Published in The Music (NSW, QLD, VIC, WA) and theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014
BACK ON TRACK
With nine years between studio albums, it took disappointment and heartbreak to reignite Lagwagon’s creativity, as Joey Cape explains to Daniel Cribb.
It was in 2005 that SoCal punks Lagwagon dropped Resolve and since then we’ve seen frontman Joey Cape venture to Australia with Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, in solo mode and, in late 2013, fronting his other project, Bad Astronaut. So it’s not surprising he’s embedded in another musical realm when he answers his phone. “I’m actually mixing a record I recorded not too long ago,” Cape begins.
During one of his solo visits he met Gold Coast singer-songwriter Laura Mardon, which led to her recording an album for Cape’s new label, One Week Records. “A lot of people send me music, or I’ll play with people when I’m touring acoustic, and there’s so many talented people that I meet and every once in while I meet someone whose music I really love, and they don’t seem to be occupied with a deal, so they can actually do it… [Mardon] came to San Francisco to record and I started mixing it today, and it’s a good time for a break.”
Cape’s always juggling numerous projects at once, but the decade it took to produce Lagwagon’s eighth record, Hang, raises some questions. “It’s just something that has to happen naturally, I guess. For a really long time there I was making other records for other projects. It wasn’t a matter of not being creative… I know the guys in my band would have loved to have gotten some songs earlier, but everything I was writing didn’t feel right for Lagwagon, and Lagwagon is too important to me to do something that wouldn’t suit the band.
“I’m constantly explaining why we take so long to make records,” he laughs. “And I should be, because it deserves an explanation, but we’ve just never been a band that wants to rush or force things. There’s been a few times in our career when we have done that, and we didn’t end up putting the material out because we didn’t think it was good. We’re not known for momentum, hence the name.”
The catalyst for Resolve was the unexpected passing of founding drummer, Derrick Plourde, which drove the band to write something of a concept album around their emotional responses, and themes of loss, betrayal, aging – while not the only source of inspiration for Hang – have resulted in darker and heavier sounds from the band. The passing of longtime friend, musical partner and punk legend Tony Sly in 2012 resulted in the track, One More Song, and also influenced Cape when piecing together what could easily be described as a career-defining record for Lagwagon. “It’s just an interesting thing, with our band. Once we know what we want to do and I know what to write and we get our vibe, it just happens, and it’s miraculous, usually. The chemistry just came and we knew what to do, and it was really collaborative this time. We spent a lot of time putting this record together, and I think you can hear it; it’s got a lot more soul.”