the best bands around right now.

Joey:  Yeah I really love them. Really good band.

How much of the record are you planning on playing on the tour?

Joey:  The plan originally was the play the whole thing. But we played the record release show on Oct. 28th here in San Francisco and instead of playing the record over speakers or whatever, we just got up and played it ourselves top to bottom. And after playing it we all agreed that it’s pretty long and it would take too much of the set to play the whole thing. But I wanted to do it like an encore. Come back out and play the whole thing. That would be like a fifty minute encore though. So we’re going to play about five or six songs from it. Which is more than we usually do . Usually when we put a record out, we’re aware that people want to hear the older stuff and just do two or three of the new ones. But there’s kind of a fine line when deciding how many new songs people are going to tolerate or want to hear.

Just as long as you make time for ‘Beer Goggles’ every night.

J: Oh God. You know it’s funny, for years and years that was the song that I just did not want to play. It’s a cool song, musically, but it’s kind of a voice killer. And lyrically it was a silly song that could be kind of seen as mysogenystic or sexist and I am so not those things. And then Maximum Rocknroll did a review of our first record. It was our first review and they basically focused the whole thing on the mysogeny in that song. Which just killed me. So I had a bad taste for a long time. Then a couple years ago I wanted to start playing it again and it’s actually our drummer now that hates to play it so it rarely makes it into a set.

Well, you can’t fault silly kids for writing silly lyrics. Look at ‘Milo Goes To College.’ There are some really homophobic lyrics in there that are in no way a reflection on the band or who they are today. 

Joey:  Oh of course. And we all know which lyric it is.

Yup.

Joey:  And they don’t even sing that live anymore. They replaced the word with ‘disco.’ (sings) ‘You fucking disco.’

Well, I’m all for you playing the new record as an encore.

Joey:  I wish we could do that. If it was an EP, it would make perfect sense.

You also might collapse afterwards.

Joey: Probably would, yeah………………………

http://www.Lagwagon.com

 *Note: This is a portion of a larger interview. The full interview will be posted in the December issue of Vandala.

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