Once upon a time not long ago, the future seemed very much unclear for Lagwagon. The seminal California punk band played occasional tours and festival shows, but the members each had what seemed to be increasingly-mounting outside obligations (perhaps most notably frontman Joey Cape also had his own increasingly busy solo career, he and drummer Dave Raun staying active in Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, former bassist Jesse Buglione leaving the band and being replaced by Joe Raposo, and Chris Rest joining No Use For A Name). Though they never officially went away, there were no plans to record any new material after the band’s 2005 ode to late-drummer Derrick Plourde, Resolve.
But a funny thing happened on what seemed to be the road to Hiatus-ville (or at least ‘Extended Break-town’). The band embarked on a lengthy tour in support of their 2011 Putting Music In Its Place boxed set. Somewhere on that run, the creative juices got flowing again. According to Cape, “something happened during that period of time where I felt like we kinda got re-fired up. A lot of synergy and chemistry came back into the band through that process.” Over the ensuing several years, Cape would begin writing new music specifically for Lagwagon. In spite of nearing the quarter-century mark fronting the band (and his own half-century mark on this planet), the music that Cape found himself writing was arguably the most aggressive, heavy music of his career. “It seems to me like it’s heavier than anything we’ve ever done!” He continues: “I think it’s a matter of where the band is now. We always try to make records that are appropriate to the collective personality the band has at the time. We all grew up on different kinds of music, metal and punk and rock and really heavy stuff. I think that most of the guys in my band prefer the really heavy stuff.”
But it wasn’t just angry music Cape was composing; the lyrics he found himself writing were also amongst the angriest of his career. “But the basic, central theme of the record is just my view of the world that I live in now, that I’m raising my daughter in. This is just a series of rants that (you’d hear) if you were my pal and hung out at the pub with me on a Wednesday night.” Fatherhood may have softened Cape in some ways, but it’s also made him more frustrated in the world around him. “I think it’s a bit cheesy to say that ‘we’ve got to hold on to hope,’ you know, because I honestly don’t have a lot of hope. That said, I’m dealing with what I’m dealing with, so how do I make the best of it.”
The result of Cape’s frustration and, perhaps, lack of hope is Hang. Due out October 28th on their longtime label home of Fat Wreck Chords, Hang is a dozen of the heaviest, most earnest songs that Lagwagon have recorded to wax. While much of the material is no doubt focused on society’s woes, there’s also an ode to the band’s longtime friend and touring partner Tony Sly, whose 2012 death rang loudly throughout all corners of the scene. While you might expect “One More Song” to be a mournful, acoustic number, in reality, it’s anything but. “I had no intention of writing a song for Tony like this because I just didn’t feel in this case that words or melodies or anything would really suffice. I didn’t feel like anything would be deep enough or good enough to represent anything that I wanted to say or feel. And I didn’t for a long time, but that song just kinda came out of the blue one day. I just couldn’t deny it, I had to do it.”
Head below to read our full, in-depth conversation with Cape. It’s a long one, we’ll admit, but it finds the always good-natured Caper in an honest, thoughtful and increasingly candid mood. Be sure to check out Lagwagon on the road with Swingin’ Utters and This Legend later this fall; full tour details here. Who knows…maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch Hang start to finish!Add to My Radar