Published on October 22nd, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Punked: California’s Lagwagon Rolls Into the Music Farm
Frontman Joey Cape started singing, playing guitar, and writing songs in the 1980s. He formed Lagwagon in the coastal town of Goleta (just north of Santa Barbara near Los Angeles) in 1990. They became the first band to sign to the acclaimed Fat Wreck Chords label in 1992 when they issued their debut, Duh. It’s been a nearly non-stop musical journey for Cape and Lagwagon over the last the 20 years. More recently, Cape earned extra notice from punk fans for his work with the experimental rock act Bad Astronaut and the humorous pop-punk supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
This month, Cape is focused on touring across the country with his Lagwagon bandmates — drummer David Raun, bassist Joe Raposo, and guitarists Chris Flippin and Chris Rest — behind a new box set of early recordings titled Putting Music in its Place.
This week, Lagwagon will make their first trip back to South Carolina in 14 years for a show at the Music Farm. Local musician/promoter Johnny Puke (of Cletus) booked the Music Farm show with relative ease, thanks to Cape’s fondness for Charleston. Puke first met Cape while road-managing the Alkaline Trio during the Warped Tour of 2002. “Joey has played solo shows at the Tin Roof two summers in a row,” Puke says. “I’ve spoke to several people around town who are very excited about this first-ever Charleston appearance for this influential veteran act, but the funniest thing is, their singer is just as geeked to come to Charleston as his fans are to see him here.”
Metronome recently spoke with Cape about Lagwagon’s long history, their everlasting work ethic, and their plans for the future:
Metronome: How do you handle such heavy road work while staying relative sane? Between your solo albums and tours and the various full-band projects, it seems you rarely get to take a break.
Joey Cape: I just try to do anything I can do that’s musically oriented. That’s all I know how to do. Basically, my solution to the decline of record sales is to tour more. I’d say most people have found that solution, but mine is slightly different in that I just formed more bands and started doing more things. In a way, it’s what I’ve always done. It’s the thing that comes most naturally to me. As a songwriter, doing performances is one of the most fulfilling things to do.
Metronome: Looking at your tour dates, it looks like you’ve been almost non-stop since January.
Joey Cape: I pretty much never stop moving. That’s how my life is. When I’m not touring with Lagwagon, I’m out touring with someone else. It’s good and bad. I like being home with my daughter and my wife, but I love touring, too. I think this year might be one of those 280-show years. It’s a little crazy. But hey, I just feel lucky to be working, so it’s good.
Metronome: Have you felt burned-out or overly fatigued at all in recent years?
Joey Cape: It may sound pretentious, but I think I’ve sort of mastered this lifestyle. It’s not difficult for me, and I’m fairly indifferent to the fatigue that happens on the road. It’s all just part of it. You just keep going. There are shows where you’re kind of like, “I’m working.” But it’s music, so really compared to a normal job, you’re enjoying it 90 percent of the time or whatever. It’s pretty damn good compared to what I’d be doing with no other skills. It’s great. You just have to tour more nowadays to keep your job.
Metronome: It seems like traveling and performing is one of the healthiest things a rock band can do. The interaction and experience makes them a better band.
Joey Cape: I appreciate that it’s sort of a benchmark for a band that they have to be a touring band to have any kind of success. I love that change and that turn, whereas before bands could have success [with recordings] but never show their face. It should be something that’s reserved for those people willing to show up, you know?
Metronome: Tell us about the Lagwagon lineup these days.
Joey Cape: It’s the same guys who’ve been in the band since 1996 or ’97 We’re playing with Joe Raposo, who Jesse Buglione two years ago on bass, and David Raun on drums, who joined in 1997. They both used to play in RKL, which was a band that preceded Lagwagon. We were all involved with RKL on one way or another from the beginning. We’ve all known each other forever, so it’s all kind of like family.
Metronome: It sounds like the musical and personal chemistry still works between you all, on stage and off.
Joey Cape: The sound fluctuates a bit when you’re in a band like this. We have good years and bad years in a way. Sometimes, it feels like you’re really on fire. I don’t know what’s going this year, but it feels like that’s the case. We’re playing better than ever It’s weird. We’re playing well, we’re all getting along together, too. It’s been very cool lately. If you want to be in a band that stays together for a long time, there are twi things that you have to do. You have to be extremely patient and understating of other people’s idiocentricies. And you also need a sense of humor. If you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t even bother.
Metronome: Will Lagwagon hit most of its repertoire at the Music Farm show?
Joey Cape: Actually, this tour is honoring this box set we’ve put out [Putting Music in its Place], which includes the music from the first five records that we made. It was huge undertaking that took almost three years to put together. We’ll be playing the older stuff on stage, which is great. It’s really fun for us, playing the older stuff, which is a little faster and more intense than some of our newer stuff. We’ll pull it off for sure. I think there are some older fans who are really happy about it.
Metronome: Do you have immediate plans to write and record any new Lagwagon music?
Joey Cape: When you write for a band, you never force it. I just wait until I know what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes, it’s five years in-between records, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve have been writing a lot, so we’re just going to finish up these fall and winter tours that we have lined up and hit the studio in the spring or summer. It’ll be great because it’s been a long time.
Lagwagon shares the Music Farm stage with labelmates Dead to Me, the Flatliners, and Useless ID on Thurs. Oct. 25. Admission is $20 ($17 in advance). Visit joeycape.com, lagwagon.com, and musicfarm.com for more.
A recent clip of Cape in special interview (“an old man and his old band”):
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