Interview: DS catches up with Joey Briggs (The Briggs)

Interview: DS catches up with Joey Briggs (The Briggs)

If you don’t know who Joey Briggs is, turn in your punk rock card right now. Not only is he the lead vocalist and guitarist for The Briggs, he’s also one of the coolest, most down-to-earth individuals you will ever meet. I met up with Joey before his performance at the Slide Bar in Fullerton last week and we caught up about him becoming a “punk rock dad”, stolen tour vans, Jay-Z/Alicia Keys/Randy Newman, and lastly Joey Briggs and The Briggs.

Click here to read the full interview.

DS: First off, i want to congratulate you on the birth of your daughter. tell me, what’s it like being a “punk rock dad?”

Joey: Thank you man. It’s been an experience. Entertaining at times haha. I already have a lot going on as it is but there’s never a dull moment (laughter) with either shows going on or playing with her, there’s just so much stuff going on. But she’s awesome, she’s a lot of fun. It’s just been really rewarding, for sure.

DS: And you’ve been recording your solo album at home in the meantime, correct?

Joey: I did, I recorded parts of it monthly and worked in my closet

DS: So it gave you the opportunity to be more at home at home with her, be there for her these first few months.

Joey: Yah, it was awesome. It worked out perfectly because it was right after she was born that we started doing the recording so it kinda worked out nicely that I was always there. I could take time in between takes to make sure that she was good and everything was alright, but I was just a few feet away. Normally, with recording you’re so involved and it’s really time consuming that it’s really hard to do that and not completely abandon my family. If i was actually in the studio, i’d be in the studio for 10 hours a day, and I was in the studio for 10 hours a day but at least i was home.

DS: When did you decide that you wanted to do your own solo album? Is this something that you’ve been planning for a long time?

Joey: You know, it’s funny. I’ve started to think about that and i’m trying to remember how and why it came up. I don’t know. It’s kind of more recent. I had thought of a couple of ditty’s and different songs I was doing and I felt it didn’t really fit The Briggs music, necessarily, and I thought I still wanted to do some other things, you know? I felt that it wasn’t the right thing for The Briggs so i figured i’d just do it. Why the hell not?

DS: Definitely. Your solo lyrics seem to be a little more personal, it’s almost a glimpse into how you really feel.  What was the inspiration behind the material on your solo album?

Joey: It kind of worked out nicely for that. The thing is, it kind of gave me an outlet to talk a little bit more about the experiences of being in The Briggs, almost kind of like the backstory of the years of doing what I do and touring, and stuff like that. It has so much to do with being on the road, all the experiences of traveling all over the place and all the different people i met and it almost kind of feels a little like the “true story of The Briggs.” That’s kind of been my life for the past 8 years that i don’t have much else to write about. It’s all those experiences and everything going on with that. It was sort of entertaining to write something that everybody might not necessarily understand or get unless you were living a similar lifestyle, I guess, and traveling around and being in a different place every day.

DS: How does your writing approach differ when writing solo material as opposed to writing for The Briggs?

Joey: It’s kinda weird because after doing the solo record and now getting back into writing stuff for The Briggs, which we’re getting back to doing, it’s clear my solo record has influenced the way I write. I feel like because there was no pressure or any preconceived ideas about what I was going to do with the solo material, it lends itself to being very honest and upfront about a lot of things. I feel that now it’ll be the same with my writing for The Briggs. Really just being a bit more personal about it and a little bit more of a real experience that’s not so vague, not that our music is vague, but it’s helped me open up another world of writing and a different way of thinking when I’m writing.

DS: You said in a MySpace blog that these songs are some stories about “touring, love, and the music industry”. The song “black cloud”, specifically, starts off talking about how you guys got your tour van & trailer stolen in Canada… What exactly happened?

Joey: It was a pretty horrible day. You know, we were actually warned about Montreal being a very dangerous city at the current moment for bands because a lot of vehicles were getting stolen. So we were urged by our booking agent to not go into Montreal unless we really needed to. We parked about 40 miles outside, in a suburb and we were parked in a Mall parking lot–a very “safe area”, with tons of people around and it was still daylight out. We were sitting and eating dinner at a restaurant across the street and I had it in my mind because of what I was told. I kept looking up, seeing the van as I’m eating and then I look up again and it’s gone. I was like “What the fuck? No way, that didn’t just happen!” A couple of us were eating at one place and the others were eating somewhere else so we thought that maybe they, for some reason, moved the van so we ran over there to see if they had it and sure enough, they were just sitting there eating their meal. We all thought “oh man, we’re in a lot of trouble right now!” We called the cops but they already knew about it because someone who saw it happen called the police and they were right on it. The cops actually caught up to them quite quickly and were able to catch them in the act. They didn’t have a chance to steal anything out of it as they were still traveling to wherever the fuck they were taking this thing, probably to a warehouse or wherever the hell they go. They ended up going on a chase, they went offroading in the woods and they beat up the van and trailer pretty bad. It was uncertain whether or not we had lost all of our things, including our passports. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to get back to the States. All in all, we did get it back with all of our stuff but our van was pretty beat up and pretty much done for at that point. We were able to get back home and finish our tour dates but it was not salvageable after that – it was pretty much beat to shit. It was one of the most surreal experiences. You never think it’ll happen to you. You hear about it from time to time and you’re like “damn, that sucks. I hope it never happens to me” but when it does, you’re like “man, i can’t believe it’s happening to me.” You spend years kind of accumulating things. You don’t just buy everything at once. You buy an amp and then a couple of years later, you buy a new one. After a while, you’ve acquired and built a decent arsenal of things and then for everything to be gone and you don’t know if you’ll get any of it back and you’ll have to start over from square one, you couldn’t be able to do that. I’m not rich, I can’t just buy all new equipment . Everything that I owned was in there. I had a laptop that’s gone, an iPod that’s gone.

DS: That sucks man. Is it going to affect you guys going back to Montreal anytime soon or is that place blacklisted now?

Joey: Haha, it’s funny because I actually really like Montreal. We still played that show that night and it was a great show and a great town and I hope that we do play there again. But it’ll definitely be nerve-wracking. It’s hard to forget that. The only thing that would give me comfort is, you know, “does lightning ever strike in the same spot twice” and I know that it won’t, that wouldn’t happen to the same people again.

DS: Lets talk about The Briggs for a moment. You guys have been getting an insane amount of exposure at LA sporting events with your song “This is LA”… Aside from the LA pride you guys have, did you write the song with the expectation (hope) that the song would become the anthem for the Kings, for the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Galaxy?

Joey: No, I mean, that’s kind of the weird thing about that situation. I was actually just talking about that with someone the other day. I definitely wanted to write a song about LA, about my hometown and give it a good LA anthem. I didn’t necessarily think that teams were going grasp hold of it or that it would become so much of an anthem for the whole city. I didn’t think that was going to happen at all, that wasn’t my intention with it it but I’m not unhappy about it at all. I think it’s great, I’m happy that people have taken it as their own. Lots of Youtube videos use it for whatever, you know, skate or surf, so I think that’s cool. I guess there was a void there, I hadn’t noticed there hadn’t been another song about LA since, uh..

DS: Randy Newman!

Joey: Yeah haha, since Randy Newman wrote I Love LA, it’s been quite a long time since someone decided to write a proper anthem about the city.

DS: And I think it changed a little bit too with Jay Z and Alicia Keys writing that New York Song [Empire State of Mind] and people were, like, “LA doesn’t have a song and LA is definitely bigger.”

Joey: It is funny, that did come about too. That was one that thing that people and KROQ were both like “Wait, New York’s got this anthem going on, what’s LA got? What’s going on over here?” and a lot of people wrote in and a lot of people called in and brought up this song and they took hold of it. It’s definitely nice that fans were looking out and that people were really looking to make sure that it was noted.

DS: Since the last time I saw you guys, there’s been a couple of lineup changes in the band. Ryan is gone, Chris is gone. How did you go about getting these new members and what has it been like working with these new guys?

Joey: It’s been kind of a revolving door for a couple of years. Bass player-wise, we’ve had a lot of different guys in the band. In some ways, it’s a bit of a struggle. When you start touring with people, on a musical level you get so comfortable in terms of the sound. Everybody sort of knows each others tendencies, and having new members sort of throws that off a little bit but all in all, the guys that we have that have come in are all very pro in what they do. It doesn’t take very long to get that comfortable feeling. It’s a little uncomfortable at first but it doesn’t take long to get into the feeling of being in a band together and not feeling like something is missing. Since we’ve had such a wide array of people, it’s been easier. You don’t really feel like there’s a part of you missing. It’s easier to find a new girlfriend than a new wife haha.

DS: One of the best shows that I ever went to ever was actually that acoustic performance at that record store in Orange, California in June of 2008.  Do you remember that?

Joey: oh, yeah yeah!

DS: It was a very small crowd, probably less than 15 people, and you guys played a very intimate, private show for the people, we were all requesting songs and you played them all. Do you prefer playing bigger places or smaller, intimate venues.

Joey: Well, I think that they both have their charms. There’s something to be said, and admired, about playing at Staples Center and playing in front of 18,000 and that’s a great experience. But I’d also say that we’ve played shows in a basement in Germany, with 50 people with no ventilation and everyone just sort of packed into a little room and there’s a lot of fun in that. In a way, it’s apples and oranges – there are things to be liked about both.

DS: Lets move on to a bunch of shorter questions now.

Joey: Alright, cool.

DS: What’s your favorite place to play at both in California and elsewhere?

Joey: Unfortunately, my favorite place to play in California was the Knitting Factory

DS: What’s the most “foreign” place you’ve played at?

Joey: We’ve played in Budapest, Hungary. That was probably the furthest east we’ve gone in Europe

DS: On your solo stuff as well as for The Briggs, what is you favorite song to play?

Joey: I’d say that due to the amount of times I’ve played at the Kings game, This Is LA is probably my favorite.

DS: What’s it like being in a band with your brother?

Joey: It has its moments. It’s tough but at the same time, I don’t really know any other way.

DS: How do you keep yourself entertained on the road?

Joey: Uh, Youtube. hahaha. I actually like traveling because I like seeing new places so I keep myself quite entertained by wandering around wherever we are.

DS: What’s next for Joey Briggs and The Briggs? What can we expect from you guys in the future?

Joey: Well, we’re working on a new record for The Briggs and we’re doing a European tour. I’ll actually be doing my solo stuff on that tour as well so I’m looking at getting that a little bit more established. I want to keep both going, I definitely aspire to juggle both and I plan to continue doing this until the end of eternity haha.

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